Australia's finest hotel spas
Photography: Jason Loucas
Victoria's Central Highlands are the heartland of Australia's spa country, with more than 100 natural mineral springs bubbling forth from the bedrock and a host of properties that encourage restorative stays. The new Hepburn Spa Retreat (20-22 Mineral Springs Crescent, Hepburn Springs, Vic, hepburnsparetreat.com.au) has opened across the road from therapy central, the Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa (Mineral Springs Cresent, Hepburn Springs, Vic, hepburnbathhouse.com). The retreat's 10 villas combine raw materials and natural light to stylish effect.
A few kilometres away in downtown Daylesford, Lake House (4 King Street, Daylesford, Vic, lakehouse.com.au) is a magnet for pleasure-seeking travellers drawn to Salus Day Spa with its treehouse hot tubs, and also to the inspired regional excellence of the house's celebrated restaurant and the indulgent trappings of its 33 waterside rooms and villas.
Waldheim Alpine Spa spans pretty Pencil Pine Creek at Cradle Mountain Lodge (4038 Cradle Mountain Road, Cradle Mountain, Tas, cradlemountainlodge.com.au) in the heart of Tasmania's World Heritage-listed wilderness. Expect all the usual skincare and massage options, set against the backdrop of a pristine, ancient landscape. And on the north-east Tasmanian coast, accessible only to walkers who've paid top dollar to do the multi-day Bay of Fires (bayoffires.com.au) trek, is a one-room spa set in a Tasmanian oak box, with a blazing fire, glass walls framing the very beaches you must trudge along to get here, and the promise of some well-earned pummelling .
Experience equally memorable massages at Southern Ocean Lodge's (Hanson Bay Road, Kingscote SA, southernoceanlodge.com.au) spa pavilion, perched on a cliff above the untamed seas pounding Kangaroo Island's shoreline.
Queensland's climate lends itself to languid indulgence, inspiring such élite spa properties as Qualia (Hamilton Island, Mackay, QLD, qualia.com.au) on Hamilton Island and Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland (192 Syndicate Road, Tallebudgera, QLD, gwinganna.com).
For more immediate relief from modern stresses, Australia's urban sanctuaries are second to none. On the mezzanine level of boutique hotel QT Sydney, Spa Q (49 Market Street, Sydney, NSW, spa-q.com.au) offers harried city types a retreat from reality into a parallel world of caviar facials, coffee and sea-kelp wraps, bamboo and ginseng polishes. For the gentlemen, it's sharp cuts, wet shaves and "supernatural" facials combining the sensory delights of liquorice and sandalwood.
As a bonus at Park Hyatt Sydney's (7 Hickson Road, The Rocks, NSW, sydney.park.hyatt.com) small, tranquil spa, guests have access to the hotel's rock-star rooftop pool. And The Langham Sydney (89-113 Kent Street, Millers Point, Sydney, NSW, langhamhotels.com) emerged from a recent $30 million makeover with its subterranean spa enhanced and Roman-inspired pool intact.