Review: Peninsula Hot Springs tour from Melbourne cleanses body and soul
The Mornington Peninsula is one of Melbourne's most popular day tour destinations — with much to tempt visitors, including top class wineries, gourmet food experiences, and the renowned Peninsula Hot Springs. Ruby Boukabou checks in following a morning of soaking indulgence...
The multi-award-winning Peninsula Hot Springs is located on the Mornington Peninsula, 90 minutes’ drive from the Melbourne CBD. This Peninsula Hot Springs and Wine Tasting Tour from Melbourne provides a convenient transfer to the spa, and will also give you a taste of the fine wine and fresh produce the peninsula is renowned for. Spend a minimum of three hours at the Peninsula Hot Springs, before heading off to visit a local winery for an included wine tasting and lunch.
The stunning Mornington Peninsula has always been a popular escape for stressed Melburnians, and the stress-busting options don’t come any more effective than the Peninsula Hot Springs.
Opened in 2005 by brothers Charles and Richard Davidson, and inspired by their experiences in Japan’s traditional onsens, the mission at the Pensinsula Hot Springs is to reconnect guests with their own well of vitality. They’re right on the mark. With a choice of packages combining bathing, therapeutic spa treatments and even gourmet dining, the experience will bring you back to life — or ground you deeper in it.
The hour and a half drive from Melbourne is, in itself, refreshing. If you don’t have your own transport, you can opt to join a Peninsula Hot Springs tour from Melbourne. You can even chopper in if you are pressed for time. As I make my way along the coast, the clouds clear, the sun appears and the world seems to slow down dramatically. My body is slightly achy from a bout of candle burning at both ends, and I’ve really been looking forward to this visit to the only Australian facility named in the top ten best hot springs in the world at the 2016 Wellness Travel Awards in London.
The Peninsula Hot Springs is tucked away in a bushland setting at Fingal and feels fittingly off the grid. The centre has two sections — the family friendly Bath House and the Spa Dreaming Centre (minimum age 16). My ‘Graze and Bathe’ package will be enjoyed in the latter — solo. I was to have been accompanied but my friend was held up in a meeting in Melbourne. On arrival it seems a shame, but then I start to embrace the idea of a deeper personal experience.
Resplendent in a thick bathrobe, I’m soon seated in the zen dining area overlooking the hot springs, where I catch glimpses of people strolling by the steaming pools below looking like mystical wood nymphs. The thermally heated waters here rise to the surface at around 50 degrees celsius, infused with a cocktail of natural minerals and salts. According to the centre, the physical benefits of bathing in the hot springs are many, including improved blood circulation and cell oxygenation.
Workaholic habits die hard and I pull out my laptop to write notes. The staff are quick to point out that it’s probably best to begin my digital detox, so I ditch the electronics and go old school with a pen and paper. For some reason my eyes start to burn with hot tears. The cleansing seems to have begun!
Then it’s time to bathe in one of the more than twenty pools of various sizes and temperatures set around the beautifully rocky and bushy setting. I begin in the sauna with a gentle stretch, then slip into a nearby pool under a waterfall. I bob about for a while before moving to another warm, shallow pool to float and kick a little.
Next I wander past a meditation room (that looks like something out of The Matrix) before making my way to the Turkish Haman. It’s empty. I sit on the marble floor holding a shower nozzle over my head. Here the cleansing really kicks in. Water gushes and steam rises, mixed with more unexpected sobs. It lasts for a good ten minutes.
I tiptoe out feeling calmer and more centred. Hopping into a small round pool, I chat quietly to a couple who recommend a dip in the nearby cold pool at least three times during my bathe. I decide to follow their advice, plunging in, then gasping and sliding into a larger warm pool to swirl and awaken my inner mermaid.
All too soon it’s time to shower and change, and take my leave — but not before I make a vow to return very soon. Next time I’ll indulge in a spa treatment or two. There are plenty to choose from, including mineral skin masks, massages, organic mud wraps, botanical sea salt exfoliations and even a ‘Moroccan cocoon’ — an ancient secret to beautiful skin.
In the meantime I’ve regained my zen and zest for adventure and my next trip — coincidentally — to North Africa!
Ruby Boukabou is a travel, culture and food reporter based between Europe and Australia. Ruby has written for The Age, The Australian, Qantas, Issimo, The Diplomat, Paris Voice and Inside Film. She has also produced culture and travel stories for the ABC, SBS and Screen Australia. When Ruby’s not writing, she’s probably tap dancing — and is a founding member of the Paris Tap Crew. She’s also a member of jazz/world music group Le Shuffle Project, which records and performs in Paris and beyond.