One of my favourite activities in winter is a spa weekend. There’s nothing that warms your bones quite like the embracing hug of a delicious hot stone massage, followed by a steam, sauna or hot springs dip.
So, in the spirit of celebrating the coming colder weather, rather than loathing it, escape the city for a weekend of zen.
Here are five of the best destinations spas in regional Victoria, from someone who has actually tried all of them. Overnight stay optional, but you’ll thank me later if you do.
#1 Sanctuary Day Spa, Ballarat
If you think day spas are better in the big city, you’d be wrong. This luxe treatment hub, located in Ballarat, has won three coveted World Luxury Spa Awards, including nabbing the title as Australia’s Best Luxury Day Spa.
Having frequented its soothing, wood-lined walls before, it’s not hard to see why. Not only do they deliver one of the best hot stone massages I’ve ever had, but they also give visitors access to a restorative heated hydrotherapy pool, relaxation room complete with a fireplace, and sauna.
Set within the lush, green grounds of the Mercure Hotel and Convention Centre in Ballarat, the dramatic, architectural entrance welcomes weary weekenders with open arms – but fair warning, you’ll have to book well in advance to nab a spot.
#2 Peninsula Hot Springs
Ah, the old faithful. If you haven’t visited Peninsula Hot Springs, I’ll make like Lara Bingle and ask, where the bloody hell have you been? If you have visited as frequently as I have, you’ll be glad to know there are some new(ish) additions you may not have tried yet.
First up for the night owls are the Moonlit Bathing sessions, available from 11pm to 5am, seven nights a week – a great way to avoid the crowds, or pump up the romance factor. They’ve also opened a bunch of new hot spring pools in their Amphitheatre, as well as an ice cave and deep freeze for some self-administered hot/cold therapy.
You can, of course, make a day of it too – it’s huge, and the options are plentiful. There’s a Turkish hammam, traditional massage, sauna, and private bathing on offer, along with a raft of other fun wellness activities, and relaxation spaces. It’s like a fancy weekend retreat, without the hefty price tag.
#3 QT Falls Creek
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If you’re an avid skier like I am, you’ll baulk at the idea of an après day – but Spa Q at QT Falls Creek may just convince you to take a few precious hours off the slopes. They offer an inventive collection of ‘Après Ski Signatures’, including a special couples ski recovery treatment, as well as facials driven by naturally active botanical ingredients from Aussie brand USPA.
The spa also features a plunge pool with some pretty fabulous views, but you also have the opportunity to take the spa vibes back to your room – every apartment on-site features a private terrace overlooking the slopes, complete with your very own hot tub. Robes optional.
They’ll open for ski season in 2021 from 26 June, so get ready.
#4 Lake House Daylesford
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Daylesford might be spa country, but a visit to the iconic Lake House takes the cake. Spend the weekend channelling peak relaxation by combining a stay at their boutique hotel with dinner at their famed restaurant, and a Sunday spa day – of course.
Choose from a range of signature treatments, like the 90-minute Woodland Bliss Ritual complete with a hot stone massage using volcanic rocks. It’s finished off with a ‘hydrostorm’ experience, using a combination of steam, waterfall showers, and Vichy jets to wash away your sins.
If you’re a facial connoisseur, you can’t go past the Holistic Age-Defying Facial – this luxe treatment features 24 karat gold leaf in a nod to the nearby goldfields that delivered immense wealth to our fair state.
#5 Mitchelton Estate
If you’re a wine lover, this is the day spa for you. Tucked into a secluded corner of their luxe on-site hotel, the Mitchelton Estate spa delivers classic massage/facial combos, as well as dry body brushing to boost circulation, and multi-treatment ‘rituals’ to awaken wellness or mindfulness as you see fit.
If the hotel isn’t your jam, try their very cool retro Airstreams set within the leafy vineyard – it’s glamping at its most fabulous, with full access to all the hotel’s amenities, including the day spa, pool and restaurant.
Make it a weekend with a wine tasting, long lunch at The Muse, some poolside reading, and a Wellness Infusion massage with camellia and healing immortelle.
(Lead image: Instagram / @qtfallscreek)