Posts tagged #destination day spa

DAY SPA AT WILLIAM INGLIS

January began on a busy note, following a phone call from the soon to open William Inglis Hotel in Warwick Farm, Sydney. The hotel had been in planning and under construction for some time, however the addition of a day spa and fitness centre was only decided upon in November, so by the time I received a call in December it meant this pre-opening needed to be executed with utmost efficiency. 

Fortunately pre-openings are one of my favourite tasks. I actually enjoy rolling up my sleeves and being onsite to bring everything to life. Plus I love visual merchandising and interior styling! However, first things first. I needed to understand the location, guest demographic, hotel concept and owners vision so that I could choose the appropriate spa partner, curate a treatment menu, guide the brand identity and choose styling items for the day spa. Then the phone calls and planning began. 

Waterlily Skin Body and Spa was able to deliver an opening order and training within the tight time frame we had. I pulled together a critical path, delegated out various jobs so we could meet the deadline and began purchasing the most urgent of the 600 or so operational supply and equipment items. The Christmas break was the perfect time to go into creative copywriting for the spa menu, which was then immediately handed over to the Accor sales and marketing team for graphic design. I found the stock image below, which is perfect because it speaks to horses, racing tracks and brides... everything the William Inglis Hotel is about. 

The design of the day spa was mostly complete so no major changes to layout could be made, but a few tweaks in the selection of furnishings and the addition of more retail shelving was actioned. Arriving into what was still a construction zone on January 11th with 7 days to unpack OSE, set up, train the team, implement systems and processes and be photo shoot ready required great communication and coordination. Fortunately we were working with a great Accor management team so this helped us overcome the usual little disasters and defects that happen when construction is still in play. 

Our lovely therapists and spa manager were trained in the treatment protocols and we then ran a soft opening for two days which gave us the opportunity to practice and discover the weak areas we still had time to fix before official opening day. Very important and highly recommended for any new business. 

Overall this is a grand hotel and the spa is a beautiful addition, which I expect will become quite the destination for the Liverpool area. I myself look forward to returning for a spa experience when next in Sydney. 

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DAY SPA AT MITCHELTON

Designing a Day Spa is one of my passions, especially when I have the opportunity to work with an iconic brand, along with visionary owners and interior designers. The commitment to perfection and following the process to get there, is for me a joy, rather than a tedious task. And such was the case when preparing the pre-opening of the Mitchelton Day Spa. 

Working with Hecker Guthrie Design Studio we began with a detailed design brief and an allocated space located on level 2 of the hotel. Once gathering the details of what was required of a day spa, the design team set to working on three possible floor plans. We then discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each upon which the designers quickly came up with another two variations. We were now close to getting it right! Just a few more refinements and our floor plan maximised the space, created optimal flow for the guest journey and reduced the problem of having staff 'running' through the day spa more than was necessary. 

Next we began working on lighting and electrical plans, joinery design and finishes and fixtures. Storage was maximised in each of the treatment rooms so that staff could efficiently turn their room around between treatments whilst also lessening the traffic of therapists visiting reception and back of house for supplies. Less movement equals more peace and a smoother and more effective operation. A drawer dishwasher and hot/cold water filter was built into the relaxation room joinery minimising the need for carrying tea cups to the kitchen. Private change rooms inclusive of toilet, basin and shower adjoin a open plan locker area so as to maximise the space, whilst also providing a luxury experience. All of these details ensure a seamless experience for guests and staff. 

The palette is calming with the addition of 'pop' features such as the tiles in the wet areas and the gorgeous dark green marble reception desk. The floor surface chosen is quiet, anti-fatigue, durable and perfect for a day spa environment where oils and product can easily damage and deteriorate a surface. Beautiful linen curtains and curved walls add a soft touch to the entire space, and removable covers grace the relaxation chairs and lounges so that a fresh clean look can be maintained. 

USPA was chosen as its a perfect fit for this beautiful country location. Made in Victoria and offering a comprehensive and natural face, hair and body collection, the USPA concept marries beautifully with all that Mitchelton stands for. 

The team at Pop-n-Pac Creative developed a luxurious linen bound spa menu compendium and matching collaterals based on the templates provided by Spa Wellness Consulting. 

Finally after many long hours of unpacking stock, setting up, implementing systems and training the team, the Day Spa at Mitchelton opened on the 1st of December. And very quickly we were inundated with gift voucher requests and forward bookings. If I dare say it, I believe this lovely day spa overlooking the Goulburn River and set amidst vineyards and the iconic Mitchelton Estate will very soon be considered one of Melbourne's best destination day spa's, and that makes me very satisfied, content and proud. 

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JAPANESE MINDFULNESS

I had the privilege of visiting Japan in May so that I could gain an insight into the culture and therefore conceptualise Japan's first wellness retreat. A luxury destination where guests can experience the Japanese approach to longevity and wellbeing, for which they are renowned. Beyond nutrition and movement, which is where we in the West often limit wellness, is the central concept of mindfulness that is inherent in the Japanese arts, and indeed in their very way of being. 

The simple, but compelling, act of mindful living offers an invaluable tool to cope with the pace of modern day living. Mindfulness reduces stress, improves sleep, cognitive function and balances the emotions. Here below I share a number of mindfulness practices that stem from Japan to offer a perspective on how meditation can be something other than 'the lotus position'. 

ZAZEN - In Zen Buddhism, zazen is a meditative discipline that is typically the primary practice. The precise meaning and method of zazen varies from school to school, but in general it can be regarded as a means of insight into the nature of existence. Zazen is practiced in different ways depending on its tradition. It may involve facing a wall or facing into the centre of the room with eyelids half lowered. It can also include a walking meditation in the room. 

JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY - The heart of the Japanese tea ceremony lies in simplicity of spirit which brings peace to the mind. The objective of the ceremony is not just to make a cup of tea; it is a deliberate exercise in being present in the moment, focusing on one task and appreciating the simple things in life. The ritual of the tea ceremony is based on the 4 fundamental Zen principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.

IKEBANA FLOWER ARRANGING - Ikebana or kado is the beautiful, often strikingly minimalist, Japanese flower arrangement art. Ikebana means “giving life to flowers” and kado translates as “the way of flowers”. When Buddhism was introduced to Japan, monks started to arrange flowers to decorate the altars of temples.

KOTO LESSON - The koto is the national instrument of Japan. It is a stringed musical instrument that is plucked with ivory picks called tsume.

ORIGAMI - Japanese origami began sometime after Buddhist monks carried paper to Japan during the 6th century. The word "origami" comes from the Japanese language. "Ori" which means folded and "kami" which means paper. This traditional paper folding art is very relaxing and meditative. 

JAPANESE INCENSE CEREMONY - Kōdō ( 道?, "Way of Fragrance") is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, and involves using incense within a structure of codified conduct. Kōdō includes all aspects of the incense process, from the tools ( 道具 kōdōgu), to activities such the incense-comparing games kumikō (組 ) and genjikō (源 ).[1] Kōdō is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement.

JAPANESE CALLIGRAPHY - Zen calligraphy is practiced by Buddhist monks and most shodō practitioners. To write Zen calligraphy with mastery, one must clear one's mind and let the letters flow out of themselves, not practice and make a tremendous effort. This state of mind is called the mushin (無 ? "no mind state”). For any particular piece of paper, the calligrapher must be fully present and has but one chance to create with the brush.

JAPANESE POTTERY - Learning to use the potter’s wheel takes patience, practice, and focus. It is also very relaxing and rewarding. Initially the class will make small bowls, plates or cups before progressing onto other forms. Hand building or sculpture, is another way to work with clay. The basic techniques are easier to learn than wheel throwing and there is a larger range of forms you can make. 

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FIVELEMENTS, BALI

I first went to Fivelements in Bali whilst on one of my regular yoga holidays in Ubud. On that occasion I joined two friends to attend Agni Hotra, which is a fire blessing ceremony whereby one offers negative thoughts or unwanted energy into the fire to be purified or transformed into more positive energy. This healing ritual begins with meditation in the ceremonial fire space, while listening to the hotri(s), ceremony priest or facilitator as he rings the Balinese bell and chants Sanskrit mantras to evoke the Divine and blessings of health and abundance. Following the lighting of the fire, you are invited to participate by making offerings of grains, lentils and other foods into the fire. A silent meditation is shared toward the end to compliment this ancient ritual.

Now some two years later, I had been asked to visit the resort as a mystery judge for the Luxury Spa and Wellness Awards. With excitement I booked one nights accomodation and 5 spa treatments from the wonderful spa menu consisting of local balinese healing, a variety of rituals and watsu water healing. 

Fivelements opened in late 2010 as the first of a new genre of wellness destinations bridging the wisdom of traditional healing cultures with innovative wellness concepts. To date, the eco-wellness retreat has been recognised with eighteen international awards spanning across hotel, wellness, spa, culinary and sustainable design industries. 

The property sits in a small valley between the local village and the river. The central Sakti restaurant (pictured below) makes for a striking entrance and footpaths weave between soft green grass amidst the gentle sound of music to the spa, pool, movement spaces and private villas. Towering circular thatched roofs that are reminiscent of a tee-pee tent have me in a state of architectural wonder. 

Fivelements is built upon a strong approach to sustainability that includes considering; Site Sensitivity and Natural Habitat, Water, Energy, Materials, Waste and Indoor Environmental Quality. With the intention being to move operations beyond the sustainability of Green Building and into the realm of Regenerative Design.

Guided and inspired by traditional Balinese Philosophies, Fivelements draws on the principles of  Tri Hita Karana - Living in harmony with God, among humans and with nature. Tri Kaya Parisudha - Living in alignment with clean mind, clean speech and clean action. Panca Mahabhuta - a Hindu concept, which explains how internal and external forces work together and are united with the Universe. Akasa - Ether - the idea of connectedness and spaciousness.  In the body, Ether represents all the cavities and empty spaces of the body. In the mind, it represents our consciousness. Bayu - Air - the idea of motion. In the body, Air represents all movement of nerves, breath and limbs. In the mind, it is the power behind our thoughts. Teja - Fire - the idea of light, heat and transformation. In the body, Fire represents all digestion and transformation. In the mind, it represents perception and intelligence. Apah - Water - the concept of flow and fluidity. In the body, Water represents all the liquids of the body. In the mind, it represents loving and compassionate thoughts and emotions. Pertiwi - Earth - the concept of solidity. In the body, Earth represents our physical body. In the mind, it represents stability.

Healing rituals include a combination of meditation, deep bodywork and prana energy performed by healers whose gifted talents have been handed down through generations of Balinese families. I am not disappointed with any of my healing rituals and absolutely love the added touches that complement my spa experience. The intention and harmonising chant that begins each ritual is so beautiful and the presence of the therapist is palpable. I am massaged, energetically balanced, bathed in a tub full of fresh herbs, plants and fruits and soothed to completion with local jamu tea. The following day I have my first ever experience of Water Healing and this goes beyond anything I could imagine as my healer moves me through the water with such adeptness that all I can do is surrender, which is the entire point. 

The food is vegan delicious, the staff sweet and gentle and the wellness experience restorative and spiritually reconnecting. Certainly a beautiful option should you be looking for a private and personalised healing journey in Bali, the island of Gods. 

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