Country Style

Finding Balance - A weekend at a country wellness retreat or a few hours in a city spa - both are a good way to kickstart your fitness.

FOREST HIDEAWAY Lake House, Daylesford

In the heart of the lush forests of Victoria's central highlands, Daylesford is my go-to town for life's necessities:
a really good coffee, a workout at the gym and horse fodder. That's about as indulgent as Daylesford normally gets for me. And so it's a little unusual to have an hour and a half to linger and experience one of the special offerings that attracts so many visitors, from around Australia and the world, to this famous spa town 115 kilometres north-west of Melbourne: a luxurious therapeutic treatment.
I am at the divine Salus Spa, tucked away in the lush green gardens of the multi-award-winning Lake House Hotel Restaurant and Spa, overlooking Lake Daylesford. Started in what was then a weedy paddock by entrepreneurial couple, artist Allan Wolf-Tasker and his foodie wife Alla, more than 3o years ago, Lake House is often credited with putting Daylesford on the map.
Everything about this place, with its 33 elegant rooms and luxury suites set among two hectares of country gardens and surrounded by walking tracks and natural mineral springs, exudes quality, service and tranquility.
At the Salus Spa, I am experiencing the Salus Signature Bliss — a toe-to-top treatment personalised for Lake House. It starts with the Welcome Touch foot cleanse and pressure-point massage, followed by an all-over dry body brush. This light, rather pleasant exfoliation precedes a gentle, soothing massage with warm frangipani body oil. The therapist uses soft fingertip strokes followed by warm volcanic rocks as massage tools, to glide along the muscles, seeking out tight spots, easing aches and releasing tension. My whole body is then given an invigorating cleansing scrub with lime and ginger salts, leaving my skin refreshed. The scrub stays on the skin while I'm wrapped and treated to a relaxing face and scalp massage with coconut oil, which is drawn through the hair.
The final phase of the treatment is the "hydrostorm experience" in what is essentially a large enclosed shower cubicle. Warm steam jets help with the absorption of essential oils while overhead waterfall showers and Vichy high-pressure jets rinse away the salts. I choose to leave the oil in my hair until later. As I leave Salus Spa, my skin is feeling super-soft and plumped, my body relaxed, and my mind a little dreamy. And when I wash my hair afterwards, it's soft and lustrous. I don't usually feel this good after a trip to Daylesford. VIRGINIA IMHOFF

top treatment tip The treatment room at Salus Spa is set up for two and the therapist tells me Signature Bliss is the perfect mother/daughter treatment and is popular with hens' groups.

TREATMENT Salus Signature Bliss, 90 minutes, $225.

King Street, Daylesford, Victoria. (03)5348 3329;

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