Get your zen back with a spa weekend, Japanese-style

The retreat: Shizuka Ryokan Japanese Country Spa & Wellness Retreat

Think kimonos, sushi, futons and Japanese spa treatments. This place is as Japanese as it gets without hopping on a plane to Tokyo – the building, the food, the décor, the staff. And it’s only an hour and a half from Melbourne.

The experience starts the moment you arrive when you’re handed a pair of fluffy slippers to replace your shoes, which you must leave at the door. You’re then taken to your room, which is fully kitted out in traditional Japanese decor including a low table with legless chairs and even your very own private Japanese mini-garden. And the bathroom’s equally impressive with a roomy spa tub and lavender-scented bath salts. Your futon will be brought into the room before you go to bed.

But before that, slip on your kimono-style robe and shed your city stresses. The spa is a much-loved feature of Shizuka Ryokan, particularly known for offering authentic reflexology treatments. The expert therapist stimulates various reflex points on your feet, which correspond to different areas of the body. Or perhaps you might like to go for their signature ‘geisha facial’, which incorporates the restorative and nourishing properties of white tea, lotus root, camellia oil, yamamono mountain peach, brown sugar, bamboo and nightingale droppings – yep, you read that correctly.

Rather than being an afterthought, the food is worth coming for in its own right. Come on a Saturday, Monday or Thursday to take advantage of the five-course banquet dinner. After choosing whether you’d like to be served your evening meal in the dining room or in the privacy of your own room, you’re served tray after tray of pretty Japanese dishes – some are traditional, while others have a modern spin, such as the deconstructed sushi (pictured below-left).

Shizuka Ryokan: http://shizuka.com.au, (03) 5348 2030, 7, Lakeside Dr, Hepburn VIC.


What’s nearby: Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

Bathe away your stress in mineral water sourced from right under the site of the bathhouse. Since 1895, people have travelled to the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs to take advantage of the healing properties of these mineral-packed waters. Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa has a variety of bathing pools, some open to those with general admission tickets, while others are more exclusive. Upgrade your experience with a visit to The Sanctuary, which has hydro and steam therapies including spa couches and monsoon showers. Or, go the whole hog and opt for private mineral bathing, which is a totally private experience where you bathe in 100% pure mineral water siphoned straight from the source below.

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa: www.hepburnbathhouse.com, (03) 5321 6000, Mineral Springs Crescent, Hepburn Springs VIC.

How to get there: City Hire Cars

Arrive in style with City Hire Cars. Just hop in one of their spacious, chauffeur-driven cars, sit back and relax as your driver whisks you away on the scenic journey to Hepburn. City Hire Cars is all about the little details. For example, you’ll always have a fresh bottle of water waiting for you when you get in the car. The company slogan is, “On Time, Relaxed. Or it’s Free” – you can’t argue with that! Is there a better way to ensure a stress-free journey to and from your spa escape?

City Hire Cars: www.cityhirecars.com.au, 1300 CITY CAR (1300 248 922).

DSC09251City Hire Cars cover all of the Melbourne metro area and Victorian suburbs.


By Christina Wylie


Where is Hepburn?

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