Image: Jay Yeo
August 09 2011
DAY ONE: 6:45am
Just landed. Disembarking and walking down the gate, we’re treated to a sign welcoming us to “Wonderful Sydney”. Baggage to the left, surfboard collections to the right. Now that’s what I am talking about.
If I am brutally honest, Australia has never held any great appeal. One night at a famous Aussie bar in London’s Covent Garden, aged 18, had more or less wiped out any desire to travel to the other end of the earth. However, an invitation to a genuine Outback wedding persuaded me to do the previously unthinkable – go for a walkabout in Oz.
This was to be a real society wedding, with the who’s who flying in from all over the world. On the invitation, the dress code was specified as “James Bond in the desert” – so I had the wonderful people at a favourite designer send me a trunk-load of appropriate couture on loan (a perk of my profession). The only issue: nothing fitted. The huge expense of this trip means that I can’t actually buy something new, so I will simply have to lose some weight to fit into the frock I choose. I have several days before the wedding, and am estimating that I can drop 3-4kg with, as they say, no worries, mate.
Australia is definitely not renowned as a luxury spa destination – European-standard retreats are very thin on the ground. And when I arrived, recent downpours had made most of that clutch undesirable. (My first choice had just been infested with lethal jellyfish; the second had a severe wind and rain forecast for the duration.) So; a local Sydney spa it would have to be. The Four Seasons had won a few “best day spa” accolades, so my decision was easy.
I scramble through pouring rain from the cab into the lobby and to reception, where, apologetically, some unwelcome news is delivered. “Sorry madam, your room is not ready. It’s a Saturday and check-out is at 11am, you will have to wait until noon. But please accept our complimentary voucher for the eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet.” I want to explain that I had been strapped to a seat and force-fed like a battery hen for the past 25 hours, so that voucher holds little allure for me; but I don’t bother, choosing instead to do a spa scout.
The hotel is a bit on the tired side, and the corridors are filled with what seem like large groups of package tourists. But this ceases to matter the minute I walk into my corner suite on the 13th floor, with full views over the Sydney Harbour, the famous opera house so close I could almost touch it.
I’ve commenced the transformation of my hotel room into a DIY detox centre with a flurry of calls to every department. Housekeeping: please remove all items except water from the minibar, and please send up a set of scales. Room service: I’d like a supply of lightly steamed broccoli and fruit in the fridge. Concierge: please have several recommended running routes of various lengths sent up as soon as possible. (All of the above are great to remember if you are travelling alone; even if you are not on a mission to detox, as I am, it will save you from late-night snacking.)
Finally, at the spa. For my first treatment I choose a jet lag massage utilising products from Sodashi, the cult homegrown Australian skincare brand. My beautiful oriental masseuse packs a mean elbow; by the end I am starting to feel human again.
A hot miso broth and steamed broccoli dinner. I immediately pass out from the effects of the jet lag and massage. Actually; I lie. Make that miso, steamed broccoli and two glasses of red wine. Housekeeping did indeed clear the minibar as instructed; but as I unpack, I find a gorgeous bottle of red hidden in the cupboard. One, two glasses won’t hurt. It helps the jet lag…
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.