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Crown Metropol family packages

Floating in the warmth of the 27th-floor infinity pool, watching the clouds glide by, it’s easy to think you’re in some tropical paradise – that’s until the fog starts rolling in, swallowing one suburb after another on its way to Southbank.

But as the mercury drops, the heat has been turned up at Crown Metropol, which is offering a range of family packages that celebrate winter’s best assets – cosy spaces, food, wine and indulgence.

Valet parking means you hop from warm car to cosy lobby to check in to your luxury room. To make the most of your stay, arrive a few hours early to enjoy a relaxing massage at the hotel’s Isika Day Spa, then let the remaining tiredness disappear in the steam room and spa.

We watch the rain outside on our warm walk past chic clothing stores to catch a movie, thanks to the family pass to Village Cinemas, before tucking into San Antone’s Texas-style barbecue, just an escalator ride away.

The hotel’s two-night family fun package includes dinner vouchers for kids.


Jess Huon’s retreat

It was at insight teacher and author Jess Huon’s five-day silent retreat that I slowed down enough to witness the brilliant spectacle of raindrops glistening like diamonds on the leaves of a tree after a daylight shower.

That retreat, which included meditative walks, yoga stretches, mindfulness and rich talks by Jess, was a few hours out of Melbourne. This winter she is bringing a non-residential weekend retreat to the Ceres Learning Centre in Brunswick East.

Over the July 16-17 weekend she will lead you through several practices to “rest deeper than familiar loops of thinking, allowing for liberating insight to emerge”.

Jess has spent nearly two decades working with masters in America, India and Australia and has been teaching for nearly 10 years in Australia and overseas.


Jess Huon. Photo: supplied
Jess Huon. Photo: supplied


Floating in a tank of warm magnesium sulphate saltwater, freed from light, sound and touch, is the silent pinnacle of a day-long retreat at this wellness centre in South Melbourne. Wellineux, as it sounds, is all about the “well in you”.

Intimate retreats of no more than 12 people ensure caring attention to each person’s well-being – from the yoga class with a view of the city skyline to the various workshops, the deliciously healthy food and the terrarium that you learn to make and get to take home.

The emphasis is on how to live a healthy life with a positive mindset. The prenatal retreat is on August 11 and the urban retreat on August 21.

Dotted around the rooms in the cavernous building that hosts the retreats are cards with messages such as, “Find your tribe, love them hard”.


Learn to make a terrarium at the Wellineux retreat and then take it home. Photo: supplied
Learn to make a terrarium at the Wellineux retreat and then take it home. Photo: supplied

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa has been welcoming visitors to bathe in the region’s mineral waters since 1895. Its newest spa offering is an authentic Moroccan-style hammam, creekside pool and plunge pool near Daylesford.

The hammam experience is a method of cleansing and relaxation inspired by social and cultural practices in Morocco. It introduces a social bathing experience using Hepburn’s unique, mineral-rich water sourced from the earth.

The process is extremely invigorating and relaxing, leaving your skin cleansed, detoxed and fresh, and your mind and body relieved of stress and tension.

The idyllic environment also offers a forest and nature immersion for guests to improve their well-being by escaping and disconnecting from their busy worlds.


Hepburn Bathouse & Spa. Photo: supplied
Hepburn Bathouse & Spa. Photo: supplied

Brighton Baths & St Kilda Sea Baths

For front-row views of the changing weather, the historic Brighton Baths and St Kilda Sea Baths both offer warm and welcoming options. Both boast fine restaurants facing the waves, views taking in their marinas and gyms looking over the bay.

The eucalyptus-scented steam room at the Brighton Baths Health Club is glassed to provide a perfectly clear seascape, while the saltwater pool and spa at the St Kilda Sea Baths make you feel as if you’re swimming in the sea, only heated to tropical warmth.

Take a day out to bathe with the family, get fit at any of the South Pacific Health Club’s 120 classes a week and then enjoy a nourishing meal – all the while being enlivened by the sound of waves and the rhythms of nature.


Brighton Baths Health Club. Photo: supplied
Brighton Baths Health Club. Photo: supplied

Peninsula Hot Springs

The height of winter luxury at this natural hot springs – which just won the world’s best mineral spring spa at the World Luxury Awards in Switzerland – is lazing in the hottest pool at the top of the hill, dreamily gazing at the 360-degree view of rolling green paddocks while the minerals do their work.

To heighten the experience, sink into one of the many hot pools as the morning mist swirls through in the early light or when the sunset brings its glorious colours.

These are also the times of the day when the popular Hot Springs are at their quietest.

The bathing and spa complex 90 minutes south of Melbourne sprawls over 17 hectares and has 20 bathing areas including a hammam, sauna, cave pool, massaging thermal showers and a reflexology walk.

There are also private pools and pampering sessions such as the Aboriginal-inspired kodo body massage.


Peninsula Hot Springs. Photo: supplied
Peninsula Hot Springs. Photo: supplied

Christmas in July

Enjoy a weekend “away” at a Winter Wonderland room at Hilton South Wharf or DoubleTree by Hilton opposite Flinders Street Station.

Hilton has teamed with Ugg Australia to transform two rooms into havens of Nordic luxe with sheepskin rugs on the floors and bed, a goodie tray containing hot chocolate, marshmallows and roasted chestnuts – even a Christmas tree in the corner covered with faux snow and twinkling lights.

It’s perfect weather to order in from the winter room service menu; think beef cheeks braised in vanilla porter ale, oxtail stew, or chicken and corn macaroni cheese.

Snuggle up on the sheepskin with a DVD from the snow-themed collection in your room and drift off to sleep on your choice from the pillow menu.