Travel

Why You’re Seeing ‘Day Spas For The Mind’ Popping Up in Your City

We're not mad about it.

The Cocoon Room Melbourne

As the world moves away from aesthetic pressure and into accepting diversity, day spas are evolving with the change. 

Are we the only ones, or have you noticed an increasing number of ‘day spas for the mind’ popping up in your city? 

It’s no secret that last year was a challenge that many of us are still dealing with and will continue to heal from in the coming years. Reflecting on a challenging year, where we were forced to exist in an unfamiliar corporate environment of flexible working and working from home, we were able to re-evaluate the importance of our mental health. 

This saw many of us quit jobs that no longer served us, move away from the city and into refreshing rural areas, normalising mental health days at work, going on regenerative holidays that are good for the soul and now, day spas that not only offer pampering for the body but also pampering for the mind. 

We’ve gone ahead and pulled together a few of our favourites, that all offer different types of self-care, relaxation and pampering experiences. 

The Cocoon Room Melbourne

The Cocoon Room Melbourne

The Cocoon Room Melbourne is a space for luxurious meditation in the heart of Melbourne’s business district in the CBD. Contrasting its surroundings of tall grey buildings and an array of suits running to their next meeting, The Cocoon Room is warm and inviting, with lush pink and  rich blue interiors, complete with a signature scent and extravagant chandeliers. Somehow, regardless of its decadence, The Cocoon Room is infinitely comforting. Currently hosting 50 minutes sessions, starting with a room of relaxing activities to get you ‘in the mood’, such as books, colouring in, herbal tea and games. Then, you head into the actual Cocoon Room, where you nestle into your cocoon and take part in one of three meditations of your choice. There’s nothing like escaping into a guided meditation to break up the work day, and when you emerge, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll feel revitalised.

To book yourself a session or find out more, go to their website

SOAK Bar + Beauty

SOAK Bar + Beauty

This spa has it all; facials, hair and makeup, mani-pedis, eyebrow threading, eyelash extensions and… BOOZE. Yes, that’s right, you can sit up at the bar and enjoy a cosmopolitan or a whisky on the rocks or hell, even just a nice cold beer, before or during any of your treatments. Surely, we don’t need to tell you that drinking delicious beverages and doing things that make you feel beautiful is good for your body and mind. The decor is straight out of a Sex and the City girls night out, with pink velvet seats, gold flourishes, beautiful lush drape curtains and all the pastel colours.

You can browse their treatments here.

Centred Meditation

Located in the City Mutual Building (above Rockpool & Spice Temple) in Sydney, Centred Meditation is a drop-in space to cleanse your mind at any time of the day. Their 30-minute guided meditation is designed to chill you out on your lunch break, and don’t even require you to sit cross-legged on the floor in your ironed work attire. The space is set up with comfy chairs, when you can prop up your cup of tea and allow your brain to wander into a space of calm and inner peace. The decor is minimalistic, with lots of plants and heavenly greenery, paired with neutral colours and the intoxicating feeling of being on holiday, if only for a moment.

Check their timetable here.

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Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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