Few places are as breathtaking as the remote island of Tasmania — Australia’s southernmost state. And owing to Tasmania’s geographic isolation, unique species are found here that exist nowhere else in the world, notorious animals like the Tasmanian devil. Even the geology and flora hark back to a time when Tasmania was part of the super-continent called Gondwana, formed by the present-day land masses of Antarctica, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar and India.
Today, the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is a relic of Tasmania’s Gondwana heritage, a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Within the park is the spectacular alpine vista of Cradle Mountain, a haven for nature lovers and those seeking the restorative powers of the natural world. Nearby Dove Lake provides one of Tasmania’s premier walks — a three-mile jaunt that showcases the craggy peaks of Cradle Mountain. It is even possible during a walkabout to catch a glimpse of the hedgehog-like echidna (also known as a spiny anteater) or the water-loving platypus with a bill like a duck and a tail like a beaver. (Interestingly, these are the only two mammals in the world that lay eggs.) The more adventurous usually head to the world-famous Overland Track, which offers a six-day bushwalk through the very heart of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
After my tiresome trans-Pacific flight across the pond, and then my puddle hop from the Australian mainland city of Melbourne to the island state of Tasmania, I landed in the state capital of Hobart. My girlfriend, Cheryl, was there to greet me with a warm “Tassie” welcome and escort me on a driving tour around her homeland. However, sensing I was in need of rest, Cheryl proclaimed that only after a night’s sleep at The Henry Jones Art Hotel on the Hobart marina would we be heading to Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.
We left Hobart early the next morning for our half-day drive to the lodge in the Central Tasmanian Highlands. (You can also fly into Launceston, which is a 2.5-hour drive to the park). A haven of luxury, the lodge pays tribute to the famous Tasmanian food and wine trail by providing fine dining and vintage wines on site, as well as delectable tastes of local Tasmanian cheeses.
The historic Cradle Mountain Lodge offers one of Australia’s iconic wilderness experiences and the closest accommodation to the spectacular Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Located on the edge of a temperate wilderness area — one of the few in the world — it focuses on the elements and “natural luxury.” Still suffering from jet lag, I was thankful our itinerary included plenty of fresh air, bushwalking, dining and, of course, pampering spa treatments at the Waldheim Alpine Spa.
Accommodations include spa cabins and suites with hot tubs that effortlessly blend in with the mountain wilderness. The 86 private timber cabins range from contemporary Pencil Pine Cabins to the princely King Billy Suites. Family cabins sleep up to five people and may include a spa. One of them has disability access.
Acclaimed as one of Australia’s best wilderness spas, The Waldheim Alpine Spa is set amid the rugged mountains and ancient forests of the Tasmanian wilderness. Though the scenery may be rustic, the spa offers unpretentious elemental luxury in tune with nature. And its spa treatments are legendary.
As I checked in for my facial, the smell of pine forest permeated the reception area. I chose a comprehensive facial treatment that uses Elemis products. Developed in the United Kingdom and perfected through extensive clinical and scientific studies, the range of skincare products is “defined by nature and led by science.” Cheryl told me my skin would feel like a baby’s bottom by the time my treatment was completed. Her words proved prophetic.
My spa therapist analyzed my skin and then determined the best treatment and combination of products to stimulate and reintroduce natural radiance to my tired skin. She said their selection of face and body treatments is suitable for both men and women. As I comfortably reclined in my chair, I was immediately lulled into a state of serene relaxation, as my senses were gently teased with subtle alpine aromas that played off the gurgling fresh mountain streams just outside the spa room.
I hardly remember the details of my facial, as I became so relaxed I found myself snoozing several times. I blame it on the long flight from the day prior, or perhaps it was the alternating use of warmth and coolness. What I do remember is that the facial consisted of a rather complex process of scrubs, exfoliates, cleansers, refreshers and moisturizers that had me vacillating from a fresh invigorating aliveness to a relaxed state of Zen calmness. Afterward, I felt rejuvenated and yet quite serene. It was addictive: I was ready to immediately sign up for another treatment.
For those with more time to devote to the art of “spa-ing,” book a full day, and do so in advance to avoid disappointment. I recommend spending some time in the dedicated therapeutic area known as The Sanctuary. Here one finds a steam room, a sauna, a large hot tub and a cool plunge pool, as well as a relaxation lounge overlooking the Pencil Pine River and the towering King Billy pines. Treatment emphasizes combining the healing elements of hot and cold hydrotherapy to invigorate the senses while stimulating blood circulation for a healthier symbiosis. Plus, the visual serenity is intoxicating.
Waldheim Alpine Spa
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
4038 Cradle Mountain Road
Tasmania, 7306 Australia
tel 61 3 6492 2100
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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