Written by Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan
Photography by The Darling
22 March 2023
I have a new favourite destination. It’s not Saint-Tropez, Positano or Cartagena. It’s the Darling Spa in Darling Harbour. And, my fetish begins when stepping into the lemongrass-scented reception, where I already feel my shoulders relaxing.
After a warm greeting, I’m led down a long, dark corridor with muted lighting and the sounds of woodwind instruments. This could be Bali or Bangkok. The water, the dark colours all add up to the tranquillity of a high-end spa in an exotic Asian destination.
Feeling the fluffy robe caress my tired skin, I take in a deep breath knowing that the transformation magic has begun.
Prior to my treatment, I sit in a candle-lit lounge sipping cucumber water and eyeing off tiny containers of banana chips, nuts and fruit. Yes. I could definitely stay here for a few days, even a week dining on miniature portions of dainty food and delighting in the warm zing of ginger tea.
I could roll from one treatment to the next whether that’s facial, massage or wrap. Working my way through the menu would be the ultimate to produce holiday envy on my social media as my skin becomes more fresh and sparkly every day.
My therapist Agnes introduces herself and snaps me out of my holiday daydream. Now is the time to be in the moment and not fantasise about living here. The Erde Balance treatment awaits. I’m soon to experience a full-body exfoliation, express body massage and express facial in 90 minutes.
Agnes holds the door open to the treatment room where a large steaming bowl of hot water and rose petals are ready for my feet, which soak up the aroma as Agnes holds out her hands and asks me which oil I would like. I choose the citrus before unrobing and flopping onto the heated massage bed covered in thick fluffy towels.
The salt exfoliation is as divine as sinking my feet into the sand and my body into a scented wave, but it’s what comes after that is my highlight – the firm hands stretching out the tightness in my sore shoulders and glutes. While I could have a full-body massage, I opt for just the back for 30 minutes.
The Darling Spa therapists have the most skilled masseurs of any spa I’ve visited around the globe, so I make the best of their expertise on my sorest spots.
Before too soon we’re onto the final treatment. It’s the Healthy Glow Express Facial with Babor products. Babor was developed in Cologne by Dr Michael Babor in 1956. This chemist developed HY-OL, which is a way of using natural oils to cleanse the skin. I zone out while Agnes works her skills on flaking my dead skin away with divine-scented products.
The 90 minutes disappear way too soon and I find myself back in the Zen room with ginger tea and banana chips. This time, I eat them and wonder, if I stay here all day will they notice?
As a guest of the spa, you have access to the Darling Hotel’s outdoor swimming pool and steam room.
Unfortunately, I realise it’s time to go back out into the world. Parking is included at the spa which is a huge plus. I hop back into my car and call up the menu for my next treatment.
There are so many facials to choose from, including The Darling Cleanformance 60-minute facial, which is a full vegan facial incorporating pre- and pro-biotics for healthy skin together with the antioxidant benefits of red maple extract.
What catches my eye is the three-hour Gaea experience, a three-hour spa journey that consists of Full Body Exfoliation, Body Wrap, Scalp Massage, Hand and Foot Treatment and a Facial. My muscles twitch with excitement at the thought as I fantasise about a week-long holiday at the spa and put in an online Powerball entry.
Maybe I might get to live the dream.