“Marco!” I call out. “Polo!” my friend answers automatically in the-honoured tradition of the aquatic children’s game before we both collapse in giggles. We’re not in a swimming pool, but encased in a thick, swirling, cloud of white steam in the Opal Rasul Temple at Stephanies® Spa Retreat.
On the third floor of the Sofitel hotel in Brisbane’s CBD, the temple is the jewel in the crown of this very swanky day spa – a small, cave-like room under the starry dome (main picture) with which to paint ourselves – one for the legs, one for the torso and arms, and one for the face, all infused with exotic extracts such as Shea butter, green tea and sandalwood. Once the ducted steam settles to a misty veil of white, it’s an incredibly realising experience, on that finished about an hour later with a fine shower of simulated rainwater falling from the ceiling.
Indulgent? Absolutely, and just the ticket for two stressed working mothers who have opted to run away for the night. In less than 24 hours, and about 5 km from our homes, we will enjoy spa treatments, a memorable dinner, breakfast with a view, and a lounge by the pool before heading home to reality.
The Sofitel proves a good choice for our express de-stress; our Twin Club Room is roomy, calming, with muted tones and truly comfortable beds – which, given we are desperate for a good night’s sleep rather than a wild night out, is appreciated. I later discover the beds are indeed so comfortable they have been patented by the hotel group, which might explain my first eight-hour sleep in months. Or perhaps it was my exceptionally good dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Privé 249, with its sleek, black glass table tops, Italian chandeliers, and stunning floor-to-ceiling windows framing theBrisbane Central station clock tower and Anzac Square, it’s an impressive view for an impressive restaurant, one that can truly lay claim to the term ‘fine dining’, with executive sous chef Craig Napper’s modern Australian flavoured/French-inspired menu presented with real passion by its knowledgeable wait staff.
As good as Privé is – and it’s really good if you’re looking for a special night out – for me the highlight of my Sofitel stay was Stephanies®. It’s a beautiful spa, with eight treatment rooms, including a couples’ suite, the aforementioned Opal Rasul Steam Temple, a very girly, gorgeous changing room and, for when it’s all over, a ‘tranquillity room’ where guests sit in fluffy white gowns on comfy armchairs and sip on cold and warm herbal teas. I could have sat there for hours but reality called, and so it was less than a day after I left it that I returned to my real life, refreshed, re-energised and, thanks to all that mud, with incredibly soft skin.