Opal Rasul Temple takes centre stage

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“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 abut 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 tabletops, 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 ‘tranquility 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.

Stephanies® Spa retreat,

P: 3211 8800



Beauty Destination – Stephanies Ocean Spa

Water therapy – Stephanies Ocean Spa featured in Latte Magazine

Stephanies Ocean Spa

Who would have thought water and salt was all you needed for a great day spa treatment? I discovered this powerful combination on a visit to Stephanies Ocean Spa in Noosa where they offer two signature water treatments: mineral flotation colour therapy and Spirit of Wailele rain therapy.

The mineral flotation together with the colour therapy (as different coloured lights shine continuously into the pool) claims to help relieve stress, body aches and pains. Heated to a comfortable 35-­degrees, the water contains a dense mineral and salt solution that means your body has absolutely no choice but to float freely. This is a very weird sensation at first as you defy gravity – picture astronauts somersaulting in space and that’s what happens if you try to stand or sink to the bottom of the pool.

Despite the weird sensation and failed attempts to stand, I started to enjoy floating naked and effortlessly in the 1.5 x 4 metre long pool. It’s a far cry from the coffin-like enclosed flotation tanks, which I never embraced.

As I gave myself over to this new sensation something must have switched inside without me realising because, before I knew it, the hour was up, my mind was still and I was surprised at just how relaxed I felt.

Hawaiian for “waterfall”, the Wailele rain therapy was my next 90-­minute journey into H2O bliss. It takes place in the spa’s Vichy suite, which features a stunning shower bed carved out of cedar in the shape of a mangrove tree leaf, inspired by the mangrove trees found in the wetlands of Noosa.

Starting with a hair and scalp treatment and massage I realised the simple pleasure of having someone else wash your hair. Calming and soothing attention was then focused on my face as a hydration mask was applied followed by a dry body brush and sea salt exfoliation.

For what seemed like ages, invigorating streams of warm water cascaded over me just like a waterfall as the therapist performed water and warm stone massage techniques. Between the soothing strokes of the therapist and sensation of the water, I felt simply and completely pampered. As I left the spa, I promised myself I would get into the habit of having long baths at home much more often. www.stephanies.com.au