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Château Élan at the Vintage: Hunter Valley, Australia

Joanna Hall

A new spa resort is taking the Hunter Valley by storm, offering visitors another way to relax and enjoy the wine country.

If you're like us you love to escape to the country from time to time. From Sydney there are a number of choices, but a favourite is the Hunter Valley. Only a few hours drive from the CBD, it's a picturesque region packed with vineyards and wineries, great restaurants and resorts, and plenty to keep you occupied. One of the newest spots to indulge is Chateau Elan, a $40 million retreat located in Rothbury boasting a championship golf course as well as an elegant restaurant. But it's also a luxurious day spa, with a menu of treatments bound to ease away your city tensions.

The Decor:

The entire resort has a modern, contemporary design, encompassing simple and minimalist elements, and with plenty of understated elegance. The spa follows the same theme. It's a spacious facility with high ceilings, 18 treatment rooms, separate locker rooms for men and women, and a comfortable relaxation area with a view of the countryside. The decor consists of cream walls, furnishings with simple lines, and lots of dark wood, all of which is generally easy on the eye.

The Treatments:

This spa has a range of brands, and is the first to feature the luxurious Terraké from France inspired by the origins of the earth and based on four elemental themes: water, air, earth and plant life. Others include the marine specialist Thalgo, and Terre & Mer by Thalgo, a certified organic line. There is a wide range of treatments supported by each brand to choose from, including Terraké facial rituals, Thalgo facial treatments and dermabrasion, Terraké body rituals and Thalgo body treatments.

There is also a menu of standard massage types, including one especially for golfers and one suitable for pregnancy, and grooming services including pedicures and hair styling. Other facilities which guests can use include the hydrolounge, a warm treatment area equipped with hot and cold pools, lounges, and FAR Infra red detox box heated floors. You can also add Balneotherapy to any treatment, which allows you to soak in a private geisha tub with one of four Terraké oils of your choice.

I indulged in two treatments during my two-day stay. First was a Terraké body ritual, an  indulgent two-hour treatment called Awakening to the Earth, which can be enjoyed solo or as a couple. The treatment begins with a smoothing full body exfoliation using fine crystals of salt, which leaves your skin silky like a baby's. After showing off the crystals, you are then treated to a leisurely massage using warm stones and luxury creams. The therapist will ask you in advance if you have any special areas of concern, and will focus on these during the treatment.

The second treatment focussed on my complexion - a Terraké Facial Ritual lasting an hour and 15 minutes. The theme I chose was Precious Earth, an anti-ageing facial with a twist. It involves the use of pink rhodochrosite and clear sandglass crystals in a sculpting massage, for cellular energy restoration and a rejuvenation boost. Following this mini-microdermabrasion, a relaxing mask was applied to smooth and sooth the skin.

The Verdict:

My therapists were excellent, and the treatments were both relaxing and revitalising. From top to toe my skin felt and looked amazing. After both treatments, I spent time chilling in the relaxation area while sipping herbal tea. There were magazines to browse through, but it was nice enough to wallow in the indulgent vibe, with nowhere to be on a weekday afternoon, and a panoramic view of the Hunter Valley before my eyes.

The Spa At Château Élan is open daily from 9am to 9pm. Call +61 (0)2 4998 2500 for bookings or visit

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