Noosa, 120 kilometers north of Brisbane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is a laid-back, relaxed area that is beloved by “those in the know”. There’s none of the frenzy of the Gold Coast, little in the way of suburban sophistication, and lots in the way of good old-fashioned hospitality. It’s become known as a “lifestyle choice” destination — people haven’t moved there to opt out, but rather to opt in to what the area has to offer: clean fresh air and abundant natural beauty, a healthy climate and a healthy attitude, an outlook that encourages creativity.
As a result, there are a number of truly excellent outlets visitors can patronize: some fabulous markets, an extraordinary cooking school with attendant modern Thai restaurant, a Queensland winery beginning to make waves on the international scene, a spa or two. Actually one spa — Ikatan. www.ikatanspa.com at 46 Grays Road, Doonan, Noosa.
Laid out in Balinese village style, Ikatan is serenely beautiful
Marketing itself as a Balinese day spa, Ikatan is eons away from the average Aussie Day Spa in attitude, offering, setting and service. Certainly it has an inspired Balinese-style setting with garden pavilions, tropical plantings and a wonderfully inviting vibe; but day spa? No, it’s more like a mini destination spa (without overnight rooms … but we can always hope for expansion in the future) that looks at its patrons with an all-encompassing eye. Catering to the whole person — mentally, physically, emotionally — it is run by a dedicated team that are truly committed to giving, as the owner says, “sincere, authentic quality treatments with plenty of time for clients and a quiet, relaxed environment”.
There are two broad bands of therapy: those that have their roots in the natural ingredients and traditions of Bali and those that use the Elemis product range. This may not be as antithetical as it first appears, because the success of British spa and skincare brand Elemis lies in its ability to combine natural active ingredients with cutting-edge technology. So, as with Balinese therapies, the core lies in the natural world.
I highly recommend one of Ikatan’s three-hour packages, but if you have time to spare, splash out on a five-hour extravaganza that throws in lunch as well. Body treatments include massage tailored to clients’ needs as well as spicy, warming Balinese borehs, vanilla bean and coconut wraps and body scrubs, as well as the usual foot and hand pampers. Facials all use Elemis products which are great for sensitive skin, harnessing specific ingredients for specific results: anti-ageing, reduction of fine lines, de-stressing of skin, tightening and firming, reduction of pigmentation and acne scarring and sun damage. You name it, the therapist with advise and administer.
My therapist, Joy, hailed from the Philippines and was a real joy. She didn’t talk when I wanted to relax and tune out; she intuitively sought out neck and shoulder stress; and her hands were suitably strong on the back and light as air on the face. The massage pavilion was airy and comfortable, the music unobtrusive and the whole experience chilled enough for me to snooze off for a while in the middle! In my book, that’s always a sure indicator of a spa’s credentials; if you are comfortable enough to nap lightly on the massage bed, you must be in safe and secure hands.