Leave it to the Aussies to create a place as cool, calm and collected as The Byron at Byron, an environmentally conscious enclave on the east coast of Australia. I signed up for their two-hour signature Native Flora Journey, a surprise shoo-in for a Weepie Award - my informal short list of six spas (out of hundreds) that have literally made me cry (with happiness).
The glee begins with a foot restoration - massage directed at release points in the feet - followed by a toe-curling body brushing. Next, heartbreakingly sweet soothing heat - my therapist pours warm, therapeutic oil into a ring of native clay he has placed just above my waist. It's a touch too hot, like he might just go ahead and deep-fry a batch of mini-doughnuts on my back.
Then, glorious release in my sacrum, spine and hips. He basically achieved in 15 minutes what a lifetime of remedial massage could not. Tears of comfort and joy stream from my previously skeptical face as he goes on to massage my entire body, focusing on the back, neck and shoulders. By the time he finishes with an essential oil scalp massage, I'm a metaphoric puddle at his feet.
The treatment draws on aboriginal bush medicine with its use of quandong, a native fruit with a higher vitamin C content than oranges. Back in the day, it saved early explorers from scurvy and is now a unique ingredient in the eco-friendly iKOU spa line. Encased within each quandong seed is an oil rich kernel capable of bringing deep hydration to the skin.
Byron Bay is a spectacular world unto itself - such sublime scenery both above and below water. Wake to a Technicolor morning show as a dozen tropical macaws soar up into a canopy of trees. Set in a stunning 18-hectare reserve, steps from Tallow Beach and a short cycle to the iconic township, life at The Byron is breezy and enlightened. Think daily yoga and a lively social scene on sprawling verandas. The spa menu boasts botanical treats with titles like Rainforest Body Ritual, Flannel Flower Relax, Everglades Escape and Cypress Sojourn. The Byron is emerging as a viable "green destination" in and of itself - it protects a vast area of biological diversity and the surrounding electric green rain forest is peppered with boardwalks. During cocktail hour, I mix with guests from Liverpool, Amsterdam and Osaka, all universally drawn to the ecological reputation and heritage of the hotel. At the end of a busy day, we sate our hunger with the most "nutrient-forward" organic fare in the region.
The Byron at Byron at 77-97 Broken Head Rd., Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia; 61-1300-554-362; thebyronatbyron.com.au; $255 for two hours.
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