The purpose of our business is to create experiences where our visitors can relax in nature and connect with the deep well of their being
– Charles Davidson, Peninsula Hot Springs founder
Australia’s Peninsula Hot Springs (PHS) is planning a major expansion focused on story-driven experiences including an open-air amphitheatre with seven pools and seating for 700 people, Spa Opportunities can reveal.
New offerings will include: an educational building; sauna rooms; a deep therapy pool; a fire and ice bathing area; a ‘Food Bowl’ area with on-site agriculture and picnic areas where guests are invited to “eat yourself to good health"; and the amphitheatre which forms the centrepiece of the arts and culture area.
Plans are also underway to add 126 bedrooms – a first for the hot springs.
“The purpose of our business is to create experiences where our visitors can relax in nature and connect with the deep well of their being,” Peninsula Hot Springs founder Charles Davidson told Spa Opportunities. “Many of our experiences are story-driven – we want them to be places where guests can be engaged in the experience.”
Arts and Culture
The new arts and culture area will include seven pools with underwater speakers, allowing 70 people to float in the water and listen to talks and music while they look up at the sky. The amphitheatre has seated terraces that provide space for up to 580 people to watch plays, talks and concerts, while another 120 can listen from the pools.
“We’ll be providing entertainment and education from the Amphitheatre Bathing Bowl as well as the Food Bowl,” said Davidson. “These are two unique, open-air spaces for arts, culture, relaxation, health and wellbeing.”
This will also help with capacity issues, said Davidson: “Demand has been rising – half the time we’re at full capacity and we can’t allow additional people into the facilities.”
In December, the first stage of the Food Bowl area – a three-acre (1.2 hectare) terraced garden – will be completed. The garden will be used for growing vegetables, herbs, teas, mushrooms and medicinal plants, and the produce will be used in the cafes on site and sold in the retail outlets.
“Visitors will be able to walk the gardens and talk to the horticulturist,” said Davidson. “The chefs in the wood-fired pizza oven area will walk with groups to collect fresh tomatoes, capsicums and other vegetables, and use it for the topping on pizzas.”
The Food Bowl will have seven terraces, with the initial four completed and producing produce by December this year. The additional three terraces, along with a lake and stage at the bottom, will be constructed in 2018. Guests will be able to sit on the ledge of each terrace to watch performances and speakers on the stage.
The hot springs will also add 126 rooms of overnight accommodation, including 22 private lodges with access to their own private thermal hot spring pool, as well as condominiums and a glamping area with luxury tents. These will be introduced in a staged rollout from July 2018 to November 2020.
“The lodges are specifically designed for the unique climate in our region of Australia, which has distinct seasons – often all in one day,” said Davidson. “The thermal heat from the hot spring water will be used to hydroponically heat all the buildings, providing the nicest possible heat with the least environmental impact.”
Theoretical and experiential wellness
A new building designed for education will also open in December, enabling PHS to deliver programmes for guests and for external clients – such as local gyms, yoga and pilates studios and massage schools – to bring professionals to the facility to learn.
“We see ourselves as creators of spaces where wellness can be provided at a theoretical and experiential level,” said Davidson.
Saunas are being built to enable groups of 20 to 30 people to be in the space at once, so that sauna masters can train classes. Two new sauna rooms will provide a variety of temperatures and humidities and will enable a class to be held on one side while the public can enjoy the facility on the other.
A new deep therapy pool will allow guests to experience floating treatments such as watsu, and is large enough for three treatments at one time so that it can be used for education. PHS’s hammam also has a capacity of 24, as does the new Clay Ridge area, which features a unique programme where guest can paint mineral-rich mud on their skin before washing it off.
Davidson said he’s also developing training modules for various global bathing modalities, with the intention of creating a Global Bathing Masters programme. The programme will include training in hammam (Turkish and Moroccan); sauna; hydrotherapy; floating water therapies, including watsu; clays; contrast therapies such as hot and cold water therapy; Kneipp therapy and more.
Fire and Ice
A 'Fire & Ice' area will include cold baths, ice baths and an ice cave for guests to experience contrast bathing by spending time in saunas and hot mineral spring pools before plunging into cold and ice experiences.
“This is very good for blood circulation and for generating an overall sense of invigoration and being alive,” explained Davidson.
The size and styles of the pools are specifically designed for social bathing experiences. “Finding time to relax and be with friends or yourself in a natural setting is at the core of the hot springs bathing experience,” said Davidson. “There is a lot of fun and laughter to be had with friends when going in and out of what could be considered extreme bathing experiences like ice and cold plunges and very hot saunas.”