Recently I went to heaven. And by heaven, I mean the amazing experience that is the Kerstin Florian facial at the Aurora Spa retreat in St Kilda. Sigh.
Hidden away inside the Prince Hotel off Acland Street (they also have a second location at the Palazzo Versace Hotel in Queensland), you'd never know that such a treasure trove of relaxation was waiting for you up the nondescript staircase.
The moment you get upstairs, the entire experience is geared towards your relaxation — from the timeout room with comfortable chairs and cozy blankets where you fill in your registration form, to the gentle music that is piped throughout the facility. They even offer hour-long pedicures where you're fully reclined in a soft armchair and wear headphones with music to encourage complete relaxation (no more brightly lit and bustling salons for you!).
After touring their rooms - they also offer body wraps, massages and their signature steam room experience - I was lead back into the timeout room and offered a cup of warm tea to help me unwind before my appointment.
Once dressed in the soft robe and way-too-big slippers, I was lead to my treatment room where I met my therapist, Greta. The room was small, dimly lit and heated, like a plush hotel room, but spacious enough so you don't feel like you've been jammed into a closet that only fits the bed.
Before the facial began, I discussed with Greta which skincare products I use, the problems with my skin and the results I was hoping to see from the treatment.
The fact that she took the time to tailor the treatment to my specific needs was a really nice change from the stock standard facials I've had at some places.
Once all that was out of the way, Greta left the room and I slipped under the covers of the massage bed. And guys, this is where the magic really started to happen!
The bed is heated - yes you heard me right - and you're covered with layers of warm blankets and towels so that it feels like you're bundled up in the warmest cocoon ever. It makes you wonder why caterpillars would ever get out of theirs! I was so relaxed and comfortable, I was amazed I was able to stay awake for more than 5 seconds before she made it back into the room.
A double facial cleanse is followed by an exfoliation treatment masque. The products are layered over the top (and removed as necessary) so that your skin gets a full routine: cleanse, tone, treatment, serum, masque and intense moisturisation. While the products do their magic on your face, they massage your chest and shoulders with a grapefruit and rosehip revitalising oil to help work out the knots and get all your muscles to relax. Then you get the choice between a foot or hand massage (I went with hand and arms because I hate having my feet touched), which they perform one arm at a time (so you stay toasty warm!) while steam is directed at your face to help the products penetrate the skin. This is then finished up with a glorious scalp massage (heaven, much?).
The products smelled divine and felt luxurious on my skin, especially the rehydrating Neroli water and Capilar Essence (a serum which helped the later layers of moituriser become even more effective).
It was great to experience the Correcting Intensive Renewel Glycolic because I am terrible at exfoliating my skin and pretty much never do it (I know, naughty!), plus I was given some samples to take home and try myself so my whole routine has been bumped up a notch.
The whole experience was over too soon (although it had been over an hour!) and I left the spa feeling like I was floating on air with my skin glowing like I had been lit from within.
Overall the experience was worth every cent. I generally have a terrible time relaxing and get very tense in massages, but they made me feel incredibly relaxed and my skin was so super hydrated for days that I didn't even need to wear any makeup.
This is the perfect luxurious gift (hint hint!) and I would definitely recommend it if you just need to treat yourself and unwind. I can't speak more highly of their excellent service, amazing products and lovely staff. I can't wait to try their other treatments!