GREENING THE SOUL
Greening the soul - Luxury Travel Magazine
Greening the soul
|By: Jane O’Sullivan – Issue 44, Spring 2010|
|(Daintree Rainforest, Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa)|
|THIS RAINFOREST RETREAT MAY NOT BE FANCY, BUT IT SOOTHES THE SOUL WRITES JANE O’SULLIVAN. AND FOR SOME SMOOTHING WITH THAT SOOTHING, A TRIP TO THE DAY SPA MIGHT BE JUST THE THING. |
|As soon as you get out of the car and take a few steps into the rainforest, you can feel it on your skin. The air is muggy, warm and still, and after a couple of deep breaths you forget the city ever existed. Inside the Daintree Rainforest, you can tilt your head up and you’ll find the sky has completely disappeared. There’s just a glow of green as the sun hits the canopy and here and there a glint of blue as a giant Ulysses butterfly wings by. In a place as special as this, it’s only natural to start thinking green too. |
At the outskirts of the Daintree, a 40-minute drive north from Port Douglas, is the Daintree Eco Lodge Resort & Spa. While guests might expect an eco lodge to be jam-packed with green features, the approach here is more laid back. Green is about going back to basics and being as close to nature as possible.
Helping guests get into the mindset is the eco lodge’s day spa. Set in a converted residential home, it has an unprepossessing ambience. Its focus is on healing, wellness and spiritual regeneration rather than beauty, so you won’t find waxing and mani-pedis on the treatment menu. Instead, there are massages and pamper treatments using Daintree Essentials products, an organic range developed by the spa. Products include local oils, nuts, seeds and fruits and the recipes are said to draw on the healing practices of the local Kuku Yalangi people.
Lillypilly and lemon myrtle are both used for their antioxidants and high vitamin C, while quandong reputedly lends anti-ageing benefits. Ylang ylang also turns up in many of the treatments – and if there is on scent that defines the Daintree Rainforest it would be this one. Take a trip down the Daintree River at dusk and the air is heavy with its perfume.
The lodge also has many ylang ylang trees, which brings to the property the rare and rather onomatopoeically named Wompoo Fruit Dove.
The spa’s signature treatment is an extravagance for east coasters used to water restrictions and five minute showers. After a massage and full body scrub, the walbul walbul (butterfly) treatment finishes with a seemingly never ending “rainshower” with five rotating showerheads. (The spa can get away with this profligacy because it has its own water source on the property.)
One of the more spiritual treatments is conducted outdoors at the base of a small waterfall on the property, known to the Kuku Yalangi as a sacred women’s place. After a traditional smoking ceremony, ochre is crumbled from rocks next to the stream and used for a full body exfoliation. The trail leading up to the site is closed off for privacy, and at the end of the treatment, women are granted special access to bathe under the waterfall.
It is this attempt to blend local Kuku Yalangi culture and western traditions that best describes the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa.
At the restaurant, the menu blends bush tucker with contemporary Australian. While it’s a little overambitious at times, it’s an interesting experiment and for many it will be the first taste of rosella flower, crocodile meat or quandong fruits.
The eco lodge also endeavours to educate guests about local Indigenous culture, offering art classes (not recommended for those with a serious interest in Aboriginal art) and guided interpretive walks through the rainforest. Owners Terry and Cathy Maloney have also recently established the Karrba Foundation, which will see the eco lodge take on a growing role as a provider of education, training and employment for people in the local community.
The property is now some 15 years old and the villas, which jut out over a steep hill almost like tree houses, are beginning to show signs of wear. Most walls are simply louvred windows, which let in the rich loamy smell of the rainforest and the sounds of the occasionally very noisy wildlife. It’s this complete immersion in the rainforest that attracts people to the Daintree Eco Lodge Resort & Spa. It’s a place to breathe deep, relax and soak up the nature.
Stay: Daintree Eco Lodge Resort & Spa
|Website: www.daintreeecolodge.com.au |
|Rates: From A$550 per room per night double occupancy. |
|Getting there: Daintree Eco Lodge Resort &Spa is 90 minutes drive north of Cairns International Airport. Virgin Blue Airlines offers direct, daily flights to Cairns from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Townsville. |