Review: Alba Thermal Springs & Spa, Mornington Peninsula

Alba Thermal Springs & Spa - lounge
Alba Thermal Springs & Spa - lounge

Alba Thermal Springs & Spa on the Mornington Peninsula offers a health-giving dose of hedonism.

A lofty front door that silently swings open – no need to do anything as exhausting as pushing – a vast foyer, soaring ceiling and serene monochromatic palette welcome guests to Alba Thermal Springs & Spa on Victoria’s fashionable Mornington Peninsula.

Ethereal music drifts through the space and light floods in through a broad circular skylight. A sculptural staircase curves sinuously to the next level. Everything here says space, subdued luxury and – dare I say – Zen.

There’s a fabulously long check-in desk that is more five-star hotel than local spa. Staff in black channel a business-like vibe rather than a drifty Byron Bay ethos, but they hit the sweet spot between friendliness and efficiency.

In the sleek change rooms (a moody concrete, timber and copper aesthetic) you can divest yourself of worldly cares, jewellery and iPhones. (There’s a voluntary ‘digital detox policy’, though not surprisingly some guests do not wish to abandon the Instagram possibilities so readily.)

Wrapped in bunny-soft white robes guests meander from spa pool to spa treatment to star restaurant Thyme.

The restorative thermal waters here bubble up at around a cosy 43°C. More than 30 pools –geothermal pools, cold plunge pools and herbal-infused botanical pools of varied size, shape and temperature are choreographed through an undulating landscape of native vegetation, dotted with sun lounges and sun brollies. Some pools seem intimate, others more a social venue. I loved the sunset pool (the Spa is open until 10 pm) and the rippling wave pool. Rooftop salt baths and private terrace pools add to the mix.

Planting, inspired by the coastal moonah trees and local grasses, is still relatively new and sometimes sparse, but it’s easy to see the designer’s vision.

Pro-tip:  Pack your designer sunglasses and a hat – even if it’s cloudy. It’s tempting to stay in the pools and just drift off staring skyward.

A Relaxation Lounge with day beds, private booths and sweeping views is a haven

of calm. Here, 21 treatment rooms and a raft of wellness, bathing and treatment rituals designed to ‘renew, repair, and recalibrate’ await you. Options include a Vichy shower, steam room, various massages (the Alba Artisan massage with heated volcanic stones was amazing) and luxury facials. Or a combination of everything – why not? Australian organic products are by Vanessa Megan and Aika.

The restaurant, Thyme, is definitely no afterthought.  It’s spacious and beautifully fitted with bespoke leather seating, pale timber tables and covetable pottery.

Designed by star chef and restaurateur Karen Martini, the menu is a masterful blend of Japanese influences, superfood bites and indulgence. It’s executed with finesse by chef Mario di Natale (ex Gross Florentino), and as much as possible sourced locally: vegetables, herbs, vinegar, honey and more.

Guests can sip on herbal tea or a Peninsula martini on the terrace, or order a ‘new wave’ Prawn toast with shiso, wasabi mayo, avocado and yuzu. The Crumbed Fish Sandwich with pickled ginger, nori tartar and lime, and the poke bowl with seasoned tuna, red rice, kimchi and furikake are other favourites. Dessert might be a chai-spiced tiramisù or seasonal raspberries, blackberries and vodka-pressed watermelon with fior di latte gelato. There’s wine (and sparkling wine, of course) and excellent coffee.

Thyme is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Guests can book all-day access to the pools, sauna and steam room or

full and half-day packages combining spa pools, treatments and meals at Thyme.

Alba Thermal Springs & Spa is at Fingal on the Mornington Peninsula.

Indicative rates are a half-day session that includes a facial, massage and lunch or dinner is approximately $950 per person; and a full day experience approximately $1300.

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