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Spa in Sydney; Every Day is a G'day

By: Bryan Durocher
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 5

Deborah Mangum-Copelli had a significant hand in pioneering the day spa concept in Sydney, opening Zen Day Spa in 1996 in the southeastern suburb of Darlinghurst. At the time, she notes, Australians equated the term spa with a whirlpool tub, and it was up to her to re-educate locals and school them in the concept of spa as a place to “nurture body, mind and soul with water and without,” she says.

Mangum-Copelli succeeded, and today Zen Day Spa is a popular destination for trendy, casual locals who visit for the spa’s modern approach to skin care combined with global offerings such as ayurveda, aromatherapy and Reiki. One of the newest treatments on the menu is the 75-minute, $137 Aroma-Stone Facial, a customized skin care protocol that uses warm river stones and cool Italian marble with face, upper body and foot massage to deeply relax the client.

Zen Day Spa is situated in a cozy, converted Victorian row house, where the reception area features hardwood floors, flowing draperies, simple furnishings and a well-stocked Dermalogica retail area displayed in custom cabinetry. The treatment rooms have romantic French windows, the beds are made up in navy terry linens, and the private whirlpool suite where I received my treatment is graciously spacious.

I booked the $185–261-priced Thermal Mud Massage, a service ranging from 60–90 minutes that was billed as “an exotic experiential treatment that combines the detoxifying and cleansing properties of earth clays with the moisturizing power of olive and grape seed oils.” A customized mud massage that smoothes and conditions skin while stimulating circulation through specific massage moves over the entire body, the spa menu also added that the treatment is “fortified with antioxidants.”

Upon my arrival, I was greeted by the spa director, who inquired with genuine interest about my trip, offered me a tour, answered my questions and made me feel completely comfortable. Moving to the treatment, Zen delivered everything it promised and more. My therapist included lymphatic drainage in my massage to amplify the detoxifying properties of the mud, and, as with the therapist at Spa Chakra, she was highly trained and well-versed, making the massage deep and proficient.