Bunyip Tours caught up with Charles from the Peninsula Hot Springs to find out how it got started and what makes it such an amazing place to visit!
Q: So Charles can you tell us a bit about yourself and your story?
I’m the founder and CEO of Peninsula Hot Springs. I started my hot springs journey in Japan in 1992 and fell in love with the experience and said to myself why don’t we have this in Australia? A few years later I found out there was hot water on the Mornington Peninsula 600 metres underground, so I got my brother involved and together at the end of 1997 we bought the land on which Peninsula Hot Springs is located.
It took us a total of 8 years to go through all the planning, financing, drilling and the whole process before we could open on the 28th of June 2005. It’s slowly grown step by step ever since then and we’ve gone from having about 50,000 visitors in the first year to approximately 500,000 visitors per year now.
We’re slowly introducing more facilities and more pools and experiences and are focused on providing our visitors with a natural hot springs bathing experience in the Australian nature setting.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about the Peninsula Hot Springs themselves?
Peninsula Hot Springs is made up of two main facilities, one is called the Spa Dreaming Centre which has a bathing area, a café, a massage spa centre where you can have massages and facials and different body treatments. There’s also some private pools and relaxation areas. The Spa Dreaming Centre is available for guests 16 years of age or older.
Then we have the Bath House which has 43 different bathing experiences. These include thermal mineral spring pools, cold plunge pools, saunas, steam rooms, Turkish baths, reflexology walks and many more. All in a natural Australian bush setting on the Mornington Peninsula, a beachside area of Victoria about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Melbourne.
Q: What other amenities such as food are available on site?
We have a café in the Bath House and also in the Spa Dreaming Centre and we’ve just opened a new café in the Bath House in what we call the Amphitheatre area. Those facilities are supplied by produce we’re growing ourselves in the Food Bowl and also by local growers in our region. We practice what we call slow food – seasonal, local, organic and whole foods. We try and have a really healthy and tasty food selection in different styles. From a la carte in the Spa Dreaming Centre to fresh pizzas, juices and salads in the Bath House.
Q: What is personally your favourite part of the Hot Springs?
I think the thing I like most about the Hot Springs is the variety, we have many different experiences that people can enjoy and I like enjoying. My current favourite would have to be the new Fire and Ice experience, we have two big 30 person saunas and next door to that is an ice cave and snow room. The ice cave has one room which is about minus 10 degrees Celsius and another room next door which is minus 25 degrees. This provides a huge variation in temperatures helping make your body feel amazing. Just in case you forget that you’re alive jumping in the ice room after being in the sauna will make sure you know!
Q: How much time do people typically spend there?
The shortest time is probably about an hour, on average people normally spend 2 and a half to 3 hours and sometimes people choose to stay all day. Very soon we’re going to be introducing accommodation so that guests won’t have to leave. We’ve got 136 rooms of accommodation that are going to be constructed over the next 2 and a bit years.
The first round of accommodation may be open as early as June next year.
Q: Exciting Stuff! Is there a best time of year to visit?
All year round. We’re in a beautiful beachside destination and in the middle of summer there’s lots of things to do in the region. In winter it’s a great place for you to warm up moving from pool to pool. There really is no seasonality which is indicated in our visitation figures. Our largest months for visitation are January and July so the middle of summer and the middle of winter especially over the school holidays. There’s only about a 20% variation between our largest month and smallest month so it really is an all year, all weather relaxation destination.
Q: What makes the Hot Springs so unique?
The way we’ve been able to make the design and landscaping fit so well into an Australian setting. The experience is built with “meandering in mind”. All together in the two areas there’s about 60 different pools and experiences that people can enjoy. People love going from one experience to the next on a journey, enjoying time with your friends in the natural setting and the warmth of the hot pools. It doesn’t matter what the weather condition is, it’s still a great experience so anyone that wants to take someone somewhere and have a great time no matter what the day brings, they can have an amazing time at Peninsula Hot Springs.
Q: You said you have the new Fire and Ice experience and have accommodation planned for the future is there anything else exciting that’s up and coming?
We’ve got the Amphitheatre Bathing area which has also just opened with seven pools set in a natural amphitheatre with terraces going down to a lake. On the other side of the lake there’s a stage and we have live music on occasion and some nights we do a “bathe-in”, like a drive in except you lie in a hot pool and watch a movie.
There’s underwater speakers in the Amphitheatre pools so you’re able to lay back with your ears under water and listen to music while looking at the stars at night. You can also just enjoy the relaxing ambience of the space. The Amphitheatre can be booked out if people wish to do private events and activities and we can have private ticketed events there as well.
We also have a new building called the Wellness Centre where we offer a series of activities that people can engage in including Yoga, Pilates and guided walks and we’re introducing a wellness pass. Guests who come visit pay a small extra fee and get access to a series of wellness activities that are happening all the time.
Clay Ridge is an area where we have 10 different coloured earth clays that people can paint on themselves which is really good on hot days and for your skin. People can paint the different clays on themselves and then bake it off in the sun and wash it off in thermal hot springs showers. All these activities and more are available on the wellness pass which is a really good way to introduce people to a variety of wellness practices.
Q: Amazing there’s so much going on! What advice do you have for people visiting?
Plan your day, if you’re coming from Melbourne decide if you’re visiting us in the morning or afternoon and then also enjoy the rest of the region. The Mornington Peninsula has so many activities to do wether it’s, bushwalking horse riding or swimming with dolphins. There’s so many activities so you really should try and plan to have a whole day because it really is an incredible area to visit.
We’d love you to come and eat at our place but there’s also so many nice wineries, restaurants and farms and amazing places to visit and eat at. There’s a reason why the Mornington Peninsula is the number one visitor destination for people living in Melbourne.
Q: Is there anything you think we’ve missed or anything you’d like to suggest to travellers?
The hot springs is a place that’s really good for all sorts of different people in all sorts of different situations. If you come midweek and early in the morning you can enter at a lower price, you can come by yourself and enjoy the tranquillity of the place or you can come with a group of friends and enjoy the conversation and being in a social setting together.
It’s a really good place to visit with your children and loved ones and be able to spend some quality time together and relax and have a conversation.
One of my favourite things I see at the hot springs is when you have an extended family who are there together. Picture a young mother with a baby and her mother and grandmother. Four generations of one family absolutely relaxing and enjoying their time together. It’s lovely to see a great grandmother with a great grandchild in the pool enjoying a blissful relaxing experience.
So all in all there are many occasions where anyone can enjoy the hot springs so come and spend a relaxing time with us and connect with the natural environment of this beautiful area.
Q: Thanks so much for your time Charles!
It’s a pleasure.