Monday, November 5, 2012

A day spa morning with my sister - Brookleigh Estate, Swan Valley

Back in June, my younger sister (indeed, my only sister) turned 21. There was a party, about a billion cupcakes, and plenty of presents.

It has taken until now, however, for my sister to have the opportunity to use one of her presents. One of the gifts I gave her was a voucher for two for the Health and Spa centre at Brookleigh Estate in the Swan Valley east of Perth. Their 'gourmet course of 3' package includes a full-body massage, pedicure and manicure, followed by lunch.

Rear exterior of the Health and Spa centre

I gave my sister the voucher with a quiet hope that she would invite me to go with her, but with the message that she could take a friend or anyone she liked for the experience. She was kind enough to include me, which sort of backfired on her when she had to wait until November to use the voucher (sorry!). We were a bit tardy in trying to book after June, and then my wedding and time away took over September and October.

When we did make it out last Saturday, we found Brookleigh Estate to have a very impressive set up. There are vineyards, a large equestrian centre, and the renowned Stewart's Restaurant sharing the site. The centre also hosts weddings and, with our recent move to wedding expert status, we agreed that the buildings and gardens were highly suited to such occasions.

I had never set foot in a health, beauty or spa centre before, and really had no idea what went on in such establishments. I find it amazing that some people engage in manicures / pedicures on a regular basis - the time it takes! and the effort! and the subsequent effort to not chip your nails! - but it was fun to experience and felt like a perfect sister activity.

Before getting to the nail part of the morning, I would like to mention the massage. I have never experienced such a massage. I had occasional thoughts of "It's a Saturday morning, I really should be cleaning the house or doing something productive instead of lying down" but they were swept away with each massage stroke and I really came very close to falling asleep. It may have been one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had. One hour of massage goes a very long way to cancelling out tension, that is for sure!

Our view as we ate lunch outside

After the massage, it was on to nails. My woman (nail technician? beauty therapist?) did my toenails first, and my sister's woman did her fingernails first.

My feet drew a bit of attention. I was asked if I wore a lot of closed in shoes (yes). I was also advised to keep an eye on my dry skin. Then I was asked if I used a nail clipper on my toes (um, yes - doesn't everyone?). I ended up using running as an excuse for the (clearly poor) state of my feet, which worked brilliantly. The woman was very understanding and commiserated with the challenge of caring for feet when they are in running shoes regularly.

My buffed, moisturised, nail-painted feet, in trendy don't-smudge-your-nails thongs

The only downside of the running-based conversation was my realisation, about halfway through the pedicure, that running wouldn't explain the state of my fingernails. Just to clarify, neither my feet nor hands are in a terrible state - indeed, I never thought they were in a bad state at all! - but I do not regularly do anything to them and clearly that is a point of difference between me and women who regularly engage in pedicures and manicures.

Fortunately (perhaps...) it was the temperature of my hands that drew attention, rather than my nails per se. You may recall that my hands are perpetually cold. This prompted the woman to ask me if I had a circulatory disorder. I replied with as much dignity as I could manage, while my sister suppressed giggles next to me, that I didn't, but that my body seemed to prefer to not to warm my hands up.

With our nails done (dark red toes and near-clear fingers for me, and pale pink toes and bright pink fingers for my sister), it was on to lunch. This was provided by the on-site Stewart's Restaurant, and delivered to us in the gardens at the rear of the spa centre. Stewart's is one of the well regarded winery-based restaurants in the Swan Valley, and it proved worthy of its reputation.

Our salads - note my sister's fingernails!

My sister ordered the squid salad with rice noodles and peanuts, while I ordered the beetroot and pear salad with pine nuts. The beetroot was fresh and tender, consolidating my belief that I do like beetroot when it is prepared properly and doesn't come out of a tin. The poached pear slices were also beautiful, poached to the point of just being tender and delicious in their natural sweetness. I think they may have had a touch of vanilla, and they were a perfect accompaniment to the beetroot and salad greens. My sister spoke highly of her salad too, particularly the crispy fried squid, and the meal was a nice end to a lovely morning.


In all, it was a very fun outing and I had a great time with my sister. Brookleigh's was a good find and if you are after a scenic, relaxing spot to have a massage or eat lunch (or go for a horse ride) they provide a nice option. I may have already chipped my fingernails, but that is only to be expected with me...

Brookleigh Estate is at 1235 Great Northern Highway, Upper Swan, Western Australia.

Have you ever had a spa treatment? Or are you one of those impressive people who always has painted, neat fingernails (I manage painted toenails, but fingers are beyond me)?

37 comments:

  1. How fun!! I have never gone to a spa, but I would love too one day! I have gone to have my toes pedicured and LOVED it. It's always so relaxing! My hands are always cold and the girls at work always freeze me out with the AC. :)

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    1. AC can be a dangerous thing sometimes!

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  2. What a majorly lovely spa experience!! I'm planning on getting a massage after my next marathon and you've made me look forward to it even MORE.

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    1. I imagine it would be amazing post-marathon...the perfect time for it in fact :)

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  3. I love getting spa treatments. I wished I could go more often. Glad that you had so much fun. It looks like the experience was worth the wait.

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  4. Oh, what a lovely bonding experience for you both! I once bought my brother and I tickets for a trail ride for Christmas, because he'd never been before. memories are so much better than objects, the older we grow :)

    I've never had a manicure or pedicure. I struggle with the power-relationship side of it, particularly as most nail salons I see are staffed by Asian women who clearly aren't being paid well and don't speak much English. But a spa would surely be a different experience :)

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    1. I am a big fan of 'experience' presents :) Memories are definitely better than objects once you have the basics - and you're right, even more so with age.

      I also share your dislike of the shopping centre type nail salons. They make me feel a bit queasy in truth. The spa set up was different but I suspect I'll never feel fully at home in those sorts of places regardless of staff and quality :)

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  5. Lucky girls! What a beautiful trip. I keep meaning to do some sort of spa day but I never follow through. Lovely surrounds!

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    1. Thanks Cass - the surrounds were really gorgeous! It was a great spot.

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  6. I LOVE a day spa. It is true luxury to me and I've been lucky enough to go a few times as a result of presents. The best one I've been to is called Endota. I've only been to the Canberra one but they have them all over the place.

    The only time my nails haven't immediately chipped was when a friend who used to be a beautician did them for my sister's wedding. She was brilliant. Normally I never paint my nails (I wave my hands around far too much) but a regular Sunday afternoon activity for me in summer is painting my toenails - and S whinging about the smell.

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    1. I like the thought of you painting your toes whilst S bemoans the smell :) It is certainly a distinctive scent; I don't get to my toes weekly but Mr Bite also notices when I do and is not particularly enamored with the smell either.

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  7. It sounds like you and your sister had a lovely day. I am getting my nails, hair and makeup done for our Christmas party - very decadent, and looking forward to it.

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    1. Ooh, nails, hair and makeup sounds like a very luxurious combination! Good thinking :)

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  8. I'm not much of a spa person - and I suspect they wouldn't be impressed with my hands or feet and I don't even have the excuse of running. Though I confess I put nail polish on a thumbnail today for fun because sylvia has been very interested in nail polish so I bought her a bottle - I can't remember the last time I used nail polish, but it was fun when I was a kid. Glad you both enjoyed the weekend

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    1. How amazing to think of Sylvia being in to nail polish already. I'm sure it's more common amongst children than when I was young; Mr B's nieces are into it too. I tend to have my toe nails painted most of the time but am like you in not being too into the polish / spa scene. It was fun for a change though!

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    2. oops - I mean glad you enjoyed the morning

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  9. Did someone say cupcakes?? :) What a perfect present!!! I have never done a spa treatment but I do get manicures on a regular basis, the gel and tend to neglect my toes during the winter, since they are always covered! I'm like you, I am always cold, hands specifically. I have a friend who is the same way. Cold hands, warm heart!!! :)

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    1. I'll remember that saying Teri - thanks!! I've never tried gel nails but do know others who use them and they always seem to look immaculate.

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  10. What a fabulous and generous gift you gave your sister. I'm so pleased she took you with her! What a precious memory for both of you. The spa place looks amazing and I can just see myself being able to relax in a place like this. Very funny about your hands and feet! xx

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    1. Thank you Charlie - am pleased she took me with her too! Memories are what matters in the long run and we got some good ones from this :)

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  11. i'm so unbelievably jealous. and what a good sister! would love to do something liek this and soon, especially after a huge semester x

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    1. My sister is just going in to end-of-semester exams so she relates to the huge semester thing - I think she'd recommend it as a way to take a break from study stress!

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  12. I love spa treatments but only get to do it when in Bali!
    I have been to a wedding at Brookleigh and it was amazing.

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    1. I love getting comments from people who know Perth - it gives me such a thrill :) I imagine weddings there would be gorgeous. I am also re-thinking Bali as an appealing destination (I've never been!) because of the availability of spa treatments :P

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  13. happy belated bday to the sis!! AND wat a sweetie that she could read between the lines on that gift, right?? ;) jk. lol. but reading of this made me ache for a massage, gosh how great is that feeling?!!? glad u got ur rub on AND a pedi...hahaha...trust me, tell that lady giving u flack that ur toes are proudly runner feel! :)

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  14. I have never had a spa treatment... and I chew my fingernails (which is disgusting, I know) so you can imagine the state of my nails - both fingers and toes.

    I've just never been into that whole "beauty" side of things.... a bit of mascara is as far as I will stray into that realm!

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    1. I pick at mine ;) In the sense that I pull the nails off, often during meetings, so they are always a bit ragged looking. I don't think either of us are manicure girls at heart!

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  15. Ooooh, that sounds lovely! Worth the wait it sounds like Kari.
    Mani, pedi not for me. I used to spend hours painting scenes on my nails when I was much younger. These days with kids and a lot of hands on baking/cooking they get clipped and thats all. (It simply wouldn't do having nail polish chips in your bread :-)

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    1. Yes, I think baking is a better excuse than running actually :) I'm intrigued by the scenes you used to paint though. Impressive!

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  16. Sounds like you had a great day with your sister! Last time I had a massage, I dragged NutriDude along with me to get one as well. I loved it and felt so relaxed afterwards (and enjoyed smelling like coconut butter as well from the lotion they used) and even NutriDude thought it was amazing, which is saying a lot!

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    1. That is saying a lot! And what a lovely experience for you to do together.

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  17. Sounds like you had a wonderful relaxing day with your sister and it looks like a lovely location! I was given a massage voucher in a day spa years ago and have never done anything like that since as it's not really my thing.

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    1. Thanks Mel - it was my first time too and may well be my last, but it was a lovely morning for a change :)

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  18. Very Nice! A day in Spa can make your day! Oil massage and head massage can make your mood very good. You can relax completely as well as can get refresh with lots of new energy. Chakra massage is believed to be vascular forms of energy that run through the body. It is very good for your health.

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  19. I would love to have a spa day! I am helping my best friend plan her wedding (I'm the Maid of Honor) and it's been so stressful on both of us. I feel like having a day at the spa, especially one like this, would be just what the doctor ordered. http://www.changesofcherrycreek.com/services.php

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