Peppers Mineral Spa, Hotel & Conference Centre

Client: Spa Country
Location: Hepburn Springs, Victoria
Co-ordinates: 37°18’40.2”S 144°08’16.6”E
Status: Design Development
Year: 2016
Project Team: BoardGrove Architects
Images: BoardGrove Architects
Words: Brodie Norris

conference centre  hospitality  hotel  landscape  recreation  

Imagining: Before her, a labyrinth of concrete cylinders punctuated by shafts of light, their bases submerged in a pool and shrouded in an ethereal mist. Intrigued, she tests the shallow water, with just the tip of her toe at first. Satisfied by its warmth, she throws off her robe and wades in. Paddling deeper, towards the light, she strokes the concrete trunks as she passes; smooth, like driftwood. With a little bounce, she shallow dives into the pool, slightly less elegantly than she’d hoped. Resurfacing, she rolls over to look up at the sky, feeling both physically and mentally lighter, the mineral-rich water washing away the tension of the past few months.

Her new happy place.

A quick dive under one of the monumental tubes reveals a bright beam of sunshine, illuminating the depths and encouraging the tiles on the pool’s floor to glisten like hidden jewels.

This is just one of the surprises she uncovers. Each cylinder reveals a spa surrounded by its own unique world: Within one, a galaxy of delicate stars; in another, a secret waterfall, where the crash of falling water massages away her lingering knots and tightness; an arctic-cool plunge pool startles her circulation system awake within another.

She watches as a canoodling couple – on their honeymoon, perhaps – lay hand in hand on a heated concrete lily-pad. The lily-pad floating, remarkably, on the pool’s surface radiates warmth like a patio who’s seen too much sun, oblivious to the shadow from the function room above.

As she floats, other bathers breathe in the thick, moist air of the steam room and sweat out their worries in the sauna. Whispered nothings bounce and reverberate their way to the opposite side of a spa cloistered by a dome. A kiss is stolen in a pool surrounded by a field of colourful wildflowers. While atop a tower, a group of men sit in the bubbling water among the treetops, ribbing one another about that missed shot.

The day grows weary and fades into night. Conference-goers who had been overlooking the spa with envy become a wedding party ‘cheersing’ the happy couple. The function room’s perforated skin, by day a veiled privacy screen for the bathers becomes a romantic lantern, creating delicate, twinkling light for the couple’s first dance.

All this seems to happen beyond her. The spring water, and perhaps the fresh country air, enveloping her in a peaceful bubble of solitude; the forgotten introvert in her revels in it. She enters another of the cylinders and allows the jets of warm air to blow her dry before heading back to her room for the night. As she leaves, she notices a regained lightness and confidence in her step which must have been crushed under the weight of the stress and heartbreak she left floating, back there, in the pool.