While an escape from the hustle of city life is often top of our fantasy to-do list, it’s not always feasible to head out to the country or book a trip to Byron. Stepping into the gap between yoga studio and luxury retreat space, Willow Urban Retreat offers spa, wholefood and holistic wellness services in Armadale.
Sharon Bassat had long been pursuing her passion for health and wellbeing when the opportunity to open her own lifestyle hub became a reality.
"One of the main reasons why Willow Urban Retreat exists is because we see the value in making self-care a priority,” she says. The spa treatments and Ayurvedic therapies (a mind-body practice that originated in India) on offer “were chosen to help promote deep relaxation and reconnection,” Bassat says.
“The movement and mindfulness classes are designed to inspire, motivate and educate you and we offer yoga, rebounding, dance, stretch and Qigong.”
In addition to yoga, mini-trampoline and dance classes, Willow houses a cafe alongside a luxury spa.
Head chef Nick Cree, who spent time in the kitchens at Top Paddock and Supernormal, designed the breakfast and lunch menus with the assistance of naturopath Joanne Riley.
“Nick was chosen for his ethos of delivering high-quality food that won’t impact the environment,” says Bassat. “He is also passionate about supporting local farmers and suppliers that embody sustainable and holistic practices. We also have our own farm located on the Mornington Peninsula.”
That translates to dishes such as rice-flour pancakes topped with charred figs, coconut, maple butter and jasmine flowers, and eggs baked with yellow split-pea dhal and cumin-seasoned yogurt. Salads are made with seasonal vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers providing ample reason to extend a spa visit into lunchtime. Add organic coffee, Ayurvedic tea and pressed juices on the side.
The spa menu, meanwhile, includes massage, Ayurveda consultations, facials and a therapeautic infrared sauna, which uses a special kind of heater, rather than coals, to heat up the space.
Visitors can come for a single class, meal or spa session, or take up the 12-month Retreat Membership. This gives unlimited access to movement and mindfulness classes, an Ayurvedic wellness consultation, 12 infrared-sauna sessions, a 60-minute skin-health assessment and facial, 12 hour-long spa treatments and two guest day passes.
Housed within two heritage Victorian buildings on High Street in the heart of leafy Armadale, the task of renovating the space went to Meme Design’s Megan Hounslow and Melanie Beynon.
Beynon and Hounslow used sustainably sourced and toxin-free materials in the fit-out and installed air-purifying systems throughout the space.
Willow Urban Retreat is located at 1203 High Street in Armadale and opens seven days a week. Opening hours differ for the retreat, classes and cafe.