Forget rugging up in layers and layers or hibernating in front of the heater at home – the best way to stay warm in autumn is bathing in geothermal hot springs.

At Peninsula Hot Springs, an hour from Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula, water rich in boron, magnesium, potassium and sodium is piped from a depth of 637 metres below ground, where it lies in an aquifer that stretches from Bacchus Marsh in the north all the way to Bass Strait in the south. Heated by the earth’s core, the water arrives at the surface at a temperature ranging between 45 and 60 degrees Celsius.

Devotees have long felt that soaking in this warm, mineral-rich water (cooler water is added to make it a comfortable temperature for bathers) delivers a host of health benefits.

“It reduces arthritic pain and helps detoxify the body, improving circulation and digestion,” says Peninsula Hot Springs CEO Craig Mitchell. “The magnesium and potassium are also good for healthy skin, and it’s good for muscle and bone health.”

While these claims have not been definitively proven, Peninsula Hot Springs is involved in a study with RMIT to quantify the sleep benefits of bathing in hot springs. And then there is social connectivity: “The mental health benefits you get from sitting in water with friends and family,” Mitchell says.

Peninsula Hot Springs’ story began back in 1992, when co-founder Charles Davidson visited Japan. There he experienced the warmth and wonder of bathing in the country’s celebrated onsen. Charles wanted to introduce a similar tradition of outdoor bathing in Australia and centred his efforts on developing the geothermal springs discovered on the Mornington Peninsula in 1979. After years of planning, Peninsula Hot Springs opened its doors in 1997, with Charles’s brother Richard on board as a business partner.

Today, Mitchell says, Peninsula Hot Springs is “a place of wellness” that each year attracts around 450,000 visitors. They come for the sense of calm and relaxation that pervades the 42-acre precinct. The venue now offers more than 50 different bathing experiences encompassing geothermal baths and pools, saunas, Moroccan-style hammams and cold plunge pools.

The Bath House is the home of communal bathing, where groups can enjoy a sociable soak (while observing Covid-safe physical distancing rules). Those keen to dodge the crowds can opt for a private experience in one of the venue’s private bathing pavilions and outdoor pools or in a reserved pool in the Bath House. Private relaxation domes and cabanas are also available for guests to book during the day.

As well as geothermal bathing, Peninsula Hot Springs offers luxury treatments at its Spa Dreaming Centre, plus a range of wellness activities such as yoga, Pilates and nature walks. Its numerous dining options include the Spa Dreaming Centre Dining Room, the Bath House Cafe and picnic areas scattered around the grounds. In December, the venue added glamping to its list of services, with the addition of 10 luxury tents complete with king-size beds, ensuites and underfloor heating.

Now a local institution, Peninsula Hot Springs has won a bunch of awards, including several trophies at the World Luxury Spa Awards and a spot in the Victorian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame in the Health and Wellness, Tourist Attraction and Ecotourism categories.

A new deal exclusive to RedBalloon provides guests access to the Spa Dreaming Centre and an indulgent 45-minute private bath with their choice of lavender milk, tulsi tea or essential oils added to the water. Fluffy robes and towels and complimentary herbal teas are included in the $350 deal.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with RedBalloon.