Words by Cat Woods
In Melbourne’s chic inner south, Willow Urban Retreat is Armadale’s own day-spa housing yoga, meditation, massage, health consultants and a stylish, welcoming café offering a nutritious, health-focused menu.
Despite our best plans to get away on the weekends, go exploring, hiking, get to yoga daily and finally use that discount pass to Pilates, often the demands of work and life get in the way. While a trip to Portsea or a Bali retreat is appealing, it takes planning, lengthy driving or transport hours and the logistics of booking and packing.
The founder behind Willow Urban Retreat saw the opportunity to offer all the benefits of a getaway
retreat within the convenience of the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Sharon Bassatt wanted self-care to be a priority for Melbourne’s busiest.
With 24 hour social media updates, co-workers and the boss only an email click away at all hours of the day and night, it is getting more difficult to feel like we have space to ourselves and interests beyond work. Based on a mind body practice that originated in India, the principles of Ayurveda dictate the spa treatments, nutritional therapy and also inspire the café menu, rich in wholefoods and antioxidant rich ingredients.
While some will seek out Willow purely for the luxury spa for a customised facial, infrared sauna, massage or Ayurvedic consultation, others will come for the yoga, Qigong, dance, stretch and trampoline “rebounding” classes in the on-site studio. Regardless of your preference (ideally, both), a visit to the café is a must.
Breakfast might look like an acai bowl with house-made granola and fresh coconut or fruit loaf rich with figs, apricots and topped with ricotta and
honey. A lunch favourite that gets marched out of the kitchen with clockwork consistency is the Willow seasonal greens with avocado, poached egg and super seed mix. The menu has been devised with the expert guidance of naturopath Joanne Riley alongside Top Paddock and Supernormal alumnus, Nick McCree on Head Chef duties.
Willow is open for single visits to a class, café or the spa, or there’s a 12-month Retreat Membership, which enables unlimited movement and mindfulness classes, an Ayurvedic wellness consultation, 12 infrared sauna sessions, a one-hour customised facial, 12 60-minute spa treatments and two guest day passes.
Although once you visit you won’t want to leave, when you do you’ll return work re-energised and re-engaged. 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 café.