It was raining as we pulled up the drive beneath quivering trees splashed with purple flowers. The sky was a misty grey and it looked as though the weather had set in. But it didn’t matter. If anything, it only added to the ambience and my excitement levels rose thinking about champagne sipped in cedar hot tubs and books read by the fireplace.
It wasn’t the first time, or even the second time my husband and I had visited Spicers Tamarind Retreat. But that’s how good it is. Like when you find the perfect cup of coffee so you return time and time again to the cafe just to taste it. That’s what this property is like for us – once in a while we simply need our fix.
Nestled in bushland by Gardners Falls in Maleny, Spicers Tamarind is a place where western luxury meets eastern influence. You need only meander the snaking, tree-lined pathways by hidden pavilions to see why. It’s nearly impossible not to catch the scent of chilli and coconut or fresh lime and coriander wafting from The Tamarind, the property’s hatted restaurant.
We were booked to stay for one indulgent kid-free night and we wasted no time getting down to “business” after checking in. Okay, so when I say business I mean luxuriating for the afternoon at Spicers Spa Anise.
After stepping over the Thai-inspired threshold, we were greeted by a friendly staff member, welcome drink in hand, and shown to our private dressing room where we de-robed and headed for a half hour of bliss in the hydra pool. I’m not exaggerating when I say it doesn’t get much better than this. The room opened up to let the outdoors in and the uninterrupted view was of lush green foliage that appeared to dance in the wind. The chill on the breeze brushed past my face as the warmth of the pool enveloped me while bubbles rippled across my skin. We had the pool to ourselves so we sat back, took a deep breath and let the world pass us by.
When the time came for my treatment, my husband stayed to enjoy the pool a little longer and I was led through the spa to a space designed purely for the signature footbath ritual, and the space where all appointments begin.
My feet were immersed in warm water and an infusion of aromatic oils, as my therapist talked me through the treatment ahead.
It just got better from there and I enjoyed an hour’s massage complete with an aromatic blend of “princess” oils – Indian jasmine, Australian sandalwood, cinnamon, mandarin and ylang ylang.
It’s a good thing the villas at Spicers Tamarind are so inviting because all you feel like doing after a few hours at the spa is sinking into the king-size bed for a nap or jumping in the hot tub as we did with a glass of Moët in hand. We watched the rain sprinkle down and took in the sounds of nature until the calling of the cosy room was too strong.
Something I love about Spicers Tamarind is that once you arrive, there is really no need to leave until it’s time to check out. The rooms are equipped with everything you might need to relax, the spa of course is an amazing place to spend a few hours, the pool is more than inviting when the sun is shining down and the restaurant, The Tamarind, serves up some of the tastiest Asian-inspired food I’ve ever tried.
We dressed to impress and made our way over at about 6pm, giving ourselves half an hour before our reservation to try some of the signature cocktails at the bar. Our host shook up a range of tipples that truly tantalised the tastebuds and by the time we took our seat we were both feeling nicely tipsy and ready for a romantic three-course dinner for two.
The restaurant, like the retreat itself, felt so homely and yet lavish, relaxed but classy with mellow colours and striking decor. Waiters dashed by, refilling glasses of wine and tending to the tables – an elderly couple enjoying an evening together, a younger couple celebrating a babymoon, a group of four friends laughing over old times and us, enjoying a child-free date night. All the while a conference of 40 took place in the Sala room behind us.
There is something about the food at The Tamarind that takes you on a journey of sorts. As each course comes out, and again as you take that first bite, you are transported to Asia through smell. Head chef Daniel Jarrett makes sure of that.
With every meal designed to be shared, we ate our way through braised and charred octopus, Cambodian-style barramundi salad, fragrant green curry with coconut braised beef and Mooloolaba prawn floss, pan-seared duck with fried Sichuan long beans and lychee, and we finished with white chocolate parfait, soft coconut pudding and black sticky rice – food heaven.
The following morning we said goodbye to one of our favourite hinterland havens and made our way back down the hill, the air of relaxation still lingering. And although we enjoy taking the night away to soak in the relaxed luxury that is Spicers Tamarind, you don’t need to. The Tamarind restaurant and Spa Anise are both open to the public daily so you can get your fix whenever you like.
Spicers Tamarind Retreat, 88 Obi Lane South, Maleny. 1300 311 429 or spicersretreats.com.au