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Review: The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury Valley

Nestled not far from the Great Dividing Range is one of Mirvac’s most beautiful rural properties and a stunning example of how a Day Spa facility can create business.

WORDS ADAM DAFF IN WINDSOR

In 2010 the NSW town of Windsor will celebrate the bicentennial of its naming by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, an event that will not be lost on the staff at one of Mirvac’s most relaxed rural properties.

The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury Valley is a stunning example of what awaits Sydney city folk who would venture west towards the Great Dividing Range.

The Sebel Hawkesbury Valley is at the gateway to the Hawkesbury Valley, 45 minutes west of Sydney, and was originally named after the events that led to the Rum Rebellion, Australia’s attempt to give the ruling government a dose of what the Americans handed the British at the Battle of Lexington.

“This property was called Rum Corps Barracks, when it was privately owned, and then changed to Radisson Rum Corps Resorts. It changed ownership in 2000 when it was branded a Sebel,” said Kun Rahadian Marketing Manager for the The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury Valley and The Sebel Kirketon Park Hunter Valley.

To say the Windsor area has grown in the past decade, would be a sincere understatement and this Mirvac property is in a strong position to capitalise.

Local government figures show that in the decade between censuses – 1991 and 2001 – the estimated resident population of the Hawkesbury grew by over 20%. This growth was among the highest in NSW, but the Hawkesbury was also surrounded by some of the other fastest growing local government areas.

What was once covered in orange orchards and small farms is now home to several software and hardware IT companies, pharmaceutical firms, government industries and food retailers such as Coles and Woolworths have also moved corporate offices to the area.

The Hawkesbury has retained a relaxing rural feel, however, and The Sebel is a reflection of that, most particularly through its day spa – Villa Thalgo.

Villa Thalgo is one of the biggest day spa facilities in Australia, almost a hotel within a hotel – offering extraordinary service in large waiting rooms surrounded by gardens full of flowers of every colour and range of treatments.

Villa Thalgo and its Manager, Danielle Palmer, were awarded Day Spa of the Year at the 2009 HM Awards, for excellence in hotels and accommodation last August. Of the 40 awards given on the night, the Spa category was one of the most popular.

“The HM Awards were extremely important as it adds not only a testimonial of our achievements in the year (both financial and repeat business) but it validates it by our industry peers with receiving this award from a highly respected industry magazine,” said Palmer.

“The HM Awards was the first accolade the spa has received since it has opened and we are very honoured.

“But in 2009 we had several other firsts; including exceeding our budget by 29% and implementing an online printable voucher system. Our online sales in 2009 amounted to 15% of total sales, compared to 6% in 2008.”

Rahadian added the industry recognition for Villa Thalgo was another example of how vital day spas can be to the marketing of a hotel.

“The day spa is an integral part of the hotel as it gives an exclusivity and value-add factor to the property. Whether they are booking a conference, leisure getaway or organising a wedding, the spa will add an additional influence to the buying decision process,” he said.

“It is an important factor for a resort hotel’s appeal to have a world class day spa on site. This is not a surprise to us, however, as seasoned travelers and spa enthusiasts expect a resort hotel to have spa facility onsite.”

With its destination focus, events, particularly weddings, are as important to this hotel as any other – and the spa remains essential part of the hotel’s offering for events and conferencing.

“The hotel has eight formal and five informal meeting rooms and can accommodate up to four weddings at a given time in one night. Moreover, we’re proud that 90 per cent of the meeting rooms have natural light,” Rahadian said.

“A lot of the larger organisations use the day spa as part of the team incentive, as a re-energizing process for their staff and another idea for a team building activity around the resort for their staff. Many stay on and utilise the facilities or buy gifts for their loved ones.”

Other facilities at the resort include a golf course, nine and 18 holes, two tennis courts, a volleyball court, an indoor heated pool and for the adventuring type – access to a hot air balloon ride.

For weddings this property has private group relaxation rooms as well as make-up rooms and pre-and post wedding spa treatment packages for brides.

The spa was purpose built in 1998 with consultants from Thalgo Paris assisting with design and Palmer was thankful for this partnership with a well-established, treatment-based professional skin care company.

“A brand like Thalgo gives us an instant identity of quality and association with a well known proven product which has been in Australia for a good number of years,” she said.

At Villa Thalgo Palmer said there was an emphasis on “seamless service, a warm personal touch, high repeat customer service, extensive facilities and tailor-made treatments”.

And her secret?

“Great staff are always difficult to find. However, with the correct training and motivation we will have minimal turnover. We are fortunate that our team is highly motivated and passionate in what they do.”

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