26 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2020 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Matt Sykes

Spa People

Matt Sykes

Victoria has a plethora of geothermal springs and this creates a unique selling point globally for our state

Matt Sykes
Nunduk Hot Springs, due to open in 2021, is included in the cycle

Matt Sykes, former experience manager at Australia’s Peninsula Hot Springs, has proposed a blueprint for a hot springs bathing cycle around the emerging sector in the state of Victoria.

He recently presented the route to the spa industry for the first time at the Global Thermal Think Tank summit in China (see p62) and the California Hot Springs Convention in the USA.

The 900km Great Victorian Bathing Trail would run along Australia’s southern coast taking in a wide variety of bathing destinations such as hot springs and sea baths, river baths and beaches, mineral springs, forest baths and salt, ice and lake baths. In total, Sykes says it would connect around 50 locations, business and initiatives.

The proposed route will also link with Victoria’s Aboriginal Cultural Trail as well as hiking, rail and bike routes.

Sykes produced the blueprint after he won a 2018 fellowship at the Victoria Tourism Industry Council.

For research, he visited global thermal destinations, looking at industry benchmarks and experiencing a variety of international bathing methods. He started in southern and central Australia, he then travelled to Tasmania and then further afield to China and Japan. He also explored Europe, visiting Iceland, Finland and Norway, and then Denmark, Sweden and the UK.

The trail would begin at the Deep Blue Hotel and Hot Spring in Warrnambool and trace the coastline to the state’s eastern border Metung on the Gippsland Lakes in East Gippsland, where Peninsula Hot Springs is also developing a hot springs wellness hotel and bathing marina.

Along the way, people have the opportunity to experience the Twelve Apostles Hot Springs near Port Campbell, opening January 2022; Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula; the Phillip Island Hot Springs and Saltwater Baths, which are under construction and the Nunduk Hot Springs Resort in Seacombe, East Gippsland which is scheduled to open in 2021.

Sykes argues the initiative will kickstart community and economic regeneration and is an opportunity to create a nature-based economy that is supportive of the local ecology.

“Victoria has a plethora of geothermal springs,” he says, “this creates a unique selling point globally for our state and positions Victoria prominently among destinations around the world that are focusing on this lucrative and growing sector.

“By 2030 we could create a signature wellness experience that’s nature-based, wellness-focused and defined by a common regenerative development philosophy.”

Sykes is now exploring the potential for other bathing trails in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales.

To see the proposed Great Victorian Bathing Trail in detail visit spabusiness.com/bathingtrail

Originally published in Spa Business 2020 issue 1

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