From being wrapped in tomatoes to harnessing the energy of the ancient Andeans, some of the latest spa treatments sound more wacky than wonderful. But, according to the world’s leading retreats, there’s a growing demand for the unusual when it comes to modern-day spa practices.
MOUNTAIN PINE PEEL AND HAY BATH
Vigilius Mountain Resort, South Tyrol, Italy
If getting away from it all is your thing, then head up to the scenic mountain resort that is Vigilius. Based 1,500m high in the Italian Dolomites, the hotel can only be reached by cable car from the nearby village of Lana, near Merano. Suffice to say this is a remote spot. It’s also an enchanted Heidi-like setting. But don’t let the revitalizing fresh air, breathtaking views and chirruping birds fool you – Vigilius is super-sophisticated.
Ultra-modern architecture, a well-stocked wine cellar and stellar cuisine give it an urban edge that belies its picturesque setting. At its heart is the Mountain Spa. While there’s a good mix of Asian-inspired treatments, the gems are really the Tyrolean influenced ones, such as the Mountain Pine Peel. An exfoliating massage, this sloughs off dead skin and flaky patches with finely-ground pine cone particles. Limbs are left smooth and silky while the herbal aroma clears the mind. Finish up with the signature Hay Bath, which combines a soak in local hay and herbs with a concentrated massage. The result? Circulation is enhanced, skin is glowing and tension is released. Sublime.
Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, Japan
Much of the Japanese beauty regime is based around the ritual of cleansing. Offering a luxurious take on this is the urban oasis that is The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. If the views over the sprawling metropolis below won’t cause you to draw breath – the spa is based on the 40th floor overlooking the city – its slick approach to traditional customs surely will. Take the Azuki Ritual, for instance.
The ingredients used in the age-old treatment may sound more suited to the kitchen, but be assured that they have been chosen due to their highly effective anti-oxidising effect. The deep-cleansing therapy is based around Azuki beans, which are sourced from the nearby neighbourhood of Nihonbashi and have been used by Japanese women for centuries to rejuvenate the skin. Here they are combined with sea salt, sesame seeds and ginger to make a softening and conditioning body scrub. A relaxing patchouli and geranium oil massage follows, leaving you with deeply nourished.
BLOODY MARY TREATMENT
The St Regis, Bali, Indonesia
Order a Bloody Mary at the gloriously glam St Regis hotel in Bali and you may get more than you bargained for. The signature cocktail of the St Regis brand (it was famously invented by the bartender at the New York outpost in 1934) is the inspiration behind this reviving treatment. The two-hour session at the sprawling Remède Spa includes a skin-purifying vodka-tomato clay wrap, a detoxifying tomato and parsley infused oil massage, and an invigorating tomato, vermouth and mineral salt bath, leaving you recharged and revived.
If you still have an appetite for the red stuff after all of that, then decamp to the magical koi pond found at the heart of the spa and order the speciality of freshly shucked oysters in coriander tomato water accompanied by a ‘Bali Mary’. How refreshing.
BLOOD TYPE THERAPY
Sri Panwa, Phuket, Thailand
Perched atop Cape Panwa, with breathtaking views of the southeastern tip of Phuket, Sri Panwa is regarded as one of the world’s most luxurious hotels, with A-listers practically flocking to the state-of-art Cool Spa. Its latest range of treatments is based on the idiosyncrasies of the four different blood types – A, B, AB and O – and the personality traits of each. Once your blood type has been identified, a bespoke treatment plan is offered based around your blood type and catering to different ailments you may display. Those with Blood Type A, for instance, are said to be perfectionists, patient and reserved. Suggested treatments include a green tea body mask to detoxify and a stress-busting massage to target underlying tensions. For a circular approach to the therapies, all products used are by the renowned Immunetra, which specialise in products relating to blood type wellness.
MAORI ROMIROMI MASSAGE
Treetops Lodge, New Zealand
If travel for you means getting under the skin of a place, then take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Treetops Lodge & Estate in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tucked away in 2,500 acres of ancient native forest, the retreat offers a chance to experience a pristine landscape within the setting of a luxury lodge. Specialising in natural treatments and wellness – based on Maori culture – is the Treetops Spa. Its Romiromi massage is the highlight. A traditional holistic Maori body treatment, it combines body alignment, a deep-tissue massage and stimulation to pressure points. Toxins and blockages are released leaving you feeling light and balanced with a focus on positivity. Ideal for a new generation of spa visitor, it marries ancient wisdom with a result-focused edge.
Alila Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Perched on the hillside by the Ayung River in Bali’s central foothills, Alila Ubud is the ultimate tropical escape. Its contemporary design, inspired by a traditional Balinese village, encompasses secluded courtyards, spacious terraces and private gardens, which give way to its design-savvy spa. Make sure your stay here is a timely one so you can experience the new al-fresco moonlight remedies, only given when there is a full or new moon. The ritual takes place in a custom-made spa tent lit by moonlight. Once ensconced you’ll imbibe a warm cup of herbal tea during a recitation of the healing secrets of the full moon, a prayer to relieve stress, and a Reiki healing process that that draws upon the energy of the full moon to rejuvenate the body and spirit. No laughing now.
WHITE MUD BATH
Les Pres D’Eugenie, Gascony, France
If wellness means sumptuous surroundings, epicurean delights and a pampering approach to beauty then you’ll no doubt adore the little-known gem that is Les Pres D’Eugenie estate. Owned by the iconic three-Michelin starred chef Michel Guérard, you can forget the ‘salad and seeds’ approach to spa breaks and instead expect lavish meals that will be the highlight of your stay (for those who are weight-watching, there are inventive slimming menus on offer which are just as delicious). Expect classic French interiors, aromatic gardens and a hot spring spa. Try the White Mud Bath, which will see you relaxing in a bath full of delicate, white thermal mud. Its properties give the impression of weightlessness, so allowing total relaxation, and is meant to aid rheumatism, stress and intestinal problems. This is followed by a deep back massage with jets of mud and a torrential thermal shower. Messy but effective.
COOL AQUASTONES & ALOE THERAPY
Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
There’s nowhere quite like the pristine surroundings of the British Virgin Islands for basking in the sun. Check in to the ultra-luxe resort that is Rosewood Little Dix Bay (founded by Laurance Rockefeller no less and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year) and you’ll be forgiven for overdoing it. Don’t worry if you do, for the dramatic cliff-side Sense Spa has the perfect remedy. Aimed at sun-damaged skin, the Cool Aquastones & Aloe Therapy begins with an application of freshly chilled aloe vera gel from the spa gardens combined with cucumber, lavender and chamomile. Saturated cool towels are then applied to decrease heat and any inflammation. A gentle cold ‘aqua’ stone massage follows to further reduce fluid, reduce redness and swelling, leaving you at one with the world again.
CHAMPAGNE AND TRUFFLES FACIAL
Huvafen Fushi, North Male Atoll, Maldives
Huvafen Fushi, the 43-villa resort in the Maldives, is not short on the wow-factor. Famous for having the world’s first underwater spa, here the act of simply having a facial turns into a thrilling event – with you being surrounded by aquamarine waters and tropical fish. From its spectacular infinity pool to its seven bars and restaurants, not to mention its gorgeous location, this is one of the world’s most indulgent hotels. The perfect place, then, to try the decadent Champagne and Truffles Facial. Said to be a unique cure for jetlag (what else?), your complexion is soothed with a sumptuous mask made out of a cocktail of champagne, silk, diamonds and gold. A lifting massage follows to tone skin and then an iced blend is applied to reduce puffiness. Lastly, the complexion is left glowing with a black truffle moisturiser. Priceless.
THE DREAM TIME JOURNEY
Song Saa, Cambodia
One of the most exciting openings of late, Song Saa, a private island resort based in the Koh Rong Archipelago, off the coast of Cambodia, offers a luxury ‘castaway’ experience. Its dreamy, remote location – think shimmering waters against a backdrop of age-old, virgin rainforest – is just the start of its appeal. An eco-sensibility, 27 all-private pool villas, stunning interiors and a destination spa are all part of the package. Newly introduced is the Night Spa, which offers a selection of treatments taking place under the stars. The Dream Time Journey helps promote deep sleep, which in turn aids the skin as it is based on the knowledge that cellular growth and repair is faster during sleep. It begins with a slow, rhythmic scrub, a back and body treatment and a soothing face therapy to promote the deepest relaxation. Ingredients renowned for cellular rejuvenation – such as fresh royal jelly and orange blossom – are used, leaving you ready to slumber the rest of the night away in one of the most peaceful places on earth.
This feature is also in the current issue of Canary Wharf Magazine.