Anxiety, that relentless nemesis, is a consequence of modern living. Perhaps that’s why spas are popping up everywhere – in hotels, on wine estates, and now in city centres, catering to the tired and time-strapped. But not all spas are created equal, and the difference between a pamper session for the sake of prettiness and an earnest wellness retreat is immense.
‘The beauty industry has shifted in the last few years, and now people are looking for effective treatments with health benefits,’ says Helen Cain, group spa manager for Virgin Limited Edition. And it’s twofold, she says. We still want indulgence but we also want to reap as many wellness benefits as possible. Massage is a prime example – it feels good, and it’s good for you.
It’s a great way to de-stress and unwind and also assists with improving blood circulation, says Rubain Stroud, assistant spa manager at the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg. And a health-conscious approach includes shunning products that could be potentially harmful.
‘Clients are opting for skincare products that are 100 percent natural, containing only plant extracts and essential oils,’ reports Marjorie Cesar, manager for spa operations at One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius. ‘This, together with being effective, is very important today, as clients are more careful now about what they put on their skin.’
If we’re starting to sell you on the value of (proper) spa’ing, health-boosting hideaways can of course double up as zone-out holidays – especially if a passport is required. For one of those, book One&Only Le Saint Géran’s Only Massage and leave yourself in the hands of highly skilled therapists who will smooth away tension using aromatherapy oils chosen by you. The One&Only Mankind massage is recommended for those who suffer from tension headaches and neck strain, and desperately need a good night’s sleep.
For something a little closer to home, head for the tented camp at Thanda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu- Natal. While a canvas spa tent may sound a little primitive, the treatments up the ante. Lymphatic drainage massage has long been hailed for its ability to encourage waste products to be whisked away from the tissues so that the body can properly detox and heal. It is also very effective at revving up the immune system. For this benefit, Thanda’s spa created the Ndlovu Walk (elephant walk) treatment, a lymph drainage massage based on the deep but gentle pressure of elephants’ footsteps.
If you can’t leave the city, you can still treat your body to something wonderfully rejuvenating, even if only for a few hours. The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff has just launched a rather forward-thinking facial, a new treatment by Biologique Recherché of Paris called Seconde Peau or Second Skin. The approach to this skin overhaul is, while rather clinical, certainly technologically innovative – think a hyaluronic acid electrospun machine that acts like a 3-D printer. Translation? Medical grade hyaluronic skin patches (designed to penetrate into skin structures) form an anti-ageing mask that visibly lifts skin and accelerates cellular renewal.
There’s now also authentic Turkish hammam spa’ing in Pretoria. Yadah Castle Hammam Turkish Bath and Spa offers guests the traditional Ottoman skin-cleansing ritual, a brisk body buffing with a kese (an exfoliating mitt) that sloughs away dead cells so the skin can breathe again. But why should you subject yourself to a vigorous scrub-down administered in the manner of a determined mid-century English nanny? It’s the cure for sluggish blood circulation that, at best, is to blame for chilly hands and feet, and at worst can actually affect your memory. Oh, and there’s a head-to-toe soap massage under a pleasant-smelling cloud of lather afterwards. That sounds rather nice, doesn’t it?
Original article by Helen Clemson shortened for online publication, from Private Edition, Issue 33