Sunday, March 30, 2008

A dreamy hot stone massage

I was lucky enough to be in Singapore over Easter, and paid a visit to the uber-relaxing Willow Stream Spa, on Level 6 of the Fairmont Hotel. It's just opposite the iconic Raffles.

Formerly known as the Amarita Spa, it's apparently one of the biggest day spas in Singapore, with about 35 treatment rooms.

From the moment you walk in past a couple of huge water features, you're treated like royalty. The spa feels huge - no boxy little rooms here.

Once the consultation forms were complete, we were ushered down into the Ladies Spa, changed into our fluffy white robes and slippers and entered the pre-treatment room.

It was a chill zone - just a quiet room with about 10 couches segregated by sheer curtains, where you could sip ginger tea and chill out before your treatment. It was a nice touch and really got us away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, which now seemed a million miles away.

Mum was having a 90-minute deluxe facial, and I was having a 90-minute East Meets West Stone Massage. I was particularly interested in the hot stone massage, as it's a course I want to take this year as part of my continuous professional development requirements as a massage therapist.

Mum and I chatted quietly before our therapists called us into our respective rooms. The treatmeant rooms themselves were also spacious, with a small shower in the back corner. Again, another nice touch, as clients who are having body wraps or other treatments that require showers, can stay in the same room throughout the treatment.

I settled onto the massage table as my therapist finished warming the large, smooth basalt stones. Basalt stones are used in this type of massage because of their ability to retain heat. They also allow the therapist to apply firm pressure in tension-filled areas.

I'm sure I drifted off into the land of nod almost as soon as the first stone was placed on my back, because I don't remember much of the rest of the treatment. So much for taking notes for research purposes!

But I do remember the feeling of the therapist using the rocks like an extension of her palm, and massaging my back in long effleurage strokes. And I remember her placing stones in my palms and down my spine as she massaged my legs. The combination of the heat, oil and pressure was blissful. I'm sure my snoring was less-than-glamorous, but this 90-minute treatment was perfect for my weary, jet-lagged mind and body. I came away feeling relaxed, refreshed and happy.

What felt like days later, I emerged from the treatment room back into the chill room, to find an equally blissed out Mum. We were both grinning like clowns and wished we could afford to have these sort of treatments every day.

We could have stayed in the chill room for as long as we liked, or used the pools, showers or other facilities in the spa.

Each treatment cost around AUD$215, and in my opinion, was entirely worth it. I've always been impressed with the quality of treatments in Singapore, be it massages or pedicures, and the Hot Stone Massage at Willow Stream Spa was amongst the best I've had.

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