What’s the best solution for jet lag? Why, a few hours in a spa, of course! After a 30-hour journey to Sanya on Hainan Island, China, I checked into the Mandarin Oriental Sanya, overlooking the South China Sea, and headed to the spa for some rejuvenation. Like all Mandarin properties, this one does not disappoint. The level of training and attention to detail are evident immediately.
Guests arriving at the spa are escorted to a seating area and offered a refreshment. Then, the front desk staff comes to you, and reviews your service options. I had booked a two-hour Time Ritual, which is a signature service at this resort. The Time Ritual is just that; you book an amount of time, and then what you do during that time is customized on the day of your visit, according to your immediate needs. This is certainly much easier to accomplish when the therapist is able to perform body treatments, massages and facials. I was escorted to the private spa suite, of which there are 16 at this property. As is common in Asia, the spa suite is a self-contained unit with bathroom, steam shower, changing area, greeting area, and treatment area. Upon entering, I was seated on a banquette and was treated to a foot and lower leg scrub and bath by my Balinese therapist, Geria. My treatment began with a Pearl Powder and Rice Milk body scrub. I then enjoyed a 10-minute steam and shower and returned to the table for a full-body massage. Geria’s expert hands had me feeling “like buttah” in no time. The treatment ended with a mini-facial, using products from Aromatherapy Associates. I must admit that, as a client, it’s enjoyable to have one person be able to perform all of the services without having to get up and move to another room. However, the facial is not done in the way we would consider standard in the west; there is no mag lamp, steamer, or any other equipment used, just the skilled hands of the therapist. So while there are no extractions or what we might consider serious professional skincare, the massage felt great and my skin was glowing.
Upon completion of the service, I put on my robe and enjoyed a cup of ginger tea while Geria busied herself straightening up. I chatted a bit with Geria, who was open with me since she knew I was a spa professional. She has three kids in Bali, but can’t get therapist work there because she does not have a university degree. So she leaves her kids with her husband and lives here in Sanya in a company-owned dormitory; she is able to go home for a visit once a year for three weeks. Makes a one-hour commute seem attractive.
The spa treatment areas are woven through open pavilions with comfortable seating areas and beautiful flagstone pathways, which float on channels of water. But unfortunately, it’s too hot and humid to sit outside. Geria escorted me back to the reception area, where I was offered more refreshments. Settling your bill is discreetly done in a separate small room, which has a retail display and a desk. I say retail display; there are shelves with small collections of products, but the overall impression is more that of a collection of objects than a store. As is common in many five-star properties, if you want to purchase retail products you need to say so. But all in all, it was a terrific experience. Other than the outdoor relaxation areas, there is no real “spa” area to hang out in, but that’s okay, because my room is so nice I’m going to return there and utilize the huge bathtub that adjoins my balcony, while enjoying the sounds of the sea.
—By Lisa Starr, who is in China to attend the Spa China Summit. Check out the SpaTrade.com blog for more on her experiences there.