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Global Spa Snapshot: Thalaspa Henri Chenot, Malindi, Kenya

Denis Gathanju July 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
“We are a brand that is synonymous with excellence and high quality; and when we came up with the spa, we wanted to be unmatched in every respect,” says Vivaldi.

“We are a brand that is synonymous with excellence and high quality; and when we came up with the spa, we wanted to be unmatched in every respect,” says Vivaldi.

Malindi, the resort town that sits by the shores of the Indian Ocean in Kenya, Africa, is a tropical beach paradise that is laid back in nature, yet humming with day- and night-long activities. Its tropical climate continues to draw in visitors from far and wide keen on escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life and embracing a whole new world of total relaxation to help rejuvenate the mind, body and soul.

Today, the resort town boasts a strong Italian connection, thanks to the huge Italian community residing in the city and the annual avalanche of Italian tourists who visit the area yearly. It is Malindi’s beauty that captured the heart of former Renault Formula One auto racing boss Flavio Briatore, so much so that the flamboyant Italian billionaire and businessman decided to build a private holiday home on the shores of the Indian Ocean. This proved to be a very popular getaway destination for Briatore and some of his high-flying friends and colleagues, such as British supermodel Naomi Campbell and former Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

In 2007, Briatore converted this exclusive beach property into a world-class boutique resort called Lion in the Sun Retreat, with only 16 tastefully furnished and well-decorated rooms contained within four large villas. The overall theme adopted in the construction and decoration of the resort is that of the strong Swahili and Arabian influence that characterizes most of the coastal region.

“The world’s best spa”

The elegance of the resort notwithstanding, this beach property has become quite popular, and its popularity resonated the world over, thanks to its state-of-the-art spa. Voted as the world’s best spa by Tatler, a British high-fashion magazine, the resort’s spa—Thalaspa Henri Chenot—is, according to Sabina Vivaldi, the general manager at Lion in the Sun, the only one of its kind in Africa. “We are a brand that is synonymous with excellence and high quality; and when we came up with the spa, we wanted to be unmatched in every respect,” says Vivaldi.

The guiding spirit of the modern spa, explains Vivaldi, is Margarita Mayrata, a pupil for many years of Henri Chenot who, together with a team of expert collaborators from Kenya, Italy, the Philippines and Spain, looks after the guests in a totally personalized environment.

Biontology: the essence of life

The spa treatments carried out at the Thalaspa Henri Chenot follow the principles and teachings learned through many years of working hand-in-hand with Chenot, who is an expert in biontology science. The term “biontology” means the study of the essence of life and its evolution. Its main objective is to describe a new concept of health, which deeply analyzes the changes that take place in the body with the passing of time, and considers the interaction of body and mind to be fundamental. Guests enjoying services at the spa receive specific information relating to their treatment based on the concept of biontological philosophy.

Thalaspa, explains Vivaldi, features six treatment cabins, three seawater hydrotherapy facilities, a hairdressing salon, and the science and technology of Chenot. Seawater is used in thalassotherapy treatments combined with the massage techniques of traditional Chinese medicine alongside the latest discoveries of modern Western medicine. In line with Chenot’s wellness concept, guests at the spa are offered a biolight diet—a nonrestrictive alimentary regimen that teaches a correct use of foods. The diet includes fiber-rich foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, vital cereals, and a choice of vegetable and fish protein instead of meat protein.

The diet is based on careful selection of the type and quality of the ingredients, and on the combination of the various dishes during a meal. The menu gives preference to bio-cultivated foods, which are rich in antioxidants, hypotoxic and highly nutritious. Unrefined, unprocessed ingredients that have not lost any of their properties are of fundamental importance. Finally, the cuisine attaches great merit to the correct combination of the ingredients, the method of preparation and the presentation of the dishes.

The spa, notes Vivaldi, utilizes the Chenot treatment methods that are a combination of advanced clinical and physiological techniques blended with the principles of ancient Chinese medicine. This, she says, helps unlock the energy channels within to bring about body equilibrium in the guest.

Signature spa treatments

Chenot is revered as the Italian king of detoxification, and because of this, detox is one of the signature treatments available at the Thalaspa Henri Chenot. This treatment is by far the most popular with guests staying at the resort or others who walk in from nearby resorts for the experience. The detox treatment at Thalaspa comprises a personalized biolight diet, six massages, six hydrotherapy treatments, six mud therapy treatments and six hydrojet services. For this kind of treatment, guests pay approximately $4,000 per person.

The spa also boasts other signature treatments that have proven popular, including the 90-minute Lion in the Sun Signature Facial Treatment that includes a deeply relaxing facial treatment under a steam towel compress followed by a cleansing treatment and a smooth, yet deep facial massage. The unhurried treatment is then followed by a skin-specific mask application, after which toning and moisturizing follow, leaving the skin radiant.

The Anti-aging Facial Treatment, notes Vivaldi, is also a popular service. The 90-minute treatment offers a renewal of the guest—quite literally. The treatment, Vivaldi explains, commences with a thorough skin analysis, after which, skin care therapists discuss with the guest the intended detailed results that they expect to achieve. Once this has been agreed upon, the signature anti-aging facial treatment is applied. To achieve this, an intensive renewal serum is applied and then massaged into the skin to help lift and firm. The procedure also helps lessen the appearance of fine lines. What follows next is the application of a cellular renewal mask to the face. This, explains Vivaldi, helps improve skin tone and texture while, at the same time, helping minimize the appearance of pores. The treatment is completed with a complimentary hand and arm massage.

The spa also caters to men who want to look good and are conscious of their bodies. It offers the signature Gentleman’s Facial Treatment, which features clinically proven ingredients that work immediately on the skin to minimize signs of aging and help smooth out fine lines. The treatment is capped with a deep cleansing, hydrating treatment that is accompanied by a deep massage and mask application to reduce signs of fatigue, stress and aging.

The massages applied at the resort spa are based on an ancient Chinese cupping method, which is very restorative. Deep meditation sessions are also available, taking place on the clean, private beach overlooking the waters of the Indian Ocean. The sessions include quiet moments by the oceanside that, quite literally, takes you away while light bounces off the flat ocean surface, and the cool ocean breeze caresses the body to absolute relaxation.

Attentive service, absolute privacy

Thalaspa Henri Chenot at Lion in the Sun Retreat is regarded as one of the most modern and professional treatment and well-being centers in Africa. According to Vivaldi, it is renowned for its exclusive treatments in the setting of a welcoming ambiance that guarantees attentive service and absolute privacy to those who wish to be looked after by an exceptional team of therapists.

Denis Gathanju is a freelance journalist and copy editor based in Nakuru, Kenya, Africa. He writes on a wide range of topics and is also a budding documentary filmmaker. Gathanju can be contacted at +254-722-731003 or