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Asian Traditions Meet Tomorrow

By: Bryan Durocher
Posted: June 26, 2008, from the July 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
shirodhara treatment

Soothing treatment and talented therapists help the Mandarin Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong provide its guests with a unique, revitalizing spa experience each and every visit.

Areas such as Thailand, Hong Kong, mainland China and Malaysia have experienced exploding economic growth among their substantial populations, and, as a result, these places are vital and active. This has created a hunger for new products and luxury, and consequently, the spa business has boomed. Not only have spas proliferated, but they’ve actually raised the bar for the industry worldwide, developing unique treatments and offering unparalleled customer service.

A round-up of the world’s most significant spa trends is just not complete without a tour of Asia, so I packed my bags and boarded a plane headed across the Pacific Ocean. On the agenda: Thailand’s Mandara Spa in the exquisite Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa and the award-winning Mandarin Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong.

What I discovered in both cities enticed and delighted me. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a steamy tropical city embodying some of the world’s most modern elements—gleaming skyscrapers, rapid and efficient mass transit via the Skytrain, and sophisticated shopping and nightlife—alongside countless reflections of the country’s rich Siamese heritage. My companion Coty and I rode in an automated rickshaw called a tuk-tuk; visited the golden Grand Palace, which houses the revered Emerald Buddha; and toured Jim Thompson’s Thai House, the former home of an American expatriate entrepreneur that doubles as a showcase for Thai architecture and art.

Moving north, the city of Hong Kong is fabulous with a capital F. It’s the cosmopolitan gateway to Asian banking and commerce, and is clean, metropolitan, sophisticated and accommodating. The city’s harbor, surrounding mountains, temples and quiet park corners offer natural respites and opportunities for contemplation in this bustling, heavily populated city. And for the tourist, there are many affordable options for shopping, dining and transportation.

Just 30 minutes away from the heart of Hong Kong is a seaside oasis with beaches, resorts and waterfront cafés, and, as in Bangkok, Eastern tradition coexists with Western sensibilities. Nearly everyone speaks English in this former British colony, and the city teems with people from Europe, India, the United States and countless other Near and Far Eastern locales.