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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.

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My next treatments were performed on a comfortably large bed where I was draped with lightweight linens patterned in beautiful Thai motifs—perfect for the tropical environment. I had a male therapist, which is highly unusual in Asia, but like many therapists in this region, he was cross-trained and cross-licensed, and so performed all of my services himself. And typical of the service-oriented mindset of so many of the people I encountered in this generous country, he told me he started his career as a massage therapist, but continued to expand his training because he loved “healing and helping people.”

True to that sentiment, each of my treatments was indeed therapeutic as well as relaxing. The Coffee Scrub is indicated for slimming, toning and reducing body fat, and it features exfoliation with a blend of locally grown Thai coffee beans and natural pumice, followed by a body rub with fresh, vitamin A-rich carrots.

The Thai Herbal Facial for all skin types was cleansing and detoxifying. I choseit because it did not include invasive extractions; instead the focus was on gentler methods of skin balancing. It encompassed a deeply relaxing face, neck, shoulder and hand massage, and a soothing, proprietary herbal mask. I detected lemongrass and ginger in the preparation and afterward, my travel-dehydrated skin was moisturized and revived.

Also ideal for journey’s end was the deep tissue massage, which incorporated elements of Thai massage. This method of aligning the energies of the body originates from the time of Buddha, and my therapist adapted many stretching and deep massage techniques to realign my body and release feelings of tension and fatigue. At the conclusion of my treatments, I had the choice of a steam or sauna in my suite—a perfect way to end this blissful experience.

Without question, the most impressive aspect of my experience at the Mandara Spa was my therapist. His skill was remarkable and his versatility allowed me to relax and rejuvenate throughout the entire session in my private suite—the ultimate in relaxation and privacy. And while he had certainly mastered the protocols of each treatment, I never had the feeling he was simply going through the motions. During the hours I spent with him, I sensed he was unfailingly mindful and attentive, constantly aware of my reactions and keenly concerned about my comfort. Like many of the people in this country, his pleasure in serving and caring for others seemed absolutely unforced, and this genuine attitude led to one of the most profound spa experiences I have ever had.