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The Perfect Papaya

Contact Author Cathy Christensen May 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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halved papaya

Purportedly called “fruit of the angels” by explorer Christopher Columbus, the papaya offers a taste of the tropics and is readily available in most produce departments. With its buttery soft consistency, the flesh of the papaya is a rich orange color with yellow or pink hues and has a sweet, musky flavor. Also edible are the black, crunchy seeds encased in a gelatinous substance found in the center of the fruit.1

Papayas are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients, such as carotenes, vitamin C, flavonoids and the B vitamins, and they originate from Central America. Papayas were brought to Hawaii in the 20th century, and today the largest commercial producers of the fruit are the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Able to be enjoyed in many different ways, papayas can be eaten alone, in fruit salads, desserts and entrees, and the seeds can even be chewed whole or blended into a creamy salad dressing to enhance their peppery flavor.1

In the kitchen

This exotic, sweet fruit has been a staple of spa chefs for years, offering a refreshing coolness to a great variety of dishes, and can be experienced at The Health Spa at The Hills Health Ranch in British Columbia, Canada, where guests are offered Baked Apples in Phyllo Pastry with Papaya Sauce; and the Scallops with Lemon Oil dish from Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Tucson, Arizona, features a papaya relish. Chilled Papaya Soup with Cardamom is available at Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort in Costa Rica. Also, at SpaTerre at theHotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island, guests can choose the Balinese Chicken Salad, which combines chicken with mango, papaya, grape and coriander; and check out the recipe for Grilled Saffron and Spice Marinated Chicken Brochettes with Minted Couscous and Papaya and Mango Salad from Chef Hemant Dadlani of Rosewood Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, home of Sense, A Rosewood Spa.

In the spa

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Papaya provides distinct benefits to the skin, as well. It can be used to treat or eliminate dead skin cells, dandruff and other skin disorders, and even can help reduce the signs of premature aging.2

At InnSpa at the WaterColor Inn & Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, clients can enjoy the Pineapple Papaya Brushstrokes Body Treatment; and The Tropical Wrap and Papaya Enzyme Facial is available at Spa on the Plaza at Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California. At the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa in Vancouver, the Tahitian Island Tranquility treatment finishes up with a papaya pineapple lotion, giving skin a beautiful glow; and the Papaya Mango Body Polish exfoliates skin naturally at the Esperanza Resort’s Spa at Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Also, check out the treatment how-to for the Kanani Papaya Pineapple Body Polish from Kanani Pearl Spa in Portland, Oregon.

Professional skin care companies love papaya too, and include it often in products, such as in the Papaya-Pineapple De-Aging Mist from Pevonia Botanica, which hydrates and refreshes skin. Day Zyme with Green Papaya Proteolytic Enzyme from Jan Marini Skin Research helps skin appear firmer, smoother and retexurized; and Zia Natural Skincare’s Fresh Papaya Enzyme Mask gently exfoliates all skin types. The Enzyme Exfoliation Mask with Papaya Enzymes from Pamela Hill Skin Care helps dissolve dead skin cells, and Papaya-Green Tea Environment Hand Protection Lotion from Cuccio Naturalé revitalizes and moisturizes. Additionally, Elemis offers a Papaya Enzyme Peel to help smooth, brighten and clarify the complexion.

Bring the beach

Bring a taste of the exotic to your spa, especially this year when your clients may be enjoying staycations instead of vacations. Make your spa a beach away from the beach by offering the tantalizing fruit of papaya on your menu.





(All accessed March 16, 2009)



Quick Facts: Papaya

  • Papaya trees can grow from a seed to a fruit-bearing tree in less than 18 months.3
  • The two most common varieties of papaya are the Mexican and Hawaiian.3
  • Papayas have been used for centuries as a remedy for digestive problems and indigestion.3
  • Papaya leaves are very large, often ranging 50–70 centimeters in diameter.3
  • Papayas were the first fruit to have their genome deciphered and to be genetically modified for human consumption.3
  • While filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, actor Harrison Ford was treated for a ruptured disc by having papain, a main ingredient in papaya, injected into his back.3

Treatment Recipe: The Kanani Papaya Pineapple Body Polish

From Kanani Pearl Spa in Portland, Oregon 60 minutes

Kanani Pearl Spa is a boutique wellness spa offering personalized treatments inspired by the grand spas of the Hawaiian islands. Founder Mary Ellen MacKay came to Portland from Maui seven years ago after 15 years of working in the beautiful resorts of the island. She brought the ancient art of Lomi Lomi massage and passed her gift of healing down to those who spend their lives practicing the healing arts. The spa is graced with the scents, sounds and the spirit of Aloha.


Cost: $107

Products needed:

Papaya body scrub

Papaya pineapple body moisturizer

Equipment needed:

Clean sheet set covered by space blanket

Fitted scrub sheet over blanket

Large microfiber towel over fitted sheet

Robes and slippers

Heated towels in towel cabbie

Small bowl of warm water

Small bowl with about one cup of scrub product

Small bowl with about one cup of moisturizing product

Step 1: Turn on steam room in advance of client arrival.

Step 2: Greet the client and escort to the treatment room. Explain the treatment protocol and what to expect while discussing any contraindications, including allergies to fruit enzymes. Have her change into a robe while you wait outside the door.

Step 3: Escort the client to the steam room. Have drinking water available. Explain that you will knock on the door in 15 minutes, but let her know she can come out whenever she likes.

Step 4: Take the client to the treatment room and ask her to lie face down under the towel after you have exited.

Step 5: Return and begin applying the scrub on the back of the lower legs, including feet, the buttocks and then the back.

Step 6: Ask the client to turn over and repeat the scrub application on the front of the legs, the arms, décolleté and abdomen. Always use proper draping to make the client feel secure.

Step 7: Clean the product from the feet with the hot towels, drape a robe across the towel on the client’s abdomen and ask that she put the robe on after you leave the room. Place slippers on floor by the table. Tell her you will meet her outside the door to escort her to the shower.

Step 8: While the client is changing, turn the shower on to a warm setting and place a clean robe nearby.

Step 9: Escort the client to the shower, asking her to put on clean robe when she is finished and then return to the treatment room. While the client is in the shower, prep the room as if for a massage so it is ready when the client returns from the shower for the hydration portion of the treatment.

Step 10: Begin the prone massage using the papaya pineapple body moisturizer. Again, using proper draping, have the client turn over and continue the massage on the front of the body for 20 minutes. Encourage the client to relax following the treatment and conclude the service.

Recipe: Grilled Saffron and Spice Marinated Chicken Brochettes with Minted Couscous and Papaya and Mango Salad

From Chef Hemant Dadlani of Rosewood Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Makes 1 serving, 600 calories, 18 grams of fat

Ingredients for chicken brochettes:

6 ounces of chicken breast, cut into strips or big dices, and skewered

Pinch of saffron

Cajun spice to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients for couscous:

1⁄2 cup couscous

1 cup hot water

1 tablespoon raisins or Egyptian barberries

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1⁄2 teaspoon chopped organic mint

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice

Ingredients for papaya and mango salad:

1 tablespoon diced ripe papaya

1 tablespoon diced ripe mango

1⁄2 teaspoon finely chopped red onion

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon chopped organic


A pinch finely chopped ginger

Salt and crushed black pepper to taste

1⁄2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil


1. Marinate the chicken breasts for one hour in the olive oil and spices mixture. Place the chicken skewers on a hot grill for three minutes on each side, then put to the side.

2. Soak the couscous in hot water for 10–12 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Put to the side.

3. Mix all ingredients for papaya and mango salad together.

4. Arrange the couscous on the bottom, place cooked chicken brochettes on top and add the refreshing papaya and mango salad on the side.

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