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Pressed For Pleasure

The art of pampering has risen to heights so sublime, a visit to a spa more than just relaxes the body; it awakens the spirit and energises the soul. Here’s a list of our favourite spas around the region that welcome you into a playground of pleasure, where your physical and spiritual wellbeing is the ultimate goal.

Words: R. Rajendra

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Best for Flights of Fantasy

Prana Spa, Bali

Inspired by a heady mix of Indian and Moroccan design and architectural elements, Prana Spa at the Villas in Bali is a piece of pure hedonistic pleasure that’ll take your breath away even before you step into the spa building. Built to resemble an Indian Rajasthan palace, the rust and gold structure is decorated lavishly with Moorish arches and Islamic geometrical designs accented by rich tapestry and artwork, sumptuous carpets, gilded doors and colourful glass windows. Start your journey into this secret world by rejuvenating in the open air courtyard with its heated and cold plunge pools. Next, choose from a list of offerings that feature the best of Ayurvedic, Turkish, Thai and Balinese treatments and complement your therapy at the hammam or Vichy rain showers. The options at Prana are endless but the Ayurvedic Simply Bliss treatment is simply mind blowing. For over two hours, guests will experience total relaxation that encompasses both physical and mental wellbeing, administered via the famous shirodhara treatment, where a stream of medicated oil gently cascades over the forehead. www.thevillas.net

Best for Express Treatments

Chill Reflexology, Bali

At times, you just want to pop in and out for a quick foot rub without having to disrobe or get dunked in a tub full of donkey’s milk. Chill at the Villas in Seminyak fits the bill perfectly for express treatments that focus on foot reflexology without compromising on personal comfort and pleasure. Looking more like a lounge than a reflexology centre, the treatments start with a quick foot scrub on an marble slab with running water babbling over the cold stone, simultaneously bathing your feet. With sheer curtains separating the workstations, treatments here mainly focus on the feet using acupressure, and end with a quick neck and shoulder massage. The most popular package at Chill is the Chill Classic where the spa can be booked by groups of 10 for a private get-together while enjoying the most delightful foot rub with a complimentary glass of wine thrown in for good measure. www.thevillas.net

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Best Spa after a Shopping Spree

Spa Cenvaree, Bangkok

Located at Centara Grand Hotel at Central Plaza Lardprao, just a train stop away from the Chatuchak Market, the Spa Cenvaree is a real godsend for aching muscles, especially after hours of trawling the markets for the best bargains! Tucked away in a quiet corner in the lower level of the hotel, the dimmed lights and darkened corners of the spa transport guests to a private haven where trained therapists ascertain treatments according to your personal needs. Featuring mainly age-old Thai and Ayurvedic therapies, the treatments rely heavily on the ancient wisdom of herbs, roots, barks and flowers to soothe frazzled nerves and fatigued muscles. The signature treatment at the Cenvaree Spa is the Wanalee or Royal Treatment where the body is gently stroked with chrysanthemum blooms to polish skin before the guest is thermal-wrapped in a mixture of galangal, turmeric and black pepper to stimulate the lymphatic system. Spa Cenvaree also offers a 2-day De-stressing & Detoxifying Retreat and, a 3-day Longevity & Rejuvenation Retreat packages. www.centarahotels.com

Best for Love Birds

Away ® Spa at W Retreat & Spa, Bali

The Away® Spa at W Retreat & Spa in Bali is the ultimate Garden of Eden for lovebirds. Its ‘Light My Fire’ treatment, designed exclusively for couples, includes a tantric massage, gentle body scrub and a delightful soak in a tub while being served champagne and strawberries. And if all the frolicking the night before left you with muscle spasms and pulls in places you never knew existed, try the Zen Balancing treatment where heated bamboo poles are gently rolled all over your body rhythmically to remove the kinks and encourage circulation. Guests can also choose from the exclusively crafted spa menu that includes thematic treatments such as Serene & Soulful, Glamour & Glitz or Fit & Fabulous – each reflecting the mood guests wish to embody after the session. The therapies don’t simply end there either as spa guests can chill out in the changing rooms that come complete with a hot stone bath and cold, jet set vitality pool. A chill bar and decompression (detox/oxygen) lounge help you to further unwind. www.starwoodhotels.com

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Best Natural Environment Spa

Botanical Spa, Langkawi

Nestled in a million-year-old tropical rainforest and overlooking the magnificent Datai Bay in Langkawi, the V Botanical Spa at the Andaman is the first spa in Southeast Asia to offer 100 percent certified organic food grade products in their therapies. If the sylvan surroundings don’t lull you into perfect calm, the unique treatments here will certainly assist you in achieving equilibrium, mainly with the award-winning Chi-Tsang massage (chi-kung application), and the Gem Stone facial. In addition, the spa’s approach to holistic health extends all the way to a five-day Core Wellness Programme that includes detox, anti-ageing, vitality, deep relaxation and soul connection activities. A key component of the resort’s V Integrated Wellness is the multi-day V Retreats that invite renowned masters and gurus to conduct inner and external wellness programmes. From sunrise yoga sessions that energise body and soul to moonlight beach massages, V Botanical Spa’s treatments offer a journey that awakens the soul and senses. http://www.theandaman.com

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Best in its Category

Rati Lanna Spa, Chiang Mai

A multi-award winning facility, the spa at Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort in Chiang Mai is a piece of paradise set along the gently meandering Ping River. Drawing its inspiration from the river and the ancient Lanna culture of northern Thailand, the mood is set with gurgling waters cascading down walls with pots of riverine reeds and lily plants along the corridors. Inside the spa, elements of the local culture are artistically combined with modern architecture, producing an overall decor that is both classically chic but still contemporary in feel. The signature treatment at the Rati Lanna Spa is the Crystal Lanna Oil Massage. Guests can choose from oils that are infused with the essence of crystals such as amethyst for calming and balancing, aquamarine for healing and grounding, carnelian for energising and arousing passion, or citrine for stimulating and balancing. The Rati Lanna body scrubs too are noteworthy as they use local produce such as honey and tamarind for firming and brightening; kaffir lime for smoothening and clearing; coffee and yoghurt for detoxifying; and black sesame paste for moisturising. www.ratilannachiangmai.com

Best for Treatments Worthy of a Celebrity

Rock Spa at Hard Rock Hotel Penang

Keep your eyes peeled and you just might spot a celeb or two walking into the private Spa Villas at Hard Rock Hotel Penang’s Rock Spa! Popular with families and couples who cherish their quiet time together, the Spa Villas can accommodate small groups, and have been beautifully landscaped with lush vegetation and flowering plants. It’s also one of the first on Penang to offer spa treatments for children. Alternatively, check into the treatment rooms at the main spa building and choose from a variety of holistic treatments such as the Retune Yourself Massage, which begins with the lomi-lomi Hawaiian massage and ends with the calm and hypnotic beating of the suzu gong. Meanwhile, the signature Hard Rock Massage uses smooth volcanic stones that have been heated for a thoroughly relaxing massage. http://penang.hardrockhotels.net

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Best Spa in a Plantation

Mesastila Magelang, Semarang, Indonesia

Located deep in the highlands of Central Java is MesaStila, a wellness and spa destination in Magelang, Semarang. Set within the Losari Coffee Plantation and about 900 metres above sea level, the concept of holistic wellbeing here doesn’t merely end with a relaxing massage or a facial but extends all the way to regulated consumption of healthy meals, focussed exercise, planned relaxation, stress management – all tailored for the guests’ individual needs. The main attractions at the Spa at MesaStila are the hammam, arguably Southeast Asia’s only authentic Turkish bathhouse, and the use of traditional jamu (Indonesian herbal treatments and remedies) in the promotion of health and holistic therapies. The hammam experience is as close as you can get to the real thing in Turkey where a masseur scrubs, massages and bathes you. The jamu therapy is equally rejuvenating as a tabib jamu (jamu doctor), upon diagnosis, takes the guest on a walk through the gardens to collect the herbs, barks and roots required in creating the herbal decoction, which is consumed after a harmonic healing treatment using singing bowls and, a massage. www.mesahotelsandresorts.com

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Best City Spa

Sompoton Spa, Kuala Lumpur

Working or living in a concrete jungle can drain your vital energies, leaving you lifeless and listless. Want to recharge quickly? Then, head to the Sompoton Spa at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur for head to toe pampering with a huge range of massages and therapies. The spa features a Zen-like ambiance that stimulates vision, sharpens the audio-sensory through the sound of soothing music, elevates the olfactory-sensory through cherry-blossom scents, awakens the touch-receptors with gentle therapeutic treatments and, entices the taste buds with nourishing spa elixirs. One of the must-try treatments is the Signature Massage that’s based on a combination of Malay, Swedish and Shiatsu techniques to heal and strengthen the body and mind. Guests should also indulge in ‘Pamper’, a treatment that includes body exfoliation, a milk and floral bath, ear-candling and a relaxing aromatherapy face massage. For the ultimate spa indulgence, ‘Paradise’ offers everything from a foot bath and body exfoliation to Balinese massage and luxurious facial. www.intercontinental-kl.com.my

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