I’ve had my share of relaxing massages, but rarely one as thorough as what I was treated to at the InterContinental CityStar’s Lifestyles spa.
I chose the Balinese massage hoping it would work out all the kinks in my back, but it was much more, and Daisy, my masseuse, left no muscle unturned. Never have I had my knees kneaded, cheekbones smoothed and toes popped.
On the top floor of the InterContinental s prominent pyramid structure, the spa area is small in comparison to the size of the hotel’s other facilities, but is part of the larger health and fitness center.
The sprawling two-storey center includes a gym with cardiovascular and strength machines, tennis and squash courts, fitness studios, a lounge and a café serving healthy meals and snacks. A hydro pool also has built-in air beds, neck massagers and body jets.
I was shown into the female locker rooms, which houses several therapy rooms, a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and whirlpool. Though not as lavish as expected, and without a particularly special view, the therapy rooms get the job done and it’s easy to indulge in your chosen treatment once it gets going.
Unfortunately, there was a shortage of robes, so instead I was given two towels to make due with – not very comfortable but manageable. I did get my own fluffy slippers though.
Waiting for my massage to start, I spent some time unwinding in the steam room and let the calming heat seep through to my bones. It was only 10 minutes before I had to head out, but I highly recommend you spend as much time in there as possible and bask in the soothing warmth. A pit-stop in the shower helps acclimatize body temperature.
I was told by the helpful staff that the Balinese massage (LE 403 for 50 minutes) was moderate in comparison to the relaxing Swedish massage (LE 374) and the more intense Shiatsu (LE 403) option.
The Balinese massage is a deep tissue massage that uses aromatherapy oils to relieve tension. Daisy used an aromatic almond and jojoba oil infusion, the latter being a silky wax extracted from the seed of the plant by the same name.
Her skillful hands worked their magic and at the slightest pressure to the center of my back she heard a symphony of cracks; “Stressed? she asked. “Um, yeah! I answered.
It took her a while to persistently prod the knots out of my tangled back, after which she slowly kneaded every limb, front and back. She switched between long, stretching strokes to focus on deeper pressure points that required attention.
Despite a couple of awkward moments – I had to stifle a giggle when she popped my fingers and toes, and tried real hard to keep a straight face as she smoothed my cheeks, chin and forehead – it was easy to get lost in the head-to-toe massage, which certainly relieved weeks worth of tension.
With a varied bill of fare, the spa caters to different tastes and needs. To pamper your hands and feet, you can choose from several manicures and pedicures; other “beauty essentials as the menu describes, include facials, waxing as well as eyebrow tidy and a “lash tint – why anyone would need that is a mystery to me.
Massage options vary from a standard back or head massage to a sports-specific one that relieves tension and pain; a Thai stretching massage; or a Lomi Lomi – I’ll let you mull over that one.
Staple selections are available, such as the hot stone full body massage to improve circulation; as well as more intriguing options like the slimming massage, which claims to help break down fat cells and work on cellulite trouble spots, making you feel pounds lighter in just 50 minutes.
There are also full body treatments including scrubs, body wraps, oil baths and a classic Cleopatra treatment with the key ingredients being body milk and honey.
Though I only had time for one treatment, I’m eager to go back and try another item on the menu . the Lomi Lomi maybe?