Bali, an island paradise in South-East Asia, visited many a time and with each I'm astounded by the beauty of it's people and surroundings. A blend of mostly Balinese Hindus and Muslims, this has resulted in ancient ayurvedic medicines and massage techniques that are truly unique to this part of the world. Techniques include skin folding, kneading, stroking and other techniques all the time using aromatherapy oils.
Anyway why am I talking about Bali? Well I was lucky enough to be invited to experience a 2 hour session at The Mandara Spa located in the brand-spanking new Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel. You'll have to forgive me as the spa experience was so amazing that I'm having to recap most of the details via a combination of memory work from my partner and myself!
Anyway, upon arrival, we descend to the basement of the hotel to be met by the tranquil staff and premises of the spa. As our rooms were prepared, we sit down and fill in a standard consultation sheet, outlining our health concerns and problems etc. We are then met by out therapists, lovely Mary, a Nepalese lady from Hong Kong who brings out a rack of test tubes of essential oil preparations ranging from Calm, Sensual, etc. All gorgeous concoctions of aromatherapic loveliness. I go for Sensual, being (ahem) the sensual creature that I am!
My treatment room? A lovely dimmed, warm room with gentle Balinese tranquil music, a very comfy massage table/bed with familiar Balinese fabrics. After getting changed into a fluffy thick robe, Mary proceeds to soak my feet in a foot bath filled with petals and scrubs them with an abrasive scrub combined with gentle but firm reflexology. It's from this point my memory fails me a bit.
I lie down and Mary starts with applying an oil and does a gentle massage to get the circulation going and then proceeds with a gentle scrub. I've chosen the Boreh scrub. Boreh is a paste of various natural ingredients native to Bali such as ginger, clove, gelangal, turmeric, rice, pepper, a variety of mud-grown chili and a few variable herbs & spices. It feels tingly and warming and after applying it to all parts of my body, I am wrapped up in a tin-foil like sheet and left to marinate (ahem) relax. The Boreh scrub is meant to warm, relax and sooth sore, aching muscles and joints. As a busy makeup artist this was perfect!
After what I think is about 10 mins of blissful cocooning in the heady warming spice mix, I am woken gently by Mary to have the most invigorating and hot shower to wash off the scrub. Amidst much sighing with contentment and bliss, I'm back onto the massage table again to have a traditional Balinese massage with my chosen oils. Mary gently but expertly pinches parts of my body to identify where I need attention and without hesitation goes straight to my back and shoulder blades where, due to years of hunching over models and celebs, were where my knots were hiding! She keeps asking me if it's too hard but as a connoisseur of massages with a slight liking of pain, I told Mary to go for it and she does! Yes it was painful but at the same time i felt like all the knots and tension caused by work was definitely being kneaded away. And there I was thinking it couldn't get any better!
Just as I thought it was time to get up, Mary proceeds to give me an incredible head massage to which I completely fall asleep and when I wake up very gently, I feel all refreshed and invigorated! So there you have it, by comparison to the original in Bali, it'll never be the same. You don't leave and get greeted by lapping waves of the sea and hot sun-bleached sand. I'm met by the gentle smiling staff of the Mandara Spa and Waterloo instead but you know what? It's pretty darn close and it's a warm sunny day and after my almost 2 hour of bliss, it doesn't really matter where I am. I am so going to treat myself to another session of the Mandara Harmony package!
For anyone who'd like to experience this little bit of luxury but unable to make it to the spa, you will be glad to know that the products are now available exclusively in Sainsbury's! Bath, scrubs, body creams and even scents for the room, body and linen in Tropical Blooms, Honeymilk Dream, Amber Heaven, Island Paradise and Citrus Spice. Boasting modern skincare technology and natural active ingredients, I cannot wait to go and get me some Mandara!!Tweet