The Spa - Mandarin Spa, Hong Kong

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A little bit of luxury can go a long way.  And when you’ve come a long way there is nothing like a lot of luxury. 

It starts with a luxurious robe, and a welcome toiletry bag, so that you can take care of yourself before or after your massage (at 9pm I was very happy to be able to brush my teeth).  It starts with the most beautiful ladies room, with a kind lady who will show you around the oasis of heat and water, with refreshments even in the spacious ladies changing area.  It starts with a shower already set out for you with a fluffy towel and one on the floor.  (Which I thought was for someone else so I used the one next to it!) It starts with a bead bracelet with the number of your locker so you can’t forget it.

It continues into the oasis, with a long, substantial warm reflexology pool, where you can choose to just walk, or press a button for bubbles.  As you step out someone has already placed a towel on the floor for your aquatic journey.  As you step into the cold reflexology pool, smaller, yet wonderfully invigorating.  Into the hot experience shower, where you can choose three kinds of rain shower, or the body shower, where three jets on either side will massage your body.  Step next door into the cold experience shower where the fine mist spray is welcome, and don’t be afraid to switch on the waterfall like experience which is strong enough to massage your aching shoulders.

It continues into the Chinese herbal steam room, where the aromas open your mind and pores, as you enjoy the feeling of being a Chinese dumpling.  It continues with the unassuming Kneipp hose in the steam room, which, for the first time, made me understand what the hose is for.  As I ran the perfectly heated water over my head it was like walking into the room again, inhaling all the herbs as if for the first time.  This is what a steam room should be.

It continues with the new kind lady, who came into the oasis to check that I was enjoying myself, who knew my name.

It continues into the relaxation area where you wait for your masseur, where you can enjoy herbal tea, juice, or the bowls of oriental fruit.

And then it really begins.  With the biggest, most comfortable massage table, with a gentle raising of the feet, with the expert reading of my body by a master, with the gentle manipulation of my arms above my head, slow assessment and moulding of my back, moving down to my legs.  Here, more magic, as she softly moved, bent, folded, even at one point sat on my feet and legs, as I felt I was moving to a higher state of being.

(I should say here that please don’t be concerned if your nose starts to run as you are lying on the table, after a flight and all the steam it’s perfectly normal, just ask for a tissue.)

Finally I turned over.  I wasn’t worried about the massage ending, I was so relaxed, so happy to have already received what I came for, a magical experience.  She continued, the towel covering me, and then as she came to the end of the massage, she simply rested her hands on top of the towel, on my stomach.  And my eyes started to fill with tears.  Kindly she said “You are very tired.”  I nodded as she softly explained that she would now let me get changed.

I needed a moment alone.  Just as she had relaxed my body, she’d also released something else inside of me, and I had to have a little cry.  Even back in the relaxation room, thankfully still alone, the tears returned.  But they were not sad tears, they were more relieved, and the thought that kept coming to me was this “Never forget that the universe loves you.”

A few bowls of quite gorgeous fruit and I was ready to face the world, or rather, they gently reminded me that the spa was closing.  There was just enough time to enjoy their elaborate dressing room area complete with hair and beauty products, thank the lovely reception team, retrieve my shoes and be seen into the elevator by the Spa Manager.

Hong Kong, like Shanghai is a spa-tastic place.  From the local reflexology shops to the elite spas of the luxury hotels, from acupuncture to Chinese tinctures, the choice is a little overwhelming.

So why did I choose the Mandarin Spa?  Well, there were two main reasons; the fact that it is rated as a five star spa, (according to their website one of only eighteen in the world) and secondly, when I emailed to enquire about availability their reply could not have been more professional or welcoming. 

Although they recommended a 90 minute Oriental Signature Massage, I decided to go for just an hour, as, apart from the price, I wasn’t sure if I could take too much pampering.  (When I visited Bath Spa I couldn’t have taken a massage as it would have left me crying; well, an average Champneys massage and a Foot reflexology session didn’t make me cry, but this was so beautiful and so nurturing that it succeeded!)

Their superb reception staff continued to impress me, sending me emails to confirm the smallest details, and being completely unfazed when I called to check if I could come in the altogether (I had forgotten my swimmies as I had to leave so early in the morning to visit the dolphins - I blame jet lag.) 

There are separate oases in each of the male and female changing areas, so you can go into these naked if you choose (or with swimwear).  The relaxation areas are also separated (although you have to wear your dressing gown!) - so possibly not the spa for some couple time.

The one small issue I had was that my masseur was a few minutes late.  This wouldn’t have bothered me except that I had been dallying in the water area and was worried she had already come to look for me.  I got the tiniest bit lost looking for reception, but all was sorted, and my masseur was very keen to assure me that, as the massage was starting five minutes late it wouldn’t affect the treatment time at all.  (Of course, now I know that, I would just relax.)

Although there are wonderful low cost spa options in Hong Kong and China, I have to say that I think this spa is worth every penny.  The masseur who treated me is a master of her craft, and deserves to be paid accordingly.  Despite visiting The Banyan Tree in Shanghai and Tian Spa in Beijing, as well as many other more modest places, Mandarin Spa towers above them.  Although some of the massages came very close to the quality of this one, it’s the way they handle the small details, their assuredness and above all their confident kindness that, for me, made this spa worth all of its five stars.

HK$990 (£85.34) for a

1 hour Oriental Signature Massage, and 45 minutes in the oasis of heat and water:
September 2010

For more information visit

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Complimentary toiletry bag at the Mandarin Spa, Hong Kong

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