The Spa - Tian Spa, Park Hyatt Beijing

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Okay, I have to recommend this spa experience as it was exactly what I needed at the time; but it’s the equivalent of a sumptuous ten course meal and I can totally understand that you may just be in the mood for a light snack or a little local flavour.  In which case, based on my experience in Shanghai, I would also recommend the Dragonfly chain, particularly for some reflexology if your feet need a little pampering.  (Although the one I visited near The Forbidden City was a little bit smelly - not their fault - ancient drains - so maybe head to one of the other locations.)

I chose this spa quite simply because it was the one with the pool.  What a pool. 

Not only was it on the 59th floor, so I had the slightly surreal experience of swimming whilst overlooking skyscrapers, but it was also completely empty.  As I dipped under water, feeling finally human again, I really was in spa heaven.  The only other people in the complex were a family blessed with two children, and they were happily splashing in the baby pool. 

Although the entry into the fitness suite and pool may not strictly be included in the spa entry, I made it very clear when I arrived that I wanted in and they immediately called up the fitness manager to take me down and make sure I was properly looked after. 

Twenty minutes or so later the fitness manager came to the pool to let me know that my masseur was ready.  “No rush, but please do not wait too long.”  I could get used to this.

It was actually very hard to make it out of the pool area; as it also boasts hot and cold waterfall showers poolside - every home should have them!

The fitness changing area was stunning with all kinds of toiletries available; do I need to mention fluffy towels and bathrobe?  I felt very louche being guided back up to the spa by the fitness manager in the lift.

Okay I may have slightly over ordered when I arrived, all tired and stressy, and also aware that this was probably my last chance to spa it up Chinese style.  So... I chose the 30 minute Collection Stone of Heaven Jade Scrub (an all over body scrub which is a wonderful preparation for the massage), 60 minute Balance Yin Yang Jade Restoration body massage (this is their signature massage combining lomi lomi, balinese massage - a little bit of everything!) to be followed by the 90 minute Jade Stone Harmony Facial (even though I am not a huge fan of facials), which uses a cool white jade stone on the face, with “bio-energetic properties”.

I started to feel that despite the price tag it was pretty good value when I was shown into my massage suite.  Yes, massage rooms are clearly déclassé in Beijing (I shudder to think what they would make of a shared massage Dragonfly room!)  None of that running around looking for a loo - my suite had its own private toilet, an especially deep bathtub and a huge shower complete with rain shower head and a stunning view of Beijing.

Having said that, even at this star level, there are snags.  For me it was the paper knickers - great quality, but Chinese lady size i.e. I couldn’t get one leg into them!  Also some people might be unnerved by the official but beautifully framed sign stating that sale of drugs, gambling and prostitution and solicitation are all illegal - though perhaps it is meant to be reassuring?

The massage bed was huge, although not quite as comfortable as the Mandarin Oriental, but one huge advantage was that when my legs started to get a little restless during the 3rd hour of my massage bonanza, Kitty Song, my masseur used the electronic controls to elevate my legs and make me drift off again.

My body treatment started with an all over body scrub - expertly applied and getting rid of all that grubbiness of sight seeing.  Then she left me alone so that I could step into my shower and rinse off, while gazing down at the skyscrapers.  (“This is the life.” I thought!) 

The body massage was quite simply excellent.  Focusing on various pressure points helped to relieve all the tension in my body.  She was extremely gentle when working on my legs which were still suffering quite badly from my Huangshan trip.  When I turned over she placed a towel over my breasts so that she could massage my stomach as well - so it was quite a full body massage.

One criticism I would have however was that she did start asking me if I also wanted a head massage.  Now she was probably right that I needed it, (when I finally had a head massage in Finland it was bliss) but I do not like being pressured to add more treatments when I am already lying on the massage table, and have booked in for 3 hours! I avoided the question by saying nothing and she moved on.

The facial was wonderful, although it was slightly tingly around my nose (this is where I am often irritated by facial treatments - which is one of the reasons I avoid them), but it slowly calmed down and I do have to say that my skin looked much better when she handed me the mirror at the end.  (Mind you that could also have been lying down for 3 hours - especially when she elevated my legs!)  Having tried hot stone massages in the past, this was the opposite, a cool white jade stone (in fact it felt like several) running over my face, felt wonderful after being hot and bothered in the sun.  Again, like the waitresses in China, the masseurs will tell you that you are too “hot” or “cold” - relating as much to the energy in you as your actual temperature, and my treatment took away some of the heat.  Well I certainly felt a lot cooler and the redness in my face had disappeared by the end.

Finally she brought the bed to a sitting position (I can’t tell you how grateful I was not to have to sit myself up after 3 hours of deep relaxation) and brought me some tea.  Sipping my tea, while watching the sun set over the Beijing vista, I finally felt on top of the world, well, on top of Beijing at least.  After drifting into a totally deeply relaxed state for the first few hours, I was actually feeling much more awake and ready to see night time Beijing.

Beijing isn’t really on the same level as Shanghai or Hong Kong as far as spas are concerned.  While the quality is clearly here it did feel as though I was their only customer.  When I tried to buy some products on my way out, they were so confused (and the products so dusty) that I gave up.

Aside from the slight pressure to add another treatment (and it may well be that she really knew what she was talking about and I was in dire need of a head massage) this really was 5 star spa treatment.

Just one final note of warning - although I felt spectacular when I left, I did have a few unpleasant moments over the next few days physically.  It’s impossible to say if these were detox effects, or just the effect of all the travel - but if you are not used to a lot of massage time I would recommend you limit yourself to 60-90 minutes and don’t go spa crazy like me!

The view from my massage suite, Hyatt, Beijing, China

1,909RMB (£187.50) including 15% service charge for a 30 minute Collection Stone of Heaven Jade Scrub, 60 minute Balance Yin Yang Jade Restoration body massage, 90 minute Jade Stone Harmony Facial and a long cool swim in their 25 metre pool:
September 2010

Current separate prices as at March 2011:

30 minute Collection Stone of Heaven Jade Scrub 225RMB (£22.50)

60 minute Balance Yin Yang Jade Restoration body massage 800RMB (£80)

90 minute Jade Stone Harmony Facial 900RMB (£90)

(This may not include 15% tip.)  For more information visit

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