Skinceuticals facial at The Spa Artisan, Fullerton Hotel

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So this was my second Skinceuticals facial at one of Jazreel Low’s gorgeous Singapore spas. The first one I did was at Aramsa the Garden Spa in Bishan – which seriously, doesn’t even feel like it’s in Singapore. The downtown location of The Spa Artisan at the Fullerton Hotel is a lot more accessible and while it doesn’t have Aramsa’s garden zen, it’s done what it can to keep the atmosphere cool and calm. In fact the spa just won an award for Best Luxury Boutique Spa in the World Luxury Hotel Awards, so it’s not just me who thinks this brand is going places.

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I think after two facials, I have to say I’m pretty much a convert to Skinceuticals. Both times I’ve done their facials, I felt a bit of tingly-ness (is that a word?) but both times I’ve walked out with glowing skin. This time round I tried the Cell Regenerating Facial which included two cleanses, an exfoliation, a massage and a mask. What was interesting was that the exfoliation took place without steam, my therapist told me it’s because my pores don’t need to be further aggravated. Kind of sounded like they were just sitting there wide open, inviting in the dirt…but I have to say she really cleaned them good tho.

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One day on and I feel like my skin really looks and feels better. Skinceuticals products have a great reputation and they’re definitely a brand I’d like to try more of. I have got my grubby little hands on their Physical Fusion UV Defense as well as a Phloretin serum so those should show up here on the blog (eventually).

http://www.thespaartisan.com

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Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Peace Hotel

I know it’s a little silly, but I swear I fell a little in love when I walked down the hallways of the Fairmont Peace Hotel. It’s just so gosh darned pretty!  I am generally a sucker for old buildings, I love the history and the feel of them. And this one, built in 1929 by British businessman Victor Sassoon, is a key example. Even the spa, which is brand spanking new, has an old world feel. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so spa-deprived for awhile…whatever, I loved it.

20130321_131145 A rare empty hallway, quickly snapped.

I also really really enjoyed my Stress Relief Massage. I find that Chinese spa therapists tend to have really good hands…they know how to use pressure just right and where to press, hard. For this massage, I really wanted to focus on my upper back. For some reason, it’s been giving me a heck of a lot of problems lately (sigh. age. sad.) I wouldn’t say it was the most soothing of massages, and I barely slept during any of it (which is rare for me), but that’s because I was reveling in the feeling of knots coming apart all around my spine. The treatment used Aromatherapy Associates’ Muscle Gel which warms to the touch and further soothes muscles.

Willow Stream at Fairmont Peace_suiteBefore the massage I spent some time in the steam room for an upcoming article I’m doing. Usually steam/sauna isn’t my thing, but after doing all this reading and research I was beginning to understand how much it helps to detox and sweat out toxins etc. I had been falling sick before the treatment, so actually I found it really helped, especially the light scent of eucalyptus that was in the steam room. I’ve also got to say I am a big fan of the Willow Stream’s in-spa products, the bath gel smelled divine as did the moisturizer, all with a faint scent of Chinese herbs.

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I hope they let me come back and swim.

http://www.fairmont.com/peace-hotel-shanghai

Spa Review: Chuan Spa at Langham Place Mongkok

Chuan Spa -  EntranceChristmas really is the time of giving and I’ve been fortunate to have been given not one, not two but THREE awesome spa opportunities while back in Hong Kong.

This review is really more of an ode to a therapist at Chuan Spa. The first time I went, I tried their Dermaheal facial as part of a machines-treatment-based story. The therapist, Jessie, was awesome, especially considering the facial was paaaaainful, mainly because it involved lots of little needles. Ouch.

This time I went to try their signature Chuan Yu Facial. Chuan Spa is inspired and based around Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and so before each treatment you fill in a form to determine what element you are. The first time I did this in Shanghai at the Langham Xintiandi for an article, I was metal (the weather was changing), this time I was water (which I put down to being severely congested and as a result, probably dehydrated).

I sat in the waiting room for a bit and coughed so badly I think they hurried me into my room just to stop my hacking from tearing through their zen (I totally don’t blame them, I was so embarassed).

I’m not saying that the Chuan Yu facial cured me of my tuberculosis (ie. really really bad cough/cold/flu) but it definitely helped. A week later in Singapore, I now feel almost totally fine. Going to a spa while you’re trying to hack out a lung is definitely not ideal for you (or your fellow spa guests!) but maybe that extra nurturing and kindness you get from an expert therapist is the best medicine haha.

Chuan Yu Facial 01

Jessie put up with a lot of coughing through my facial and I felt extremely bad for potentially sending germs directly at her. She kept assuring me this wasn’t an issue and even brought me chamomile tea after which she said was known to be good for cough. The facial was really soothing, and involving a lot of massage and pressure points. It also included the use of jade in the treatment designed to stimulate circulation. I drifted in and out of sleep but I definitely felt the cool jade being pressed into my palms and on certain points of my face. It was actually really nice.

After the treatment, I was resting in the relaxation room, gazing out at Hong Kong’s smoggy scenery when Jessie brought me a cup of chamomile tea, supposedly good for the respiratory system but I was already feeling much better and hacking way less after the treatment.

http://www.chuanspa.com

Spa Review: The Spa at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental

Last year for Christmas, my dad got his ladies (me, my mother and my sister) Time Rituals to use at the Spa at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Of course it took us almost a whole year to coordinate schedules and actually go. So a week before Christmas, I flew in from Shanghai (yes especially for this) and we spent two luxe-y hours at the spa.

Heat Experience

I’ve been to the Spa at the Landmark a few times but never for a full-on massage and funny enough, never for work either. A Time Ritual gives you two hours of your choice of treatments and is a Mandarin Oriental staple. It’s interesting because if you wanted to, you could spend (or more like, waste) the time getting a pedicure and doing waxing. But you could also go for their more cash-worthy massages, facials, scrubs etc.

I’ve been rundown since my last week in Shanghai (where I apparently caught a cold/flu napping…weird) so I’m now stuck with a bad cough that makes it sound like I’m dying. My therapist Sunita suggested the Rasul treatment for 20 mins followed by their signature Oriental massage to detox and clear the congestion as well as get a little facial in there via the Dead Sea mud. She also suggested using Aromatherapy Associates’ Breathe Support oil in the massage to help clear up the congested feeling.

The Rasul is the only treatment I’ve done at the Spa and I really hadn’t intended to do it again when there was a plethora of other fun things to try but it just seemed like the best thing to do for my poor frail physique. Sitting in the Rasul with its honking huge amethyst crystal, caked in mud and waiting desperately for the steam to end also felt somehow soothing and calming. Maybe it has to do with the whole “Age of Aquarius” thing we wrote about at AsiaSpa earlier this year, but I did feel that now at year-end, a little time to reflect and be peaceful was a good idea. The dry heat, steam and final shower was good, and didn’t feel as long and torturous as it had the last time I went. I have a real love/hate relationship with steam…love what it does for you, but kinda hate the whole “I can’t breathe” feeling.

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That’s not me, obviously.

The massage was great. Someone once said to me you can really feel it in a therapist’s touch if they know what they’re doing and Sunita had that in spades. Her skills plus the combination of peppermint and lavender in the soothing oil really worked their magic on me. Sunita was especially attentive since I occasionally sounded like I was dying, and never showed any disgust at the germs I was polluting the room with (really sorry about that).

Spending an afternoon at the Landmark Mandarin’s spa is obviously not a stressful experience and we all had a really good time. Personally, the Time Ritual has an opposite effect on me from what’s intended I think. Obviously buying someone time is done to give them two hours of pampering, but for me to have that choice of choosing treatments kind of stresses me out! I like to know I’m getting the best deal so I get a bit stressed making sure I can get all my treatments in, and I can help but sit there wondering if they’re going to deduct the time it takes to walk from treatment room to Rasul, or the shower I needed to take post-Rasul, or the bathroom break I went for before the massage. Of course they don’t do that, they aren’t as petty as I am! But I couldn’t help but wonder…

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/landmark

Dare to detox: A trip to Rasayana Resort in Pattaya

Just because I love to spa, definitely doesn’t mean I love to be healthy! It’s a bit ironic I know, having worked for three years on “Asia’s wellness bible.” I just love carbs (and chocolate) too much! But even I was beginning to feel it was getting to be a bit much…like did I really need to have three helpings of pasta at dinner? Probably not.

We choose Rasayana in Pattaya for a few reasons. First of all to be very honest, it was the cheapest. We already had tickets to Bangkok so it would only be a short drive to Pattaya and the package included the transfer. Secondly, it suited our timing. Most detoxes take at least 10 days, that’s how long you should be doing it to see results like weight loss etc. but I really didn’t have that time (story of my life). Also, for a detox newb like me, this seemed like a good ease-in option.

The package at Rasayana sounds more intense then it looks. It basically comprised of two days of Far Infra-Red Sauna sessions and colonics, raw food meals, one yoga class and three massages peppered throughout the stay. The first day we arrived, we checked-in, had our first raw food meal, a foot massage and then came back for dinner.

The hotel:

Fairtex is next to Rasayana and our package included three nights’ stay. This hotel looked like it had stepped out of the 70s (or present-day China). Everything was gold and gaudy and red and carpeted. It was hilarious. At least it wasn’t trying to actually be luxurious. The hotel has a huge muay thai ring, which I think is the main reason all the Russians were there, and lots of sports facilities. This was good because after the raw foods and colonics and sauna, we weren’t really interested in venturing further afield. Most days we swam. played squash and worked out. The room was large and comfortable AND it had cable, so we also did a lot of tv-watching. Truth: TV in bed in a hotel is one of my absolute favourite things to do.

The food:

Sigh. Raw foods are good for you. Cooked at 42 degrees to replicate the way nature intended for us to eat. Ergo, no meat, no processed foods, no dairy, NO CARBS. Given that my favourite food is mac ‘n’ cheese, it was torture. To be fair, it was really tasty. My favourite dish was the Mexican Taco Cups (above) which included a basket made of dehydrated carrots filled with spicy tomatoes and…something white and undefinable (by me anyway). I also really loved the banana smoothie which was simply banana, water and honey. Being lactose intolerant, the joys of smoothies has been largely lost on me, so this was wonderful and a great way to start the day. Now having been away from it for two weeks, I have to grudgingly admit that I miss the feeling all those healthy foods gave me.

The detox:

This was a pretty light detox as far as they go. But this was good as it didn’t leave us too drained and unable to do anything else. Plus this being my first time, I’m glad we didn’t go full-on into scary multiple colonics and clay drinks and whatever. I really liked the infra-red sauna as a good way to sweat out excess water and toxins. I also felt it made me sweat more  at the gym, or even walking around in the sweltering heat. We also got three massages in the package, a foot massage, Thai massage and light Thai-style lymphatic drainage, which I enjoyed immensely more than the Chinese pounding style.

The chamber of secrets…

Then there was the colonics. I haven’t been blogging very long so this might be a little TMI, but these were my first ever colonics (and quite possibly, my last). Colonics, or hydrotherapy, cleanse the colon via the *ahem* back-door entrance. It’s not exactly painful, but it’s uncomfortable. I guess I’d been lulled into a false sense of expectation by all my friends who “love” it. Plus it’s not exactly a passive experience where you just lie there and it happens. You have to do your part. At least through the ordeal, the therapist was extremely understanding and helped soothe my near panic. I’ll admit I felt pretty damned cleansed when it was all over, but I was super weary of doing it the next day. In the end I mustered up the courage and continued. The second time was much easier, so I guess it paid to ‘go with the flow’. Ugh okay I’ll stop now.

The end:

I’m really glad that we did this, especially prior to my Shanghai trip. While I can’t say I’ve given up on my love for pasta, and fries, and chocolate and bread (and many many more…) I am trying to be a bit more cautious of how much I eat, and what I do. This is obviously going to be very hard in Shanghai where I have no access to a gym, and plenty of access to delicious dumplings. But I guess we’ll see!

Spa Review: Mandarin Oriental’s Soothing Facial by Aromatherapy Associates

Greetings from Shanghai. Here comes my first post post-move. I’ve got a few more lined up though I have to say all this Mandarin learning is not going to leave much time for spa…OR…it’s going to be the one thing that drives me to spa more. We’ll see.

I have always been a fan of Aromatherapy Associates. So has my family, which explains how all my journalist freebies (and the stuff I’ve paid for!) tend to go missing in my house all the time. I’ve stashed the samples from this new soothing line safely under other bits and bobs.

I’ll review the line later after I’ve tried it for a few days, but this first-time trial of them during the facial pretty much has won me over already. The facial includes a dual cleansing, once with a set of brushes, an application of the oil which smells divine and a face massage using cold stones to boost circulation. Because I was just getting over a cold, they used room temperature stones instead since being overstimulated post-sickness is the perfect way to get sick again. I liked that thoughtfulness.

I super recommend my therapist Shanti since she patiently answered all my random questions and who helped me and my woeful circulation out by laying a warming wheat pillow filled with ginger, lemongrass and sandalwood on my tummy before the treatment. That kept the bugger soothed throughout the facial and massage. Naturally, I fell asleep during the massage but woke up to warm towels on my face when Shanti removed the mask. After an application of the serum and cream, I could already tell that my skin was looking better.

I had spent some time in the spa’s facilities before the treatment. Now I know why people make such a big deal out of the Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s spa facilities, because the one at the Mandarin doesn’t offer soaking pools. I was surprised, but the Chinese herbal steam room made up for it, and I’m hoping, helped me sweat out the rest of my cold/flu symptoms (I do feel better tonight).

This was also my first time ever at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental which I’ve been itching to visit since I read about the Eve Lom facials, the *ahem* “Lamborghini of facials” (still haven’t had a chance to try one of those yet). It’s really a top-notch spa, and it’s been around for quite some time – despite that it still looks beautiful. The only thing I found slightly off-putting (and which had nothing to do with the spa) was the way the other guests in the changing room kinda stared at me…for no apparent reason. I spent a good 15 minutes trying to figure out if I knew this pregnant woman and her mother (presumably) because they kept making eye contact with me! Not that, dressed in a robe and not much else, I really wanted to have an in-depth chat…
Images courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental

Spa Review: Melo Spa at the Sha Tin Hyatt Regency

One more Hong Kong-based post before I head to Shanghai. Hope I’ll have a chance to try out some spas while I’m up there. I’ve still got one or two more to do on Hong Kong but they’ll have to take a bit of a backseat to my attempt at studying Mandarin (oh boy).

It might be far away, but the Sha Tin Hyatt Regency is worth the trek out of the island, even out of Tsim Sha Tsui. Maybe being so far away makes them try harder? Or maybe it’s coz they’re staffed by students from the hospitality course at the university nearby. Whatever it is, it works. And their Chinese Restaurant Sha Tin 18 is pretty awesome too.

I’m nostalgic about the Melo Spa because it opened around the same time I started working at AsiaSpa and was one of the first spas I got to try out. I remember sitting in the huge jacuzzi in one of their couples’ suites (all alone) and thinking “OMG this is the life!” And the service and treatment expertise has made me come back countless times. I even donated an umbrella (by accident, but still).

This time I was invited to try out a new Payot treatment they were offering called the Total Nourish Repairing Treat. This one and a half hour massage began with a Swedish style back massage – which I apparently really needed because my dining room table makes for a poor office. The oil is hydrating, feels great on the skin and is totally soothing, but my favourite part of the treatment was the finishing hair and scalp massage where the oil is left in your hair to nourish it. By this time I was asleep (as usual). Head massages really do that to me.

Service at the spa is excellent and you get the feeling they really train their therapist to not only say the words, but mean them too. It’s easy to tell when people are being insincere despite what they’re saying, especially in spa. When I mentioned I liked the smell of the oil, my therapist gave me a small sample to take home and try. Also a nice touch. The treatment is available throughout autumn.

Image courtesy of Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin

Spa Review: Bliss Spa’s FatGirlSlim

Bliss was one of the first spas I tried in Hong Kong when I was young and innocent and hadn’t started spa-ing for a living. So it was always a real treat to be able to get anywhere near the spa (or be able to afford it). Now that Bliss has been around for awhile, and I’ve had the opportunity to try quite a few other spas in the city, it’s lost a little bit of its shine, but I’ll admit I felt pretty excited when I was given the opportunity to try a treatment there recently.

I was at the spa to try their FatGirlSlim treatment. I used to really poo-poo slimming treatments till I was finally coerced into trying one at another W (Taipei) and then I have to admit I was hooked. I didn’t walk out the size of a supermodel but all the unsightly bits appeared to have been smoothed away, at least for awhile. FatGirlSlim didn’t involve the intricate wrappings that the Rodial treatment at W Taipei did,  but it did involve a dry brushing and seaweed cocoon that dried and peeled off like rubber. Weird yes, but also detoxing. I suspect the results were less visible because this treatment wasn’t particularly severe but I did feel like the more blubbery bits of me were less visible. It included an application of the Fat Girl Slim product line and I really do think those help as far as homecare goes.

They always say a slimming treatment isn’t as effective without a whole regime/programme, so as far as visible results go, I’m pretty sure you need to go a few more times to see more of them with this treatment. I wouldn’t say I had the hottest legs or tonest tummy after but I definitely felt better when I was done…though I went out and ruined it right after by having a glass of champagne.

Love the wet facilities of this place!

Photos courtesy of the W Hong Kong. www.w-hongkong.com

Spa Review: 1010 Space Malin + Goetz

I first came across 10/10 Space at last year’s AsiaSpa Awards when they were up for best spa design and I’d never even heard of them . This didn’t sit well with my borderline obsessive need to try every spa in Hong Kong. On my first visit, I got completely lost. I hadn’t expected it to be subtly stowed away on the second floor of a building near Fashion Walk, its too-cool-for-school vibe a direct contrast to the crazy shopping chaos outside.

The first thing that struck me about the spa, both on my first visit and my second for the Malin+Goetz facial is how good the service is. Unlike some local spas which are hard sell first, vague sense of service second, 1010 Space has it the right away around. And there’s no hard sell though it might be hard to stop yourself from buying something after your treatment.

Though she said she was new, my therapist was obviously an old hand when it came to good service. She explained the treatment clearly, running me through the cleansing, exfoliation, oxygen mask and then hydrating serum application. Having once been told I had the skin of a 40 year-old (when I was a lot further from 40 than I currently am!) I feel obliged to do hydrating facials wherever I go. My therapist assured me this would be perfect.

Malin+Goetz, started by two guys from New York including one from the Kiehl’s family has a pretty funky reputation. The packaging is cool and the products seemed nice. Given that my only prior experience with the brand pre-facial was with a hand soap I received once (and loved but am too cheap to buy) I was curious to see whether the treatment would be particularly harsh on the skin or soothing.

The products all smelled wonderful, and definitely didn’t feel harsh on the skin. I was a fan of the grapefruit face cleanser which smelled and felt good. And the oxygen mask fun in a fizzy way. Then I fell asleep.

I have a bad habit of falling asleep during facials (and massages, and body wraps and….) which I used to think made me a bad reviewer. At the same time, it’s not like I could sleep during a BAD treatment, and I’ve had quite a few of those, so I know I have some standards. Plus a friend recently enlightened me that sleeping through facials is good because it relaxes the skin. So there.

I left the treatment feeling renewed and my skin felt well taken care of and look much clearer than it had before. I still think that when it comes to hydration, my face can’t do without oil of some sort but for a good cleansing (and great service), 10/10 Space is definitely a place I’d recommend.

Rating: 8/10

http://www.1010space.com.hk

*all photos courtesy of 1010 Space