There really is nothing in the world like being pampered at a spa. Really, it is one of the most decadent experiences a woman can have. On the day I visited Chuan Spa, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Spa in Langham Place, Mongkok, I had just been traveling through India with 20 students, so the treatments I received were just what I needed to bring me back to reality!
The first sense to be magically treated by a spa is our smell. Instantly, relaxation begins to occur just because of our olfactory senses. Upon my greeting at Chuan Spa, I was immediately ushered into a quiet sitting room delicately decorated in traditional Chinese fashion. The view is not necessarily breathtaking, but it sure is interesting. The sprawl of Kowloon side is nestled below causing pause for wonder — and relief of being in this decadent sanctuary up above.
With hot tea served and a refreshing towel to swipe away any urban grime, I was given a smell test of five essential oils, one for each element: wood, fire, metal, earth, and water. As I would have guessed, I was water – and the smell was divine! After a proper amount of relaxation in this sitting room, I went to check out the other facilities.
All the facilities accompanying the Chuan Spa are available to guests of the spa; this means bring workout gear or a swimsuit if you’d like to enjoy the fitness room or swimming pool prior to your spa treatments. Otherwise, arrive early simply to enjoy the luxuries of the woman’s locker room: a sauna, Jacuzzi and steam room are available before your treatments begin. I prepped my skin by sitting in the steam room just enough to begin my grand unwind. Once I had thoroughly enjoyed the locker room facilities, I ventured down to the treatment center where a lovely tearoom once again greeted me.
From here a hospital masseuse came to retrieve me; her name was Rain, and I highly recommend her strong and assured hands. She brought me to a beautiful massage room with yet another sitting room and an adjacent room with a Jacuzzi tub. Yes, I felt like I had entered into heaven — there might have even been a little squeal. Everything was so gorgeous and ornate yet simple and classy all at once.
As I lay on the table with a heavy blanket on me, I was ready for the strong hands of Rain – and oh, was she strong! Sometimes, and unusually so, the pain can actually feel good especially when it comes to massages. The week before I had hiked, mountain biked, river rafted, oh, and slept in a tent on a cot for a week. Yes, the pain was good! Rain read my body. She instinctively knew things about me that I had never uttered a word about such as dreaming a ton during the night. How could she have known this? She did. She was reading my body and its needs. I was amazed and physically healing under her strength. This bliss of a massage went on for a full 60 minutes, but then things intensified: the gua sha began.
Gua sha is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique where a piece of jade or cow’s bone is formed into a smooth scrape-like device. The masseuse very deeply rubs — or rather, scrapes— an area of pain. The knots eventually wear down under the pressure. Red marks are not uncommon and bruising isn’t either, hence the literal translation of gua sha, which is “scraping bruises”. When the pain was too much for me too bear, Rain did let up, and while I wasn’t necessarily fully relaxed during this segment of the treatment, I wanted to remain tough as I knew it would benefit my muscles in the end. Practitioners of TCM believe that with the intense pressure applied to troubled areas of the body, an increase in the flow of blood will release harmful toxins. Basically by increasing the blood flow, our bodies in turn heal themselves. The fascinating part to me was that only some areas of my shoulders did bruise, signifying that a couple of places were in need of healing. It was painful; I’ll admit that. But, I’d do it again. Call me crazy but the pain felt good to me since I knew the areas that needed help were receiving a very firm but kind, healing hand.
With an hour and half finished, my body and mind were able to take a break during the next segment which was a very relaxing and totally soothing facial. My dry face soaked in all the goodness given! A similar action to the gua sha was done on my face but in a much, much lighter way. A long piece of jade with a rounded end is massaged around the eyes creating a very relaxing sensation. It was during this part of my time at Chuan Spa that I finally had that blissful little nap that accompanies a massage. In fact, a little snort of my snore is what ultimately woke me!
Two and a half hours later, I felt so amazingly good! My body had been very thoroughly rubbed. My shoulders had experienced the Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of gua sha. My face was totally hydrated. I felt drained of all the exhaustion I’d experienced from the week and rejuvenated to head back to work the next day. The treatment was not over yet though. I was led into yet another very lovely sitting room where hot tea and a plate of fresh fruit were waiting for me. I took one last relaxing moment in this tastefully decorated room and finally opened up my phone after what had been a week of being offline. But, after my treatment at Chuan Spa, I felt ready to reenter the world now that I had been so wonderfully massaged back to it.
Make sure to go to the Langham Place Hotel. Don’t get confused by the Langham Place Office Towers. As long as you head to the hotel, you’ll be fine. Find the elevator and press 41. Exit, and just by the scrumptious smell, you’ll know you have arrived to the spa!
What to Bring:
As an option, bring your swimsuit and workout gear. With the Chuan Spa, the swimming pool and fitness center are available for use.
Chuan Spa, Level 41, Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok, Hong Kong, 3552 3510; click here to download the Chuan Spa menu