While its tax on the body doesn’t seem to know the term ‘financial crisis’, there are many things I really love about pregnancy. Not only do I get a baby at the end of this mummy-to-be marathon (squeal), but this is a time in which I get to throw my ballooning weight around and make endless demands to my partner. Because no man of sane mind would ever argue with a pregnant woman!
In the past, when I’ve daydreamed about hurtling up the ICC’s towering lift to the Ritz Carlton’s Spa by ESPA for a spot of head-to-toe pampering, my conversation with my partner has gone pretty much like this:
Me: “Honey, I bet the spa at the new Ritz Carlton is reeeeally nice, I’d love to check it out!”
Him: “Oh, really? Do you know how expensive that would be?”
Me: “Yeah, but…”
Him: “Go to the cheap Chinese place on the corner.”
Me: “It smells of feet.”
Him: “That’s because they do a lot of foot massages there. For people like us.”
Me: “But… but… the Ritz!”
But now that I’ve been growing a baby for about twelve million decades, here’s how the conversation might go:
Me: “I’m sore. I’m going to the Ritz Carlton spa for a pre-natal massage.”
Him: “Oh, really? Do you know how expens…”
Me: “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW? WHAT PREGNANCY IS LIKE?? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY GOING TO TELL ME YOU CAN GO TO THE PUB WITH YOUR MATES BUT I CAN’T HAVE ONE SIMPLE MASSAGE TO TAKE AWAY SOME OF MY SUFFERING?”
And so there I was suddenly on a sweltering spring day, changing into a soft fluffy dressing gown inside the cool and deliciously-smelling Ritz Carlton hotel’s spa prepping for a decadent 90-minute pre-natal massage.
Of course, if you’re a Hong Kong Islander like me and are going to head over to the affectionately-called “dark side” of Kowloon, you may as well set your sat nav to the ICC complex just over the water. Elements shopping centre is seriously one of the most relaxing, quiet shopping hubs of Hong Kong by weekday (weeknights and weekends are a different story), so I made sure I made time for a decaf coffee pit stop beforehand and a bit of a browse with a girlfriend. (Cue me buying more baby products I really don’t need. Darn that stuff for being so cute.)
Then it was time to whirl up the ICC lifts to the Ritz Carlton’s 116th floor, just two levels short of the world’s highest bar, Ozone. Admittedly, Ozone is where you might have spotted me, say, around nine months ago with my teeth chewing into a cocktail straw. But pregnancy is seemingly about everything but drinking in bars, so I needed to swap my tequila for tea and get this wellness show on the road down at the spa below.
The Ritz Carlton’s Spa by ESPA is one of those dimly lit spaces of endless curves and gentle wood furnishings in which, if you didn’t have a softly-spoken therapist to guide you through, you might find yourself pulling up in a corner somewhere and just dropping off to sleep – it’s that serene and relaxing. After a quick change in the women’s quiet dressing rooms, I was ushered to a private treatment room with jaw-dropping ceiling-to-floor views of Hong Kong Island. I like my spas sunless though, so my therapist kindly dropped the blinds and I settled into my darkened oasis with nothing but soft tinkly tunes that reminded me to relax. The soundtrack of pianos and soft chords wafted not just throughout each treatment room, but the entire spa, to achieve a more unbroken relaxation experience.
I’m not sure if there’s a bed on this earth that can adequately support a lady who’s 39 weeks and counting, but in this case it was admittedly hard to get truly comfortable. I had to lay on my side, and while I usually don’t mind that at all, there were no extra pillows to support my bump or to put in between my legs, although some soft folded-up towels were a decent alternative. I also never switched sides, which felt a little like one side of my back was overlooked, but the therapist did her best to access those hard-to-reach areas from the one angle.
And thank heavens for small spa mercies – after asking me what my trouble spots were, the therapist didn’t talk at all and let me just close my eyes and savour what might be my last 90 minutes of serenity for, oh I don’t know… forever? (Or so my mum friends keep telling me.) The oil the therapist used was truly delicious, ESPA’s Nourishing Body Oil, which is ideal for pregnant women. It contains only pure unscented oils such as jojoba, sweet almond oil and calendula, and no powerful aromatherapies that can upset the pregnancy cycle. It’s also rich in vitamin E, which is a fierce little fighter against stretch marks.
But, like any spa treatment, the hardest part was how quickly it felt like it was over, when the therapist began rubbing my feet with warm damp towels – the spa equivalent of the morning alarm clock going off and I wanted to beg her for a snooze button I could press that could get me 15 more minutes! But within moments I was curling up into another soft bed in the relaxation room, facing the Hong Kong skyline with a hot cup of tea. And there I stayed for as long as I could, with nothing but me and the view of one of my favourite cities, contemplating how soon and how much my life is about to change. And how, in just a few day’s time, lying on a massage bed at the Ritz Carlton will seem like a distant memory as I climb aboard a bed in the labour ward. Do you think my therapist will come and rub my back for me?
The Maternity Massage costs $1485 on weekdays and $1580 on weekends for 90 minutes.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2263 2263