A new facial-lifting treatment at the Ritz-Carlton Spa takes inspiration from a traditional Japanese massage technique. We cross the harbour to sample it.
There’s no need to explain why people might want to set aside 90 minutes for a massage right now. I can think of plenty of reasons, from being cooped up in this city for a year and a half, or the change in the seasons and weather, to a general feeling of impending doom (though perhaps that’s just me) and the consistent worry of living through a global pandemic.
Yet even at the best of times, spoiling yourself for an-hour-and-a-half, while letting an expert work her magic by massaging all the tension away, is a delightful indulgence. Maybe it’ll even achieve the impossible by defying age and turning back the clock.
My own reasons for visiting the Ritz-Carlton Spa are simple. Although the still-sweltering heat (complete with blue skies, so much sunshine and more than the occasional thunderstorm) might have us thinking otherwise, autumn is almost upon us. And it’s precisely at this time of year that my skin goes from its normal oily and blemish-prone state to dehydrated, susceptible to dry patches and still, unfortunately, prone to blemishes.
No matter how many times I streamline my skincare regiment and kid myself I’ve honed it to perfection, the weather changes – and with it comes stress on the skin, dullness and the appearance of texture.
So to relax and to revitalise my face and skin, I’m visiting the Ritz-Carlton Spa to check out its latest offering. This powerhouse of pampering is located on the hotel’s 116th floor, which requires a little journey that takes me from the first lobby – on the ninth floor – to the main lobby on the 103rd.
Eventually, after switching to another lift, I emerge in the spa, where I’m greeted with a cup of hot Chinese tea and check myself in, filling out forms to detail points of tension and concern on my body and, inevitably, whether I’m in danger of being Covid-positive. I’m then led through a warren of dark corridors to a changing room, where I put on a soft bathrobe and slippers before going to wait for my specialist.
This lovely lady leads me down yet another dimly lit corridor to one of the spa’s 11 lavish treatment rooms high above the harbour. Here, with the city spread out beneath me, I’m treated to a foot bath as my specialist helps me choose the scents and oils I’d like her to use.
I’m trialling the new Natural Kobido Lift treatment, which employs serums, moisturisers, balms and oils from the holistic beauty brand ESPA, originally from the UK. Its Tri-Active Resilience Pro-Biome range is luxurious and natural, with anti-oxidant properties that promise to strengthen the skin’s resilience to modern lifestyle stressors, such as pollution and harsh weather.
Before we began, my specialist analyses my skin using a blue UV lamp – not the most pleasant experience, as she inspects the acne scarring on my cheek, hyperpigmentation on my neck (admittedly not somewhere I always remember to apply my skincare products) and the deep dark circles under my “tired” eyes.
To begin the facial, which takes its name from traditional Japanese Kobido massage, I undergo a combination of fast and slow hand movements on my face, neck and chest, which are promised to “detoxify, invigorate, sculpt and relax”. As I’m told multiple times to relax throughout the treatment, the jury’s out on whether I’m able truly to unwind.
I’m told the varying massaging speeds improve deep circulation, remove dead cells, and encourage elastin and collagen production (in tandem with the hydrating resilience-building collection from ESPA). My specialist uses just enough pressure on my face and chest, so it isn’t painful in any way.
Towards the end of the treatment, a menthol-infused mask is placed on my face for around 15 minutes, during which time I fidget and attempt to calm my racing mind. I don’t succeed, though the cooling sensation is pleasant and not too strong.
The verdict? Following the procedure I can see little to no signs of bloating or puffiness on my face, and my skin really does feel firmer. Nor do I experience any adverse post-treatment effects, such as breaking out into angry red spots or inflammation. However, my skin being a problematic organ, I do seem to have some irritation on my cheeks and chin – it looks a little worn out where
I have old scarring, while my pores seem a little more “emphasised” than before.
The 90-minute Natural Kobido Lift treatment is available until December 31, at HK$2,100 on weekdays and HK$2,250 on weekends and public holidays, plus 10 percent service.
To book call +852 2263 2040 or email [email protected]