The treatment: Breathe & Detox Treatment
Duration: 90 Minutes
One thing that makes The Mandarin Spa so special is that its products are exclusive to Mandarin Oriental. All the bathroom amenities, as well as the spa products, are by Flourish, the brand designed for MO properties around the globe. For this particular treatment, a blind test was conducted so that I could select the scent I felt was more soothing without the influence of botanical names. I chose the lemon and lemongrass, a blend of essential oils combining healing powers, which stimulate movement of the lymphatic system, detoxification and the reduction of water retention.
Upon arrival, I’m welcomed by warm hellos and a hot cup of jasmine tea. Slippers are brought for me to change into, and the attentive receptionist introduces me to the therapist that will be looking after me for the afternoon. She gives me a brief introduction of the facilities and the treatment I’m about to try before we head down to the 23rd floor, where all the treatment rooms are located. Once in the luxurious spa suite, more tea (except this time lavender), detox juice and ice water awaits. I thought nothing at the time, but it turns out that following the treatment you desperately need to rehydrate — how thoughtful!
There’s something very tranquil about The Mandarin Spa. Keeping in style with the hotel, its interiors and décor honour the Oriental heritage it’s built upon with Chinese accents visible throughout. The wellness centre is spread over three floors spanning 2,100 square meters, and it boasts a Chinese herbal steam room, jacuzzi, tepidarium (warm Roman bath), indoor swimming pool, 24-hour fitness centre, tea lounge, sauna and nine treatment rooms that include two spa suites with private vitality pools. Guests are invited to arrive 45 minutes before their scheduled appointment to luxuriate in these facilities offered to them. The Mandarin Salon is also part of this little oasis on the 24th floor.
Part I: Halotheraphy & Infrared Sauna
The treatment begins with a 30-minute relaxation period in the spa suite. I’m invited to enjoy the halotherapy, a treatment which involves breathing in salty air to mimic the conditions of a salt cave, where the sodium is said to improve respiratory and skin conditions, and infrared sauna to enhance my metabolism. Sitting nude in a little wooden and glass box might feel rather odd at first, but after the first few minutes I ease in and start to enjoy a good sweat. Relaxing it may be, but perhaps some sort of audio would have made the experience slightly less awkward. Before I know it, the 30 minutes are up as the timer inside the box indicates. Next I’m off to the steam and shower room to refresh and wash away the sweat and salt buildup.
Part II: Lymphatic Massage
With the sound and vibrations of a singing bowl and a deep inhale of my selected essential oil blend, my treatment begins. As I lie face down, the therapist works her way from my neck and shoulders down to my feet. It’s time to turn over: Unlike other lymphatic massages that I’ve experienced before, the therapist explains to me the importance of massaging the abdominal area and that this will be her concentration. I’m not usually a fan of tummy massages, as I’ve always worried about pressure on my organs. But her technical knowledge and technique so far reassure me and I allow her to locate the pressure points on my torso and the rest of my body. Aligned with my breathing, she presses in on my exhales — with every breath relieving tension in the tummy area and promoting lymphatic drainage — a strange, unfamiliar feeling that was surprisingly comforting.
Moving on, using a traditional gua sha tool, she applies pressure on points of my neck, chin and temples, then scrapes across my cheekbones, jaw and forehead to stimulate circulation and drain facial toxins. I’m in disbelief as I hear the sound of the singing bowl once again, ending my treatment — how had 60 minutes gone by so quickly? The saying that time flies when you’re having fun (or in this case, being pampered from head to toe) comes to mind. I’m reminded to drink plenty of fluids for the rest of the day to flush out all the impurities before the therapist politely retreats to allow me some privacy to fully revive and dress.
The intimate relaxation room is made available for those who wish to linger for just a while longer while they mentally prepare to be thrown back into reality. Knowing myself to be a sloth, I peel myself off the recliner and make my way out before being sucked in for the rest of the day.
Takeaways from the experience? One, abdominal massages aren’t as scary as I thought. Two, drinking copious amounts of water beforehand really reaps better results. And lastly, The Mandarin Spa is one of the city’s best wellness retreats to melt away stress — even if it is just for 90 minutes.