Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Touchy Feely

With the dawn of the new year comes new year's resolutions, taking all the fun out of new beginnings. Couple that with the holiday hangover associated with being back at work, and year, early Jan isn't all that fun. The one thing you can do to indulge a little bit (without breaking the rules that stand between you and total hedonism) is get a refreshing spa treatment. It's all part of the "shedding the old you to reveal the new one" process... or whatever other excuse I can make up that will get me in that bed with a face hole in it.

It's rare that I go to spas in Hong Kong. Mostly, I'm pretty busy, but also, I associate spa visits with press trips or my quarterly pilgrimage to Bangkok (yeah, I lead a tough life, I know). Somehow over this holiday season, I ended up at two different spa venues.

The first, Sense of Touch, was kind enough to let me trial a treatment at their new Repulse Bay location, in the same building as The Verandah. First of all, that structure is one of the most romantic outdoor shopping malls you can come across; it's almost like the Italian Piazza Lite (very, very lite), all moonlight and arches and whatnot. It's not the easiest to navigate, but once I found Sense of Touch, everyone was welcoming and efficient (I know you're supposed to chill out at the spa but I hate it when they force you to hang out with your tea for 10 minutes contemplating what manner of disposable underpant they will be providing you with).

The theme is thankfully not Thai wellness or holistic herbal blah-di-dah, but rather Old Hong Kong. Nostalgic photos line the walls and a kind of Mediterranean influence takes over the treatment rooms and idyllic garden area (pictured above). But where the old-school vibe really takes over is in the treatment menu, with a Nostalgia series that includes far-out programmes including Tobacco and Opium (named respectively for their main ingredients) and Fragrant Harbour, inspired by the sandalwood forests that gave Hong Kong its nickname.

There's a second Sea series with Ocean's 11, a clay mask/massage utilizing a choice of 11 essential oils, and a Sea Shell massage, which is a massage with warm sea shells.

I test-drove the Tobacco, which came with this narration:
Tobacco ($990 / 90 mins)
A stimulating treatment that uses a combination of tobacco flower, ginger oil and sea salt to scrub the skin rendering even the most weathered seadogs baby soft and smooth. Followed by a body massage treatment working on tight and fatigued muscles. A treatment this good could become a habit… "

Nobody loves a good addiction like me (just check out my shoe cabinet) so I was sold. The experience is generally very homey, and what I enjoyed was that the therapist got the job done, instead of just feeling me up and calling it a massage. The skin scrub did leave me ridiculously smooth, and the process didn't leave me freezing under a wet sheet. All in all, a good job. And no, I didn't even need a tobacco fix afterwards, I just basked in the glow of myself...

The other thing that's great is that they use products from Aromatherapy Associates (also used at the Mandarin Oriental spa, but SOT is muuuuuch cheaper), and having met the team from AA, I know that they all look ridiculously radiant at all times, so there's got to be something good in their products.

The best part (well, arguably the best part if your priorities in life are shoes and food) is the Jason's Marketplace in the same complex, which happened to have fresh ravioli on sale for HK$15 because it was due to expire in two days. SCORE!

Sense of Touch is located at G211, 1/F, The Repulse Bay Arcade, 109 Repulse Bay Road, Hong Kong, call 852 2592 9668 or visit www.senseoftouch.com.hk.

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