Pampered luxury in China is the thing in a land that is the hot, hot, hot destination du jour. The world’s greatest spa names are getting into the business and creating mini-destinations in top-name hotels as China becomes known for much more than its exotic and colorful histories, bargain shopping and fabulous food.From Hainan Island and Hunan to chic Shanghai and busy Beijing, the China spa business is booming and showcasing ancient local traditions in massage, energy flow, bathing and Taoist harmony.
Fueling the boom is the expansion of foreign businesses and the resulting influx of foreign professionals bringing a demand for spas, as well as the growing tourism industry and hotel construction, and the rising incomes of Chinese professionals. It is also fueled by preparations for the 2008 Olympics, which mean more hotels, more spas.
Pudong Shangri-La Shanghai opened its $138 million expansion in September and with it, a CHI spa, featuring a glassed-in pool and offering each guest a decked-out private spa suite with its own changing room, bathing area and relaxation spaces. The treatments at the spa are inspired by traditional Asian healing philosophies. On the menu, find such signatures therapies as the 80-minute CHI Balance. The session blends Asian techniques customized according to current Yin/Yang status, focusing on the earth element (building chi), wood element (moving chi), and fire element (clarity and peace of mind). Techniques include acupressure, energizing massage for yang stimulation and a relaxing massage for yin calm. Pure oriental element oils are use to harmonize chi flow.
Additional privileges and conveniences can be had through the exclusive Horizon Club. Rooms start at apprx. $260 per night or $360 for added values that include: complimentary buffet breakfast for two, round trip airport limousine transfers, unlimited laundry and dry cleaning, free local telephone calls, 6 pm checkout and high speed Internet access.
Call (866) 565-5050 or visit www.shangri-la.com.
The newest player in Shanghai “Tang” is the glassy, post-modern Regent Shanghai, which just opened its doors this winter. The 53-story high rise allows guests to take in the lights of one of the world’s most fascinating and progressive cities from the vantage of a warm bath where a spacious marble layout places a luxurious deep-soaking tub against a floor to ceiling window. A medley of complimentary oils and elixirs to soothe the weary, but transfixed, traveler.
To truly get the benefit of rejunvenation, guests should head for the Guerlain Institute at the Regent’s new SpaChakra, taking up an entire floor of the hotel with an indoor sun-dappled lap pool, a spacious workout area and precious spa quarters. The Guerlain mystique is experienced the minute the guest sits down in the plush waiting area while the spa attendant prepares her footbath. The guest is asked to choose from a menagerie of perfume delights including – I kid you not – Shalimar, Champs-Elysees, L’Instant de Guerlain and Samsara – free for the testing and smelling on a perfume table. She is then lead to her footbath, given in a private, padded alcove and lasting a good 15 minutes as each foot and leg is thoroughly massaged and dried. Then, after a short walk on warmed wooden floors to the treatment room, the massage of choice is performed, scented with the oils of the guest’s perfume selection. An hour’s treatment runs about $90. Gratuities are accepted but not expected, nor part of the tradition here. For information check www.regenthotels.com.
Farther afield but worth the journey is the new Banyan Tree Ringha that opened in October in China’s southern Yunnan province, a mountainous area in Greater Tibet bordering Myanmar and India that has been designated as the “official Shangri-La” by the Chinese government. At 9,000 feet above sea level, the setting is spectacular with day-trips and overnight excursions into cloud-hugged mountain peaks overlooking deep canyons, torrential rivers, mystical plateaus, endless valleys and tranquil lakes.
The resort architecture reflects the local Tibetan culture. All lodges are traditional Tibetan farmhouses with intricate woodcarvings, smoky fireplaces and wooden balconies with valley or river views.
The spa signature is the 150-minute Himalayan Bliss. Drawing from the local landscape, this treatment uses soft river stones, hand carved by monks that contain sacred mantras and the eight auspicious symbols of Tibetan Buddhism. It begins with a Black Sesame Scrub, which has warming qualities to induce weight loss, reduce water retention and improve complexion. Warmed stones are then incorporated into a soothing massage, which enables smooth flow of chi, relaxes muscles and expands blood vessels to promote detoxification. A Rice Wine Bath further cleanses and improves body circulation, leaving the body and spirit refreshed and renewed.
The Tibetan Spa Suite Promotion is pricey but memorable. For $966 per night, a couple can stay in a sprawling, two-level private farm cottage. Each partner receives a 90-minute, in-suite body massage session. In addition, guests enjoy a daily traditional Tibetan breakfast and a 20% discount off subsequent 90-minute à-la-carte massage sessions at Banyan Tree Spa. The rate also includes transfers from the airport to the resort and all taxes, valid through October 2008. Call (866) 8-BANYAN or (805) 499-9101, or visit www.banyantree.com/ringha.
FREE APHRODISIAC NEWSLETTER
Subscribe to our free aphrodisiac newsletter