Last week I leapt at an opportunity to visit CHI, The Spa at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney, writes NSM Natasha Shaw.
When I was a travel writer I was lucky enough to be spoiled with delicious massages at the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa on Panang Island in Malaysia and the Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa in the Philippines, so I was really looking forward to a Shangri-La experience in a city environment to see if it really could transport me away from reality.
In Sydney, CHI, The Spa can be found on the second level of the hotel in the historic Rocks district. Entering the spa area is a treat in itself – the lights are always dimmed with mood lighting and tea light candles scattered around, and I immediately felt enveloped in a soothing atmosphere.
At the front desk (aka ‘gateway to heaven’) I was introduced to Chaniele Erasmuson, the spa’s manager. She recommended I be pampered with the Aroma Journey Massage, as it helps to ‘relieve emotional and physical tension and synergise your body’. As a typical mum, juggling a child with work and household commitments, this sounded like the perfect way to escape daily craziness for an hour.
Chaniele led me to the spa’s waiting room, which is made up of various cubicles, each containing comfy chairs and a small table nestled within rings of ceiling-to-floor curtains. If you wish, you can draw the curtains closed for further privacy. Here, Chaniele handed me a clipboard, then left me alone in my relaxing cocoon for a few minutes so that I could fill in my details (contact information, as well as any health issues and parts of my body on which I would like the massage therapist to concentrate). I was also given a more-ish tea (Relax by T2) and a herbal water to sip.
I was soon met by the lovely Kristina Gianneas, who spoke in soothing tones, telling me she would be performing my treatment. She led me to a nearby treatment room (also dimly lit), where she opened a wardrobe that revealed a candlelit ‘altar to relaxation’ – in here was a fluffy robe (pampering 101), slippers, a shower cap for protecting hair from massage oils, along with disposable briefs in case you don’t want to wear your own, and a comb to use after your treatment. On the back wall of the wardrobe was a panel displaying the temperature of the room; 25 degrees. Nice. I changed into the robe, then wandered into the luxurious treatment area dotted with tea lights where I rang a bell (very decadent!) to alert Kristina to the fact I was ready to begin.
Moments later I was face down on the massage table and totally in awe of Kristina’s expert hands. She began by placing warm warm moist towels on my feet. Ahhhh … and this was only the beginning.
After about a minute into my treatment, Kristina held a delicious scented oil under my nose and asked me to take three deep breaths. Breath one – I totally forgot about the fact my garage and everything stored in it had been badly water damaged in the recent storms. Breath two – did I really lose that diamond out of my engagement ring? Breath three – who cares that my almost three-year-old spat mouthfuls of warm milk into his tub of Lego that morning … just for the fun of it. Meanwhile, the soft background music further drowned out any thoughts I had of reality.
Over the next hour I was massaged with Sodashi’s Mint Soother Foot Treatment and Fitness Recover Body Oil. Later, I was told the foot solution contains arnica and peppermint, ideal for relieving a sore lower back and reducing any swelling. That certainly explains why with each smooth stroke the knots in my back disappeared and I felt more and more like the old me again.
All too soon my massage was over and Kristina left the room so that I could change back into my clothes. I’ll admit it was quite hard to even leave the massage table – my body was so relaxed it felt like jelly and the candlelit room begged me to remain awhile and soak up my new inner calm.
However, I willed myself to move and utilised the provided comb to fix my hair. As I opened the door to leave the treatment room I suddenly realised I was still wearing my spa slippers! I smiled to myself. Relaxation accomplished! And, yes, it definitely lived up to my expectations of escaping reality. I’ll definitely return again to CHI, The Spa at the Shangri-La one day very soon…
Have you been fortunate enough to have indulged in the CHI experience? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below.