Image: Jay Yeo.
July 09 2011
Part: 1 | 2
“Welcome, please take a seat.” I am ushered into the glass-walled waiting area and given tea and a hot face towel while I fill out the standard new-client form. There is something special about a day spa in a city: one minute you are multitasking, sending emails and making calls from the back of a cab stuck in traffic with horns honking and cabbies screaming profanities. The next you are transported into a tranquil, Zen-like environment where the only sound is that of music from esoteric playlists. Instead of the Blackberry, there are pots of herbal tea. Slowly you start to release pressure and feel human again.
With the arrival of the Olympic torch less than 12 months away, London is a flurry of new hotel and spa openings. It’s said that the capital’s population will swell by eight million next summer and many of the super hotel brands are gearing up to entice visitors to book in for longer stays. Spa and recreational offerings are seemingly the front line in this five-star battlefield.
I have been eyeing the Four Seasons Park Lane for many months, watching it morph as I pass it on my daily journey to the office, and have finally decided to investigate further. I was told that the entire roof area would be converted into a spa and gym; and this morning, as the lift opened onto the 10th floor, I was not disappointed. Now I’m seated in front of a super-cool, all-glass façade with spectacular views over Hyde park and surrounding London; on a bright sunny day like today I can almost count the corgis.
“I’ve decided to get lost in London this afternoon,” I say.
“Well, this is the perfect place to spend an afternoon,” says my therapist as she wraps me in my fresh white robe and slippers and walks me through the long dark wood-panelled corridor from the changing rooms to the relaxation area. There has been no expense spared. “Here we have the wet area, with vitality pool, steam and sauna, all with views over the park.” Finally, a sweat box with a view! This is cool.
I’ve decided to do a 30-minute steam and pool prior to the treatment. I’m surprised to find that there is nobody using the facilities so I truly am queen in the castle today.
“The spa offers a range of signiture rituals from three product houses: The Organic Pharmacy, ESPA and Omorovicza,” explains the therapist. “Most treatments are 80 minutes and are designed especially for our corporate guests who travel a lot and suffer from jet lag. All the rituals are primarily restorative, focusing on problem areas such as back and neck,” she continues as I am led to my Sky Suite with London in full bloom in front of me.
“What is your primary concern today?” she asks.
“My skin feels tired and dull; I think I am in need of a good old-fashioned clean.”
“OK, have you got any product-range preference?” It’s a rather strange selection; I wonder what criteria were used when the hotel was choosing the product lines. “I’m not a big fan of ESPA,” I say. “It reminds me too much of an airport lounge. Organic Pharmacy I use at home. But I have never tried Omorovicza before, so I would love to give it a twirl.”
“Great. Omorovicza originates from Hungary and I am personally a big fan of these products,” says my young and very charming therapist. “I reccomend we go for the gold hydrating facial, it will brighten and tighten, and the treatment finishes with a gold shimmer oil which will give you that fresh and dewy glow.”
She draws the curtain; I lie down.
“So tell me, what’s the Omorovicza story?”
“Well, it’s based on ‘mineral cosmetology’, inspired by the thermal water sites in Budapest,” she says. In simple terms she means that the creams are made up of waters rich in minerals sourced from the healing baths in Hungary. These baths are more than 2,000 years old and it’s said that the earth’s crust is less dense at this point, which means that the waters have a unique level of active minerals.
She starts the treatment with a cleanse and steam, then a lactic acid peel which is only mildly uncomfortable. “With the top layers of skin removed, I’m going to put on the anti-inflammatory gold serum; this contains the active ingredient, hyaluronic acid, which helps with fine lines and wrinkles.”
While the serum is working its magic on my face, she exfoliates my hands.
“The hands get the same treatment as the face today,” says my therapist. “Too often women forget about their hands; it’s the most revealing part of the body and as of right now there is very little one can do; prevention is certainly better than cure. Have you seen Madonna’s hands?”
“No I haven’t; have you?”
“Yes – I mean no, not in person, but in the magazines, and you can really tell her true age by her hands.”
“I’ll remember to look at those magazines next time I’m at the hairdresser. I promise!”
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.