29 February, 2012

Sassy Review: Pearl of the Orient treatment at I-Spa, InterContinental Hong Kong

29 February, 2012

No matter how much we age or how grown up we feel, we often carry through our lives certain childlike tendencies that are hard to shed. For some of us, the guilty regression comes in the form of eating leftover cake mixture off the spoon… for others, we can’t help but stick things to people’s backs when they’re not looking… but for me, I can’t help dipping my finger in molten wax and watching it harden before peeling it off. There is something strangely satisfying and therapeutic about the whole process, so much so that I often find myself doing it in fancy restaurants, much to the distress of the waiters/my husband.

Imagine my joy then to discover that the Pearl of the Orient treatment at I-Spa in The Intercontinental is a two and a half hour treatment centring on a paraffin wax wrap. This was something I had to try! Luckily, its benefits spread well beyond the pure childlike enjoyment of watching wax harden and include getting smoother skin, detoxifying and relieving muscle tension. So I merrily set off to the Dark Side to shed my clam-like exterior and reveal my inner pearl.

I had previously been to I-Spa when my husband spoilt me with their full-day spa package. This included half an hour of heat and water facilities in my own private spa room, a body scrub, a massage, a facial and a healthy 3-course lunch on their glorious pool terrace, with an unmatched view of HK Island where I was left to enjoy the pool facilities. The memory of that spa day lingers with me as one of the most enjoyable days I have ever spent, along with being one of the best presents I’ve ever received. This time round I had high hopes, they had set the bar extremely high; upon meeting my therapist, the head trainer no less, my hopes soared even higher.

The private rooms at the I-Spa are perfect. You have your very own Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room and it is easy enough to while away half an hour meandering between the three… and by the time I lay on my massage bed for my treatment, I was thoroughly Zen-like.

But I must first make a confession – I’m a total massage addict. I love having someone work away my tension and relieve my aching muscles and will always, without fail, select a massage off a spa menu. Thus, going for a treatment that was focused on a wrap was very new for me and outside my comfort zone. With hindsight, the treatment itself was fantastic and fulfilled all its desired effects, but at every stage I wished the massage element played a larger role. As my therapist expertly applied both the scrub and the paraffin wax, I was subconsciously willing her to forget the next step and do a full body massage… but alas, that wasn’t what I had signed up for!

Therefore this treatment needs to be signed up for as just that – a treatment. It’s an excellent winter revitalizing treat for your withered, dry and jaundiced skin, but not so much for your muscles; it’s also perfect for getting your body back into bikini shape or for the day of a big event when you want your skin to glow. But it is not my recommendation for a relaxing, pampering treatment; if that is what you’re after, my previous treatment along with the morsels of massage in this package are a testament to how incredible the massages at the I-Spa are, so do sign up for a dedicated one.

Back onto topic – the treatment itself! Taking into account the above, it was faultless. A full body pearl scrub was smeared onto my body in smooth massage-esque strokes before being washed off, along with my dead skin, in a private shower (beware, this package does involve two showers, not ideal for nodding off into spa-induced slumber and then having to stand up and wash). A divine smelling pearl emulsion was then applied before the big hitter, the paraffin wax. I was warned this would be hot but actually, it was quite comforting in its application.

My therapist expertly “painted” the wax all over me in sweeping soothing strokes and the initial sharpness from the heat lulled into a relaxing warmth. Turning over for her to “paint” the other side was slightly tricky and revealed to me that my body did in fact look like it had been dunked in a giant vat of candle wax! Finally, all wax applied, I was wrapped in plastic and layered up in warm towels and left to cook. And when I say cook… boy did I cook! Sweat dripped from my face (the only exposed part of my body) as I lay and let the paraffin wax do its work. The therapist used this time for a heavenly head massage, although my self-awareness of her having to touch my sweaty head detracted from its blissfulness slightly!

The hardened wax was then eased off my body before my second shower; the treatment ended with an application of a pearl moisturiser before finally, I was instructed to hydrate myself and get dressed. The verdict? My skin was glowing and felt as soft as a baby’s bottom. I felt cleansed and released of toxins and my muscles, which had been aching from a morning Pilates class, were now unnoticeable. I was truly a shining pearl.

This treatment is perfect for people looking for some skin emergency care. It will whip any dead, dry skin cells into shape and prepare your body for the impending spring heat. What’s more, there is no better environment in which to conduct some skin SOS: beautiful spa rooms, wonderful views and unfaltering service.

If you can, try and save time to use the pool facilities after your treatment, as it must be one of the best pool terraces in Hong Kong. If you are looking for a purely indulgent treatment, regardless of therapeutic benefits, I would say a massage from their body care range is your best bet. Either way, I-Spa’s new menu has something for everyone and is worth checking out to find the best way to treat yourself this dull and grey February.

The Pearl of the Orient treatment costs $2,390 for 2 hours 30 minutes

I-Spa, InterContinental Hotel, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2721 1211


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