Prepare for a pampering journey unlike any other, at the shining new Spa of the Orient
Orchids continue the Eastern theme
Rose petals scattered on a bath in the Koku treatment room
She was sorely missed. Now, after a massive £75 million room-by-room makeover, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is better than ever. The legendary hotel is a truly effervescent presence in one of the world’s most striking cityscapes, and locals, international visitors and followers are all flocking back.
In a city as frenetic as Hong Kong, where mergers, millions and meetings are the order of the day, it’s hard to imagine a haven of calm within the bustling business district. But there is, in the form of the new Spa at Mandarin Oriental, an exquisitely tranquil refuge that’s entirely dedicated to each guest’s wellbeing.
The Spa is everything a genuine world-class spa should be: warm, peaceful and cosseting, and ultimately a sensually uplifting experience. It has been designed to reflect the robust richness of 1930s Shanghai, and as soon as you enter, a feeling of quiet pervades. Tactile materials complement marble and dark-wood veneers; subdued lighting emanates from recesses; there is a sky-lit pool and fitness facility and a whole menu of restorative rituals inspired by the founding fathers of Eastern medicine, traditional Chinese and ayurvedic philosophies – both of which are as popular today as they were in ancient China and India.
A Spa receptionist wears a Vivienne Tam uniform
Chinese herbs in the colour-changing steam room
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultations include a restoring blend of herbal recommendations and healing treatments specifically aimed at each individual. Treatments are designed to promote a smoother flow of qi, or ‘life force’, and remove blockages. The menu includes bone setting (healing through gentle bone manipulation), acupuncture, cupping (an acupressure technique, which involves using cups to create a vacuum on various points of the body to rebalance the system), moxibustion (when a lit herbal stick is used to warm acupressure points and activate stagnant qi), reflexology and Chinese meridian (or pressure-point) massage. The skilful therapists all receive intensive and ongoing training from a leading TCM doctor who, along with a qualified nutritionist in Chinese and Western medicine, is on call for more detailed consultations and therapy.
It’s the attention to detail that sets this sanctuary apart
An Aroma Stone massage in one of the eight treatment rooms
Dried apricots and figs in syrup served in the relaxation room
Great care and thought has gone into the spa areas, with their exquisitely designed showers and Chinese-patterned sinks. The male area includes a dry sauna for really deep cleansing, a vitality pool with hydrotherapy floor, body jets and reclining airbeds that gently massage the entire body. In the Chinese herbal steam room, meditative scents of fresh Chinese herbs infuse the air to further induce a feeling of calm. Exclusive to the female area is Hong Kong’s first Kneipp pool, where pebbles stimulate the feet and lower legs as you glide through the water. The alternating warm and cool experience showers, complete with coloured lighting, refresh all the senses and help to improve circulation.
The eight therapy rooms reflect a sense of times past with calming scents and a colourful palette of lacquer, plaster and wood. Each room is inspired by Mandarin Oriental’s signature essential oils: Jasmine, which features an oriental suite for couples and Thai massage; Patchouli, with Vichy showers and scrubs; and Frangipani, a Western therapy room with hydro baths, and undoubtedly the biggest and snuggest therapy beds in the business.
A stained-glass screen by The Barber Shop
Each spa visit focuses on Time Rituals – combinations that are tailormade exclusively for each individual guest. Whether you need relief from jetlag or aching muscles, nourishment for tired, dehydrated skin or pure unadulterated pampering, you can get it all in one exquisite package. Your peaceful journey begins in the softly lit, scented relaxation room, where the most delicious dried figs and apricots in spicy syrup are served alongside traditional Chinese teas.
Jiva Ayurvedic Sanctuary is home to time-tested rituals designed to balance the doshas – the energy types known as vata (air), pita (fire) and kapha (earth). Just as each of us has an individual thumbprint, so we have a unique pattern of energy. On diagnosing your dominant dosha, the expert Nepalese and Indian therapists select the best combination of treatments and herbs to suit your specific needs.
The Barber Shop reception area
Ayurveda has become popular in leading spas all over the world, but it’s the attention to detail, for which MO is legendary, that sets this sanctuary apart. There are special touches everywhere, from the bed handcarved from the medicinal South-Indian neem tree (believed to possess powerful healing properties), the authentic ayurvedic copper vessels used to heat oils and the Indian herbs sourced especially for Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong – right down to the signature mantra-chanting to entice guests to holistically embrace the philosophy. A full complement of ayurvedic therapies is available, including shirodhara (in which a steady stream of warm medicated oil is poured over the forehead – the third eye – to ease tension), synchronised abhyanga massage (where two therapists work in unison to invigorate the system and ease stress) and choorna swedam (a deep-pressure massage using a medicated herbal poultice to target areas of pain and tension).
The barber shop’s classic wet shave is as good as it gets
Classic wet-shave treatment by Mr James Lee
The Patchouli room, centred around the stimulating Vichy shower, is home to the Spa’s aqua experiences. These combine the best in water therapy with nourishing ingredients guaranteed to leave the skin soft and silky-smooth. Guests choose their preferred Vichy ritual from the menu of herbal treatments: the Body Purifier, Warm Heart, Inner Harmony, Breathe Easy or Stomach Soother Vichy Experience.
The menu in the Palmarosa beauty room offers nurturing facials that work on acupressure points to balance, nourish and lift the face. For guests in a hurry, On the Run purifies and express-cleans the face in half the time of other facials. But for those with a little more time to relax, a heavenly spa-suite ritual is a must. Three hours of cosseted bliss are complemented by delicious, healthy Shanghai-style snacks prepared by the hotel’s executive chef. Choose from delicately steamed siu long bao (a healthier take on dim sum, made with fresh vegetables, ginseng and Chinese fungus), steamed vegetarian dumplings, double-nourishing soup with immune-boosting herbs and a traditional Chinese herbal jelly – perfect food for a balanced body and mind.
Classic Mandarin massages are as popular as ever. The signature Oriental Harmony (an uplifting full-body scrub and massage performed by two therapists at the same time) and Aroma Stone, Swedish, Thai, aromatherapy and deep-tissue massages will ease the most stubborn of knots and satisfy the most discerning of guests.
Ever-popular among Hong Kong locals, The Barber Shop is back in the guise of a traditional barber’s shop from 1930s Shanghai. Its classic wet shave is as good as it gets. Other services include hair, scalp, beard and moustache trimming, facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. Complete with a library and television, this masculine sanctuary is set to become a most refined gentleman’s club, where business is always a pleasure.
The antithesis to this is the contemporary, almost minimalist design of the female enclave, The Hair and Beauty Salon, complete with its own VIP area and nail room. The décor serves as a blank canvas for the colourful operations that constitute its typical day, such as the world-famous Shanghai pedicure, artfully performed by Mr Samuel So (also much in demand in The Barber Shop). Unsurpassed in the business, Mr So skilfully removes every callus and every last vestige of dead skin with his fearsome-looking blades. As one very satisfied regular guest, who books his treatment weeks in advance of frequent visits to Hong Kong, says: ‘The first time I was really scared, but I have been coming back for years. Mr So leaves me feeling as though I’m walking on air – and the best thing is, it lasts for weeks.’
As a seasoned spa devotee, I found my experience was both physically and emotionally uplifting and thoroughly gratifying. Each package of heavenly experiences – from the nourishing facials to the divine rituals, complemented by Mandarin Oriental’s trademark special touches – is, indeed, as good as it gets.