As a former beauty editor, I’ve been to my share of spas at some of Asia’s best luxury hotels and branded wellness outlets. But a few names excite and stand out when you receive an invite from them, and The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Singapore is one example.
Located adjacent to the hotel’s pool on the fifth floor, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental features six treatment rooms, including two couples’ suites, a manicure-pedicure area, a tea lounge and the holy trinity of shower, steam and sauna facilities. I was invited to experience the Oriental Escape half-day programme, and was looking forward to spending an afternoon switched off from stress and the strains of city life.
Walking through the spa entrance’s glass doors, I was greeted by a display of beauty products and then by the friendly face of a spa operations supervisor. Ushered to a semi-private consultation booth, I was presented with a cup of tea and a cold towel. The next step was a ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ consultation form to determine my current personal state of well-being, as part of the programme’s massage therapy session.
Enjoying my tea, I had time to admire the palette of natural warm earth tones in the plush fabrics, cushions and furnishings around me. Looking up, I noticed that the reception area was illuminated by a cloud silhouette motif with multiple layers lit from below — a motif also used for light fixtures and décor throughout the spa.
My beauty enthusiast side then got the better of me as I got up to get a closer look at the products. I found out that the spa’s signature product line was developed by UK-based Aromatherapy Associates — one of those brands with formulas and textures that make you feel good just by using them. The spa’s product range incorporate five body oils, five bath and shower oils, a body scrub, body wash and body lotion. Each aromatherapy-based item is created according to the principles of the five elements (Wu Xing): wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Also on display was the spa’s own Quintessence products, crafted by an in-house master blender.
After changing in the bathroom, I was guided into one of the couples’ suites while again appreciating the contemporary interiors of my surroundings; all lacquered panels, mosaic tiles, mother-of-pearl accents and rich textures. My therapist Pam guided me to a hanging sofa and explained that the form I’d filled out earlier had categorised me under the metal element, corresponding to the ‘Release’ essential oil that was to be used during my massage. Symptoms of people with this dominant element may include headaches, back pain and stress. As such, the oil blends frankincense, clary sage and eucalyptus to alleviate tension and promote a peaceful state of mind.
All of this took place while Pam bathed and wrapped my feet in warm towels before beginning the treatment with a full body scrub. One thing I’ve learnt from my spa experiences is to never underestimate the size and stature of your masseuse in relation to her strength. As she rubbed her hands with consistent pressure in synchronised motion all over my body, I could almost feel the impurities and dead skin cells get evenly sloughed off with each sweep.
The Oriental Escape programme is the most comprehensive and luxuriating treatment offered at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental. You are guaranteed to leave with scrubbed down, baby soft skin from head to toe and a thorough sense of serenity.
After a quick rinse in the next room (where I caught a glimpse of a vitality pool in bamboo-inspired marble), I settled back down and heard the gentle chime of a bell announcing the start of the meridian massage. It began with a back diagnostic in which pressure was applied along my spine and upper back area, confirming which parts to focus on. Over the next 110 minutes, the room filled with the scent of the oil as she worked her hands all around my body, pausing at spots to untangle knots with optimal pressure. The technique works along the meridian lines to release the flow of energy (qi) in the same way that acupuncture does. By the end, I was putty in Pam’s hands.
It’s the little details that set top spas from the rest — things like generously providing towels and amenities and a feeling like you’re in a sanctuary where time slows down — all of which The Spa checks off the list.
The last part of the programme was an eye treatment and customised facial. Beginning with a facial assessment to determine my skin type – dehydrated and dull — she used a combination of mattifying, hydrating and anti-aging products to tone, plump and brighten my skin. Over the course of the treatment, my facial muscles were gently probed using lymphatic massage techniques. Unlike at most spas, therapists leave you lying flat on your back when they work on your face. But Pam thoughtfully raised and tipped parts of my bed so that I was in a half-sitting, half-horizontal position. It also gave her better access to massage my shoulders and neck after a face mask application. And for the first time ever in a facial, attention was paid to my pucker when Pam applied balm to my lips.
The programme could have happily ended there, but a meal — again, prepared in accordance with my dominant metal element — followed at the hotel’s poolside Italian restaurant, Dolce Vita. On the menu? Saffron lemon couscous, grilled vegetables and garden cress to start; roasted lamb loin, artichokes and sautéed mushrooms for my entrée, and a mango sorbet, almond crunch and mango basil confit for dessert. It was delicious.
As I sat in my corner table with views of the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands skyline and CBD lighting up at sunset, I wondered just who else had had such a relaxing, pampering and rejuvenating day as I.
The spa’s Oriental Escape treatment is primarily enjoyed by two persons (S$1,380) but you can request to do it for one (S$690). It lasts approximately four hours and comprises of a Welcome Foot Ritual, Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa Therapy, Revitalising Eye Treatment, Customised Aromatherapy Facial and Spa Meal for Two (not included in the treatment time). Alternatively, you can opt for the Taste of the Orient programme that is approximately three hours long and includes a Welcome Foot Ritual, Quintessence Body Scrub, Oriental Bamboo Massage and Oriental Foot Therapy (S$510).
Where: The Spa
5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square – Singapore
Phone: +65 6885 3533
Email: [email protected]