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SPA INDULGENCE IN MAURITIUS

Sathya Saran  (click here to know more about this blogger)

Day One. The Anti-Jet Lag Massage

 

It has been a long night. Flights leaving at 6 am are no fun. Sleep is a no-no, for it leaves me dazed and unwilling to make the effort to get to the airport. Once boarded, it is a struggle to find a comfortable angle and ignore the food trolleys going up and down and the noisy co-passengers' banter. Which is why, despite the sparkling ice blue waters of the Indian Ocean calling out to me, the bed with its down-filled pillows, at the Heritage Le Telfair seemed more welcoming.

 

Of course you have understood by now that I am on a beach. And this beach, on the southern part of Mauritius, where the heritage resort property, stretching along the waters and inland, to include villas for private occupation, a beach club, an 18-hole golf course and a private nature reserve, is among the best. I can vouch for the hotel too, but that is not my story. Perhaps the fact that the hotel was offering a spa treatment to soothe away jet lag is what made it all so special. When the body seems to need rest, and it is denied because there is work disguised as leisure waiting, a spa treatment seems the best thing to find the balance.

 

So I happily take myself off to the Seven Colours Spa at Heritage Le Telfair. It lies half hidden among the trees, and offers sanctuary to anyone seeking it. The receptionist is well informed and briefs me about what is on offer. But though the spa special, Coco Spa Ritual Massage, seems tempting, the jet lag soother is a necessity. Nishta Hurnaum is a certificate holder, with four years of experience in this spa, which is not her first job. She takes charge of me, and leads me to the treatment room, which is fragrant and exudes calm. I have chosen a colour from the seven colours displayed, and blue, my choice, is for calm. Hmm! I have chosen for my legs and feet for the treatment. The half-hour massage gives one a choice between head, back and shoulders, and legs. Nishta puts me at ease as I lie face down on the massage bed. A towel roll under my ankles provides surprising comfort. With swift, firm strokes she starts the massage from ankle upwards. This I am told later, helps drain the water that has pooled in the tissues of the legs due to my long hours of inactivity on the flight. She presses the pressure points on my sole and upper feet to drain the lymph glands and to relax me. If I had chosen the full hour session, she would have massaged my shoulders and lower back to release any tension that might be lurking there. Shoulders and lower back are the places where tension gathers for most people, and if not released can become a chronic pain giver.  Then the same broad strokes would have followed to drain the tension away and ease away the muscular pain it causes. The head massage would include the relaxation of the forehead and cervical muscles, and bring a sense of relaxation. Nishta has used a detox oil on my legs. The mix of sandalwood and basil eliminates toxins.  A dash of peppermint oil helps relieve any pain in the feet. The back and neck are treated with a "relief body oil" which is a combination of peppermint and rosemary, while ylang ylang and neroli work to relax the forehead muscles and calm the mind. The base for all massage oil combinations is a mixture of almond and coconut oils.

Much relaxed and revitalised, I am ready for the rest of the long day ahead. But Nishta insists I let myself be pampered some more, as she serves me a refreshing tea that carries the theme of the massage further, with a blend of rosemary, ginger, lemon and honey.

 

Day Two The Coco Spa Ritual

The next day, I return, curious to try the Coco Spa Ritual! It is, I have been told, a special that has been devised by the Seven Colours Spa therapists, and worth a try.  So here I am again, in Nishta's capable care. Taking her cue from the Thai massages, she rings a bell, which reverberates near my ear as I settle down once again, this time for a 90-minute session. She has started the ritual by washing my feet in coconut milk, and I am already feeling like royalty. The massage starts with an exfoliating scrub. Using dessicated coconut powder blended into coconut oil, Nishta scrubs me with the dedication of a person polishing a copper vessel. Once she is convinced she has me shining clean, she moves to work on my face. Using a coconut milk base, she smoothes coconut powder gently all over and wipes it clean with a hot towel. It feels like silk on my skin. I am marched off with instructions to take a hot shower.  The rest of the treatment follows. My back and then the rest of me is slathered in a body mask solution made of coconut oil and coconut milk. It feels light and cool, and I can feel my skin thirstily drinking it in. Nishta then brings in the coconut oil she has been warming in the cabinet behind us, to massage into my head. It is tempting, but I decline. The day ahead is full of things to do, places to see, and I cannot afford to oil, wash and dry my hair… a ritual that normally takes me over two hours! I drink my refreshing tea, and take my leave. I walk back to my room to change, leaving a trail of coconut scent behind me, I am not allowed to wash off the mask, but let it soak in for the rest of the day! Luckily, no body seems to notice that I smell like a Thai curry!

 

Day Three. The Westin Signature Heavenly Massage

Another day. another hotel, the Westin, Turtle Bay, in the northern half of Mauritius, this time. And I decide to try out the spa with a quick treatment. The Westin Signature Heavenly Massage has a nice inviting ring to the name, and I opt for a back massage, ignoring my favourite massage destination, my legs. This time my therapist is Mauritian, despite her name, Anushree, which tells of her Indian roots. Anushree is slight of build. Which I tell myself is a good thing. Because the Heavenly Massage begins with what seems like her kneeling on to my legs and digging her thumbs into my shoulders. She explains later it is a "palming" technique and palms and thumbs are used to relax the back. She is silent about the knees, though I can still feel their imprint on the back of my thighs.  Anushree uses a hot compress with herbs to relax my muscles. The signature Westin Heavenly Bed is so comfortable that I am drifting off to sleep. But I have been asked to focus on the stone I have chosen, at the start of the treatment. The choices ate Love, Hope and Gratitude. I choose Hope, because it can grant you enough love and enough to be grateful for. The stone has been placed in a black bowl and is in line with my face as I lie face down. Focussing on it calms away the thoughts that often disturb equanimity. Yet, sleep seems a nicer option. Using white tea aloe oil, Anushree pushes the blood on my back upwards, and gives my back muscles a chance to rest. Before I know it, I have drifted off. Only the chime of the bell close to my ear, reminds me that it is time to return to the real world, with a cup of jasmine tea. 

 

Across the world, I have encountered Indian women or women of Indian origin who work as spa therapists. I do believe they are among the best, as they bring to their job, a certain empathy.  And that makes all the difference.
 

SATHYA SARAN
Heavenly Spa, Mauritius
 
SATHYA SARAN
Heavenly Spa, Mauritius
 
SATHYA SARAN
Heavenly Spa, Mauritius
 
27-JUNE-2016
 
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