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Guide to spas in Singapore: Massages, facials, spa retreats and more

Sometimes there’s nothing like a relaxing massage to get you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, but with so many spas in town and treatments on offer, how do you find the one for you? The EL team have spent the last month surrendering their limbs to masseuses across town (all in the name of research, mind you) to bring you 2014’s annual spa round-up, featuring the newest treatments to try on the block. So whether you’re looking for a couples spa getaway, a rejuvenating facial or even an osteopathy massage, read on to discover your next pampering treat.


A deck view at ESPA Singapore
A deck view at ESPA Singapore


Holistic Day Retreat

If you’re looking for a true retreat from the daily grind, head to ESPA, set against a backdrop of manicured lawns and lush greenery next to a rainforest and opposite the luxury Equarius Hotel and Beach Villas.

The 10,000 square metre spa, which boasts numerous treatment rooms, a big 24-hour gym, sleep rooms, and full spa facilities including hot and cold pools, offers holistic “spa-cations” with tailored programmes to energise and recharge you.

With ESPA’s day retreats, you can choose one of four programmes: De-stress, Introduction to Detox, Fit for Life, or Weight Management. All programmes include a lifestyle consultation, full use of the spa facilities before your treatment, one 60-minute and one 45-minute treatment, and a nutritious meal in Tangerine restaurant run by celebrity chef Sam Leong and his wife chef Forest Leong.

After filling out a detailed questionnaire about your lifestyle and general health, your retreat begins with a lifestyle consultation with a qualified naturopath who talks you through any specific issues you may have, and helps give tailored advice. If you’d like to book a more detailed session for another time, the spa also offers naturopathic and nutritional counselling.

Next, move on to use the expansive spa facilities – or even have a workout in the gym before your treatment. (After you’ve advance-booked your treatment time, you’ll be advised to arrive a few hours earlier to enjoy all the spa has to offer.) Guests can look forward to an authentic hammam experience in Singapore’s first hammam with domed ceilings, marble floors and mosaic walls, or zone out in the spacious sauna area with its picturesque garden views.

Then it’s onto your personalised treatment and massage, which includes a 60–minute tailored treatment (ranging from long massages to anti-cellulite body wraps) according to your programme. You’ll also be treated to a salt and oil scrub, along with a relaxing, 45-minute reflexology foot massage.

Key Benefits:
– Programmes are tailored and include useful advice and tips by experts for healthy lifestyle maintenance.
– You’re allowed full use of ESPA’s extensive facilities pre-treatment, which will also help to loosen and relax the muscles before your massage.

ESPA day retreat programmes cost $450. Overnight retreats (including a room at Equarius Hotel, spa treatments and three meals) start from $718. 8 Sentosa Gateway. Tel: 6577 8880.

Perk Me Up Treatment

The rejuvenating Perk Me Up treatment includes a 45-minute scrub using coffee as a key ingredient. The caffeine helps to break down fatty deposits that can cause cellulite, and also contains vitamin B3 and E to increase the elasticity of the skin and help protect it from external aggressors such as ultraviolet rays.

The firm, flowing massage that follows focuses on nodes of tension and stimulates meridian points to revive and energise. The organic Argan oil used is thick, luscious and creamy – a hydrating treat.

This is just one of Damai Spa’s speciality massages. It’s clear that each of the masseuses has their area of expertise. For the Perk Me Up treatment, therapist Jennifer uses her forearms to smooth the Argan oil into the muscles and achy bits with a wonderful surety; Yatti, meanwhile, is a whizz at stretching the joints; a third speciality is the hot stone massage.

Above all, Damai is a real destination spa. Before or after your treatment you can make full use of the spa facilities, including the steam or sauna room, plunge pool and chill room, all of which are have a wonderful contemporary Asian feel.

Key Benefits:
– Skin is throughly exfoliated and is left feeling soft and silky.
– Thanks to the coffee mix, you’ll leave the treatment feeling significantly re-energised and ready to face the day.

The Perk Me Up treatment is priced from $198 for 100 minutes, and is available until 31 June 2014 only. The Damai Spa, Grand Hyatt Hotel, 10 Scotts Road. Tel: 6416 7156.


Senja Sunyi Massage

Once you’re robed and hydrated with a cooling peppermint tea, the masseuse will ensure everything is to your satisfaction before the treatment begins. From the room lighting and temperature to your preferred scents, your private room is a customised haven for the next 90 minutes. The treatment begins with a dry massage over a thin sheet: 10 minutes of long strokes coupled with guided breathing directives; it’s a quick way to loosen the limbs.

The next 60 minutes are dedicated to soothing and relieving tension from top to toe. Each part of the body is isolated and kneaded with a rose and pomegranate scented balm, followed by long strokes using warm “moon stones”. The treatment combines a few traditional Asian therapeutic methods: the long strokes are typical of Javanese techniques, while Chinese tui na focuses on specific pressure points to release built-up tension. Stretching elements, typical of Thai massage, are also brought in at times – legs and arms are tugged, folded and pushed to their limits for maximum benefit. The warm stones are left just under the shoulder blades, while the final 15 minutes are dedicated to the head and neck, and delicately massaging an organic serum into the scalp and through the hair.

Afterwards, you’re escorted to a relaxation area stocked with snacks and sound-wave lounge chairs. Enjoy a magazine and ginger tea while your skin continues to absorb the nutrients.

Key Benefits:
– Pomegranate and rose balm encourages anti-ageing and will soothe sun-kissed skin.
– Warm moon stones successfully smooth out muscle kinks and any trapped nerves.
– Organic hair serum replenishes locks and treats the scalp.

The Senja Sunyi Massage is $230 for a 90-minute treatment. Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls.
Tel: 6591 5023


Choc De-ager Treatment

Raffles Hotel has to be one of Singapore’s best locations for a day spa: soaring ceilings, period chandeliers and that sense of colonial je ne sais quoi will quickly put you in the mood for some serious pampering.

Billed as “an indulgent chocolate de-ageing experience”, this 150-minute treatment is a trilogy of exfoliating scrub, relaxing massage and rejuvenating wrap.

Therapist Juliani applies the Thermal Gommage scrub carefully and methodically. After you’ve rinsed off the residue in your in-room shower cubicle, it’s time for the Chocolatier’s Massage. The stuff smells so good that you could be in danger of chewing off your own arm, like a mountaineer trapped in the Andes. You won’t get a strong massage from this particular therapist, though, as she has a uniformly light touch.

Loosely wrapped with plastic cling-film, you’re treated to a quick head, neck and face pressure-point massage and then left to marinate for 20 minutes. Then it’s back into the shower to wash it all off, before a full-body moisturising rub to maximise the glow factor.

Key Benefits:
– Exfoliated skin more easily absorbs the active ingredients in the chocolatey wrap.
– Chocolate has outstanding emollient properties, and is said to have four times more antioxidants than green tea; its phenolic compounds seek out and destroy free radicals, and protect body tissues from the effects of metabolic waste.

The Choc De-ager treatment costs $380 for 160 minutes. #01-30/31 Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road. Tel: 6338 3318.


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Check out these facials for radiant and younger-looking skin (Pssst: There’s one for pregnant women too)

The CHI Enchanted Journey

This complete head-to-toe experience is comprised of the CHI’s signature Balance Massage along with a luxurious, customised facial.

It all starts with a quick chat with a beauty consultant to assess your areas of concern (lower back pain and dry skin, for example) and to tailor the treatments to suit your specific needs. Then, after choosing from a selection of scented oils, it’s time to surrender yourself to total bliss in the form of a full body massage, beginning with the Foot Ritual – a wiping down of your legs and feet with a warm towel to clean and soothe. Next comes the Balance Massage, incorporating acupressure techniques to improve circulation and calm the senses; 90 minutes of pure relaxation.

The second half of the “journey” is a 90-minute personalised facial with handpicked products based on your skin type. The decadent caviar facial – best for dry and normal skin – is a popular spa favourite, aimed at firming, refining and hydrating the skin with antioxidants, protein-rich caviar and other luxurious ingredients. It also includes a thick enzyme mask that’s smothered on the face to tone and brighten with its age-defying components – and you’ll be treated to another leg and hand massage as the mask dries.

The next step involves a hydrating Marine Biomatrix Sheet, applied to the face in between sprays of rose water, with “beauty globes” – chilled, golf ball-sized spheres of liquid – rolled over the sheet to create a calming, cooling effect that helps deliver nutrients deep into the skin. Just as you’re dozing off, layers of Kerstin Florian skincare products are applied to the face – from moisture balms and age-defence serums to multivitamin creams and a dab of vitamin C lip balm as the final touch.

The result is quite impressive: skin that looks healthy and radiant. The corrective serums effectively even out skin tone, and help lighten the darker pigmented areas of the face – above the upper lip, for instance. Not only will your face look luminescent, but you’ll also feel refreshed and rejuvenated. The experience culminates with a delicious lemongrass tea in the tranquil post-treatment lounge, where you can recline on a chaise sofa, snack on fruit and read magazines – the perfect ending to a premium pampering experience.

Key Benefits:
– The massage increases blood circulation and promotes a sense of calm and bodily restoration.
– It helps remedy skin concerns, with anti-ageing and skin-correcting effects.
– It firms, refines, tones and brightens skin.

The CHI Enchanted Journey costs $440 for the three-hour treatment. CHI, The Spa, Shangri-La Hotel, 22 Orange Grove Road, Level 1 Garden Wing. Tel: 6213 4818.


Aura Brightening Facial

Cate Blanchett’s dewy skin is enough to make anyone want to visit premium Japanese brand SK-II – the brand Cate champions – for a bit of facial love. And Level Seven at Tangs is a self-indulgent floor entirely devoted to beauty, boasting six beauty brands with therapists and individual treatment capsules (rather than rooms).

After a skin exam to measure the five SK-II skin dimensions, the therapist begins the process of rectifying your problems. After double-cleansing, toning, moisturising and steaming, she performs a quick extraction. Best to get the uncomfortable bit out of the way before the glorious main event: a shoulder, neck and face massage.

Once you’re lying down again, the therapist will knead away any problem knots and relieve any sore spots – it’s bliss. A cold, sheet-like mask is then applied over the entire face, followed by a hot and cold massager to encourage maximum penetration of the product into the skin.

Next, a cold blast of air is applied to close and calm the open pores. A role call of whitening products is applied after the mask, finishing with a sunblock, and leaving skin that on close examination you’ll find is definitely brighter.

Key Benefits:
– Evens out skin tone and lighten dark spots
– Promotes circulation and enhances radiance

The SK-II Aura Brightening Facial costs $169 dollars for 90 minutes at SK-II Lounge
Level 7, Tangs, Orchard Road. Tel: 6235 2671.

Park Indulgence Treatment

The Park Indulgence treatment is indeed indulgent, involving two hours of body polish, massage and a back masque in the comfort of a VIP treatment room at the Grand Park City Hall Hotel.

Bearing fragrant ginger tea, your therapist will meet you in the guest lounge to give a brief rundown of the treatments, and you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire to determine the types of oils and massage technique you’d like to be used.

The pampering session begins with a beady exfoliation scrub to promote circulation. Steaming towels are then used to remove the scrub, providing a nice prelude to the next treat, the massage. The head-to-toe rubdown alleviates not only pent-up physiological tension, but is also a great mental stress-reliever.

Next up is the self-heating back masque, which serves to detox the body. After a few minutes to yourself, the chime of a Tibetan bell signals the end to the treatment.

Key Benefits:
– Lavender aromatherapy paired with moderate pressure massage calms the senses.
– Each of the five treatment rooms feels intimate, so you never feel you’re intruding on someone else’s spa day.
– You can opt to upgrade to the Park Indulgence Treatment’s Gold Lava Shell Massage and Gold Mineral Exfoliation, which incorporates the ion-reducing benefits of gold to stimulate circulation, slow down collagen depletion and stimulate skin repair.

The Park Indulgence Treatment costs $258 for a 120-minute treatment. Spa Park Asia, Grand Park City Hall Hotel, 10 Coleman Street. Tel: 6432 5588.

AWAY Body Treat

For the stressed and harried couple who seldom have time out together, this is a rare experience in a get-away-from-it-all environment. The AWAY Body Treat comprises a stress-alleviating scrub, an energising wrap and an invigorating massage, either for an individual or for a couple.

After you’ve passed through the grand entrance to the W, you’ll find the gorgeous spa tucked discreetly away on the lower level. Treatment rooms are spacious, with a secluded outdoor shower and bath area – there, you’ll rinse off the Himalayan rock salt scrub together with countless billions of dead and useless skin cells, prior to the second part of the treatment – the massage.

Masseuses at the AWAY spa are outstanding, with incredibly strong hands; and you can always ask for a lighter touch if that’s what you prefer.

The cold wrap that follows the massage smells like a tropical fruit yoghurt, and is bursting with rejuvenating enzymes. While you stew in this concoction, growing steadily steamier, you’ll be treated to a pressure point head massage.

Tips: Set aside extra time to use the spa facilities, which include a sauna, steam room, rain showers, hydrotherapy baths and more. Also, ask for 15 or 20 private minutes together in your outdoor bathing area after washing off the scrub. And to top it all off, why not order a glass of bubbly to toast the moment?

Key Benefits:
– Stunning surroundings make the experience feel like a mini-break.
– Skilled therapists will iron out every single knot in your body.

The AWAY Body Treat costs $760 per couple for 120 minutes. AWAY Spa, W Singapore Sentosa Cove, 21 Ocean Way. Tel: 6808 7288.


The Spa Artisan's sleek space
The Spa Artisan’s sleek space


Yang Sheng Treatment

The Yang Sheng treatment, which makes use of Chinese herbal remedies, begins with the Imperial Tea Herbal Scrub all over the body to reduce stress and beautify the skin through detoxification. The aromatic herbs promote a sense of relaxation and wellbeing, and they aren’t overpowering. After the full body exfoliation, it’s time to shower before the massage.

The Purifying Herbal Wrap uses mung beans to eliminate toxins and purify the skin. According to Chinese medicine, they help to remove “heatiness” in your body that can lead to acne and other skin blemishes.

Once the mixture has been applied all over the body, you’re wrapped up in sheets and the heated massage bed is turned on to aid absorption. This is your chance to close your eyes and relax alone for half an hour, before you sip on a soothing hot tea and your cup-gliding therapy begins.

Cupping is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine that involves placing cups with strong suction on to the skin to mobilise blood flow, promote healing and draw out harmful toxins from the body. If you’re not keen to try this traditional method, you can swap it for an extra half hour of the therapeutic massage that follows.

The therapists meticulously establish where your problem areas lie, and trained to change the massage pressure as you may require over different areas of the body.

Key Benefits:
– Encourages skin detoxification through the use of therapeutic herbs, promoting a clearer and brighter skin tone.
– Removes “heatiness” and toxins from the body.

The 150-minute Yang Sheng package costs $280 for single treatment and $480 for a double (couple’s) treatment. The Spa Artisan, Fullerton Hotel Singapore, 1 Fullerton Square, Mezzanine Floor (M1). Tel:6423 1382.


The Heavenly Massage

The building that houses the relatively new Westin Hotel located in the heart of the financial district is part office block (for most of the first 31 floors) and part hotel (from the 32nd floor up). This means the lobby is, unusually, located on the 32nd floor, and to reach the Heavenly Spa you’ll need to take a second lift to the 35th floor – also where the hotel’s outdoor infinity pool and gym can be found.

The Heavenly Massage follows the Swedish technique, and uses a heated compress on the back to relax the muscles before the massage itself. The treatment rooms here are surprisingly large – bigger than some standard hotel bedrooms. Aside from the treatment room itself there’s a separate and large bathroom, including a shower, toilet and double sink, as well as a wardrobe to store belongings. Before the treatment, you can choose a body butter from a range of scents including jasmine and vanilla; there’s also a choice of stones bearing words such as “love” and “gratitude”, one of which is then placed under the massage table for “good vibes”. Before you lie on the table, though, the treatment begins with a foot wash.

The spa’s relaxation area, which you can use pre- and post-massage, has a number of large chairs screened off from one another for privacy, as well as The Westin’s super-foods menu offering dried fruit, walnuts and ginger tea. Unusually, it’s the changing rooms that have the real wow factor, with floor-to-ceiling windows and views over the CBD and the marina. This is also where the steam bath, experience shower and vitality pool are located, again with panoramic city views. Guests are advised to lower the blinds before changing.

Gastro bar Cook & Brew, on the 33rd level, serves food and drinks and has an open terrace. You can also grab a drink at the Lobby Lounge on the floor below. We suggest you put aside some time before or after a treatment to take advantage of these hotel facilities.

Key Benefits:
– The treatment truly relaxes the muscles and relieves pent-up tension.
– The panoramic city views from the spa are incomparable.

The Heavenly Massage costs $220 for the 90-minute treatment. Heavenly Spa by Westin, The Westin Hotel, 12 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 2, Level 35. Tel: 6922 6977.


Perk up with a refreshing dip in the Willow Stream Spa's cold pool
Perk up with a refreshing dip in the Willow Stream Spa’s cold pool


Pure Ener.g Body Experience

A warm and revitalising footbath kick-starts your treatment, polishing the feet gently with an organic scrub, before the action shifts to the treatment beds where, after three deeps breaths inhaling a blend of relaxing chamomile scents, the wonderfully professional therapist Lynne begins a total body exfoliation using re-mineralised salts.

The thorough and brisk exfoliation finishes with excess salt being gently rubbed away with a warm damp towel that heightens the skin’s senses and leaves a tingly but refreshing sensation across the whole body. After a quick shower in the corner of the treatment room – slightly less relaxing – the glorious full-body massage begins.

The soothing massage uses an exclusive blend of bergamot, rose geranium, clary sage and chamomile, and works from head to toe, focusing on problem areas such as the shoulders and neck – or any areas you might mention in discussion during the initial footbath. You’ll be drifting gradually in and out of a tranquil slumber in no time. As the massage comes to an end, two small, cold round glass bottles are gently rolled across your face to refresh the skin; then to finish, a crystal is placed on the forehead – on the “third eye” – for a few minutes to bring balance to the body.

Refreshed and recuperated, you’ll then have time to sit back and sip a herbal cuppa in the relaxation room.

Key Benefits:
– The top-to-toe treatment leaves the skin silky-smooth and nourished.
– The organic essential oils are calming and restorative.

The Pure Ener.g Body Experience costs from $289 for a 90-minute treatment. Willow Stream Spa, The Fairmont Hotel, 80 Bras Basah Road. Tel: 6339 7777.



Get Up and Go Treatment

Tucked next to the Pan Pacific Singapore’s oh-so-edgy outdoor pool is St. Gregory Spa, a sanctuary that offers the Get Up and Go treatment – a new, multi-element ritual lasting a fabulous 120 minutes.

Part One consists of a 45-minute deep tissue or “body bliss” massage, which can be customised according to which parts of your body are crying for extra TLC. You could opt for a deeper massage to relieve tired legs, followed by rhythmic Swedish-style rub. At one point, your masseuse might even clamber onto the table for some superb Thai-style limbering.

Next up is the Elemis Skin Specific Facial, which could turn out to be the most attention your skin has enjoyed for a long time. The face is cleansed, toned and exfoliated and pore blockages extracted, with plenty of delicious temple, head and shoulder massaging along the way. Elemis products are used throughout the 75-minute treatment, which is based on your particular skin type.

You’ll finish off with a brightening lavender mask and a final heavenly massage.

Key Benefits:
– The treatment focuses on stressed-out parts of the body, delivering ultimate relaxation.
– It promises a bright, tight, clean complexion with soft, renewed skin

The Get Up and Go treatment costs $240 for 120 minutes. St. Gregory Spa, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Level 4. Tel: 6826 8140.


Baby and You Pregnancy Massage

Unless you’re an expectant mum with a lot of help, having anybody spend time massaging your tense shoulders and inflated feet is a real bonus.

First, slip into a snug bathrobe and slippers and then you’ll decide which Aromatherapy Associates’ massage oil to use – we recommend the Renew Rose Massage and Body Oil.

Once you’re settled on your side on a heated bed, with plump pillows supporting your tum, the treatment begins. Long, smooth strokes on your back are followed by perfect pressure on your shoulders, and then you’re plopped over on to the other side for a repeat performance.

Next, you’re rolled onto your back while the nifty high-tech bed realigns your body so that you’re not lying completely flat. Then for the best bit – which is optional: a soothing, circular tummy-rub.

Finally, you’ll be treated to a refreshment and dried fruit in the tea lounge while you flick through a magazine or two.

Key Benefits:
– Eases tension in the upper back and shoulders, and pampers swollen legs and puffed-up feet
– Provides an opportunity for you to bond with your bump

The Baby and You Pregnancy massage costs $190 for 50 minutes. 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square. Tel: 6338 0066.

White Cellular Brightening Facial

You’ve heard it before: leave off the heavy makeup and lotions every once in a while, and let your poor skin breathe. This facial takes this concept to the next level by shooting a stream of pure oxygen straight into your pores.

First, the skin is cleansed with luxurious Babor products from Germany before light phototherapy is used to brighten the complexion, tackle sun damage and help keep acne at bay. (Note: this therapy is not recommended for pregnant women).

Next, a pressurised wand delivers a mixture of hyperbaric oxygen and rejuvenating serum on to your face and lips and under your chin. It’s like a high-powered carwash for the pores, as the serum deeply penetrates the skin. Plus, your entire body gets a boost from breathing the surrounding air (apparently it’s the same type of air that Michael Jackson used in his infamous sleeping chamber). The result is skin so soft and supple that it feels “juicy” when you leave.

Another bonus: the techniques used here are extremely gentle – brushes are used to apply masks, and makeup is removed with meticulous care.

Key Benefits:
– Diminishes facial pigmentation and removes dead skin
– Gives your face – and lungs – a jolt of pure O2
– Can be undertaken on the same day as a big event

The 90-minute White Cellular Brightening Facial costs $370. Remede Spa, The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road. Tel: 6506 6896.


Osteopathy Massage

Body With Soul Total Healthcare Network has a host of medically trained professionals who can release knots and tension in a safe way, taking into account any specific injuries or issues – great if you’ve got a pre-existing medical condition that makes visiting a regular spa a worry.

Osteopath Jenny Mullen and Physiotherapist Monica Donaldson are available to carry out a full-body assessment to find out the cause of your pain and tension (e.g., one leg longer than other, pelvis rotated, scoliosis), and then will treat you through a combination of deep-tissue massage and postural and movement re-education.

Monica has a special interest in women’s physiotherapy, and is the go-to person for pregnant women with back and pelvic girdle pain (or pelvic floor problems) and postnatal separated abdominal muscles. Jenny, meanwhile, is an expert in sports injuries and sports massage, as well as other mobility or post-surgery conditions.

A real benefit of each treatment is that you can find and understand the cause of your pain, and learn how to manage it at home as part of a rehabilitative programme. The deep-tissue massage and muscle manipulation offered is not always “relaxing” – it can be painful at points, but knowing that your problem corrected makes it worth while.

Key Benefits:
– Diagnosis with a full-body assessment.
– Treatments by medically trained professionals that get to the heart of the problem.
– Informative tips and “homework” means you can continue treatment at home through stretching or exercise.

Physiotherapy prices: $150 for a 60-minute initial consultation assessment and treatment; follow-up treatment, $120 for 30 to 45 minutes with massage if required. Osteopathy prices: $130 for a 30-minute initial assessment; follow-up treatment, $110 for 30 minutes. 44/45 Rochester Park. Tel: 6779 0660.


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