Feeling frazzled, run down, or generally a bit the worse for wear? There’s no better opportunity to set a date for some much-needed “me-time”, because we’ve made it our job this month to test-drive the best in new luxury spa treatments around the island, just for you. Entering bliss in 3, 2, 1…
One Farrer Hotel and Spa
1 Farrer Park Station Road
Treatment: Origins of Food Spa Retreat
• 60-minute massage of your choice
• 90 minute one-on-one cooking class
• Unlimited use of pool, spa facilities and gym
New on the hospitality scene, One Farrer Hotel & Spa (opened September 2014) is located just above Farrer Park MRT. I was there to try the Origins of Food Spa Retreat, a combination of spa treatment and cooking experience. Origins of Food is one of the hotel’s restaurants, housing a gourmet hub called Institute of Nutrition, where cooking classes and workshops are held.
From their range of massages, I’d opted for the Swedish to relax tight muscles, and requested a focus on my lower back (injured by slouching in my office chair) and my sore calves (courtesy of high heels and my new “get fit!” regime).
To begin, I practise a breathing ritual with the therapist using a calming, scented balm by Decleor – the spa uses products by this French aromatherapy brand in most of its treatments. The massage itself was both soothing and effective. My therapist was very attentive, and gently kneaded away the stubborn knots in my back, sometimes with the help of a hot compress that relaxed and loosened my muscles. My one hour passed way too quickly!
To show me how I should pass the time between my massage, which ended at 3pm, and my cooking class at 6pm, my therapist led me to the spa area and its various facilities – whirlpool, plunge and hot pools, Olympic-sized swimming pool, gym, steam room, sauna and relaxation room – and told me I’d be picked up later for the class. I spent the next few hours evaporating away the cares of the week in the steam room.
Doris, One Farrer’s friendly spa director, says that they encourage spa guests to take time out to use their facilities. For example, if you have a massage booked for 4pm, you can come in as early as 10am if you wish to spend the day there before your treatment – great value for money!
My cooking class was led by charming executive sous chef Ho Chan Fei. I must admit, this was my first-ever proper cooking class, bar peering over my mum’s shoulder while I was growing up. It was a fantastic experience, as I (rather proudly) made a delicious dish of breaded chicken, parsley potatoes and vegetables, which I promptly devoured afterwards. All that relaxing really does make you hungry.
Duration: 60-minute massage, 90-minute cooking lesson
Heavenly Spa by Westin
12 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 2
Treatment: Coconut Paradise (from 1 – 31 March only)
• Unclogs pores and rejuvenates your skin
• Refreshing and revitalising
Leaving the hectic CBD behind, I arrived at the 35th floor of The Westin hotel and was welcomed with a chilled towel and tasty apple and cinnamon juice. The pre-spa facilities took my breath away: floor-to-ceiling windows around the changing area, and an infinity whirlpool that looks out over the city. These combined with the peaceful aromatherapy steam room and experience shower meant I felt pampered before my treatment had even begun.
To begin, the coconut scrub – a mixture of coconut fibres, brown sugar and essential oils – exfoliated and unclogged pores without being rough on the skin; in fact, I very nearly fell asleep. My skin felt invigorated, and I was more than willing to lie down for the next part of my treatment – the 60-minute virgin coconut oil massage.
So many massages end with me wincing as the masseuse goes to town on my pockets of tension, but this was a totally different experience – the therapist gently but firmly eased out the knots without pain. Finally, I was led back to the land of the living in the ladies-only lounge, with its super-food buffet and a lemongrass and ginger tea. My skin felt soft and my body refreshed – what more could a girl ask for?
Duration: 90 minutes (30-minute coconut scrub, 60-minute body massage)
Willow Stream Spa
The Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road
Treatment: The Dream Time Ritual (for face and body)
• This new treatment starts with a warm-stone back massage to stimulate circulation, relax the shoulders and gently pulverise any knots in the back
• Then follows a facial using top-notch Australian spa brand Gaylia Kristensen products; they’re full of peptides and proteins and are designed to reverse the signs of ageing and give the effect of Botox by plumping and lifting the face
I love everything about this place, and especially the therapists. Lin has worked here for 14 years and has a marvellous touch – but then, so do they all.
After a 20-minute hot-stone back massage that ends far too soon for me, she expertly nestles my suddenly boneless body into a fluffy duvet before serving my face and throat with a delicious degustation menu of around ten “courses” from Gaylia Kristensen: Gentle orange blossom cleanser, Heaven facial mist, Velvet facial polish, Eyelift eye serum, Utopia anti-ageing serum, White Magic skin-lifting and tightening serum, Dream anti-ageing cream, Deluxe priming cream to rebuild, firm and repair, Passion massage oil, and finally Silk, a treatment for hands and nails.
For the 30 minutes it takes for a yummy mask to work its age-defying magic, I sonorously snore through Lynn’s expert warm stone foot massage. And so will you.
Tip: Be sure to arrive at least half an hour early to use the excellent and authentic wet spa area – two bubbly-hot baths, a sauna, a steam room and a bitterly cold plunge pool. Did you know that alternately heating your body and then plunging into gaspingly icy water is wonderful for rejuvenation? Give it a try; but if you develop an addiction to the sensation – and I have known that to happen – you may just have to become a member here.
Duration: 90 minutes
8 Sentosa Gateway
Treatment: ESPA Time, Signature Massage
• A personalised two-hour massage concentrating on your problem areas
As I whipped open the doors of ESPA and prepared to sprint into the reception (late, as ever), a metaphorical hand reached out and slapped me with a sense of calm. For, I’d clearly passed through a portal and popped out in Bali; the resort-style spa is stretched across a surprising amount of outdoor space, with rock pools, meditation areas and ponds dotted between villa-style facilities.
Guests are encouraged to make the most of ESPA’s beautiful facilities ahead of their treatments, so I spent the first hour hopping between the outdoor plunge pools, paddling in the pretty onsen and stretching out in the rock sauna and amethyst crystal steam room.
My signature treatment was called ESPA Time, which involved, well, whatever I liked. My therapist and I came up with a personalised two-hour massage that went as follows:
1. A deep tissue back and shoulder massage.
2. A sports-style massage to ease the tension I pick up from long-distance running.
3. A Thai-massage for the upper body to soothe desk arms, mouse wrists and keyboard fingers.
4. A scalp treatment to moisturise dry roots.
5. And finally, an Indian head massage, because I really, really like them.
Combining the painful joy of sports massage with a snooze-inducing scalp treatment was fabulous. Plus, I now know that I enjoy oil massage and Thai-style equally, so I’ll always try to opt for a mix.
Duration: Two hours (plus two hours of using ESPA’s facilities)
10 Scotts Road, Grand Hyatt Singapore
Treatment: Damai Silk Body Treatment (available 1 to 31 March)
• It’s an ancient Chinese healing therapy that includes a Yuan Qi body massage
• Leaves your skin softer and smoother with a polished, cleansed finish
After a long flight and a few weeks in an uncomfortable bed, my body had given up. I’d been in agony with a sharp pain in my shoulder, and could barely dress myself. I’d also just returned from the New Zealand sun, so my skin felt very dry and flaky.
Entering the spa, I remembered how much I love the décor at the Damai – it makes you feel good even before you’ve begun your session, not to mention the comfortable bed and soft sheets, which are pure luxury.
Because I had difficulty even lying face-down, my therapist Nina padded out certain areas to make me more comfortable. She started by applying gentle pressure, then applying a soft lemon and sugar polish and goat milk body cleanse that was really gentle. After I’d showered, she gave me an excellent massage incorporating green tea and cucumber, focusing on the problem area including the start and finish points of the relevant muscles. At times they were understandably tender, but she really knows anatomy and never pushed it. She also gave me some useful rehab tips for the next couple of days.
A final dusting with pearl powder finished the treatment, and I left it on all night. The difference in my skin quality was extraordinary, and my shoulder issue had all but disappeared by the following day.
Duration: 120 minutes
The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road
Treatment: Face and Body Ritual with Charme d’Orient
• Soft steam and alum stone exfoliation removes dead skin and increases circulation
• The anti-ageing facial nourishes, smoothes and firms the skin
• A heated marble bed promotes circulation and toxin removal
I’d love to say I’m naturally forty-and-fabulous, but once I entered my fifth decade on the planet, my skincare regime had to be upgraded.
The St. Regis is a luxury destination in itself – and I’ll admit I felt a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when I arrived at the spa. From the gilded changing rooms to the luxury marble of the wet spa, it’s certainly a decadent sanctuary.
In the Vichy Suite, my therapist, Diane, explained the purification and exfoliation properties of soft steam together with the Charme d’Orient’s eco-certified organic alum stone. She then talked about the facial’s anti-ageing process – it uses a mask of honey and royal jelly designed to erase wrinkles and firm up pores. I was then lead to a heated marble slab to have my hammam-style Vichy shower treatment.
Between treatments I used the spa facilities, including an outdoor garden with a reflexology foot pool. Round two was a body massage, using argan oil with my choice of scent to massage away the back tension that comes with office work.
Best of all, for days and days after the treatment I fielded compliments on how refreshed I looked.
Duration: 120 minutes
The Singapore Resort and Spa Sentosa
Treatment: Anti-Ageing Facial
• Great for anyone over 40, it combats wrinkles and loss of elasticity, and leaves the skin feeling as smooth as a baby’s bottom
• It’s equally beneficial for the spirit too: consider it a heavenly 90-minute reprieve from the outside world
So Spa is the new name for the former Spa Botanica, renowned for its lush garden with waterfall, mud pool, float pool and pavilions. Inside the beautiful heritage building are 14 treatment rooms.
After deep cleansing and steaming my face, my experienced and friendly therapist Angeli applies hot towels to open up the pores, which allows the detoxifying face mask to soak right in; this is followed by a soothing scalp massage.
Once the first facial mask is removed, traditional Japanese (ridiko) and Thai (nouat-na) tools are rolled across the skin to stimulate circulation. The first feels a little rough, while the second is smooth. Next, a wonderful face massage with swift, firm movements lulls me to sleep. Angeli assures me it’s okay to nap – she even encourages it.
Afterwards a rich collagen mask is applied, and while the goodness is absorbed, Angeli gives me a wonderful leg and arm massage. Finally, she applies a moisturiser and eye cream and then rings the little bell to signal that it’s all over.
Duration: 90 minutes
CHI, The Spa
The Shangri La Hotel, 22 Orange Grove Road
Treatment: Biologique Recherche’s Customised Facial
• A bespoke treatment for your skin type and condition
While soaking my feet in a welcome footbath, my therapist, Wendy, talks me through the vast range of products available from Biologique Recherche and explains the three-stage treatment I’ll receive during the facial: assessment, initialisation and treatment.
Once I’m comfortably ensconced on a heated treatment bed, she assesses my skin using an LED light and an enormous magnifying glass (I can only imagine what my pores look like!).To target the dehydration that’s causing fine lines, dullness and tired-looking eyes, and the oily T-zone build-up that causes spots and blackheads, she prescribes a specific face mask and a range of serums.
We move on to the initialisation stage: a double application of the signature Lotion P50T to speed up the skin’s natural exfoliation and self-regeneration process. Then, after slapping a chocolate-smelling mask on my chin and nose, and a moisturising mask on the rest of my face and neck, she treats me to an incredible head and shoulder massage. I wake up as she gently washes off the facemask.
For the final stage, she applies several serums mixed up specifically for my problem areas, a delicious citrus-y moisturiser, and finally, a spray of an oxygen lotion.
What a glorious session of pampering! I skipped out feeling radiant and rejuvenated; even my boyfriend commented on my glowing skin! I can’t recommend this treatment enough.
Price: $280 or $380
Duration: 60 or 90 minutes
W Singapore, Sentosa Cove, 21 Ocean Way
Treatment: The AWAY Signature Massage
• Stress relief
• Improved circulation
• Moisturises the skin
Gentle wafts of W Singapore’s signature scent, Alora Ambiance – a sweet and sensual mix of muguet, sandalwood, musk and lemon – immediately relaxed and put me at ease.
Along a corridor, past the glowing Vitality pool and other futuristic-looking facilities, my therapist led me to a single treatment room hidden behind a sliding wooden door. It felt a bit like a space pod, with a cool, otherworldly glow.
Using argan-based oil, she began massaging my back with long, smooth strokes and smaller, firmer circular motions. At my request, she gave special attention to my frequently sore back to undo all the kinks and knots. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more soothing, out came the hot stones.
As the smooth, warm pebbles glided across my body and came to rest on key points, my therapist switching seamlessly between hand and hot stones, I could feel my muscles loosening up. By the final stage, the head massage, I was virtually asleep.
After my heavenly massage, I sipped hot ginger tea and munched dried fruit in the avant-garde Refuel corner, and left feeling light and invigorated.
Duration: 90 minutes
The Spa Artisan
1 Fullerton Square, The Fullerton Hotel, Mezzanine Level 1
Treatment: Dr Dream Luxury Luminance Facial
• Minimises lines and wrinkles
• Hydrates and brightens for dewiness and luminescence
• Firms and tones
After double-cleansing my face with Dr Dream’s delicious orange-scented Hydramemory Deep Cleansing Foam, my facialist gently massaged in a slew of products with anti-ageing components to tone and hydrate. I must’ve dozed off, as I was suddenly awoken by the nice sensation of a cool mask being applied to my skin, and a warm towel wrapped around the edges of my face.
Then, on to the best bit: a hand, foot and shoulder massage while the mask went to work. What’s more, I was lying on a heated treatment bed, which felt extra-cosy and luxe. Dream Hand and Food Treatments followed, in which my hands and feet were placed into gloves filled with gel-like moisturisers.
Once my mask was peeled off, more products were layered on – from moisture creams and age-defence serums to toners and Dr Dream’s Urban Protective Sun Cream – topped off with a dab of lip balm. The final touch? A brief scalp massage and another shoulder rub.
I left feeling pampered and rejuvenated, with visibly more radiant skin; my hands and feet were super-soft, too. This tranquil hideaway would make for a great spa day with a few girlfriends.
Duration: 105 minutes
This story first appeared in LIV’s March 2015 issue.