Apart from simply feeling great, massage is good for you in so many ways. By inducing deep relaxation, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing down your breathing and heart rate, lowering your blood pressure and increasing your immunity to disease. It eases muscular tension and encourages the release of the pleasure-evoking endorphin hormones. Best of all, it switches off that crazy voice inside your head.
We’ve had a wonderful month reviewing some of Singapore’s top body treatments, and now it’s your turn. Go on – spoil yourself!
Best Hammam Experience:
Soothing Hammam Ritual and Relaxing Massage
Hammam Ritual 45 minutes ($175) | Massage 60 minutes ($200)
What Ervie did:
She led me into the first area of the gorgeous hammam – the first authentic Turkish hammam in Singapore – wrapped me in a sarong to match her own, gently shampooed my hair and applied a hair mask.
With me spread-eagled facedown on a large, square slab of marble – amazingly comfortable to lie on, considering what it’s made of – she sluiced me with numerous buckets of warm water before rubbing me down thoroughly with an exfoliating glove.
How do I describe the limb-melting bliss of what followed? Using some venerable Mesopotamian trick involving a length of cloth and a copper basin, Ervie frothed up shimmering shoals of bubbles in a copper basin, piled them over my body, then delivered a sumptuous full-body massage through the thick foam.
Lots more delicious sluicing, a spell in the hammam’s own steam room and a short spell in the tea lounge later, I pad upstairs for a head, neck and shoulder massage so good that I remember very, very little of it.
Best thing about it:
ESPA is a 10,000-square feet, facility guaranteed to knock your socks off. The service is immaculate. I had time to ease tense muscles beforehand in an extensive and gorgeous wet spa area that incorporates an exquisite outdoor onsen pool with heavenly bubble systems, a crystal steam room with semi-private alcoves, a superb rain shower and a large sauna featuring a forest view through a wall of glass. Ask about their day and multi-day spa retreats.
Top-notch UK pampering expert ESPA is famous for its own range of products. I left with the exfoliating glove Ervie had used on me; sadly, however, she herself refused to accompany us home.
Resorts World Sentosa
8 Sentosa Gateway
6577 8880 | www.rwsentosa.com/espa
Best Hot Massage:
Gold Lava Shell Massage
Spa Park Asia
80 minutes | $188 (introductory offer includes 20-minute gold mineral exfoliation)
What Emily did:
As I lay on the comfortable massage bed, covered in towels and naked but for the obligatory plastic knickers, my friendly and confident therapist discreetly rubbed mineral salts infused with oils on my limbs, back and tummy. After a warm shower to wash off the salt, my skin felt baby soft and moisturised.
This was but an entrée to the main course: a full body massage which warmed and loosened tight muscles, stimulated circulation and was utterly relaxing. Emily used a palm-sized shell filled with a natural gel that generates heat. She customised the massage by concentrating on the specific areas of the body that needed attention.
Spa Park Asia has a full range of therapeutic treatments available in five treatment rooms with ensuite showers, including a couples’ suite. It also has a steam room.
Best things about it:
The miraculous lava shell in Emily’s wonderfully therapeutic hands – its heat eased tension, released knots and thoroughly dealt with tight shoulders.
Grand Park City Hall
10 Coleman Street
6432 5588 | spaparkasia.com
Best Tailor-made Massage:
It’s All About Me!
60 minutes | $140 (or 90 minutes | $200)
What Ani did:
Faced with the daunting prospect of a client turning up stressed and full of cold, she soothed me with a delicious welcome drink of warm ginger, lemon and honey tea, her caring manner putting me at ease straight away.
As she directed me from the conservatory (the spa’s relaxation area) to the treatment room, we discussed what I wanted to gain from this massage. My answer was to “feel better” (sniff), and to “moisturise and maintain my fading holiday tan”.
Ani used a Balinese massage technique to knead away my knots and tension, starting with the legs and back, then moving over to the stomach and finally (my favourite bit), the head. She used a rice grain base oil blended with peppermint to reduce tension, geranium for a pleasant aroma, and rosemary to nourish my post-holiday lizard-like skin.
Best thing about it:
Silky-soft and glowing skin; and although the massage didn’t manage to magic away my cold, it certainly made me feel a whole lot more relaxed about having one.
W Singapore Sentosa Cove
21 Ocean Way
6808 7290 | wsingaporesentosacove.com/awayspa
Best Detox Treatment:
Power of the Sea
Willow Stream Spa
90 minutes | $249
What Li Kohn did:
After anointing me thickly with a detoxifying marine algae paste – good thing there was no mirror – she swaddled me in cling film and covered me with a couple of warm, heavy towels. While I marinated gently for 20 minutes or so, she treated me to a mini-facial.
Then, after showering myself clean, I stepped into the most exhilarating hydro-bath this side of heaven. It’s programmed to move through a cycle of progressively more hectic cycles; by the third, I’m holding on tight, riding the jets, eyes shut against the spray.
Back on the bed, she gently irons the stiffness with a full-body massage that gets the cleansing lymph flowing. Inspired by Singapore’s island setting, Power of the Sea is Willow Stream’s signature detox treatment – and it’s a winner.
Best things about it:
Highly trained and wonderfully discreet therapists in a convenient city location with a nice wet spa area; but nothing beats that hydro-bath on steroids.
Kerstin Florian products throughout, including Thalassotherapy Spirulina Body Masque for the wrap, Thalassotherapy Salt in the bath and Marine Firming Cream after that; for the head and face massage, Organic Aromatherapy Oils.
The Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
6431 5600 | fairmont.com/singapore/willow-stream
Best Slimming Wrap:
Universal Contour Wrap
Phoenix La Beauté
60 minutes | UP $406.60; first-time trial $72.76
This inch-loss treatment is for mummies who don’t mind looking like the other kind of mummies for around an hour. Phoenix La Beauté has brought into Singapore an all-natural Sea Clay Booster that promises you’ll lose six inches overall in just under two hours – or get your money back.
It’s a very strange sensation to be wrapped in elasticated bandages and immobilised for over an hour. Apart from being a great excuse not to do anything, your skin feels really good afterwards. There’s definitely a detox factor as well as the inch-loss aspect.
I lost an inch off my rib cage area where my bra strap lies, and achieved a cumulative loss of 9 inches overall. I didn’t feel that it was as effective as their Indiba radiofrequency treatment for my stomach area, but I could see a difference straight away. It improves skin elasticity and flushes out the toxins in fatty areas that cause cellulite.
Losing inches in this way is not about dehydrating the skin; in fact, you are asked to drink plenty of water afterwards to continue the detox effect, which should continue to work for 30 days after the treatment.
It’s expensive as a one-off treatment, but more affordable as a package. I see it as an ongoing strategy for tightening skin that is loose as a result of pregnancy or weight-loss.
Best thing about it:
From the before and after photographs, I could see that my stomach and thigh areas were flatter and less dimply.
390 Orchard Road
#B1-07 Palais Renaissance
6733 4556 | phoenixlabeaute.com.sg
Best Three-Step Cellulite Treatment:
TBF System (25 minutes), Tripollar (25 minutes) and Cellulite Busting Massage (30 minutes)
The Body Firm
UP $600; $99 introductory June offer for EL readers
What Selina and Celine did:
“Woooeeeaahhhh!” was the shocked noise I let out as Selina switched on the TBF System for the first time. The sensation of having my orange peel thighs tackled by high frequency waveforms wasn’t at all painful – just new.
Being hooked up to the specialised pads (which can be placed around the abs, waist, buttocks, thighs, hips, arms and knees) for 25 minutes was the equivalent to spending several hours at the gym, and it was easy to see how as my limbs took on a life of their own. The intense stimulation of my muscles – targeting specific problem areas – was the first step towards banishing my wobbly bits.
Step Two was the Tripollar Radio System, a heated gizmo that massages any pocked, lined or saggy area on the body. The 25-minute session was both relaxing and firming – can I have this instead of ever going to the gym, please?
I may or may not have dozed off at that point, but Step Three certainly perked me up. Specialist Celine used her fast-working hands and slimming cream Guinot Double Minceur Ciblée to hone in on the fattiest cells with a 30-minute Cellulite Busting Massage, which left my legs tingling apologetically for daring to harbour unwanted flab.
Best thing about it:
Prancing about in front of the mirror afterwards, I could see instant results (and Madonna-esque muscle definition!), but having two or three sessions a week for two to three months promises a longer-lasting, more dramatic effect.
402 Orchard Road
#04-20 Delfi Orchard
6838 0331 | thebodyfirm.com.sg
Aromatic Body Bliss Massage
St Gregory Spa
60 minutes | $140
What Carmen did:
After asking what degree of pressure I would prefer – soft, medium or strong – my talented and friendly therapist tailored this full body massage accordingly. She used a choice of aromatic essential oils, and a Swedish massage technique.
It was a mixture of pleasure and pain as she found knots in my shoulders and set about relieving them with her expert hands. This therapy definitely melts away tension, calms the senses and lulls you into a state of relaxation. (So relaxed that I must confess to having been 20 minutes late to pick the children up from school.)
This new spa, located on the fifth floor of the Parkroyal Hotel, has four wood- panelled treatment rooms with in-room showers, soothing piano music and luxuriously thick towels. It has an interesting menu of body and facial treatments: the exotic lime and ginger salt exfoliation is next on my list!
Best thing about it:
The heated massage bed – the first one I’ve encountered – certainly deepened the relaxation experience.
All treatments use a range of Elemis and Thal’lion products.
Parkroyal on Pickering
3 Upper Pickering Street
6809 8870 | stgregoryspa.com
Best Body Polish:
Customised Body Polish
CHI, The Spa
60 minutes | $150 single, $270 couple
What Shandy did:
I was given a choice of two body scrubs for the customised body polish: one promises to energise and detox, the other to relax; you pick whichever one suits your mood. Shandy then explained the body polishing process before getting to work.
This is no quick scrub and shower; it’s an hour-long process which works on three energy levels of the body – namely energy, outer and inner – using Marma Point therapy. This mind, body and spirit touch technique releases negative ions in the body and helps to unblock energy through the movements. Very relaxing!
Follow it up with a Singapore Wave massage (60 minutes | $185) which combines traditional and therapeutic massage using your choice of lemongrass, ylang ylang or eucalyptus essential oil. Choose a firm or gentle massage depending whether you want to feel totally relaxed or completely knot-free. It also rehydrates your skin beautifully after the body polish.
Best thing about it:
This body exfoliation alone is more like a gentle massage and will leave you feeling squeaky-clean and relaxed.
Ilā Body Scrub for Energising and Detoxing. Handmade in the English Cotswolds, this scrub contains Himalayan salt crystals, argan oil, juniper berry, rose geranium and poppy essence to boost your energy field and immune system, uplifting your mind, body and spirits. Its high mineral content is good for detoxification and it stimulates circulation, particularly the lymphatic system.
Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
22 Orange Grove Road
Level 1, Garden Wing
6213 4818 | shangri-la.com/singapore
Best Four-handed Massage :
Spa Botanica Four Hands
60 minutes | $240
What Angeli and Ming Hung did:
This treatment requires two therapists, so it’s admittedly a bit of an indulgence. Once I was cosy between silk sheets, Angeli and Ming Hung set to work massaging me in perfectly synchronised movements. The effect was a revelation – akin to flying business class for the first time after years in cattle class.
Best thing about it:
After your massage treatment, you can use the garden spa facilities. Slather yourself in natural volcanic mud flown in from New Zealand, before washing it all off and soaking in the pools. There’s even a waterfall, perfect for if you’re booked in for just a facial but your back needs a good pummelling too. Otherwise, just soak up some rays on one of the sun-beds bordering the pool. There’s a special women-only garden spa, too.
Rice bran oil with geranium, bergamot and sandalwood, said to promote relaxation.
The Sentosa, A Beaufort Hotel
2 Bukit Manis Road
6371 1288 | spabotanica.sg
Best Couples’ Spa
4 hours | $999 for two
What JJ and Huang Mei did:
Atop crisp sheets on heated beds, our afternoon begins with a Cleopatra body scrub of rose-infused sea salt, ylang ylang, virgin olive oil and sugar to purge and polish dry skin.
Half an hour later, we rinse under warm showers while JJ and Huang Mei prepare the marine mud and rose oil body wrap. Generously lathered and swaddled, our pores relish the goodness while the attention moves to our faces.
A carrot butter cleanser precedes a fragrant honey and jasmine mask, during which rosemary and cedarwood extract is worked into the scalp and hair; the aroma will linger pleasantly for days.
Another shower washes off the mud before a two-hour top-to-toe body massage of rhythmic rolling and kneading. As we emerge from their spell, a uniquely Malaysian Mandi Safar milk bath of rose and sandalwood awaits, followed by tea and fresh fruit in the private garden.
Refreshed and dressed, we head down to Bob’s bar for complimentary mocktails and tapas as the sun sets over the South China Sea and declares a tender end to a perfect afternoon.
Brilliant facilities to enjoy before or after your treatment, including a vitality pool, herbal steam rooms and aromatherapy showers. A relaxation lounge stocked with snacks and tea and featuring sound-wave lounge chairs brings you back to earth without breaking the spell.
All ingredients are natural, organic and of fair trade, sourced from all over the world. The rose oil, for example, comes from a tiny village in Iran.
1 The Knolls
6377 8888 | capellahotels.com/singapore
Plus, the best spas according to readers
“I’m a big fan of Spa Botanica on Sentosa. It’s extraordinarily peaceful and makes you feel like you are hours away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore daily life. (What school pick-up?) On a recent visit, I was greeted by a magnificent peacock perched on the Spa Botanica sign, like my own personal welcoming committee. The aromatherapy massage was the best I have ever had. The therapist had the pressure just right and checked with me along the way. Given the facilities and attentive staff, it offers good value. This is my special occasion spa and I highly recommend it.”
“For facials, I like SK-II Boutique Spa (31 Scotts Road). For a good value body massage, I recommend Traditional Balinese Massage (#01-04 Balmoral Plaza; 6734 3303). It’s a no-frills place, but clean and central with experienced masseuses. They do pre- and postnatal massages, too, plus reflexology.”
“I usually go to Spa @ Loewen Gardens (75 Loewen Road; 6471 1922) – it’s small, but they give the best Indian head massage and their manicures and pedicures are pretty good. Even better, I can walk there.”
“I highly recommend Spa Botanica, which is expensive but really nice and exclusive; and Aramsa Spa (Bishan Park 2, 1382 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1; 6456 6556), which is in a lovely setting and offers good value for money.”
“For a special getaway, my husband and I love to go to Spa Botanica for half a day. We particularly enjoy the couple’s package combined with relaxing in the pool and mud bath. The perfect end to the day is dinner at The Cliff or Il Lido, and then a stay-over at the Sentosa Hotel. There are more modern spas on Sentosa – but none beat this overall experience.”
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.