Hainan, a new tropical playground for Aussie holidaymakers
If I were to pick one criteria over another as a reason to go to any new destination, it would have to be the opportunities it offers to sample new and indulgent spa and wellness experiences, without having to spend an absolute fortune in the process.
There are hot springs in the mountains, beautifully appointed spas in all of the coastal resorts, traditional Chinese practitioners available for consultation and late night foot massage salons in downtown Sanya, on the island’s south coast. The spas in all resorts operate as day spas, so you don’t have to be staying at a resort to book a treatment at their spa.
In fact my first spa experience in Sanya was a late night foot massage which followed a sumptuous seafood banquet at a nearby restaurant. It proved a very civilised way to end the evening as we sat in massage chairs and chatted as our feet were pampered for 60 minutes for less than $10.
The following day I venture inland to Narada Hot Springs resort, located in a beautiful hillside setting. Each room has an outdoor spa-bath filled with water supplied by the natural hot springs here and overlooking overlooking lush tropical greenery.
After a soak in the bath I wander down to the spa where I’m led past ponds and through a network of wooden elevated walkways to my treatment room. No English is spoken so it’s a mix of charades, nods and "uh uhs" as my therapist explains the procedure. She baths my feet in a wooden pail with rose petals floating in it before I lay down on the massage table, inhale the tea tree infused massage oil and relax as my aromatherapy massage begins.
Across the other side of the island I indulge in a spa treatment at the Mandarin Oriental Resort. This starts with a consultation with their resident traditional Chinese medical practitioner who is joined by a translator so I understand my prognosis. Apparently my chi is weak and I need to eat less meat and exercise more. I think he’s being kind.
I’m then escorted through beautiful gardens to my treatment suite where my feet are scrubbed with sea salt and green tea and my body is scrubbed all over with a mix of papaya, vanilla, cinnamon and rice. A steam and shower follow before an aroma massage using relaxing lavender and ylang ylang.
I’m then treated to a facial using rose infused products to scrub, cleanse, massage and moisturise my sundried skin before emerging transformed and thoroughly relaxed for a spa lunch at one of the resort’s restaurants.
The spa at the Mangrove Tree resort is surrounded by fields of lilies, perhaps one of the most beautiful and tranquil settings you could imagine. I’m greeted at the spa by two therapists for my top and toe treatment, one of the signature treatments on offer here.
It’s a truly indulgent experience as one therapist gently massages my head, temples and even my eye sockets as the other scrubs my feet with fragrant smelling salts. My face is cleansed and scrubbed before a soothing mask is applied while my feet are massaged. Finally my mask is peeled off, my face cleansed and moisturised with gentle massaging strokes while my feet are wrapped in hot towels. I emerge as the sun goes down, feet and face smooth as silk.
At Horizon Resort, also in Yalong Bay, the Lanikai Spa offers almost unprecedented facilities. It is particularly famous for its seawater Thassolotonic pool, a series of water jets to massage aching limbs from all angles.
Indoors there is also a Turkish razul treatment room where you can paint your body with therapeutic mud and sit in the steam as your body detoxes. There are also traditional steam rooms, saunas and indoor Jacuzzis along with countless treatment rooms. The Spa offers a wide range of treatments, including traditional Chinese, Balinese, Thai and Hawaiian styles.
I opt for a relaxing aromatherapy massage, this being sadly my last day in Hainan. I choose tea tree oil and slip into deep relaxation as my skilled therapist massages away any aches and pains I may have from a week of exploring this wonderful new destination. What better way to end a holiday?
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