A spa treatment, especially in the Maldives, isn’t just about the targeted part of the body, but is also an immersive experience of relaxation and comfort. With massages, I do sort of appreciate a lovely location, but frankly when you are face down with your eyes closed, there is not much opportunity to enjoy them. So for massage treatments, the sensory luxury is all about touch – the feel of the plush table and of course the expert therapists.
Ritz Carlton Maldives’ spa simply exudes sensual softness in every details. You change into super silk soft robes. The face rest not only featured a spongy cushion, but also it was covered with an ultra soft chamois. The same chamois texture that covered the entire bed. And Dankaj, my masseur, provide a treatment that was fluid and tender while being firm enough to coax the tight muscles out of their tension (I find male masseurs to often be too mechanical and firm) with just the right pressure like the right amount of chili in a curry.
A strong spine is literally the backbone of healthy living. My interest is in sport and I am always struck by how (literally) central the importance of posture was for so many activities. I heard our ballroom dance teacher giving me the exact same tips about “shoulders down and back, pelvis forward, back straight”, that I gave my rowing students. Of course, back pain seems to be the most common affliction of aging which again all boils down to the spine. Ritz Carlton Maldives hosted Lorelei “Yoyi” Bulan who is a spine health expert during our stay. She walked me through a number of demonstrations and exercises (see videos) to gently activate, limber and strengthen my spine. Relieving stress discomfort at the literal “core”.
When we first started coming to the Maldives in the 1990s, most resorts didn’t have spas. A few 5-star properties we stay at had a therapist on staff who could do a treatment by appointment often in some jury-rigged, tucked away part of the island. But now, spas are don’t just offer relaxing massages, but rather an array of treatments as extensive as a typical breakfast buffet. And to help navigate this bewildering set of options at Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi is the Maldives first “wellness concierge”:
“Aqua Wellness Centre, featuring a brand-new Hydrotherapy Pool, Maldives first-ever wellness concierge as well as unique spa treatments, all surrounded by a lush botanical garden facing the Indian Ocean. The brand new 7,735 square-foot elaborate Aqua Wellness Centre features a custom-built Hydrotherapy Pool, ice fountain, steam room and sauna. Set atop the crystal Maldivian waters, the 2,906 square-foot outdoor pool is designed in zones, where each station of the pool targets a different part of the body. The zones – which include jet bath, air jets, shower jets, and massage lounger.”
A number of resorts feature treetop spas, but Soneva Jani’s was the first OVER treetops spa we ever visited. The location provides a breath-taking vista of the palm greenery and the tapestry of blues of the sea.
The de rigeur location for luxury spas are over the ocean, but OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli shows how distinctive you can make your spa setting over a different kind of water. They have developed a little spa oasis with rich greenery and seating cabanas set around a tranquil lily pond. One of the best renditions of the Zen garden concept of Seijaku (静寂) – a tranquility or an energized calm, stillness, solitude.
Forget cucumbers. Vommuli caviar facial combines the luxury of one of the most expensive ingredients per pound with the aquatic essence of fish to make a beauty treatment quintessentially fitting the Maldives luxury property.
Soothing music is a staple of the spa experience, but The Patina has taken audio’s therapeutic powers to new levels with its investment in IRIS “sound immersion technology”:
As a key component of FLOW and catalyst to the Immersion menu, cutting edge biohacking applications allow guests to explore new ways of ensuring they look and feel their very best. Pioneering IRIS sound immersion technology triggers positive brain activation through audio, using an algorithm to split out and increase sound wave information to the brain. The process stimulates the brain- boosting high frequency Beta waves (13-30 Hz) dominant in our waking state and when we are alert, attentive and focused on a demanding task. This sound evokes an active listening brain state reflecting higher engagement and reward, and associated endorphin release – described by psychologists as a ‘flow state’. Immersive sound brings neurological benefits ranging from improved motivation and performance levels to increased learning and feelings of wellbeing and personal fulfilment. By inducing deep relaxation, it has been shown to improve cardiac health by boosting heart rate variability. The sessions are delivered through patented IRIS Flow headsets in the relaxation area, either before or after immersions, to prepare or relax the body and mind, or as a complement to creative activities. Curated to showcase this unique collaboration, an exclusive IRIS x Patina Hotels playlist is now available via the IRIS – Listen Well mobile app. Simply download the app for free via App Store or Google Play, click on ‘IRIS Library’ and select ‘IRIS x Patina Hotels’ under ‘IRIS-curated playlists.”
The sound track doesn’t just complement the treatment, but the sound is the treatment.
When we first started visiting the Maldives, most resorts didn’t have spas and a few had resident massage therapists on contract who would do a treatment on a table tucked in some makeshift area in the inner part of the island. Eventually, the resorts matured to the point where pretty much every one had a dedicated spa facility. As the resorts grew increasingly luxurious, new spacious residences often featured spaces where guests could get treatments in the comfort of their own villa. But for those who want that much more privacy for their treatments (even from their own fellow guests), JA Manafaru’s Royal Island Suite (which is more like a compound than a villa) includes its very own spa building. The personal spa facility includes a steam room, sauna and massage treatment room.