Chinese heal­ing touch amid five-star com­forts

A res­i­den­tial re­treat in Mel­bourne will get your yin and yang sorted

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Luxury - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

NOT only am I set to have my body fine-tuned, my yin and yang acutely bal­anced and my jing luo sorted, but I am en­ter­ing a whole new world of acronyms.

Tra­di­tional Chinese medicine takes the easy short­hand TCM. But what’s all this SS stuff about? Se­cret Ser­vice, or worse?

The ini­tials, it turns out, ap­ply to the role of Fran­cisco Cer­vantes, a for­mer law en­force­ment of­fi­cer from San Diego, who is my ser­vice stylist. At first this seems a very silly idea; what is wrong with plain old terms such as valet and but­ler? But ho­tels must keep rein­vent­ing them­selves, striv­ing for points of dif­fer­ence, and The Lang­ham Mel­bourne is firmly in favour of the SS con­cept. And so am I; af­ter just one night, I am plot­ting how to take my fab­u­lously or­gan­ised SS home with­out my hus­band notic­ing.

The SS is a bonus but the quest is re­ju­ve­na­tion cour­tesy of a Well­ness Re­treat at the ho­tel’s Chuan Spa, ranged over two lev­els, ac­cessed from the ninth floor through a rounded door­way.

It’s tucked into a labyrinthine space of silk-lined walls, bam­boo floors and moody colours — dull gold, mul­berry and bur­nished red — and Chuan Spa feels like a mem­bers-only club, an ori­en­tal den where one could al­most ex­pect to knock three times and ask for some­one (or some­thing) thrilling.

In my case, the call is an­swered by Tasja, a TCM spe­cial­ist who’s stud­ied in China and Ja­pan and has spe­cialised in acupunc­ture. ‘‘Well­be­ing and vi­tal­ity,’’ she says, ‘ ‘ are en­hanced through the nur­tur­ing of the three trea­sures: jing or life force, qi or vi­tal en­ergy, and shen or mind and spirit.’’

De­pend­ing on your re­quire­ments, Tasja, or one of her TCM spe­cial­ist col­leagues, will de­sign a health pro­gram for weight loss or to en­hance gen­eral well­be­ing. My slug­gish me­tab­o­lism needs a boost and Tasja writes me a long list of sug­ges­tions, in­clud­ing six cap­sules a day of Dr Ron’s Ul­traPure Io­dine Com­plex Metabolic Sup­port For­mula. I check Dr Ron’s web­site and it fea­tures pic­tures of con­tented cows that look very well-sup­ported, which is an en­cour­ag­ing start.

To boost adrenals, says Tasja, I need half a tea­spoon of Celtic sea salt and the juice of half a lemon (or a vi­ta­min Ctablet) first thing in the morn­ing with a pro­tein break- fast. The ad­vice is easy to swal­low, as it were, and the set­ting of a lux­ury spa makes it even more palat­able.

Lang­ham Ho­tels In­ter­na­tional (19 prop­er­ties ei­ther open or in the pipe­line, in­clud­ing af­fil­i­ates) has re-energised the no­tion of spa with its Chuan brand­ing. At The Lang­ham Auck­land, Lang­ham Place Mongkok (Hong Kong) and Lang­ham Yangtze Bou­tique (Shang­hai), there are even Chuan Res­i­dence gue­strooms ad­ja­cent to the re­spec­tive spas with in­fin­ity baths, silky decor and retro Chinese-in­spired fur­nish­ings.

The 25-storey Lang­ham Mel­bourne doesn’t have ded­i­cated Chuan gue­strooms but all is com­fort, at­ten­tion to de­tail and bird’seye views across its in­ven­tory of 387 rooms and plush suites in the South­bank precinct on the Yarra.

Its Chuan Spa was opened in 2005 with an ap­pro­pri­ate feng shui bless­ing; it’s ar­rayed over a me­an­der­ing 1060sq m of curv­ing cor­ri­dors, eight treat­ment sa­lons, cur­tained re­lax­ation lounges, and a health club with gym equip­ment, sauna, steam­rooms and such­like.

Chuan means flow­ing wa­ter and in the Mel­bourne fa­cil­ity the de­sign takes inspiration from a clas­sic Chinese gar­den; add to the mix a 15m in­door salt­wa­ter pool, ‘‘river stone snail shower’’ with 12 force­ful jets (and rit­u­als in­volv­ing lemon myr­tle marine salt) and a peppy Jacuzzi with a view. And there’s a ter­race that opens from the low-lit sur­rounds of the spa to a broad panorama of the Mel­bourne CBD sky­line.

The treat­ments are based on the prin­ci­ples of wu xing — wood, earth, metal, fire and wa­ter — and your par­tic­u­lar el­e­ment is de­cided based on a brief ques­tion­naire. There is a wide-rang­ing menu of about 40 plea­sur­able treat­ments on of­fer, which could be said of most five-star ho­tel spas, but here there’s a holis­tic ap­proach and an em­pha­sis on pick-and-mix op­tions. Choose, say, a 60-minute or 90-minute hot stone mas­sage but add TCM body cup­ping, fa­cial with cer­ti­fied or­ganic or marinebased al­gae prod­ucts, and a hy­drother­apy bath.

Or book a TCM re­flex­ol­ogy treat­ment (30, 60 or 90 min­utes) and ex­tras could in­clude a hot-oil hair treat­ment and scalp mas­sage, and a salt body scrub.

It’s a buf­fet of pos­si­bil­i­ties, de­pend­ing on time avail­able, but you’d be short-chang­ing your­self not to go for the whole she­bang and book, say, a Tao of Detox ( 21/ hours) or a Re­store and

2 Re­new (three hours).

Even if there is time for just a mas­sage, try some­thing in the TCMrange, such as a Tui Na, with acu­pres­sure, which works on the merid­i­ans ( jing luo) to bring your body into bal­ance and har­mony.

And of course there’s fra­grant Chinese teas with petals and herbs, plat­ters of sliced fruit, waft­ing ori­en­tal-jack­eted at­ten­dants and all the fuss­ing we have come to ex­pect from new-age spas.

Then back to your Lang­ham Club Ter­race room for a room­ser­vice spa din­ner ( healthy noo­dles in a mush­room broth with a gar­den of Asian green­ery, gin­gery juice, great salad) and the sort of care­free kip that surely must have been en­joyed by pam­pered im­pe­rial princesses of (well, maybe) the Luxe dy­nasty.

I sleep right through my SS’s call next morn­ing. Later, Cer­vantes tells me he had wanted to know whether I was feel­ing nicely har­mo­nious. Su­san Kurosawa was a guest of The Lang­ham Mel­bourne.

The Lang­ham Ho­tel Mel­bourne spa ter­race opens to a broad panorama of the CBD sky­line

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.