Well­ness: East ver­sus West.

For those who spa, Asian or West­ern is be­com­ing the choice to make. Teresa Ooi com­pares mas­sages at the two.

Cruise Passenger - - PUBLISHER’S LETTER -

Asian spas are be­com­ing the lat­est way to at­tract cruise pas­sen­gers who want to re­lax and chill out. Aboard Gent­ing Dream, there’s the West­ern-style Crys­tal Life Spa on deck 15, or the Crys­tal Life Asian Spa on deck 5. So what’s the dif­fer­ence?

Asian Spa ther­a­pists of­fer tra­di­tional tech­niques com­bined with Chi­nese foot reßex­ol­ogy and acu­pres­sure. In the Crys­tal Life Asian Spa, there are 60 over-sized reßex­ol­ogy ÒthronesÓ in a tran­quil set­ting. It is the largest Asian reßex­ol­ogy spa at sea. Here you can ex­pe­ri­ence a 60-minute foot mas­sage, a foot, shoul­der and neck mas­sage or a Chi­nese acu­pres­sure body mas­sage. One es­sen­tial dif­fer­ence is that you are pro­vided with loose Þt­ting robes for Asian body mas­sages and there are no oils.

In the West­ern Crys­tal Life Spa, ther­a­pists use es­sen­tial oils and spe­cialised mas­sage tech­niques for a full-body aro­mather­apy, Swedish or deep-tis­sue mas­sage. The scented oils are se­lected for dif­fer­ent pur­poses: you can choose laven­der to calm the nerves, chamomile to im­prove di­ges­tion or mint to re­fresh the body, among others.

You are re­quired to strip and are pro­vided with dis­pos­able underwear.

Mas­sage is one of the old­est heal­ing tra­di­tions. Many cul­tures from the an­cient Greeks, Egyp­tians, Chi­nese and In­di­ans are con­vinced of its ther­a­peu­tic beneÞts.

East­ern mas­sage use pres­sure points to ac­ti­vate chi, a heal­ing en­ergy source. It can be more vig­or­ous as the ther­a­pist also uses rock­ing, rolling or strik­ing steps to stim­u­late bet­ter en­ergy ßow.

West­ern mas­sage pro­motes higher lev­els of re­lax­ation by us­ing cir­cu­lar move­ments to re­lieve mus­cle ten­sion or

jet lag. Other stroke tech­niques in­clude knead­ing, glid­ing and stretch­ing.

Es­sen­tially, the pri­mary pur­pose of a West­ern mas­sage is to re­lieve tense mus­cles and pro­mote an over­all sense of re­lax­ation. An East­ern mas­sage takes a more holis­tic ap­proach in bal­anc­ing the body’s ner­vous and di­ges­tive sys­tems.

I have not pre­vi­ously ex­pe­ri­enced a Chi­nese acu­pres­sure body mas­sage and do not know what to ex­pect. Firstly, I am told I do not have to dis­robe.

The ther­a­pist then set­tles me in with stretch­ing move­ments and gen­tle ma­nip­u­la­tion be­fore start­ing the acu­pres­sure. Find­ing the right pres­sure points is a skilled tech­nique. When the ther­a­pist Þnds the right spot, it can be a triße painful.

Some­how, my mind is pre­oc­cu­pied with where the next acu­pres­sure point will be on my body. I also Þnd it slightly strange to have a mas­sage fully clothed. At the end of the 90-minute ses­sion, my mus­cles feel less tense. But the over­whelm­ing sense of well­be­ing is miss­ing. Would I re­turn for another ses­sion? Per­haps next time I will try the foot reßex­ol­ogy mas­sage, which is sup­pos­edly very in­vig­o­rat­ing.

The aro­mather­apy mas­sage at Crys­tal Life Spa is a far more in­dul­gent af­fair. Per­haps it is what my body is ac­cus­tomed to.

The tall ther­a­pist from main­land China has strong, com­pe­tent hands and they work magic on my body. As her hands stretch my mus­cles, I be­come in­creas­ingly re­laxed.

It is of­ten said that if you fall asleep while hav­ing a mas­sage, it is a com­pli­ment to the ther­a­pist and her abil­i­ties. I doze off for at least 15 min­utes and at the end of my 90-minute ses­sion, I feel amaz­ingly re­laxed and pam­pered.

There is a va­ri­ety of other treat­ments avail­able in the West­ern spa, from a lux­u­ri­ous caviar body wrap to a Hi­malayan salt stone mas­sage.

There are sep­a­rate vi­tal­ity pools in both the West­ern and East­ern spas. It is rec­om­mended that guests soak for at least 30 min­utes be­fore their mas­sage ses­sion. It is part and par­cel of get­ting the body ready for the ther­a­peu­tic beneÞts of a mas­sage.

Vi­tal­ity pool in the Crys­tal Life Asian Spa

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