Let’s face it, winter in the city can get you down a bit at this time of the year. The excitement of the holiday season is gone, and now you’ve got to make it through a stretch of cold weather until Tokyo’s sakura season rolls around again and the sky above you finally clears up. I was beginning to succumb to the winter blues, and so a recommendation to spend an afternoon at Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La was just the pick-me-up I was looking for.
Just yourself and just because
We tend to think of spa treatments as something you do for a special occasion, but sometimes it is lovely to treat yourself “just because.” After all, if you feel better, everything and everyone around you will get better too — sometimes all you need is to sit back, relax and take a deep breath.
I must admit that this was my first visit to a day spa in Japan. Previous hotel spa experiences while on holiday overseas brought back memories of chatty groups of women sitting around in bathrobes in the communal locker room area, but the Chi Spa couldn’t be more different. There is an individual room for each guest, and all treatments are carried out in complete privacy. It really is “all about you”! (For those who would like to enjoy their spa treatment with a special someone, of course, a couple’s room is also available.)
Shangri-La’s currently offered Winter Escape treatment has two packages, a 90-minute course and a 150-minute extensive course, and I opted for the latter option. It includes the heavenly combination of a relaxing bath for a start, a foot bath, herbal bath, body treatment, scrub, steam sauna and shower.
The treatment began with a relaxing warm bath, infused with uji-cha green tea, sake and sugi (cedar) essential oil.
What followed was a truly relaxing and luxurious experience to refresh the body and spirit. A special feature of Winter Escape is the use of local Japanese products in the various treatments. The menu and ingredients have been carefully designed to aid in detoxifying, improving circulation and moisturizing the body.
An oasis of serenity
The décor at the Chi Spa is inspired by Nepali culture, and it was like stepping into an oasis of serenity, completely removed from the rush of city life outside. I was welcomed with a warming drink of herbal tea as I filled out a questionnaire about my current health condition, and then I met my therapist for the afternoon, Reika. She showed me to my spacious private room, which was beautifully appointed with a full bath, a shower/sauna room and a separate dressing area, as well as the massage bed.
The treatment began with a relaxing warm bath, infused with uji-cha green tea, sake and sugi (cedar) essential oil. When I was ready, Reika came back to administer a foot bath with a Himalayan salt scrub. (Personally, I find few things are more decadent than a foot bath.) Then it was on to the main part of the treatment, a full massage, which included hot stones and herbal compresses. As a writer, I had already informed Reika that one of my main problem areas is stiff shoulders from all those hours spent working on my laptop. Her fingers worked their magic and the tension melted away, and I drifted off to sleep at one point. The only sounds were the gentle background music and occasional soft prompts from Reika to change position.
My whole body was relaxed and my skin was soft, but the change in mindset was just as important.
The final part of the body treatment was a scrub made from organic salt, shea butter, sugar and Japanese tea. When the treatment was over, I was given ample time to enjoy a hot shower in the steam room before getting dressed. I was then invited to have a drink of yuzu tea and some delicious citrus snacks to complete my experience. From start to end, it was relaxation in every sense of the word.
As I made my way back home, I reflected on my experience. My whole body was relaxed and my skin was soft, but the change in mindset was just as important. Among the hustle of work, family, pets, household stuff and all the 101 things that demand my time and attention, the feeling that I had taken time out just for myself was priceless. It might even be enough to keep me smiling until spring.
Winter Escape is available at Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La, Shangri-la Hotel, Tokyo until February 28, 2019. For reservations, see details below.
Address: Marunouchi Trust Tower Main, 1-8-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Spa treatment hours: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Available: Until Feb. 28, 2019
Cost: 90–minute course (herbal bath, foot bath, body treatment) ¥20,500, 150-minute ¥32,400 (herbal bath, foot bath, body treatment, scrub, steam sauna and shower) (Prices are subject to tax and service charge. An additional ¥2,000 will be added to treatments on Sat, Sun and public holidays.)
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