A journey through the senses
This six-star spa employs a concept that embodies ancient healing traditions
and mystical rituals of China and the Himalayas.
I've never been to Tibet, never climbed the Himalayas and the closest to the roof of the word was when I watched Tomb Raider. Recently though, at Shangr-La
Hotel Bangkok I did find myself in a situation not unlike a Lara Croft adventure.
The dramatic light spilling through the lattice screen washing down a split-face
stone wall, the Himalayan artifacts, the smell of scented incense and aromatic
oils, the sound of singing bowls _ what was i doing in a Tibetan temple? It was
a state of mind of course, and Chi the Spa at Shangri-La was about to take me
on a rejuvenating journey.
Matching the mystical ambience, this six-star spar employs a concept that
embodies ancient healing traditions, philosophies, and rituals of China and the
The Himalayas. It's a health spa that believes in chi - the universal life force that
governs well-being and vitality.
Arlene Finch, the spa director, explained that to maintain good health chi must
flow freely within the body. If blocked, it is likely that illness will occur; and to
clear natural blockages, movement is a key element. Combining the physical
movements of exercise, stretching, massage and hydrotherapy with movement
of mind through relaxation and meditation will help release the chi energy and
assist the body's natural renewal.
In addition, the treatments and product line are designed according to the Five
Elements theory - a Chinese pholosophy that identifes the elements metal,
water, wood, fire and earth which influence the chi energy. Chi's therapies aim to achieve a balance of the five elements to harmonise with the positive yangand
positive yin energy within the body.
To identify my dominant element, I had to answer some questions related to
health as well as give my personal preferences related to colour and taste in
"You're a metal person", Arlene told me. "Metal people have very high standards
and they will do things exceptionally well. They are constantly thinking,
analysing, looking at how they can do things better. However, it's very difficult for a metal person th switch off." That seems very much like me, I thought. And I do find it hard to relax, even while spa-ing, as thoughts keep dancing on my mind.
The 1000-square-meter spa is renowned for having the largest private spa
suites in Bangkok. The nine suites include shower, sauna, steam, bathing,
changing and lounging facilities. After stepping into the tastefully opulent suite,
the relaxation ritual started with sipping herbal tea, followed by foot soaking and
foot pounding, which were a prelude to signature therapies prescribed for my
After changing into a comfy robe, that made me feel like a yak, I had to take it off for the Rejuvenation Himalayan Bath Therapy. The jacuzzi tub provided colour therapy as lighting provided the illusion of water constantly changing colour. With water overflowing from the tub's infinity edge, the 20 minute soak was a nice way to relax. Lying on the bed for the next spa treatment, I was tickled by thesound of the singing bowl. Arlene later explained that the nerve channels within the body, through which the life force flows, are sound sensitive. Vibrations increase the vitality of these nerve channels by stimulating healthy tissue and organ activity to restore good health. "The singing bowl is an ancient healing instrument made from seven metals. It helps to clear the mind, relax the body," Arlene said. "And if you are more relaxed, you will get maximum benefit out of the massage and the therapist will be able to work deeper to release blockage of chi."
Did the singing bowl have an effect on me? My mind, which was disc dancing, slowed down to a tango, but it was the Mountain Tsampa Rub (2,100 baht excluding tax and service charge) that made my thoughts waltz.
Very different from other body scrubs that I previously experienced, it involves two steps. First an oil massage worked on the lymphatic system to help release toxins, then a scrub blended from barley and Himalayan herbs gently
exfoliated the skin. The heat pad on the bed, which stimulated circulation, also made the treatment extremely soothing.
Then I had to take a shower to thoroughly rinse off the very fine scrub before the therapist gave me the Himalayan Healing Stone Massage (4,500 baht excluding tax and service charge). Combining Ayurveda techniques (heavy oils,
vigorous strokes), Chinese medicine pressure points and Tibetan healing stones, this massage therapy aims to draw any blocked chi from a particular organ.
Ritually carved stones, heated in oils and herbs, were used to rub the body with a long flowing massage technique that worked on the meridian energy channel. The hot stones were later applied to specific points to help dispel blockages of chi, enabling it's smooth show through the body.
After three hours in Tibet, the sound of cymbals was a wake-up call and a symbol of my imminent return to Bangkok. Were the healing instruments simply gimmicks? According to Arlene, they are the real thing, and every element of the
Chi concept was developed by a team of experts in traditional Chinese medicine and Himalayan healing arts.
Did the Tibetan touch work for me? I should say I'd return many times to find out. But I think it would have to be a special treat.
Chi The Spa at Shangri-La Bangkok opens daily from 10am - 10pm. For more information call 02-236-7777