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One of life’s greatest luxuries, particularly in the hectic times we live in, is a long and languid massage. Easing tenseness and stress away with deft movements and deep caresses. From Balinese to Swedish, Ayurvedic to deep tissue, choice here is as varied as geography. Then there are unique treatments, designed to offer a new perspective on an enduring experience through special ingredients or uncommon techniques. We believe they deserve a spotlight.
Here, our pick of five standout massage treatments in Asia.
1. Gemstone Massage, Aman at Summer Palace, Beijing, China
Stones are often use in massages. Not quite like this, though. Beneath the ground that supports the glorious example of Qing dynasty Chinese architecture housing the former diplomatic quarters of the Summer Palace, polished semi-precious stones glide along the body’s lines, guided by shiatsu techniques. Jade, for physiological balance. Jasper, for circulation and energy flow. Aventurine, for the heart. Obsidian, to temper energy blocks and pain. Rose Quartz, for blood circulation. The result is a unique treatment in a unique setting.
2. Healing Waters Massage, Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa, Maldives
The traditional posture for a massage is a horizontal positioning of the body, face down. Not so with the Healing Waters signature treatment. Here, one lies back, face up on enveloping cushions of warm water. As cerulean waves gently lap around the over-water treatment room and the eyes are cushioned by a soft mask, there is a remarkable sensation of being ensconced in a cocoon of liquid leisure. Water is the most healing of the elements, and being healed is exactly what this feels like.
3. Tungku Batu, The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia
The Malay word ‘ramuan’ refers to a gathering of ingredients. On a deeper level, Ramuan is the concept of gathering a medley of leaves, stems, barks, fruits, herbs and roots – spoils of the ancient rainforest – that blend together to heal the body, sooth the soul. Ramuan forms the core of treatments offered at The Datai in Langkawi. The signature treatment here, named Tungku Batu, is a culmination of that philosophy, where a river stone is heated, then swaddled in a pouch of carefully chosen ramuan, infusing timeworn wisdom into the muscles with every stroke.
4. Siam 2482, Anantara Siam Bangkok, Thailand
The number refers to the year 2482 in that Thai solar calendar, the year that the Kingdom was renamed, from Siam to Thailand. In homage to the date, as well as the country’s diverse heritage, the Siam 2482 signature massage incorporates traditions from all corners of Thailand and even beyond, from Myanmar, Laos and China. The numeracy also extends beyond the date. “2" bamboo sticks are used, encouraging circulation. “4" techniques form the therapy: Thai massage, bamboo massage, Thai herbal compress and foot reflexology. “8" pieces of indigo-wrapped poultices, hand dyed from the Butterfly Pea flower. “2" gold-leaf patches, placed on the left arm and left chest to calm the mind. History in every knead and in every digit.
5. Ida Pinggala, Fivelements, Bali, Indonesia
There is duality in this world. Night and day. Black and white. Sun and moon. Yin and yang. Male and female. Four hand massages – where two therapists conduct the treatment – are no longer rare, but Ida Pinggala at Fivelements in Bali takes it a step further, by channelling the polarity of female (Ida) and male (Pinggala) energies into, well, you. Four hands – two male, two female – engage and relax the body through synchronized stretches and acupressure. The idea is to merge the duality, to bring the opposing energies together in search of the middle, in search of the perfect balance.