an organic after-spa meal; the body massage uses natural objects such as bamboo sticks to put pressure
In for a treat: Book two hours for the Stimulating Treatment (P8,000), one of the three signature healing treatments at the Farm. It highlights skin cleansing, but equally feels like a massage, thanks to the manner the two therapists scrape, knead, and target pressure points. With organic cleansing products sourced from the farm itself— such as virgin coconut oil and flower petals—they use two mother-of-pearl shells to scrape away dead skin, moving in what seems to be a synchronized hand flow to improve blood circulation, reduce the appearance of cellulite, and stimulate the lymphatic system in releasing toxins. After this comes the star of the procedure—warm and crushed barako coffee beans—applied and massaged all over your body and face in long, firm strokes, yielding the relaxing scent of a fresh brew. The entire body is then wrapped with organic coverings, which provide a sauna-like environment for 20 minutes for the skin to absorb all the nutrients from the coffee beans. After a quick rinse, you will soak yet again in a tub of warm coffee for 20 minutes, bringing about pleasant skin cleansing and body detoxification.
Best for: Detoxification is best experienced here, with in-house doctors, trained therapists, and workout instructors present to address every need. City folk looking for 100 percent organic treatments and a weekend respite away from it all will also enjoy.
119 Barangay Tipakan, Lipa, Batangas; 884.8074; thefarmatsanbenito.com
THE BALESIN SPA
Each private suite at the Balesin Spa is equipped with an outdoor shower and a pocket garden, with a view of its 30-meter long black pool.
In for a treat: The Balesin signature massage (P2,400) is an hour of deep kneading using the therapist’s arms and forearms. It begins with warm heated banana leaves placed over the body to calm it and as a prelude to the intensity of the massage. Expect hard but soothing strokes on just the right spots all over your body, scalp, and face. Your stress is brushed away with each stroke, and when everything is over, expect your body to feel like butter.
Therapist’s tips: “This treatment is quick yet effective especially for highly stressed clients who fly over to the island to relax. Of course the pressure may be adjusted to your specific needs, and we may even extend sessions as you please.”
998.9521; [email protected]
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
The presidential spa suite at Le Spa features a private balcony with the best sunset view; inside its presidential spa suite with its own tub.
In for a treat: This internationally renowned spa boasts of indigenous Filipino as well as European treatments, therapies, and concoctions, which you can sample with different spa packages. The Serenity package combines traditional Filipino hilot, the Mango Delight Body Scrub, and the signature Hydrating Facial (P4,200) in two blissful hours. The one-hour Filipino Pride Massage (hilot) is both healing and soothing, with warm oil and aromatic leaves used all over your body as the therapist massages your legs with long, tingling strokes. The best part is when she zeroes in on your tense neck, back, and shoulders, which can easily lull you to sleep until you feel the grainy strokes of the mango scrub on your legs. The aroma of tropical fruit is refreshing and doesn’t only awaken your senses but restores smoothness and moisture while exfoliating dead skin. The treatment is capped off with a 30-minute facial, where apart from the expected cleansing, toning, and moisturizing procedures, Shiatsu massage movements are applied on the face and head, producing deep relaxation, if not the best face massage ever.
Therapist’s tips: “The Serenity package is best experienced by those checked-in at the hotel as the treatment calms and sets the body to sleep mode right after.”
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay; 551.5555
El Nido Resorts, Palawan
A suite at Pangulasian Island Resort; and the shoreline at the resort
In for a treat: They prefer to call it a “relaxing journey” instead of a treatment, and true enough the seven-step process of the Pangulasian Haven Ritual (P6,500 for four hours) is made to be therapeutic, unique, and energizing for you to be able to enjoy the luxurious resort’s activities for the rest of your stay. It begins with an herbal foot bath, with pressure points on your feet stroked gently to stimulate circulation. Next, a 20-minute scrub with a blend of crushed coffee beans and finely grated coconut that exfoliates and moisturizes the skin. Later, you are led to your spa bed where your entire body is coated with an organic papaya cream and massaged with relaxing hand strokes and motions, and later enveloped in warm papaya leaves to help the skin absorb the nutrients. This is the best time to take a nap, before rinsing off in an herbal citrus bath. Fifteen minutes later, you're roused with an aromatherapy massage that begins with heated herbal pouches meant to alleviate body aches and tension and induce relaxation. The Algae Intense Care Facial finishes the journey, giving a sublime sense of well-being.
Best for: Pangulasian Island appeals to the highly discerning traveler looking for exclusivity and bespoke pampering. Relax at the spa with luxurious treatments before a private sunset cruise or a romantic dinner by the beach.
813.000; [email protected]
MANDALA RESORT AND SPA
The Princess treatment at Mandala Spa begins with a floral bath
In for a treat: The beach and the spa are always a perfect match, and Mandala makes the combination even better with its signature Princess Treatment—a four-hour rejuvenation “fit for royalty,” they say. The treatment starts with a floral foot bath where your aesthetician scrubs dead skin away. She then proceeds to stimulate your other senses with a fragrant and skin nourishing scrub and wrap such as the seaweed wrap, which detoxifies, firms, tones, and hydrates the body. The scent and texture of the seaweed relaxes as it is slathered on, and the wrap gives a warm healing sensation that releases tension. A hot bath in flower petals follows after an hour to rinse the seaweed and toxins off, before the treatment is capped with the Mandala signature massage—90 minutes of soothing long strokes and gentle stretches truly making you feel like a princess.
Therapist’s tips: The four-hour rituals are meant to make clients experience Mandala Spa to the fullest. You get a private terrace for every treatment and we make sure you feel intoxicated with bliss.”
Station 3, Barangay Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island; (6336) 288.5858
Dusit Thani Manila
Devarana Spa offers authentic Thai massages which may be availed in single or double packages, as well as new treatments like sea salt scrubs
In for a treat: While Devarana (pronounced te-wa-run) offers Thai massages and treatments, rest assured that your therapists aren’t chatty, chakra-speakers. They know how to deliver that silent, confident massage that would soften spa skeptics. This is where you’ll experience bliss in being stretched and rubbed like in no other Thai spa in the area. Therapists perform yoga-like contortions and rhythmic kneading using their elbows, arms, and hands with scented oil of your choice. Your shoulders, arms, and legs are pulled, folded, and pressed at the tight areas, making you feel quite buoyant. Your most stubborn knots are tackled in just the right way, making you sigh in pleasure. Your masseuse knows exactly where to exert pressure and where to hold back, and you’ll leave wishing you had your own therapist at home. End with a cup of tea or lemon honey juice.
Best for: Hard massage enthusiasts will surely appreciate this two-hour treatment filled with lots of stretching, limbering, and kneeling.
Therapist’s tips: “This is pretty much like doing yoga, only we do all the work for you. The effect after treatment is exactly that of doing yoga—refreshing, renewing, and calming.”
EDSA, Makati; 238.8888
A Chinese-trained therapist at Chi Spa performing a deep tissue massage; the couple suite at Chi Spa
In for a treat: Let your therapist wield hot and cold rocks and quite literally walk all over you at Chi Spa in Mactan, Cebu. Its Healing Stone Massage (P7,100) is fabulous, with the benefits of deep tissue massage, but without the intense stroking. It involves setting volcanic rocks on pressure points and the alternating application of heated stones with oil and herbs on your skin, promoting deep muscle and tissue relaxation, alleviating stress, releasing toxins, relieving pain, and improving circulation. Using the stones like powerful thumbs, the therapist kneads your feet and legs in short, fluid strokes. The back and shoulders receive attention, too, via long palm caresses. Trained by Chinese experts, the therapist does varied stone movements, starting from your upper back all the way to the tops of your bum.
Therapist’s tips: “The hot stones restore energy and vitality, while the cold stones are for balancing stress.” This treatment takes from the healing rituals of Tibet, incorporating ancient massage techniques with thermotherapy.
Punta Engaño Road, Mactan, Cebu; (6332) 231.8306
Views from the Aman Spa overlooking the Sulu Sea
In for a treat: A top recommendation at Aman is its version of hilot therapy (P6,500), a traditional healing treatment in the Philippines, where the therapist identifies areas of heat and cold in the body and tries to rebalance them through soaks and strokes. It begins with a paligo, a seven-healer soak bath of local herbs. Heat and cold diagnosis follows, which is patterned after how manghihilot in local provinces do it: A banana leaf soaked in warm coconut oil is passed along the back, and wherever it stops gliding is where you have vicious cold air stored. This is where the massage will focus to release the air which is believed to make you tired and eventually sick. Later, long flowing massage strokes are administered to the rest of the body, resulting in deep relaxation and detoxification.
Therapist’s tips: “Different areas of the Philippines use different herbs for healing. We use whatever is available or in season that have useful warming and detoxifying properties for the paligo. As for the massage, it may be described as a fusion of Californian massage with energy lines-deep strokes.”
Pamalican Island, Philippines; 976.5204; [email protected]