The Ãman Spa Signature Treatment: Inspired by China

“The energy is the basis of life. Everything in the Universe changes and develops thanks to qi.” Zhang Zhongjing – Chinese Physician (150 – 219 AD) reviewed by Frankie Rozwadowska

Most of us aren’t aware that traditional Chinese medicine influences many of the techniques and beliefs in today’s Western beauty world, and with today seeing the arrival of the Chinese New Year – now is the time to learn how these ancient philosophies can change your life (and your appearance). The first thing you need to know about is Qi (also known as Chi or Ch’i), which lies at the heart of all traditional Chinese medicine practices. Essentially, Qi is the life-force within us all, the energy from which all living beings exist – flowing through the body via meridians to give life to our organs, minds and souls. When these meridians become blocked, our Qi becomes imbalanced – resulting in fatigue, illness, skin problems, low-moods, weight-gain…you get the gist. And nobody wants that. It’s therefore no surprise that in today’s rat-race we’re left feeling tired, stressed and unmotivated. The key to reversing all this? Get your Qi in order and you’ll feel like a new person, both inside and out. How on earth do I do that, you ask? Well, in just two and a half hours at The Connaught’s Ãman Spa, I defy you not to leave with a new lease of life and a spring in your step. If I had it my way, everyone would make a visit for their Signature Experience Inspired by China. And here’s why… Hidden away beneath the lobby of The Connaught Hotel is the ultra-luxe Ãman Spa, your own private portal from London to the East. It’s all cool granite, white marble, honey-gold oak and dove-grey Portland Stone – with touches of organic linen, bamboo and neutral silks. Within two minutes of entering you’ll have forgotten about what you need to buy for dinner or what you’re going to wear on the weekend – your worries are checked in along with your coat. Once you’ve slipped into your sumptuous robe and had a cup or two of fresh lemongrass tea, it’s treatment time, and this Chinese Inspired Signature Experience is all about unleashing your Qi through your muscles from top to toe. A soothing aromatic green tea footbath comes first (each part of the experience starts with your feet as these are what keep us grounded) before you lie down on your heated bed. Yes, heated. Amazing. You are in complete control of the temperature of both your bed and the room, the volume of the music (calming Chinese flute melodies) and the lighting – although I didn’t have to change a thing. It was perfect.

It’s then on to the full body exfoliation using organic Himalayan crystal salts mixed with rosemary, eucalyptus, black pepper and vitamin E, designed to invigorate, stimulate and energise. They smell divine (I couldn’t help envisaging rubbing them onto my roast chicken) and are sprinkled oh-so-delicately along your limbs that it almost feels like water trickling across your body. They are then massaged in with a moisturising blend of sunflower oil, jojoba oil and apricot kernel oil – a symbolic way to cleanse yourself of the old whilst awaking energy lines in preparation for your massage. But before this, there’s a 7 minute steam session (in your own private steam room no less) to allow your body to sweat out toxins and reap the rewards of salts and oils. Followed by a quick water shower, it’s back to the bed for your massage. Now, I’ve had my fair share of massages, from traditional Thai to Four-Handed, Hot Stone, Swedish, and even an Ayurvedic kind where I was totally naked and covered in oil (I won’t go there) – but I was new to the Chinese technique of Tui-na. It involves a lot of shaking, pulling and pushing to recreate your body’s Qi and to rebalance energy and boost circulation. It’s also performed with very little oil (just the remnants of what’s left from your exfoliation) so at times it can feel a little strange, but this is so the muscles can be picked up away from the bone to release the Qi and get your energy re-flowing around the body. It’s very deep, so there were moments where I’d wished I’d gone for the ‘moderate’ option instead of the ‘firm’ – but just when you think you can’t take any more, the tension melts away in a blissful release and you know those few minutes of teeth-clenching were more than worth it. You are left feeling refreshed and relaxed, but also invigorated – your muscles subtly tingling as the energy is released from them, giving your body a gentle wakeup call. The final half an hour brings with it a gloriously calming facial with the spa’s own chemical-free, 100% natural skincare products – all housed in dark blue glass to preserve and protect them from light and heat. Using a clay cleanser with lime, lavender and grape-seed oil – skin is massaged with a whole host of nutrients, aided by the balancing and refreshing face mist to cool and revive. Added to this is the skin booster which infuses the face with essential elements, including magnesium to strengthen and firm. It is purified-water based which makes it safe to use on all skin types. The last step is a light, creamy moisturiser that leaves your face just as soft as your body (which now feels like you’re covered in a layer of satin). Seriously, what more could you possibly want? It ticks every box imaginable. I can safely say I have never had a treatment quite like this one, nor have I ever felt so relaxed and alive at the same time. It’s quite a feeling. My body felt lighter and energised – the result of my Qi being rebalanced and released – while my mind was at peace and my mood lifted. My only complaint? It had to end. The Ãman Spa at The Connaught: 0203 147 7305. [email protected]. www.the-connaught.co.uk Signature Experience Inspired by China – 2hours 30min – £280