I’ve spent the past three weeks drinking Pina Coladas and bathing in the sunshine of northern Mozambique, so when I landed in Cape Town a few days ago, I literally had to double check with the lady sitting next to me: “He didn’t just say six degrees, did he?!” (Without trying to sound dramatic, it felt closer to minus six degrees on that sodden runway wearing flip flops.)
Now, I know there is beauty in the Cape’s cold and wet winters, but they need … ehm … some warming up to.
I knew my friend Heidi, project manager for Doctors Without Borders, also just got back from somewhere in North Africa, loves a spa, has a sexy bum for pictures and would also need to warm up to the idea of winter. I asked her to join me at Twelve Apostles.
‘The Art Of Spa’ has become more than simply a project of love. I’m on a mission to photograph as many locations and signature treatments as possible. (A signature treatment is a bit like a chef’s speciality or an artist’s defining style.)
What is ‘The Art of Spa’?
I’ve not really written much about this on the blog, so I suppose now would be as good a time as any to tell you a bit about what I have planned for the next 12 months.
‘The Art of Spa’ will eventually be a coffee table book showcasing the most beautiful and ancient spas across the globe. Through visiting a number of the world’s most ancient and beautiful spas I will trace the roots of water therapy across the world, compiled in a publication as meticulous as the water healing that inspired it.
In profiling the history and types of traditional spas in countries where the curative powers of water have been used for centuries, I’ll journey to each destination, experience the practice first-hand and capture it as carefully and beautifully as possible.
The healing properties of water have been known and used for millenia. The public baths of Rome are known throughout the world, as are the Turkish ‘Hamams’ that preceded them. Celtic mythology speaks of well points as ‘the eye of God’, a place where the physical and the spirit meet, and ancient Jewish tradition espouses the curative power of running, living water. In the volcano and hot spring laden lands of Japan and South Korea the tradition of the ‘Onsen’ is recorded as 3000 years old, but stretches back even further. In places like Russia, Hungary and Thailand water healing is as ancient as history itself.
Today, however, the healing art of the spa has been muddied by commercialism. Spas can be found in every city, sometimes on every street corner. Dropping in for an hours pampering is missing the point.
Although South Africa doesn’t really have a spa tradition that can be traced back for centuries, we do boast with some of the most bespoke spas in the world and The Red Carnation Hotel Collection‘s Twelve Apostles is considered by many as one of them.
The B | Harmonised Signature Treatment (60 min) is one of the signature treatments of the Red Carnation Group AND THIS IS HOW THEY DESCRIBE IT:
From the heart of the ocean to the soul of the mountains, surrender yourself in a treatment designed to remove stress from the back, feet and scalp to once again align your mind and body in harmony. This unique massage incorporates meditation breathing, targeting the main areas of the body which hold stress and works to release and relax not only the body but also the mind.
This foot ritual is short. Don’t expect to have silky smooth heels afterwards. The focus of the treatment is on detoxing the lymph system and relieving stress in the spine with a combination of products, techniques and guided breaths.
Five Star PR, responsible for the public relations of The Twelve Apostles, describe the B | Harmonised treatment as …
… a heavenly back and shoulder massage with a combination of stroking and kneading techniques to detoxify and release stiff muscles, followed by an invigorating head massage with or without oil. The treatment ends by bringing the body into complete harmony with a revitalising foot massage using a cooling gel.
Les Nouvelles Esthetiques, a reputable online spa publication, explain the B | Harmonised treatment to be …
I’m unsure to which ‘crystals’ they’re referring to, but I’ll second the effective combination of fragrance and breath and will summarise my experience with a selection of pictures in sequence. (Note specifically the ‘kneading’ of the body by the therapist, how she works with the energy lines within the body, from the very base of the spine, right to the tips of the fingers. I found this to be the most memorable.)
I’m almost always slightly ‘inflamed’. Particularly in my feet. The combination of Eucalyptus (a proven treatment for dilating blood vessels and allowing more oxygen into the lungs and lymph system) and black pepper (a rich source of antioxidants for circulation and digestion) used in the massage sparked something magical: It felt as if the circuit of energy flowing through my body got a ‘jumpstart’ with every guided breath and paired movement of her hands.
The Eucalyptus and Black Pepper Body Balm, pictured below, is used on the feet.
A unique range of exclusive body range products and professional spa treatments, prepared by blending native African plant extracts, the natural goodness of the sea and eco-friendly production technologies. The B|Africa product line has been created in honour of Bea Tollman, founder and president of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, who says “the unique natural locations of the Red Carnation properties are encapsulated in our B|Africa products and treatments, which harness the essential life giving properties of mother natures rich bounty to calm, detoxify, nourish and energise body, mind and spirit.
I recommend soaking it up in the hot pool downstairs before you have your treatment.
To be on the safe side the spa provided us with plastic glasses to drink our bubbly in the hot pool.
Water invites stillness. Like the breath, water is a life force common to every human being. In connecting with water we connect with our inner selves, both physically and spiritually. Water is purification. It brings what is hidden to the light and dissolves it in the sun.
Heidi and I spent the night, but the spa is also open to day visitors.
Look at her. She’s practically glowing and I assure you there is way more than wine responsible for that!
WORDS AND PICTURES © DARÉLL LOURENS
I travelled courtesy of FIVE STAR PR and THE TWELVE APOSTLES HOTEL AND SPA
Opinions expressed are my own