Katie McGonagle finds out what’s new on the Indian Ocean spa and wellness scene
With the sun always in the sky and expanses of beautiful sand, the gorgeous beach resorts of the Indian Ocean already have most of the ingredients your clients need to feel good.
Even so, there’s still plenty you can do to make sure they squeeze every last drop of relaxation from their break, by knowing exactly what they can expect from their chosen resort.
Plenty offer pampering, from the latest spa trends to tried-and-tested traditional remedies, but there’s also a growing focus on wellbeing, with sessions on meditation, breathing and nutrition cropping up with increasing regularity.
Here, we find out which resorts go the extra mile to give your clients a new lease of life when they get home.
Local produce is much in demand in hotel restaurants, but it seems that ethos has spread to the spa, as more treatments make use of locally grown ingredients.
Celebrating the most-cultivated crop in Mauritius, Angsana Balaclava’s new Nature Touch therapy adds local sugarcane to its cucumber and mint body polish, using the natural glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, then finishes with a bamboo massage to stimulate circulation (£114 for 90 minutes).
Bamboo massage is also on the menu at Maritim Resort & Spa in Mauritius, along with signature treatments using home-grown flowers such as ylang-ylang, hibiscus, frangipani and aloe vera freshly picked from its own gardens.
At Kurumba Maldives, herbs are about more than just finding the right fragrance. The resort’s Veli Spa employs traditional Maldivian medicine ‘dhivehi beys’, an agglomeration of herbal remedies amassed over centuries of trade with India, Iran, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and China.
These treatments make their way into signature massage Akarakara Theyo Dhemun, which mixes local herbs with coconut oil to soothe muscle pain and arthritis; and back, neck and shoulder massage Lansimoo Theyo Dhemun, which uses a hot, herb-filled poultice to release tight nerves and reduce migraines.
Using local produce isn’t just about looking after the environment, as it also benefits the local economy. Raffles Praslin is home to the largest spa in the Seychelles, and as well as using natural ingredients such as pearl extract from a nearby black-pearl farm, this year it introduced Yi-King organic products, which are hand-made in the Seychelles.
Anyone who sells spa holidays will know the usual treatments to expect, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find hotels that really strive to offer something different.
The ‘watsu’ pool at Zilwa Attitude in Mauritius takes the Japanese massage shiatsu off the table and into the water for a weightless sensation that is said to be even more relaxing than the traditional method.But for those who like their spas a little more indulgent, the idea of bringing chocolate and champers into the treatment room might be more tempting.
Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives, home to the world’s first underwater spa, has gone even more surreal this year with a Champagne and Truffles facial. The 90-minute treatment uses a mask made of champagne, silk, gold, diamonds and black truffles – though they do save some truffles and bubbly to eat and drink as well.
They’re not the only ones to get on top of this trend, though. Despite having opened only in March, Loama Resort Maldives has already introduced a lavish two-and-a-half-hour treatment that starts with a gold and caviar body scrub, followed by a whole-body gold wrap, and a gold, silk and caviar facial, before finishing with gold-flecked moisturiser.
The new Spa by Thalgo at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi has added a host of treatments this year. These include Chocolate Delight, an exfoliating body scrub with a dip in a chocolate bath and a cocoa butter massage, and Vinotherapy, which uses grapes left over from wine-making in an antioxidant-rich scrub and mask (each 90-minute treatment starts at £150).
Spa and wellness often get lumped together, but there are significant differences between pampering and therapies that focus on inner wellbeing. The latter certainly seems to be capturing more spa-goers’ attention, if the increasing number of yoga and meditation sessions is anything to go by.
These can be found everywhere, from tiny boutiques such as Mauritian eco-resort Lakaz Chamarel, where yoga sessions run daily at 8.30am, to international brands such as Centara, whose two Maldivian resorts run tai chi, sunrise yoga and group meditation classes every day.
It’s such a sweeping trend that before it has even opened its doors, Sri Lanka resort Anantara Tangalle Peace Haven Resort & Spa is already promising to offer yoga, meditation, pilates and tai chi either on the beach or in guests’ villas.
Mauritian brand Heritage Resorts, which encompasses the Awali, Le Telfair and The Villas, also brings its wellness philosophy out into nature. There are group classes on yoga postures, deep breathing, massage techniques and ‘qigong’ (similar to tai chi), as well as a session on learning the art of relaxation.
But more adventurous guests can also try yoga and tai chi on the banks of the River Citronniers, which runs through the resort, or by the waterfalls in the on-site Frederica Nature Reserve, for an even deeper sense of calm.
Luxury hotel groups spend a lot of time talking about how they tailor their experience to suit each guest, but the spa is the real litmus test of whether they’ve succeeded – the one-size-fits-all approach really doesn’t work here.
That’s why Lux Resorts & Hotels has drafted in Stephen Price, founder of London-based medical wellness and fitness consultancy SP&Co, to launch its Wellness Concierge service this month. Guests have a phone or email chat before they even depart, then a private consultation on arrival to design a programme that achieves their specific goals, whether it’s losing weight, detoxing or de-stressing.
The consultant can then recommend the right spa treatments; organise personal training sessions, meditation, sunset yoga classes or activities such as swimming with dolphins and horse riding on the beach; or make a healthy-eating plan and arrange cooking classes in the resorts’ herb gardens.
If healthy eating is anathema to your clients’ idea of a fun and carefree holiday, the creative menu options at Constance Moofushi – one of Gold Medal’s top-selling spa hotels – should help persuade them.
The operator’s destination expert, Deborah Wadhams, says: “Nutrition is at the forefront throughout the resort and all restaurants feature ‘wellness options’, so guests can be sure these dishes have been created with the latest nutritional science in mind. They are high in essential nutrients and beneficial omega fats, but low in unhealthy sugars and fats.”
With an on-site farm and cooking experiences, nutrition is also key to the healthy lifestyle proposition at Mauritian resort Shanti Maurice. The ethos is clearly working, with the resort scoring great feedback from customers of Travel 2.
Product manager Michael Creighton says: “It has one of the finest spas on the island and offers so much more than just a regular spa experience, including a 30-minute consultation to ensure guests get the correct treatments, plus wellness, yoga and fitness consultations, and a 30-minute lifestyle recommendation session. My other favourites are the personalised yoga and meditation, which are tailor-made to suit each guest’s needs.”
This individual attention is even more important for mothers-to-be, who are likely to scrutinise any spa treatments or activities even more closely. With those needs in mind, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has introduced a six-day baby-moon package, combining a salt foot scrub, facial and pregnancy massages, with aqua yoga and a private yoga and breathing class (costing £413 per couple).
News from the Indian Ocean
Sri Lanka’s latest design resort, Tri, is due to open this autumn, with 10 suites arranged in a spiral design. Set next to Lake Koggala in the southwest of the island, the sustainable resort will also feature living walls, solar panels and recycled wood.
Pullman Hotels & Resorts has been appointed to manage a resort being built in the Maldives’ Gaafu Alifu Atoll. The 120-villa Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort (pictured below), which is due to open in 2018, will feature 80 over-water villas, 40 beach villas and a water sports centre.
Lux Resorts & Hotels has agreed a contract to manage two new resorts on Réunion island. Construction has already started on the first, a five-star 82-villa property in Saint-Philippe, set to open next year.
Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa on Dhonakulhi Island in the north of the Maldives has reopened following a $50 million renovation of the island. Thrice-daily seaplane transfers have also started running from Malé, with return fares starting at $650 for adults and $325 for children.
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa has introduced four guided walks through the wilderness on Silhouette Island. They range from an easy family trail to a turtle-nesting site to a challenging six-hour hike through the national park interior.
Gold Medal offers seven nights’ all-inclusive in a beach villa at the five-star Constance Moofushi Resort, in the Maldives, from £2,899 in June, including Turkish Airlines flights from Gatwick.
Travel 2 offers a week’s B&B at the five-star Shanti Maurice in Mauritius from £1,829 until mid-July. The price includes flights from London, accommodation in a junior ocean-view suite and private transfers.
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