My Incredible Spa Journey
Saturday, 07 June 2012
The Incredible Spa Journey
by Genevra Fletcher
Forget 19. That nagging, hectoring voice in my head is going at me 91 to the dozen. I’m rushing to make my appointment at the Scarlet Spa for a relaxing four-hour spa journey, but all I can focus on is the sound of the synapses in my brain as they snap, crackle and pop with connections, to dos, regrets and remembers.
Hate late. Four hours for a spa treatment? Too long to leave twins with mum. Guilty. Washing. Peanut butter. Thank you cards.
It seems I have a case of Reverse L’Oreal Syndrome…because I’m NOT worth it.
Taking the stairs two at a time, I arrive at the bottom where the hushed hallows of the Scarlet Spa bring me to an abrupt halt.
The synapses are still snapping, but soon I hear the spa talking too.
First the low lights and muted tones begin to murmur. Then music and incense waft into my consciousness as therapists in fetching Hong Kong Phooey outfits wander by, each with their own serene grace and gentle smile.
I’ve crossed the border into Scarlet Spa world and it really is another country down here.
Sinking into the squishy waiting room sofa, I fill in my ‘What’s Your Dosha Type?’ questionnaire and drink in the vista before me: a view of the spa pool with its turquoise waters rippling towards a glass wall, then outside to the reed-filtered natural pool. From there, two scarlet red hot tubs catch my eye and lead me to the sea beyond.
The jaw dropping view of the indoor pool, with the outdoor pool and sea beyond.
Yes, the architecture of the spa is really talking to me now (call the men in white coats). I hear it clearly. It’s saying: “Calm. Down.”
Soon lovely Liz – spa therapist guide for my four-hour epic Journey - ushers me into a darkened room to discuss my dosha type.
Gently, deftly, with just the right injection of humour, Liz asks me all about myself. Bizarre…I’m not used to this sort of treatment. As a working single mummy of four-year-old twins, I don’t get out much, most of my conversations revolve around Cinderella and farting, and people rarely - very rarely - ask about me.
Frankly, the consultation just gets weirder. Liz does not ask me to play the glass slipper game (just one more time mummy, PLEASE!). Nor does she tell me that she needs a poo, or that I am a stinky poo, or that I have a stinky poo face - though admittedly the dosha questionnaire does include a section on bowel movements.
No. Liz eschews poo and instead asks me about me. As I said, very odd. Bit uncomfortable to be honest. I find myself saying ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ a lot - sorry for sneezing, sorry for not understanding a question, in general sorry for existing. Alarmed by this outbreak of Sorryitis and Obsessive Compulsive Thank You Disorder (OCTYD), I try to turn the tables back to my default setting: “Umm, so Liz, this must be quite intense eh? Hard work? Being a spa therapist?”
Liz is having none of it. Oh hell, this is about me.
She ushers me to my changing room and gives me simple, clear instructions as to what I need to take off (everything bar the bra, removal of which is optional) and what I need to put on (lovely organic cotton taupe dressing gown and fetching paper pants). I’m relieved to be given clear guidance on the clothes-removal issue. I still have nightmares about my first day at infant school. When the teacher told us to get undressed for PE one unfortunate girl took everything off – knickers and all – and never lived it down.
One of the tented treatment rooms.
I stretch my sandpaper body out on the heated hamman table acutely aware of my parched, neglected skin, but before long the spa’s alchemy has begun.
Soon, I am inhabiting one of my favourite paintings. I am one of Ingres’ odalisques. As Liz gets to work with a salt scrub then slathers me in mineral rich mud I become a bather in one of his opulent Turkish bath scenes.
Ingres' Valpicon Bather, aka me, and some of his Turkish bathers for good measure.
In the warm half-light of the hamman, I feel beautiful for the first time in far too long.
Next, she guides me through a gentle meditation. All the while my Vata dosha screams resistance in my ear: “You don’t have time for this and you’re so NOT worth it’.
Meanwhile, lying face down on the treatment couch has started a river of snot pouring from my nose. Embarrassed by my nasal Niagra, which by now is cascading onto the couch, it takes me a while to pluck up the courage to ask for a tissue.
There’s something about the deft way Liz produces the box, then covers her hand with a clean hanky and safely encloses my germy one with it that makes me feel at ease again. Liz has clearly dealt with runny noses and worse before, the couch has a towel protecting it and I realize there’s no need for me to feel uncomfortable.
After a meditation session guided by Liz ("Get on with it!" screams the Vata in me), I’m left for 10 minutes to lounge decadently in the Light Relax room looking out to sea, pop grapes in my mouth and feel as though life couldn’t get much better.
The marvellous Light Relax Room.
Until, of course, Liz comes to collect me for the next stage of my journey and I manage to kick over my fruit platter, shattering both it and the silence. Liz just grins.
She leads me into a darkened room filled with six swinging pods suspended from the ceiling. Here I am supposed to absorb the benefits of my treatment. I clamber in and immediately feel at sea in a curricle on a dark night, empty sea around me, star lit sky above. My pod swings forward and back, then round a bit until a pair of feet come into view.
The swinging pods.
It takes a moment for my blissed out brain to compute; when it does I want to giggle. The feet are sticking out of an adjacent pod. Suddenly I am a sextuplet, suspended in my amniotic sac. The pod keeps on swinging and occasionally I see a sibling drift in and out of view.
Alone in my pod I feel a slight sense of shame for not taking better care of myself, for sweeping along on a tsunami surge of manic adrenalin leaving devastation and broken plates in my wake.
That night, I go to bed in my hotel room overlooking the beach with the sound of the sea lapping at my ears. I fall into a fathomless sleep undisturbed by dreams and wake to find my body has drunk a deep draught of Lethe.
In the morning, the voices are still there, but they’re quieter, calmer, more reassuring.
They are telling me that I’m cured – cured of my Sorryitis and my OCTYD, and my incredible Journey has even successfully reversed my reverse L’Oreal syndrome.
It seems I am worth it after all.
Did I say thanks Liz? Sorry. Thank you2.
Comments: add new
Know just how you feel .... I was lucky to be treated to the wonders of the Scarlet and its amazing spa for my 40th birthday in Feb. The voices did their best to keep me in mummy mode, but they were swept away by the staff, amazing treatments, fabulous food.
Katharyn Ashworth , 07/06/2012 17:06:51
Lovely. :-) x
Sara, 07/06/2012 16:53:15