WHAT'S IT LIKE? This slice of Thailand with its graceful wai from the male receptionist was a real treat after coming in from the bitter chill of the unexpected cold front holding all of China hostage at the time of our visit to Guangzhou.
An offshoot of the acclaimed Banyan Tree spa chain, the Angsana (a large statuesque tree) brand is growing nicely on its own, with presence not only in Asia but the Middle East and South Africa as well.
While my details were being taken down, I was offered a steaming cup of ginger tea. Shortly, my therapist appeared – a petite lady who introduced herself as “Tam”. She led me through a corridor to my treatment room labelled “Cinnamon”.
HOUSE SPECIALTY: Living with pain in my neck and lower back due to long hours at the desk, I go for a hot stone therapy whenever it is offered, and it was there on the menu as Ayurvedic Hot Stone.
After the preliminary foot bath, Khun Tam asked me to lie face up on the massage bed, proceeding to tuck in the heated basalt stones under my upper hip. Unfortunately, she had to terminate the treatment when I soon complained of itchiness, then unbearable tingling. Saying that perhaps my body condition for the day was not suitable for this particular therapy, Khun Tam convinced me to opt for the signature Angsana, where she would use a combination of palm strokes and thumb pressure on key points, aided by euphoria oil to revitalise my inner self.
PRICE: The 120-minute Angsana session is priced at CNY900 (US$126). Same for the hot stone.
VERDICT: Today’s generation of spas are simply awesome in design and for the investment pumped into training and new techniques and products. Intense competition has made many of these facilities indistinguishable. But it’s professionals like Khun Tam (an eight-year veteran of the Banyan Tree Group) who elevate mere massage to a healing art. Under her confident and compassionate hands, my pains went away for a welcome while.
Taking note of my problem areas, she suggested some helpful daily exercises I could perform and therapies I could request in the future. I hope in the next Angsana or Banyan Tree Spa I visit, there will be someone of Khun Tam’s calibre to take care of me.
CONTACT: The Garden Hotel, 368 Hanshi Dong Lu, Guangzhou 510064, China, tel 86 20 8333 8989, www.angsanaspa.com
Margie T Logarta