Spas are looking to ancient cultures and their healing methods to introduce precious stones and pearls to their treatments. KAREN FONG takes some time out for a little gilt-edged indulgence

EMPRESS CIXI OF CHINA famously used jade rollers to preserve her youth. The cold stone was said to have a rejuvenating effect on her skin, tightening it and soothing the stress lines that must have come with being a notoriously bloodthirsty ruler. But today, one need not be an empress to feel the benefits of jade: the treatment is available at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong.
Using stones in spas is no new thing, but today’s quest for unique luxury experiences has taken things up a notch from the conventional hot lava-stone massage. Jade, amber, onyx or rose quartz have all found a place on treatment menus. “I like the use of jade in our treatments,” says Lucia Cunha, director of Spa and Fitness at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, “ because it’s a non-invasive instrument that still maintains the touch aspect between the therapist and the customer.”
Other precious stones have also found their place in the spa. Diamonds are popular in microdermabrasion treatments, where exfoliation is done by means of a blast of diamond particles. The oceans also provide ingredients for those looking for a smoother complexion: caviar, known for its moisturising and enriching properties, features in many skincare products, while pearls are said to moisturise the skin and reduce wrinkles.
What’s more, these precious materials offer benefits that go some way beyond the superficial. Rose quartz, for example, is believed to have healing properties. “It brings balance to the body, balancing the chakras and drawing out negative energy,” says Paola Perin, director of Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Singapore, which uses the mineral in a number of treatments. “Rose quartz is effective in releasing energy, but at the same time its vibe is also calming and soothing, aiding in balancing emotions and reducing stress,” she adds.
In Chinese culture jade is believed to enhance mental facilities and clear the body of toxins. Gold, meanwhile, famed for its rejuvenating abilities, is an antioxidant and also stimulates blood circulation. Says InterContinental Hong Kong’s I-Spa Director Yee Man Timm, “Today, alternative healers all over the world are using healing stones with naturalenergy therapies. Gemstones are ideal for spiritual, emotional and physical healing.”
Designed to restore the mind and body, the Jade Qi Yun signature treatment begins with a back scrub and massage to target shoulder, neck and back pain, lulling you into a soothed state. Next is a rejuvenating facial, during which attentive therapists ensure skin is rehydrated, smoothed and softened with a combination of Espa products, an exfoliation and facial massage, as well as a soothing scalp massage. Designed specifically for the hotel, the Espa treatment takes inspiration from Chinese traditions and ends with a flourish as therapists use jade rollers on the face to cool and soothe the skin. The coolness of the stone firms the skin, improves the complexion and gives skin a more youthful appearance.
Taking its cue from Hong Kong’s popular moniker, the Pearl of the Orient treatment at the InterContinental’s I-Spa is two hours of bliss, a pampering ritual that clears and nourishes skin with a body pearl scrub and nourishing pearl emulsion. “The use of pearl powder will help to reduce the appearance of scars, fine lines and wrinkles. It also creates more radiant skin, helps to heal acne, and accelerates the skin’s rejuvenation process,” explains the spa’s Yee Man Timm. The treatment continues with a cocoon of warm wax to ease tired muscles. The end effect is glowing, healthy skin. The treatment, Timm adds, is perfect for mothers-to-be.
Sheraton Macao’s Shine Spa, the latest edition to Macau’s spa scene, is staying true to its name by introducing the Harmonizing Massage using 24k-gold massage oil. All treatments on this extensive and well-thoughtout menu are divided into the five Chinese elements of wood, water, fire, metal and earth. Coming under the Metal section, designed to boost immunity and to achieve equilibrium and tranquillity, the massage soothes while it heals as the gold harmonises energy imbalances and releases blockages and the essential oil of basil relieves coughs and improves breathing. Gold flecks are visible in the oil but do not affect the appearance of the skin beyond giving it a rejuvenating glow.
Singapore’s Fairmont Willow Stream Spa offers a oneand-a-half-hour exotic experience that blends the islandstate’s diverse cultures into the Pure Ener.g treatment designed to stimulate and refresh the body. A blend of essential oils is used in a refreshing footbath, followed by a full-body scrub using re-mineralising salts. Then a blend of bergamot, rose geranium, clary sage and chamomile is used in a body massage that is both nourishing and moisturising. At the end of the treatment, following a head massage, a single rose stone is placed on the forehead right on the “third eye” to draw out impurities.


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