Asiaspa has become a globel phenomenon only in the last few years. Spas and health retreats however are centuries older and were originally places where people went to rest and bathe in water believed to possess curative properties. Gradually, other treatments were introduced – osteopathy, nutritional guidance and manual physiotherapy techniques, among others – most of them performed within the strictest of medical guidelines and combined with harsh, unappetising dietary routines that were vigorously prescribed along with plenty of fresh air and rest.
Asiaspas today have taken a different turn – more indulgent, cosseting and appetising, but no less therapeutic. The premise is the same – helping people look and feel better – but today’s spa perpetrators have captured the time-tested secrets of health and wellness, and combined them with scientifically tested ingredients and techniques. From the opulence and luxury of Roman baths with their marble and mosaics, and the atmospheric hammam of the Ottoman Empire, to the traditions of some of the oldest medical philosophies on earth from ancient Persia, China and India, these time honoured rituals are usually complemented by lavish surroundings. Add to this treatments originating from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand among others, combined with contemporary techniques, and the result is Asian spa culture as we know it today.
Asiaspas have something for everybody – those in need of serious exercise, detox, an energy boost or those searching for pure unadulterated pampering. As we begin to appreciate that listening to the voice within may be the answer to many health crises of the day, more and more spas now offer a spiritual dimension too – with yoga in its many guises, meditation, tai chi and a host of other spiritually grounded therapies and activities. This all-inclusive prescription that treats both body and mind is preventive medicine at its best and is at the core of enduring Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda philosophies.
So grounded in the spa experience is the healing touch of massage that many spas only offer a specialised menu of massages. No mystery surrounds the potential of massage, as the simple power of touch through kneading, stroking, pressing, rubbing and gliding hands has proven to unleash countless benefits – from easing stress and tension, to lowering blood pressure and helping to energise under stimulated children. Besides this, the pure pleasure associated with the soothing effects of massage is therapy in itself as touch calms and restores body, mind and spirit.
Asiaspas can be fun too. Some are sexy, chic and a sybarite’s paradise of soft lights, scented candles, sarongs and guilt-free cuisine overflowing with nature’s vibrant goodness. Spa Cuisine is a hot item in the spa scene now, with deliciously nourishing meals ready to be enjoyed in soothing environments. Some Spas even have cooking schools that provide lessons on how to recreate healthy dishes to guests who would like to continue this lifestyle in the home.
Today’s spa-goers are more discerning, and their quest for quality spa products is becoming as important as the actual treatments available. A freshly blended body scrub of lime, pineapple, mango and coconut with a dash of cinnamon oil, hand prepared in the spa’s apothecary kitchen, is not uncommon, especially in many of the exotic spas dotting the Maldives. Heightened knowledge and environmental awareness are influencing operators to create their own products using nature’s rich bounty. Organic, bio friendly, pure, natural, ethical – call them what you will – but it boils down to indisputable product integrity. And this mindset has become a growing trend among luxury hotels and resorts that are creating unique, evocative product blends which resonate with their spa philosophy and incorporate tangible wellness benefits.
Those seeking more medically based prescriptions can choose from the growing number of medispas that are popping up in both busy cities and on untouched islands. This model of ‘medical tourism’ where people travel to spas expressly for aesthetic or medical procedures is one of the latest trends in the development of the modern spa. From cutting edge dermatological surgery and wellness diagnostics to dedicated destination dental clinics, the fusion of spa and all its luxurious trimmings with clinical medicine is one of the recent Spa Trends destined for further growth.
In addition, the huge spa melting pot comprising the professionals – namely the masseurs, facialists, manicurists, crystal healers, yoga guru, naturopaths, doctors, acupuncturists and other specialists – as well as traditions, ingredients and therapies are united in their goal of helping people feel and live better. It is precisely this need for people to improve their lives and to escape the stresses of their everyday lives that accounts for the growth in spas.
Asia is the cradle of some of the world’s oldest civilisations, a collection of deep and varied cultures with probably the richest spa knowledge on the planet. Deepen your appreciation of Asia spa culture, learn about its roots in traditional healing systems and discover the rich offerings and truly unmatched therapies from China, the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.