When we were in Bintan last July, I had the opportunity to have the most relaxing massage ever at Angsana Bintan’s Mandara Spa. It was called a fusion massage, which is a cross between Swedish massage (which focuses on pressure points) and Thai massage (which involves some stretching and pulling). The thought of all the pressing and pulling scared me at first but I was proved wrong in the end.
|Mandara Spa entrance||Courtyard inside spa||Entrance to cabana|
Click each photo to see a larger image. All photos taken with a Nokia N82.
First off, the ambience was like no other. The spa had lots of greenery, wood and rocks — definitely very Bali. Upon our arrival, we were given cool cucumber-and-lemon drinks to sip on, while the staff explained to us how long the massage would take and what to expect. We were then led to the cabanas on the rooftops, where we would have our massage. Take note that the cabanas are like tents with no walls, so if you’re the shy type (or perhaps, paranoid like me), you can ask the staff to let down the white muslin curtains, which still allow some light to penetrate the fabric but keep away prying eyes.
There were two beds in our cabana (I was with a friend), a shower and a changing room. They provided slippers and sarongs. Disposable panties were also available, free of charge. We had to remove all our clothes except for our undies and slip into our respective sarongs.
Before the massage started, we were shown the massage oil for our particular type of massage — ‘Invigorating’, which contains extract of lemon grass. Very light, very invigorating.
We were then asked to lie down on the bed, face down. The bed had a special hole for your face so that you won’t feel smothered. The pillow surrounding the hole was delicately scented with lavender and as you look down, there’s a round, wide vase filled with flowers underneath.
My masseuse, Dewi, asked me if I wanted the fan strong, moderate or light. I asked her to just turn it off. She then asked me if I wanted the pressure to be strong, moderate or light. I thought to myself — macam kipas pulak! (just like the fan!) — but told her to start moderate then we adjust from there. Once we got the pressure right, she somehow managed to maintain it all throughout the massage.
Dewi with the gentle smile, soft voice and magic hands
I think I drifted off to la-la land at certain points of the 90-minute massage (actually 60 minutes long, with 30 minutes ‘quiet time’) but kept waking up because there was a time when Dewi asked me to hold her arms while she lifted me up as I was lying on my tummy, then asked me to turn over at another time. Not that I minded. I was like putty in her expert hands. She pressed, pulled, kneaded, paid special attention to the knots in my upper back until I was completely relaxed.
And remember the sarong earlier? Dewi took it off before we started the massage and deftly covered me with a blanket with her eyes averted discreetly. (Now you know why I insisted on the curtains.) I was, therefore, covered with a blanket the whole time, albeit a thin one, and she’d uncover one portion of my body at a time, to reveal the area that she’d work her magic on. And when she’s done with my right leg, for instance, she’d cover it up, and only then would she uncover my left leg.
What surprised me the most was Dewi’s gentleness, despite her strength when asked to increase the pressure of the massage. Because whenever she’d lift the blanket, she did so with hardly a sound. It felt almost like the wind!
By the time the massage was over, I reluctantly changed back to my clothes and sank to my seat which faced the ocean, sipping on a warm glass of ginger drink (untuk buang angin, Dewi murmured softly — to get rid of the extra wind in my body) . I felt so relaxed that my arms and legs felt like jelly and I couldn’t walk properly (seriously!).
The only downside? Definitely the prices, which were all in US Dollars. The blow was softened, however, by my friend’s membership card, which gave us a 20% discount. But the massage was still expensive, even after the discount — some USD60 per person.
The spa also offered facial treatments — no acne treatments, just the normal, ‘maintenance’ type of facials. Oh, how I longed to have a facial as it’s been months since I had one. Unfortunately, they were fully booked until the following weekend (!) and we were scheduled to leave that evening. In hindsight, I guess it was for the better that I didn’t manage to get a slot for a facial, given how expensive the treatments were.