WE VISITED SOME OF THE BEST SPAS IN THE COUNTRY TO CREATE A GO-TO GUIDE FOR GETTING OVER THE MID-YEAR SLUMP
ZANELE KUMALO, SPA VETERAN Karkloof Spa, Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal.
WHAT TO PACK Walking shoes, camera (there s a pair of binoculars in each villa for your use), two bikinis or swimsuits (you ll need a dry one to slip into when you return to the spa for your next session of treatments after a break) and sweats (for bamboo dancing/tai chi/yoga classes).
WHAT S ON OFFER Karkloof specializes in absolute comfort and doing things in your own time, at your own pace. There s a chauffeur service-they ll pick you up from your house, drop you off at the airport, then collect you after your flight to take you to the spa and back again. As we drove into the lush property (3 500 hectares of deep-green bush) towards the luxury boutique lodge hidden in the rolling hills we had our first unscheduled game drive. You ll see wildlife everywhere (zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, black and white rhino, hippo, giraffe, leopard and antelope). The nyala and warthogs come right up to your villa doorstep. I arrived at lunchtime and after a hearty salad and lemon pudding, I was told that I could go through to the spa-any time between 9am and 8pm (no need to book a slot)-as often as I wanted and pick any treatments I wished.
I decided to take advantage of some of the other activities on offer, though, like exploring the waterfall and experiencing bamboo dancing (extreme yoga-using a bamboo stick for stretching-with my own personal Thai trainer). I also took time to just do nothing, not having to be anywhere.
I still had plenty of time to indulge in lots of treatments though-a honey-and-melon facial, a body scrub, where my skin was exfoliated with yoghurt and coarsely flaked coconut, a sauna detox, Kneipp pool therapy (where you alternate between heated and icy dips), a Thai poultice massage, where my tension was kneaded away, and a full mani and pedi to sort out my winter feet and hands. Because the other guests were all busy doing their own thing, I hardly bumped into anyone else, so the lodge and spa started to feel like my own private space.
HIGHLIGHTS The early check-in (8am) and late check-out (8pm) means you technically get 36 hours for a night s stay. An attendant or butler is assigned to your villa-just call whenever you want to go mountain biking, fishing, for a game drive or on a hike. There are no set times for anything and the price of the room covers everything-activities, spa treatments, dining, wining (except the French Champagne) and snacking (a mini bar is stocked with your personal preferences).
The setting is so peaceful, everything is so well taken care of, and the staff-from attendants to therapists-are so highly skilled in making sure you de-stress, that you ll return home feeling weightless.
COST R9 000 per person per night.
CONTACT 033-569-1321, Karkloofspa.com
LUXE LOUNGING BEST CITY VIEWS
JESSICA OLIVER, SPA JUNKIE Amani Africa Spa, Radisson Blu Sandton, Gauteng
WHAT TO PACK A bikini for the wet areas.
WHAT S ON OFFER The relaxation room offers unparalleled views of Sandton. I could have used the steam or sauna room but chose to admire the panorama while lazing on one of the loungers positioned around a heated vitality pool. Next door is the hydro retreat, where you can use heat, ice, steam, water, Vichy showers or colour for therapies. There is also a new hair salon and nail bar. I indulged in the signature holistic Kurhula Body Ritual (R890)-90 minutes of a relaxing full-body massage, a revitalizing mini facial with gentle, non-oily Babor products (perfect for my extra-sensitive skin, which is prone to breakouts), and a near-coma-inducing oil scalp massage.
Next was the 40-minute Salt Therapy (R300). It s Africa s first therapeutic salt room with comfortable beds in a hypo-bacterial and allergen-free space, with gentle music playing. The ground is covered in sand and the walls with ionized salt. Salt therapy is used to treat many ailments and allergies like respiratory and dermatological problems. I sat back, relaxed and inhaled.
HIGHLIGHTS My legs, arms, hands, back and neck were pushed and pulled, the knots worked out, my circulation kick-started and my skin totally elasticized. After my treatment, my masseuse gave me a full analysis of my body —explaining which areas are more tense and why, where my circulation is poor, and how to remedy it all.
CONTACT 011-245-8088, Amanispas.co.za
SEASIDE ESCAPE: BEST OCEAN VIEWS
MELISSA ATTRIDGE, SPA regular
12 Apostles, Cape Town, Western Cape
WHAT TO PACK A swimsuit so you can use the heated outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, indoor plunge pools and salt-water flotation pool.
WHAT S ON OFFER Recently renovated, the previously dark and cave-like interior has been replaced with a new-look spa decorated in light and white tones. While I do try and make a point of going for a monthly facial, I donoften spend any length of time at a spa, so one of their signature treatments, the ? Harmonised Massage (R760), was an indulgence. Designed to remove stress and align your mind and body, the 60-minute foot, back and head massage incorporates hot stones and is the ultimate stress reliever. The ? Africa range is an exclusive selection of products and spa treatments prepared by blending African plant extracts (such as marula oil, Cape aloe, avocado butter and rooibos) and West Coast sea salts, using ecofriendly production techniques.
Other signature treatments include The Sunset Mountain Serenade —this includes a Champagne picnic, a foot bathing and massage ritual and a 90-minute massage in the outdoor spa gazebo —as well as the Traditional Arabic Ritual —a skin-smoothing treatment that blends mineral-rich mud, steam and heat in the spaindoor Rasul chamber.
HIGHLIGHT You donhave to rush home after your treatment —clear your diary and spend some time in the tranquillity lounge reading a book, or snack on some fresh fruit and muffins at the health bar. Even better, make a day of it with friends, and enjoy lunch on the terrace before indulging in the treatments. The 12 Apostles is known for its incredible sea view, so make sure you spend some time in the outside area.
KELLY FUNG, SPA NOVICE Saxon Spa and Studio, Sandton, Gauteng
WHAT TO PACK Your swimsuit! The spa has a fantastic range of hydro-facilities.
WHAT S ON OFFER It s a true nature in the city experience. The spa covers the full range of treatments from basic waxing and tanning to skin-specific facials, body wraps and several types of massages; but what sets The Saxon apart is its signature therapies and full-day spa packages. Their sound therapy is a treatment based on the use of ancient instruments like Tibetan singing bowls, cymbals and bells. The vibrations of the instruments are said to balance the body s energy centres.
HIGHLIGHT The Sensory Spa and Tasting Evening package begins in the afternoon with two hours of pampering —a lime and ginger salt exfoliating body scrub, a mini facial and hot-stone massage. Then, to invigorate my taste senses, I tried out the tasting menu at the renowned Saxon restaurant —a seven-course feast paired with its fine wines. There is simply no better way to relax and enjoy some time-out than with this combination of body and gastronomic indulgence.
COST R2 550
CONTACT 011-292-6000, Thesaxon.com
RETRO PAMPERING: FIFTIES FUN
NICCI COLLIER, SPA FUNDI Petticoat Parlour, Cape Town, Western Cape
WHAT TO PACK Your toiletries and a towel for a shower if afterwards you re planning to head back to work, to Green Point-institution Giovannis (below the spa) or to the nearby Waterfront. And don t forget the post-pedicure rule: no socks or closed shoes; flip-flops or sandals only.
WHAT S ON OFFER This day spa specializes in facials. Owner —and former model —Wendy Chait selects top therapists and brands (like Nimue, Dermalogica and Guinot) to remedy everything from dehydrated skin to hyper-pigmentation.
I tried the Dermalogica basic customized treatment (R460, one hour) which targets individual zones of the face. In my case, this meant a clay-based mask for oily areas and hydrating treatment for the rest, plus a helpful in-depth analysis of my skin. Also on the menu is everything from chemibrasion (R1 050) for hyperpigmentation to collagen-stimulating micro-needling (R4 500 for six sessions).
While my facial was on the go, I had a mini manicure and pedicure done, leaving me feeling truly pampered and preened. My pick of the day though was the Swedish massage (R400, one hour), which was administered by strong, skilful hands —like knot-detecting devices. Highly recommended.
HIGHLIGHT The retro-look spa transports you to an era of sweet simplicity, with a candy-striped, diner-style counter where you can order milk shakes, cupcakes, lollipops and lemonade. A long, sorbet-pink pedicure couch is perfect for a galley of girlfriends to indulge in a soak-and-paint, or book an appointment with a make-up artist to learn some DIY techniques. While the decor is tongue-in-cheek fun, the products and treatments in the airy, white-on-white treatment rooms mean serious business for harassed skin and bodies. The great results after an afternoon package were proof enough.
CONTACT 021-434-9484, Petticoatparlour.co.za
YOULOOKING FOR ME-TIME BUT WANT TO TAKE THE FAMILY:
Shelley Point is a family-friendly beach escape where mom can indulge in a few treatments while dad plays golf and child minders play with the kids. 022-742-1508, Shelleypointhotel.co.za YOULOOKING FOR A POSTSHOPPING PAMPERING: Urban Beauty Anti-Aging Spa, with a private gym, has opened at the V&A Waterfront s Queen Victoria Hotel. This is the perfect spot to unwind and rejuvenate body and spirit. 021-425-2080, Urbanbeauty.co.za
DONNA JOHNSON, SPA
The Arabella Hotel and Spa, Hermanus, Western Cape
WHAT TO PACK Golf clubs —the Arabella has what s considered to be one of the top golf courses in South Africa and the best in the Western Cape. Bring a swimsuit or bikini to enjoy the pools.
WHAT S ON OFFER I had the signature spa therapy —The African Rainforest Experience (R450) —a two-hour 15-step treatment that uses alternating hot-and cold-water showers, a salt body scrub, a body mask (I opted for chocolate), eucalyptus-scented steam, aromatherapy sauna and reflexology foot baths. The alternating temperatures are highly rejuvenating and re-energizing. I then had a one-hour Swedish massage (R590), which released all my knots of stress as the soothing aromas of the oils and the sounds of soft background music put me to sleep. My boyfriend also tried out the Swedish massage and the cleansing facial for men (R490). It was a treat to spend time together while relaxing and then share details after our separate treatments.
HIGHLIGHT Our hotel suite looked out over beautiful surrounds and the lake below, so we zoned out from the minute we checked in.
CONTACT 028-284-0036, Arabellahotelandspa.com