In the name of beauty

If you think Tibet and the Saxon hotel in Sandhurst, Johannesburg, are as far apart geographically and spiritually as one can get, you probably have not tried out the Tibetan sound therapy treatment available at the Saxon’s spa.

Sound therapist Tamarin Young explains: “It’s a combination of Tibetan gongs, singing bowls and bells and works on your vibrational energy. We place the bowls on various chakra points and then start playing. The sound resonates with whatever is going on physically, mentally and spiritually with the client.”

Young points out that the vibration penetrates deep into the cells, speeding up cell rejuvenation and improving circulation.
“It’s soothing and relaxing, but it does get pretty loud,” she says.

The East has inspired many local spas. The Rachawadee Thai Spa in Houghton and the Kai Tai spa in Ferndale offer authentic Thai massage and spa treatments (although speaking to anyone in coherent English can be a challenge). You will, however, battle to find a heftier local lass willing to walk on your back in true Thai massage style.

One theme that has taken off at local spas and in the international arena is the food influence.

The Kievits Kroon Country Estate and Spa outside Pretoria offers a coffee and mineral body scrub, a chocolate facial and a ginger and mango body butter rub-down. Spa manager Yolandi Pretorius says that while coffee may not be the best thing to drink, it is excellent for detoxifying the skin. She points out that they don’t use your average garden variety of coffee. Their blend is imported from Cuba and mixed with mineral salts from the Dead Sea.

Another highlight for clients is the Bernard Cassiere chocolate facial. “The great thing about this treatment is that the chocolate is edible. Toner is applied first, and it smells just like Turkish delight, then a fondue-like mask (made from cocoa) is applied. Clients are encouraged to lick the chocolate off.” Apparently the benefits are numerous and, apart from the sugar rush, chocolate has rejuvenating and revitalising effects.

Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa offer up a fizzing chocolate mousse wrap, but therapist Tracey Wessels says licking it off your body is not advised. After the wrap a refreshing mint lotion is applied, leaving one feeling a bit like a Peppermint Crisp in “the nicest possible way”, says Wessels.

Another grocery store-inspired treatment at Cybele is the green tea wrap. “This treatment is used especially if your skin looks dull and dry. We do a granular or salt scrub, apply a liquid algae and then the green tea wrap. It gets really warm for a full 20 minutes, which we are told equals eight hours of sleep for the body—it’s hugely detoxifying and nourishing,” says Wessels.

She advises spa lovers to look out for a new treatment soon to be introduced at Cybele: a massage using bamboo sticks to get circulation going and rejuvenate the skin.

The Fordoun Spa in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands would agree that a good “beating” does wonders for the circulation. Its unique treatment is called the nduku nduku massage and uses traditional Zulu knobkierries to ensure you get lots of pressure and a deep massage. And it is good for you, according to Fordoun general manager Richard Bates.

A number of unique treatments available at Fordoun have been inspired by local sangoma Elliot Ndlovu. “He’s a sangoma/inyanga and is a specialist in indigenous plants. He started a range of indigenous creams with us using local products such as African potato, Artemesia and wild dagga,” says Bates. Other treatments include an inkomfe (African potato) herbal wrap, a rasul clay and steam treatment or a royal Zulu bath.

Ndlovu has two treatment rooms at the nearby Zulu centre so, after your treatments, you can go for a consultation or bone-throwing session with the doctor.

A local trend to look out for is treatments inspired by vinotherapy. The Rosendal Winery and Wellness Retreat in Robertson is one of many spas that have cottoned on to the use of wine in rejuvenating the body, mind and soul. Rosendal’s wine package includes a grape seed body exfoliation, a theravine shower and a wine relaxation body cream, followed by a complimentary bottle of wine to enjoy as the sun goes down.

Bizarre spa treatments

Sea whisperer: This treatment at the Sandton Sun Spa is a sequence of Eastern treatments that reduces your body to butter in minutes (011 780 5000).

Moya crystal massage: On offer at the Twelve Apostles Sanctuary Spa, Cape Town, in a hillside gazebo with a sweeping view of the ocean (021 437 9000).

Sweet cheeks derriere facial: According to, this is an option at the Euphoria Spa in Detroit. Alternatively you could opt for the caviar spa pedicure at the Spa Newbury in Boston.

Beer spa bath: The Chodovar family brewery in the Czech Republic offers to immerse clients in a bath that is “enriched by a batch of active beer yeast and a mixture of dehydrated crushed herbs”. The herbs purify the body and the beer softens the skin.

Nightingale dropping facial: In an article on, journalist Julie Keller discovers this unique facial at Diamond Hawaii Resort and Spa, Maui.

Doggy spas: All the rage in New York City, these spas offer reiki and acupressure for pooches at places such as the Ritzy Canine and Doggie-do. Or take your hound for a day of pampering at Manhattan’s Biscuits and Bath (—Denise Slabbert

The details

The Saxon: 011 292 6000 or,

Rosendal Winery and Wellness Retreat: 023 626 1570 or

Fordoun Spa: 033 266 6217 or

Kievits Kroon Country Estate and Spa: 012 808 0150 or

Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa:

Rachawadee Thai Spa: 011 646 1044 or

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