East Meets East

Hong Kong's Penninsula Spa by ESPA Indoor Pool
Guests are invited to lounge away the day in the gorgeous indoor pool

Open since May 2006, the spa, occupying a former beauty salon and office space, feels both sumptuous and earthy, as if a five-star palace of pampering has arisen in the middle of a bamboo forest. “Bamboo is a symbol of endurance,” says Sharon Codner, the Peninsula’s regional spa director. “It brings luck and success with its rapid growth rate, strength and fortitude.”

As such, the core design features bamboo plants and antique bamboo flooring in a nod to feng shui principles. The spa lobby boasts Ming-style chairs and tables, a glass wall graced by swaying bamboo, a stark rock garden and, most strikingly, a semicircular waterfall sculpture that envelops guests in the soothing sounds of rainfall.

The spa’s treatment philosophy is a fusion of Oriental and ayurvedic influences, evidenced in menu options such as the Holistic Massage (60 min./about $125; 90 min./$175), which includes a fresh ginger foot buff (for “spiritual grounding”); followed by a salt-and-oil body scrub; and then hot volcanic lava stones placed on the client’s chakra points (“to clear blocked energy”). The service is topped off with four-handed, synchronized body work performed by two therapists.

Ancient Indian healing principles are also menu staples. “Many travelers,” Codner says, “are already aware of their own doshas”—ayurvedic mind/body types—”so we offer dosha-specific treatments to make it easier for guests to choose.” While the spa does not have an ayurvedic doctor on staff, all of its 15 full-time therapists have been trained to determine doshas and advise on suitable treatments. (Hailing from across Asia, including the Philippines and Nepal, they’ve also had extensive training in anatomy, physiology and esthetics and receive refresher training throughout the year.)