Mon, 30 Jun 2003

Giving time-out for the body, mind and soul

Debbie A. Lubis Contributor Jakarta

A soothing scent from an aromatherapy oil, coupled with relaxing massage and soft music almost made Dea, 29, fall asleep during her two-hour spa treatment at Griya Natura, one of the mushrooming spa centers in Jakarta.

For Dea, spa treatments have become a part of her routine and a necessary ritual to perform on the weekend to maintain her physical and mental health and to relieve her of stress.

"Besides, I also give a boost to my appearance since I feel fresh and relaxed after a treatment," she said.

Nowadays, savvy spa guests can choose from a vast array of menu items with various prices. Many spa centers offer a combination of eastern and western therapeutic techniques with prices ranging from Rp 100,000 (about US$11.75) to Rp 1.5 million for treatments lasting at least two hours or a full day.

The treatments include various features, such as body scrubs, body masks, traditional massage, aromatherapy massage, aromatic sea salts, hydrotherapy, head-and-shoulder therapy, facial treatments, eye treatments and hand-and-foot treatments.

"A treatment should be conducted based on the client's characteristics and medical history. The aim is to remove toxic materials that have accumulated in the body, especially for individuals who rarely do workouts, by empowering the functions of the lymph glands and improving blood circulation," said Dr. Rachmi Primadiati, a medical aromatherapist.

She added that apart from alleviating stress from the mind, aromatic essential oils could also have a therapeutic effect by restoring the function of vital organs, such as the kidneys, intestinal system, liver and reducing accumulated fat caused by hormonal disorders.

Most spa centers use natural products for their treatments. Take for example, the Martha Tilaar Spa Eastern Rejuvenating Centers (ERC) whose spa concept and treatment philosophy is uniquely based on the three great civilization of Asia such as Malaysian/Indonesian, Chinese and Indian and include Acupressure (Chinese), Rupasampat Wahya Bhyantara (Indonesia) and Ayuverda (Indian).

The treatments are specially developed and include the unique Bali Garden Bliss, Traditional Golden Lulur, Java Island Legacy, Chinese Empress Ritual, Eastern Princess Retreat, Exotic Facial Therapy, Eclectic Spa Therapies, and many others.

"The customers are unique individual. The spa manager will recommend the kind of treatment and customers can experience the unique rituals using the products they choose," Michael Suryadi, the Spa Operational Manager of Martha Tilaar.

The company also has a series of products such as ERC Sensual, Relief, Reviving, Body Contour and Whitening. Those products are naturally made and come in the form of aromatic soaps, body washes, body scrubs, massage oils, body masks, body lotions, herbal baths and bath salts, which are only available in the Relief and Reviving lines.

These unique treatment philosophies help ERC grow tremendously. There are currently seven ERCs in Indonesia, including in Semarang, Surabaya and Bali, and four operating centers overseas and five more under construction this year in Korea, the United States, the Philippines and Malaysia, with agreements for 19 more in the U.S., Korea and China in the near future.

Michael said that ERC is a world-class destination spa that maintains clients' historical treatment in its database to provide clients with the best service when they visit any ERCs.

"We also serve a group of women for a special private function in our spa so that they can get together while receiving our treatment," he said.

While some spa centers call themselves destination spas, many others are only day spas, in which the customers can choose from a single menu and the treatments end within hours. Destination spas are mostly located in tranquil locations, while day spas are found in the downtown core or even in hotels.

Take for example, Le Spa, which is located in Le Meridien Hotel. Its therapists and beauticians always help clients to choose day spa services such as therapeutic and relaxing facials and body scrubs, aromatic and hydro baths and western and eastern massages. It also provides an array of facilities, such as a sauna, steam room and a Jacuzzi.

Clients can choose to have a seaweed body wrap, in which they are enveloped in a thick layer of seaweed to eliminate toxins from the body and reduce cellulite, or a mineral earth clay wrap, which uses volcanic soil and clay from Central Java to clean the skin's pores by drawing out impurities. These treatments are accompanied by the use of a heated blanket.

"Sixty percent of our clients are men ranging in age from 20 years to 60 years. Most of them choose a stress release massage during their lunch hour," said Listya Suhita, Le Meridien's Assistant Club Manager. Le Spa offers special spa treatments for male clients.

Unlike Le Meridien, Bale-Bale Spa, also in Jakarta, offers its services only for women. Besides offering the traditional body and hair treatments, the spa center also offers a hair spa, comprising hair treatments for women with complicated hair problems.

"The clients are given special creams and serums to restore the hair's natural balance while they listen to soft music and enjoy a traditional atmosphere," said Vivi Dahlan, who owns the Bale-Bale Spa.