Utopia Advanced Anti-ageing Facial
The best spas have the right balance of well-appointed facilities and very good treatments. But it's easier said than done.
It's almost impossible to fault the Mandarin Spa on its facilities. Like the hotel itself, the spa is generously sized and well designed. Its dimly-lit greeting room with comfortable chairs is an ideal opener, with staff beckoning you to sit and replace shoes with slippers. The multilevel spa has a warren of rooms and a spacious locker room (extra points for the Aromatherapy Associates products on-hand, particularly the moisturiser).
It's worth turning up early to make the most of the extras. First stop for five to 10 minutes: the steam room, with the tangy waft of fresh Chinese herbs. Freshen up with a quick splash of shaved ice over the face and torso and then it's onto the Kneipp pool, a shallow pool of warm bubbling water that's covered in small reflexology stones. After a few laps, revive with a jump across to the cold pool. The separate relaxation area for chilling out pre- and post-treatment is intimate without feeling too crowded, as guests sip ginger tea and pick at small bowls of fresh fruit. One warning: it's open to female and male guests so wrap that robe tightly.
In the treatment room, the Utopia Advanced Anti-ageing Facial uses products from the Gaylia Kristensen line, a new Australian range introduced recently at the Mandarin Spa. The paraben-free range is pitched at women aged over 40, and as a preventative measure for women aged 25 and above. After adjusting the treatment bed, the facial starts with the usual trio of cleansing, toning and exfoliating. The facial polish was light but did appear to slough away dead skin cells. The highlight for me was a lifting, toning lymphatic drainage massage. For around 20 minutes, the technician applied confident, firm strokes to key pressure points on the head and face, including (as I discovered) my tense jaw line, as well as the neck and shoulders. While the plant-based collagen mask was applied, my hands were firmly massaged as well. After finishing with a quick foot massage, the technician ran through a list of products from the range. It's a common selling tactic that I never welcome at the end of a relaxing treatment. It would be better done as guests are paying, when they're revived and fully dressed.
An advantage of a treatment at the Mandarin is the temptation to finish at the M Bar for a glass of Ruinart Champagne or afternoon tea at Cafe Causette. Oh, and the benefits did last several days, with that clean, shiny surface gleam that can only come after a quality treatment.
Mandarin Spa Hong Kong, the Utopia Advanced Anti-ageing Facial, 90 minutes, HK$2,000.
5 Connaught Road, Central, tel 2522 0111. (Until December 22, Mandarin Oriental guests can get a free 'top-up session' if they book a Utopia facial.)