Grooming Fix: The Strand's Detoxifying Marine Body Wrap
Hong Kong's fast-paced and often hard-drinking lifestyle necessitates the occasional detox. But the willpower and time required for this means many of us forego a respite, instead opting to keep on pushing ourselves until we crash and get burned out.
Such was my state when I entered The Strand in Central on a busy weekday. I was exhausted from the constant juggling of work and study commitments, and slightly hung over from the previous night's alcohol-fuelled session of "stress relieving".
Tamara, the therapist, leads my aching body into one of the massage rooms, complete with personal shower and locker. She tells me that the new Detoxifying Marine Body Wrap is an intensive 90-minute solution to combat tiredness and eliminate built-up toxins in my body - which is exactly what I need.
Stripping down and donning disposable underwear, I'm told to lie on a massage bed. The treatment starts with a rough-and-ready application of a body scrub, followed by a soothing massage using activating serum to open up my pores.
Then I hit the shower for my first warm rinse, a slightly uncomfortable experience as the therapist stands outside waiting, with her view of me shielded by nothing but a towel.
Another change of underwear and I'm back on the bed, ready for the real detox: a marine peel-off mask, which is a creamy mix of blue seaweed and green tea that is applied to nearly every inch of my body and left to harden into what Tamara refers to as a "second skin".
Fifteen minutes later, I resemble a Smurf, a somewhat frightening sight that is quickly covered up with a heating blanket to ensure the mask both revitalises and relaxes.
Take a minute to consider this: a hot and humid summer day, an entire extra casing covering your body, an electric blanket cooking you on top and a fancy massage bed grilling you from below. It's somewhat stifling to say the least, and after 20 minutes I'm about ready to melt. Fortunately, that's about the time the blanket is removed and the peeling begins.
I can't get out of the mask quick enough, and after much tearing of the mask, it's back into the shower for another rinse (cold this time and thankfully alone) to remove all traces of blueness.
The therapist is supposed to finish off with a moisturising body cream, but the sight of me sweaty obviously makes her think twice.
I'm given two glasses of cold water and, as I rehydrate, I can immediately feel the treatment's effects. Gone are the exhaustion, the hangover and any sense of lethargy - replaced with a new sense of vigour. For a while at least, I am cured of the Hong Kong fatigue.
Detoxifying Marine Body Wrap costs HK$1,600 for 90 minutes. The Strand, 18 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2850 7686. thestrandhk.com