While most people go to Macau for gambling and entertainment, I make the one-hour trip over to relax. As the number of big holiday resorts and luxury hotels continues to grow, especially in Cotai, there is no shortage of mid-range to high-end spas that offer an array of wellness treatments. Here are three different massages you might want to try out this autumn.
Banyan Tree Spa
The Banyan Tree – first opened in Phuket in 1994 – is an institution in the spa business so its Macau branch is always worth a visit. The 90-minute Thai Classic massage (1,700 patacas, [US$210] excluding service charge and tax), which began with a gentle honey and green tea foot scrub, is a straightforward, no-frills treatment that comes with a 30-minute “calm time” afterwards for relaxation and refreshment.
Before the massage, I told the therapist I was recovering from a frozen shoulder, and during the treatment she focused on loosening the “muscle knots” around the neck and shoulders while taking care not to manipulate my shoulder into positions that would cause pain. The application of menthol balm with the essential oil was a stroke of genius, as the combination relaxed the shoulder and upper back muscles, but the sensation did leave me feeling a little cold.
The treatment room I had (on the year-old extension on the 31/F of the Banyan Tree Hotel) was large and comfortable, with a private shower and changing room. The moderate pressure applied throughout was just right and the day after the massage I felt refreshed and had less tension in both shoulders.
The Spa at Wynn Palace
The Spa at Wynn Palace was a real treat. With the 90-minute Gemstone Foot Massage (1,000 patacas, excluding service charge and tax), one is entitled to use the facilities of a private spa suite, such as the steam room and hydrotherapy bath, for a third of the treatment time.
The temperature and humidity of the steam room were just right, though part of the bench was scorching to the touch. The steam jets automatically switched off after about 10 minutes.
Then it was time to have a quick but relaxing soak in the warm aromatic bath, with my choice of scent (I chose lavender). My 30 minutes felt too short.
The foot scrub was made of gold powder, crushed pearls, collagen and geranium essential oil. The gemstones used in the massage have rounded edges so didn’t hurt when pressed onto the pressure points of the soles. The therapist explained that the gemstones were used to regulate energy flow. The massage was so relaxing I nodded off a couple of times. The session ended with a plate of fresh fruit and a refreshing glass of chilled hibiscus tea.
The spa at the newly opened Morpheus Hotel, in the City of Dreams, has the greatest buzz. Designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the building’s exterior and interior are stunning and futuristic looking, as are the lifts going up to the spa.
Here, I booked the 90-minute Deep Relief Massage (1,680 patacas, excluding service charge and tax). I let the therapist know about my frozen shoulder and she was careful not to put too much pressure on my shoulder joints. Moderate pressure here is quite strong but the therapist was very attentive, and checked with me throughout if everything was OK.
The essential oils used are by Subtle Energies, an Australian skincare brand that blends Ayurveda and aromatherapy, and felt light on the skin during and after the treatment. This full body massage is great to counter muscle tension.
The changing room is spacious and has large shower cubicles, but I was left wandering around in my dressing gown with no help from the staff. Luckily I stumbled across the treatment room, which I had all to myself.