Think of springtime in Japan, the picture of a sea of sakura trees covered in beautiful pink blooms instantly comes to mind. Cherry blossoms are known to have a relatively short blooming time across the country; most regions in Japan see full bloom from late March to early April, with the only exception being Hokkaido, where the flowers tend to bloom a little later starting from late April and reach the peak bloom in early May. Another floral spectacle that Hokkaido plays host to, albeit not as well-known as the cherry blossoms, is the lavender blossoms during summertime from July until as late as October.
Catching the wave of the lavender season is The Okura Prestige Bangkok, launching a series of lavender-inspired offerings as a tribute to the flower, from a Lavender Garden Afternoon Tea filled with floral flavoured pastries, lavender-infused cocktails to a spa treatment inspired by the therapeutic properties of lavender.
Newly launched on 1 July and available until 30 September 2018 at The Okura Spa located on the 25th floor of The Okura Prestige Bangkok, I dropped by the hotel to try out the seasonal spa package and hopefully, to lift away some of my stubborn body stiffness.
After a delicious butterfly pea flower welcome tea and the usual form-filling ritual, I was led to one of the single treatment room, which is smaller than what I would expect, especially considering the spa only has five treatment rooms in total: three singles, one suite and one for Thai massage. From there, I went to get changed into a robe and slippers in the rather cosy changing room, which is equipped with a locker and shower facilities for use before and after the massage. One thing to keep in mind is that the treatment room doesn’t come with a toilet, which means you’ll have to visit the loo before the treatment starts or wait for it to finish — and hopefully not in the middle of the massage when your body is covered in oil.
The treatment includes a 30-minute body scrub and a 60-minute massage that utilises The Okura Spa’s in-house lavender and orchid extract blend, offering not only physical relaxation but also encouraging cell turnover to reveal fresher, younger-looking skin. Know for its reparative and protective properties, orchid extract has been prized in Asia for centuries as an effective herb to moisturise the skin and fight free radicals, with an anti-ageing benefits that help reducing the appearance of fine lines. Lavender oil has long been used as a skin restorative for millennia — while it has the ability to leave the skin feeling soft, supple and nourished, it was also favoured by ancient cultures to treat burns and grazes and has similar medical applications even today. Combining the powerful extracts of both flowers, the Lavender Orchid Calming Retreat treats the skin while helping to calm the mind and aid relaxation with the beautiful floral fragrances.
Once ready, I lay face down on the bed as the therapist got to work applying the organic sugar scrub on my body, starting from my feet and calves. Perfect for sensitive skin, the sugar scrub feels gentle on the skin, filling the room with an aromatic and soothing lavender scent from the essential oil, which hydrates the skin at the same time, working with the sugar’s exfoliating properties for optimal results. With circular, firm movements, the therapist gently sloughed away the dead skin cells — which is helpful even for someone who does use in-shower scrubs regularly, especially to get to those hard-to-reach spots like the centre of your back.
After the scrub was complete, I hopped into a hot shower, rinsing off the sugary scrub, without feeling the need to use a shower gel to keep the oil and aromatics on my skin, which appeared soft and fragrant after I patted myself dry. Once dried off, I got back on the bed for the much anticipated 60-minute aromatherapy massage with essential orchid and lavender oils. Deeply invigorating and comforting, the oil blend eases stress, revives tired muscles and awakens the senses to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Using this blend, the therapist got to work relaxing the tension in my body, with an emphasis on my neck and shoulders as per my request prior to the treatment. With fluid, firm strokes, the therapist squeezed my stiff shoulders, all the way down to untwist the knots in my upper back — while I lulled in and out of slumber, without feeling squirmish at all. The therapist finally woke me up with a quiet whisper, signalling the end of the treatment. My skin felt incredibly moisturised and my shoulders looser and relieved. Blissfully rested, I was offered a cup of soothing hot ginger tea and dried fruits after the spa session was over.
After this spa experience , I can gladly say that The Okura Spa’s Lavender Orchid Calming Retreat offers a unique wellness escape for time-strapped cityfolk looking for to get lavishly pampered in the heart of Bangkok, enhanced by the seasonal herbs targeting specific health needs and concerns.
The Okura Spa, 25/F, The Okura Prestige Bangkok, 57 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok