A wave of new hotel openings — from the cinema-themed Studio City to the monolithic, Zaha Hadid-designed Morpheus — has stolen the Macau spotlight in recent years, but a trip to our sister SAR last month proved that old standbys are just as worth revisiting as the flashy newcomers transforming the casino city’s skyline. Awarded the prestigious Five-Star rating by Forbes Travel Guide for 10 consecutive years — one of the highest accolades in luxury hotel ratings — Altira Hotel‘s facilities and service standards remain amongst the elite in Macau’s glitzy mini metropolis, from its world-class cuisine (including Forbes Five-Star restaurants Tenmasa and Aurora) to the indoor infinity pool, rated one of the 10 best swimming pools in the world by US Forbes Traveler.
Capping off the ultra-posh facilities is the Altira Spa, which spans 6,000 square feet over two storeys, with warm and cosy spaces reinforcing the hotel’s palette of natural wood, earth tones and cream & chocolate hues. With private treatment rooms brushed in gold accents and well-trained therapists keen to enhance the quality of your experience, Altira Spa remains one of a handful of places to seek out in Taipa when you’re craving a premium pampering sesh.
During my visit, I popped in for the Prodige des Océans ritual (2 hours 30 minutes): The crème de la crème of the spa’s signature treatments, it’s rooted in the marine-inspired skincare products of globally-renowned French skincare brand, Thalgo. With R&D from over 50 years of probing the oceans for regenerative properties found in aquatic ingredients such as algae, Thalgo’s Océans range revolves around the Intelligence Marine Régénérative, a patented high-potency concentrate composed of 63 ocean nutrients aimed at restoring youthful-looking skin.
The first goal of any urban luxury spa is to provide guests with a sense of escapism: Altira Spa ticks this box brilliantly, perched 15 floors up with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Macau Peninsula and the blue-green expanse of the South China Sea. After a quick check-in process, I was whisked into my private suite, a haven of grey concrete walls and dark hardwood floors with split levels leading up to a personal vitality pool and a relaxation bed. While the colour palette was a bit dark for my liking, the flood of natural light helped brighten the room, as did charming ocean-inspired touches to preface the aquatic treatment, including scattered pebbles, seashells and starfish, and ocean-tinged bath salts and body soaps.
After meeting my therapist, I was invited to spend 20 minutes taking in the personal pool and steam/shower. Given that I tend to skip these facilities in other spas, as it usually involves sharing the space with others — I ended up relishing this part of the treatment tremendously. Getting to ease into the treatment with my own personal pool felt supremely self-indulgent, as I relaxed my muscles with the bubbling jet streams and took advantage of the baby blue bath soaps and other amenities provided in trays next to the ocean-facing pool. After a quick steam and shower, I was ready for the treatment to officially begin.
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to body massages (I know what I like and tend to disapprove of any deviations), so I was a bit skeptical when informed the treatment would take place on a water bed, imagining a lot of uncomfortable sloshing about on some version of the fluid-filled, nausea-inducing beds that were popular in the ’70s and ’80s. Luckily, the ‘water bed’ here is actually just a small water pack that’s placed under the upper chest area, and not the whole body. Radiating a comforting heat, the feeling of the water pack created a soft floating sensation which was surprisingly pleasant, and I felt as if I was sinking gently with each stroke of the masseuse — the underwater feel amplified by the ambient ocean noises of waves crashing against the shore.
The first hour encompassed a heavenly full-body aromatherapy massage. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to tension points, strength of pressure, and fast vs. slow strokes — but whether due to experience or sheer luck, my masseuse seemed to be intuitively keyed into my exact preferences, delivering one of the best massages I can remember getting in recent memory. Starting from the back and shoulders, she was able to knead out all my knots with smooth and confident strokes, never going too fast or too slow, pressing too hard or missing problem areas. Inevitably, I drifted off into a daze during the massage, and awoke an hour later to the spray of ‘ocean mist’ as we moved on to the facial.
The Prodige des Océans facial relies on Thalgo’s core products, which harness the power of marine algae and other ingredients to correct wrinkles, atone for dryness and even complexions; the suite of products used are meant to leave you with radiant and supple skin. The holy elixir is the 63-ingredient patented Intelligence Marine Regnerative product, which is combined with seven exclusive massage techniques for a tailor-made spa treatment.
I rarely enjoy the facial portion of spa treatments as much as the massage, but the Prodige des Océans treatment was a revelation — with the combination of the gentle, revitalising feel of the marine products, and the incorporation of massage techniques to keep the ‘sensorial pleasures flowing’. The latter is at the heart of the spa’s signature treatment, which put simply means they focus on intensifying the highs — from gentle massaging of the face and décolletage to the buttery softness and scents of the products used — and banishing the not-so-nice aspects of some facial treatments (painful extractions, stinging serums or sticky face creams).
To release tension, my therapist employed the Kobido-inspired massage method, a Japanese technique which starts by stimulating the energetic points of your face, then progresses to the gentle, circular motions of lymphatic massages to improve circulation and wash the toxins away. A mix of fast and slow movements stimulates elastin and collagen production — working in tandem with Thalgo’s premium products for a skin rejuvenating effect. My skin benefitted from a lush infusion of the key marine ingredients from Thalgo’s range: face cream, pumped with hyaluronic acids and algae extract; L’Essence, a revitalising serum which targets the structure of the skin; and a smoothing and plumping mask which has a botox-like effect of smoothing wrinkles and pumping oxygen into tired skin. The treatment ended, as it began, with a spray of Reviving Marine Mist followed by a tray of hot ginger tea, apricots and almonds.
After two-and-a-half-hours of blissful relaxation, I left Altira’s spa paradise feeling wholly refreshed and rejuvenated, thanks to my miracle worker of a masseuse and the revitalising effects of Thalgo’s Prodige des Océans range. If I had one quibble, it was that the head massage I requested during the first half never came, although my therapist mentioned she would get to it during the facial. It was a minor oversight that nonetheless left me a little wanting, considering the rest of my body had been so thoroughly pampered.
That aside, I appreciated Altira Spa’s careful consideration of all steps of the spa package. A quick glance in the mirror post-treatment revealed my complexion appearing more smooth and even-toned, soft and velvety to the touch, with that happy post-treatment glow. The merits of Thalgo’s award-winning products are proven, but the value that the Prodige des Océans treatment brings is presenting a comprehensive and cohesive spa package for guests to truly reap the benefits of the luxury skincare line. The treatment is enhanced by all the little details that coalesce with the aquatic theme — from the seashore knick-knacks to the soundtrack — and unless I find some way to procure my masseuse for personal house visits, I’ll be returning to Altira Spa the next time I find myself in Macau in need of a little R&R.
The Prodige des Océans treatment is priced at MOP3,080 for a two-and-a-half-hour treatment. Altira Spa, 15/F, Altira Hotel, Avenida de Kwong Tung, Taipa, Macau, +853 2886 8886
Altira is now celebrating 10 years of Forbes’ Five-Star recognition with The 50 Star Program, which includes a variety of accommodation, spa and dining packages. For more details, visit here.