We usually dream of freshly blooming flowers and warmer weather come springtime, but the reality in Hong Kong is that what we’re usually met with — as in the case this week — is drab overcast days, occasional rain and weather as indecisive as the Katy Perry hit single.
As we get in between seasons, our parched skin also takes time to adjust from the not-so humid, even dry winter months in Hong Kong, to the stupidly muggy air of summer. The worst is when spring allergies come into play, too. Designed for those who are calling out an SOS for relief from these symptoms, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s devised a new spa treatment for spring: the Renew, Refresh and Recharge facial.
With ears freshly popping after the dizzying elevator climb to the 116/F, I was greeted at The Ritz-Carlton Spa — Hong Kong’s highest, located just below the crest of the ICC.
After signing in, I went to get changed into a robe and slippers in the rather cosy changing room, which features dry and wet steam facilities, and a rainforest ‘experience’ shower on top of already great regular showers: the stellar works in a five-star hotel spa. The female locker room is smaller than what I would expect, though proportional to the number of treatment rooms available I suppose — nine, not counting couple suites — but you’re likely to get in someone’s way while exploring the facilities. I imagine this is also why the staff encourages you to wait for them to escort you to your treatment at the spectacular harbour-view relaxation lounge next door, a pre- and post-spa hangout featuring a row of reclining chaises that look out onto Victoria Harbour in all its glory.
From there, my therapist, Kolpana, led me through the dark, stylish corridors to my treatment room. Decorated in tones of dark aubergine, expensive brown and silver, you don’t get the usual spiritual spa vibe at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, but definitely the sense that you’re about to get lavishly pampered.
The Renew, Refresh and Recharge facial utilises a range of products from 111SKIN, the cult-loved skincare brand developed by London-based plastic surgeon Dr. Yannis Alexandrides. Beginning with a foot bath and scrub with ESPA’s luxurious exfoliating body polish (the spa’s default brand), Kolpana got to know my skin concerns (“dry and blemished cheeks, dull complexion, tired eyebags, wanted a tighter jawline”) and checked that I was okay with her using a scalp and hair cream — the Pink hair and scalp mud to nourish the scalp and rid it of impurities. She ensured me the treatment would cover all my bases, setting the intention for the next 90 minutes.
I laid back on what appeared to be the most advanced spa bed I’ve ever felt, with each curve, angle and height along my back and behind the knees effortlessly sliding into place like some kind of Transformers autobot.
Kolpana went in first to remove all my makeup and do a double cleanse, using first a purifying cleanser then an exfoliating one, using brisk strokes of the hands and fingertips that would help improve circulation and add to the firming effect of the neck and jawline, which continued even as she rinsed and toned my skin with an anti-oxidising toner.
The core of the facial was 111SKIN’s highly scientific CO2 treatment mask, comprising a mask cream and an activating gel that are mixed before applying to the skin. When blended, the two parts create carbonic acid, or aqueous CO2, and drives these bubbles deep into the skin — skin reacts by flushing it with oxygen, what’s called The Bohr Effect, which aids collagen and elastin synthesis. In plain words: your skin ends up tightening, detoxing and looking more awake. It’s essentially a cardio session for your skin. Then, the mask dries to create a protective layer for other nourishing and brightening ingredients to absorb.
As the mask was painted on my skin, the soft brushstrokes and the slightly cool, creamy texture gently coaxed me to a light sleep. As it was left to set, she began to apply the scalp cream with firm massaging so that it melted into my scalp, leaving it with a slight minty sensation.
Next, my arms and legs were treated to an arm and leg massage using an oily cream — where she was well aware of the right pressure points on my body. I felt tension lifting away with every strategic press or stroke.
The finishing touches included applying one of SKIN111’s popular products, the Y Lift Neck & Decolletage Serum, by means of a strong neck and shoulder massage, and ending with a delightfully smelling arm spray.
While the sliding closet doors of the treatment room caused minor disturbance throughout the session — knocking along its rails as Kolpana fetched fresh towels or warm rinsing water — this was easily dismissable with the level of exquisite pampering and astonishing results you get. Immediately after the treatment, Kolpana handed me a mirror, and it looked like weeks of tiredness were sucked out of my complexion, especially where my eyes looked like I got a full 9 hours of sleep.
Heading back to the relaxation lounge, the sun had set and the dazzling skyline of Hong Kong Island illuminated the darkness of the harbour. I can say for sure now that the best view of Hong Kong is from 116/F of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong right after a spa session. Whatever was irritating you before, be it unstable skin, drab weather, or stressful work days — it suddenly feels like everything is okay with the whole city within your grasp.
The Renew, Refresh, Recharge is available through to 30 April, and is priced at HK$2,080 (Monday–Thursday) / HK$2,280 (Friday–Sunday, Public Holidays). The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Hong Kong, 116/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2263 2040