When you’ve flown to the other side of the world, you may arrive feeling a little less than relaxed. On a recent trip to the Maldives, travel writer, Angie Aspinall found the perfect antidote at the Duniye Spa at the Hurawalhi resort.
Our flights to the Maldives from the UK were long. On the first, we had extra legroom and had a comfortable flight. All flights into Doha were delayed due to bad weather and so, when we disembarked, we immediately went to the Gate for the connecting flight to Male.
Once onboard, and as soon as it was allowed, the guy in front of me fully reclined his seat, meaning I had to do likewise. I felt cramped and I just could not get comfortable.
On arrival at Male airport, we were greeted by a representative from our resort and were whisked away to their lounge at the sea plane terminal. Poor weather conditions meant a delay in our departure but, after five hours in the lounge (with a meal break at a nearby restaurant), we clambered aboard the sea plane and were on our way.
As you can imagine, by this time, we were tired and achy. We were thrilled with our over-water villa – and the resort in general and, after a delicious meal and an incredibly deep sleep, we woke feeling much better. However, some of the knots from the journey were still there in my neck and shoulders, and in my lower legs. Thankfully, help was close at hand.
As I approached the Duniye Spa, via the green oasis and shaded pathway, I immediately felt optimistic about the experience ahead.
Greeted with smiles and a refreshing iced tea, I was welcomed to the spa. Spa Manager, Ninnia Franco asked me about the type of massage I’d like to have (light touch, medium or deep tissue) and if I wanted to feel relaxed or energised after the treatment. I was asked to complete a comprehensive health questionnaire, which Ninnia then discussed with my masseuse, Ayu.
Ninnia gave me samples of four different blends of oils to inhale. I chose number three, which she revealed to be a blend of Grape Seed Oil, Rosemary, Basil, Cinnamon and Mongogo Nut. She then presented me with a tray of pebbles. I was asked to close my eyes and let my hand drift over them until I was moved to choose one. Once my eyes were open, I was asked to turn over the stone to see which word I would be focusing on throughout my treatment. My word was ‘love’. Ninnia told me it was her favourite of all the words and assured me that each stone had a different word: they didn’t all say ‘love’.
Ayu led me along the wooden pier over the beach, to one of the five stilted treatment rooms perched above the sea. Each room is designed for couples’ treatments; all with views of Dream Island. And, I had another extra special view in store for me…
Each of the massage beds has a glass panel in the floor to enable clients to watch the fish in the water below as they lie face-down for their back massage. Although the tide was quite low during my treatment, I still managed to see a baby Black Tip Reef Shark swim by, along with a few other reef fish. My ‘Love’ pebble was placed on the glass so that I could focus on that too.
I had opted for a Balinese massage and a blend of oils designed to soothe aching muscles.
The massage started with me lying face-down, covered in a crisp white sheet. Ayu deftly worked her way over my body feeling for areas of tension in much the same way as my chiropractor. Immediately, I knew I was in the hands of an expert.
After applying pressure on pressure points through the sheet, Ayu then started to work directly onto the skin with the scented oil.
Balinese Massage is defined by its long, soothing strokes, acupressure and skin rolling. Ayu stood at my head and worked down my neck and spine in long, fluid movements, building up to strokes using thumbs and more pressure.
Unlike the traditional full body massages I’ve had in the UK and elsewhere (where the masseuse works on the back, back of legs, front of legs, then arms, then head), for the Balinese massage, Ayu worked from the sole of each foot, all the way up the leg and back, to the neck. With each slow, graceful movement, I could feel the muscle tension slipping away. She worked deftly and with confidence, and I was able to fully relax and ‘let go’.
After the massage, I returned to the Reception area and was led upstairs to the relaxation lounge. The room was cool and airy, with every window open to the spectacular sea views. The ceiling fans slowly whirred creating a gentle breeze. As I relaxed on my lounger and sipped my tea – knots, aches, and pains forgotten – I could think of nowhere on earth I would rather be.
Photos Copyright, Angie Aspinall, 2017