Friday, December 2, 2011

Mumma gets her Zen on

One of the highlights of our recent family stay at the Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa
was the resort's ability to cater for children, adults, singles, and couples of all ages and preferences.

For me, it was a delight to watch my children happily beg to go off to the Little Chief's Club, the Shangir-La's Fijian's version of the Kids' Club, where there were so many FUN activities they literally didn't know what to do next.

This meant, that for the first time during our Fijian holiday, mostly spent at another resort - with a not-so-tempting kids' club - I got some time alone.

How did I spend that time, you ask? Lazing on the beach? Indulging in retail therapy? Catching up on blog posts?

You don't know me at all, do you?

Quite naturally, I booked myself in for a massage at the resort's CHI Spa, arguably Fiji's most luxurious spa experience.

And I deserved it. No, I literally did.

For, just the day before, the kids and I had braved the jet boat ride along the Sigatoka River to a remote Fijian village, that could only be reached via the river, then by climbing a steep path after alighting from the river landing. The reverse was true when leaving.

When it was time to leave, the Village Chief, who was helping less able guests onto the boat, obviously figured I looked hale and hearty and didn't offer his arm, instead opting to speak to the guy in the boat next to us. Of course, I'm not quite elderly yet and reasonably fit, so probably don't look like I have arthritis. However, I've had it from childhood, and my bones are now fused 'like concrete', as my therapists helpfully tell me.

So of all people to fall on their arses in the slippery mud as they approached the boat, it was me.

I was mostly unhurt, except for my pride, and a searing pain through my pelvis, spine, and into my neck, shoulder and arm. Not to mention, a massive bruise on my butt that developed later.

So the massage could not have come at a better time. The pain and tingling was so bad, I considered seeing the resort doctor and claiming on our travel insurance, but our activities were pretty much fully booked the following the day, and the doctor only worked a few hours, and I thought: What the hell? I've been through worse.

And I clung to the hope that a decent massage would help.

When the time came, I was whisked to the spa via a charming young man and a golf buggy, because the spa was a short walk from the main resort, and heaven help that a spoilt guest like myself be expected to walk in the heat to the spa for a treatment. (I could seriously get used to this!)

Then I was happily relaxing on a day bed overlooking the ocean and given something to drink, whilst filling out a questionairre detailing the many parts of the body that were causing me trouble.

That in itself was restful - well, ignoring all the body defects - as I indulged in watching the tiny waves break gently on the shore, and feeling the breeze wash gently over me.

See how relaxing it was?

As I drank my drink - NOT a G and T, but a herbal tea, or fruity water if memory serves me right - I also filled out a form which indicated the correct Element sign for me.

The CHI's signature therapies are based on the Five Elements Theory, in which Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth are in balance to harmonise with the positive Yang and negative Yin energy within the body. For balance to occur, the harmony of Yin and Yang must be restored.

Once your Element is determined, your therapist uses this to tailor-make the massage/facial/spa treatment of your choice to match.

Mine turned out to be Earth, which was I quote: 'The element of peace and harmony. Earth personalities are nurturing, always seeking to please everyone. Earth people like black and yellow, and are drawn to salty and sweet foods. They are at their best at night, and generally dislike cold weather.'

It does sound rather a lot like me.
Then my personal masseuse came to collect me.

Of course, I had my own relaxation room, with toilet, shower, wardrobe, safety box (hee hee), and a choice of robes and footwear.

Fluffy or Japanese style? Guess which one I chose?

When I was suitably attired, I had a little bell to tinkle so I could be taken to my relaxation room.

Did I mention the CHI spa is for above 16-year-olds only?  And if you're really cashed up and in need of a break you can book the relaxation rooms for overnight stays (or longer), complete with detoxes, massages, healthy food or just as much relaxation as you want.

And it is paradise.

If you're lucky enough to sleepover, you sleep in the bed, obviously, and you can have TV and all the trimmings, plus schedule in various massages and other spa treatments throughout your time there. Yes, even at night. And those floor to ceiling windows open to welcome in the sounds and smells of the ocean. Bliss.

Oh my goodness. Sans children. (Because only over-16s are allowed in this part of the resort,) I would be back there in a heartbeat with a girlfriend, a partner, or even, to treat myself!

Set right on the beach, the bures are the ultimate in luxury, yet bring the outside in as well.

And they seriously look like the photo, but are actually better!

In my case, the sound of the waves gently breaking on the shore meant there was no need for a relaxation CD, and my therapist's magical hands and individually-selected potions meant I soon drifted off into dreamland.

I chose the traditional Fijian Bobo Massage. Partly because I liked the name - yes I am childish like that - but partly because I wanted to experience a traditional Fijian therapy. And I'm told you cannot get a Bobo massage just anywhere.

The techniques for a traditional Bobo massage are handed down through generations of women, incorporating firm massage techniques, using rich exotic oils to increase circulation, draw out toxins, and reduce muscular aches and pains.

I have had many massages in many wonderful settings, but I can honestly say this is the only one where I somehow drifted off and onto a magical plane.

Despite the fact that this was still a deep-tissue rather than a relaxing massage, there was something deeply intoxicating that resonated inside of me.

I felt long, warm strokes carressing my tense, worn muscles, and heard the sounds of the ocean rocking me gently to sleep. A few times I felt mildy irritated as a particularly tense muscle pinged me awake, but I quickly relaxed into bliss again.

The next thing I heard was the sound of a bell being rung and the gentle voice of my therapist: 'It is finished now. When you are ready, you can get up and get dressed.'

I woke up quickly, feeling mildly embarrassed.

"Oh that was wonderful," I said. "I snored though, didn't I? I bet I snored."

My therapist just giggled.

Clearly, I snored.

I was led gently back to my room, and reluctantly got dressed. And I realised the horrible electrical feeling zinging from my neck and shoulder down through my spine to my bottom and leg was gone. It was magic after all!

And yet, my magical experience wasn't quite over.

I was given a bowl full of tropical, easy to eat fruit, and some water, and, clocking the time, immediately began undoing the restful experience by getting worried about picking the kids up from the Little Chief's Club before it shut.

You see, another (long-staying guest) lady was there, happily booking more sessions for the next few weeks. A tiny part of me hated her  felt mildly jealous in my new zen-like state, and she was clearly in no hurry to leave.

"It's okay, it will be fine," I was assured. And it was. "Fiji Time," grinned my chauffeur.

On my arrival at Little Chief's Club - and I was taken right to the door, in the little buggy via my handsome chauffeur - it didn't matter one jot that I was slightly late.

The kids' club staff knew I was having a spa treatment, and apparently are quite happy to stay on in that situation. And as it happened, the children had 'rescued' an orphaned kitten during the afternoon and were taking good care of it. They were not in the slightest interest in leaving unless they could bring kitty with us.

Gorgeous little kitty

"Mumma, can't we take it home?"

"Um, no. Not unless you want to get onto an episode of Border Security we can't."

Oh wait, that was totally the wrong thing to say ...

If only we all could have stayed another day at the Fijian, I know the kids would have loved to have returned to the Little Chief's Club, which would have given me a chance to try out another traditional Fijian treatment at the CHI Spa.

But, hey, there is always next time, right?

Maid In Australia travelled to the Shangri La's Fijian Resort And Spa with Air Pacific Fiji. And the CHI Spa, having heard there was a stressed-out 'famous'* Aussie Mummy Blogger in their midst, kindly offered me to test out one of their treatments on the house. Wasn't that lovely of them?

Got to love Fiji, and Fiji Time!

*My kids tell everyone we meet I am a famous Australian Mummy Blogger, and that everyone reads my blog, so it must be true!


Penny said...

We have stayed at the Shangri-la twice. Once sans kids, where I also indulged in some Chi spa action and once pregnant and with a 2 year old....I needed another holiday after that holiday!

Patrick End said...

Such a cute photo. The kitten is adorable next to your little angel! It's great how kids interact with animals and bond with them so fast!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ouch, you poor thing Bronnie! But I'm glad to hear that you got your heavenly massage. And I've spoken to a masseuse and they said that if someone falls asleep, that's a compliment!

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

My grandparents used to stay there!

And just reading this made ME feel relaxed. I am glad you had a wonderful time.

Anonymous said...

I must of passed you through the grounds we have just got back from The Fijian as well and I too took up a half day at The Chi Spa, I felt like a lump of jelly by the time I got back to my room after running late for our Sunset Cruise around the lagoon. Loved Fiji and all its people.

David @ Australian Locations said...

Sounds like a great spot for those with kids. I've got 2 and have never been to any of the Pacific Islands so may have to give this a go when I get to Fiji someday. Thanks for the review and info :)

Unknown said...

That massage sounds so nice! Sigh. I was almost there in Fiji with you. Reading about your holiday is the perfect way for me to get excited about mine, we're going next year!

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