My last fully conscious thought as the first drop of oil hit my forehead was, “I will never get this out of my hair.” And then I succumbed as a steady flow of the silken liquid lulled me into a state of nirvana.
My entry into such a deep state of relaxation was no simple feat given the fact that I had just spent 22 hours on an airplane traveling from New York to Hong Kong via Vancouver. I was more anxious and exhausted than calm and relaxed. In retrospect, though, I can attest to the fact that the version of the Ancient Rituals of the Orient treatment in which I indulged was the perfect antidote for the effects of multiple time-zone travel.
I had arrived at the InterContinental Hong Kong three hours earlier, at about 9.a.m. After a short nap and a refreshing shower, I donned my spa robe (guests assigned rooms in the same wing as the spa are encouraged to come and go in relaxed fashion) and headed for ISpa. Located on the third floor of the hotel, the spa is designed around the principles of feng shui, the ancient Chinese philosophy applied to create balance and well-being.
Literally translated, feng shui means wind and water. Applied in a design sense, it aims to maximize beneficial ch’i, or universal energy, while deflecting negative sha, or negative energy. It also aligns the principles of yin and yang among their five core elements — water, air, fire, earth and metal.
During a spa renovation a few years ago, hotel management consulted Chan Xue Tao (also known as Jackie Chan, no relation to the actor), a renowned feng shui master well versed in Chinese literature, feng shui and I-Ching, a form of Chinese astrology. The author of nine books on feng shui and related topics, Chan is widely regarded for applying the principles of the ancient Chinese philosophy to enhance the lives and well-being of his clients.
At I-Spa, Chan’s influence includes the placement of a traditional Chinese fish bowl containing four fish at the entrance to the spa. According to feng shui principles, the fish and flowing water enhance harmonious energy. An Asian painting done in metallic colors hangs behind the reception desk to foster a good mood among patrons entering the spa and to open them to experience the full benefit of the treatments they are about to receive.
I-Spa’s five treatment suites feature polished green granite, saunas, steam showers and Jacuzzis. An additional three spa rooms are outfitted with teak flooring and wood walls made of sycamore, blackwood and South African wenge. In light of Chan’s feng shui influence, spa suites are carefully decorated and furnished — even the position of the massage table is taken into consideration — to optimize the spa experience. I was assigned a spa suite that was at least as large as some New York City hotel rooms.
My soothing 90-minute treatment began when my therapist greeted me with a warm pot of tea. Easing into the moment, I continued my relaxation odyssey with a Thai foot bath, followed by a Japanese green tea and ginger body scrub. My treatment included shirodhara, an ancient Ayurvedic healing practice that involves the application of warm herb-infused oil gently poured onto the forehead for an extended period of time. Perfect for addressing the effects of jet lag, shirodhara is noted for easing fatigue, anxiety and insomnia.
Following that portion of my admittedly indulgent treatment, my therapist eased me back to reality and into a soothing shower where I rinsed the remnants of the scrub from my body and oil from my hair. While I lingered contentedly in the shower, she quietly and unobtrusively changed the linens on the massage table to prepare for part two — Chinese acupressure massage using hot stones to realign the body.
If I were well on my way to nirvana during the shirodhara, the massage sealed the deal. At the end of the 90-minute treatment, my therapist invited me to enjoy the rest of my tea, the Jacuzzi, steam shower or sauna, according to my preference. No hurry. My spa suite was furnished with all the amenities I needed to prepare myself for re-entry into the “real world” including a hair dryer — so there was no need to compromise my newly found balance with a visit to a brightly lighted locker room.
I’m a firm believer in the benefits of balancing energy, so I have to admit I was predisposed to accepting the touted outcome of I-Spa’s Ancient Rituals of the Orient treatment. That said, it was one of the most indulgent and healing spa experiences I’ve known.
Did the feng shui design of the spa contribute to my positive experience? I don’t know. What I do know is I left the InterContinental Hong Kong for my return trip to the U.S. East Coast after just three nights feeling rejuvenated despite my ’round-the-world-in-half-a-week itinerary. During my stay, I also indulged in an off-site reflexology treatment and partook of the hotel’s butler-drawn bath menu — an herbal-infused “detox” soak I subsequently declared “life-changing.”
Whatever the cause, my abbreviated stay at InterContinental Hong Kong is one I will long remember.
It’s entirely possible France’s most noteworthy eateries define the term “destination restaurant.” Examples of how some of the more enduring Paris restaurants have approached this is compelling. While hot spots like Le Drugstore changed with the times and tastes of clientele, others, like Café de la Paix, steadfastly stay true to the roots and recipes that have delighted guests for generations.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s staying power is rooted in the way it delivers continuity and consistency for long-time loyalists of the Grand Velas brand and anybody else seeking a luxury, all-inclusive experience. One of Grand Velas’s hallmarks is its activities, amenities and restaurants across its three buildings can be enjoyed by all guests, enabling them to do the destination their way. This is particularly important when groups have different ideas of how they want to spend their vacation time.
Reconnecting the World: GBTA Convention 2023 Spotlights the Vital Role of Business Travel and In-Person Connection
In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention remains an indispensable platform for business travel industry professionals seeking to make the most of the power of face-to-face connections. Taking place August 13–15 in Dallas, the 2023 GBTA Convention provides the unique opportunity for professionals and companies to join visionaries, thought leaders and industry experts for meaningful networking, cutting-edge insights and inspiring innovation.
In 2025, Riviera River Cruises will launch two ships with sailing itineraries on Europe’s Danube and Douro rivers. Riviera Radiance will sail the Danube and offer six itineraries, including one exclusively for solo travelers, and three holiday itineraries. Riviera Rose will be based on the Douro River and sail one itinerary.
JetBlue, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are some of the airlines now charging passengers more to check bags at the airport than to purchase the service online in advance. In an effort to cover higher costs, more airlines increased baggage fees in 2024.
Learning more about our readers’ travel habits and preferences ensures Global Traveler delivers the content you desire. As the travel industry has adapted and changed over the last few years, it’s more important than ever to connect. To best meet your short- and long-term travel content needs, please help us!
Condor Airlines recently introduced Condor Cards, a membership program that allows frequent Condor passengers to receive additional benefits. The two card options include World Activity Card, tailored to the needs of sports enthusiasts, and World Family Card, offering benefits for families or friends traveling together on vacation.