Melaka, Malaysia, Majestic Malacca, Spa Village Malacca

Mar 1, 2009
2009 / March 2009

Royal TreatmentImagine stepping back in time to indulge in the beauty secrets of one of the most intriguing cultures of Malaysia’s history. I did just that at Spa Village Malacca, the world’s only spa to base its therapies on the healing heritage of the Peranakan, a unique combination of Chinese and Malay influences.

Spa Village Malacca is a one-of-a- kind wellness center in a glorious classic hotel setting, The Majestic Malacca, quaintly positioned along the Straits of Malacca less than two hours south of Kuala Lumpur. Originally built in 1929 as the mansion of a prominent businessman, The Majestic reopened in 2008 to great acclaim as Malacca’s only 5-star boutique hotel and destination spa.

The Peranakan Chinese-Malay culture flourished in southwest Malaysia from the 17th century to its peak at the turn of the 20th. The Peranakan culture, also known as Baba-Nyonya — men were called babas, women were nyonyas — incorporated Dutch, English, Portuguese and Indian influences. The Peranakan were aficionados of Victorian fashion, as reflected in the elaborate architecture and fine design found in both the hotel and in-house spa.

After check-in and a nap, followed by a fabulous soak in my room’s ultra-deep, four-pedestal tub, I sauntered downstairs to the Spa Village. Cheerful hosts greeted me with a pot of tea and a luscious orange wrapped in bright-red ribbon, for prosperity. Next, I was led into the lounge — a spacious, sun-dappled room with a row of resplendent Chinese daybeds, colorful Portuguese-style tile work, and floor-to-ceiling windows with a view to a crystalline-blue pool.

I emerged from the changing room in lush terry robe and spa slippers, and my therapist escorted me through ornamental saloon-style doors into one of the hair treatment cubicles. Every signature treatment at Spa Village Malacca commences with a simple yet strikingly moving ritual taken from the 12-day Peranakan wedding ceremony: the Hair Combing Experience.

The ritual is intended to eliminate impurities and bestow good luck upon the betrothed. Although I’m nowhere near an altar, the ceremony began with my attendant pouring fresh water with tropical flower blossoms through my tresses to remove negativity. Following a fruit shampoo, her magic fingers applied acupressure in a stimulating scalp massage that swiftly found me drifting off to another time and place.

I reveled in my daydream of a Peranakan bride-to-be in Malacca’s golden era. My therapist poured rich olive oil through my long locks as she worked with a wooden comb and careful caress, tending to each and every strand. A refreshing rinse of fresh lime juice and banana conditioner topped off the treatment. Expertly, my mane was swept up into a 1940s twist. “For luck,” the therapist declared, as she pinned a fragrant sprig of white jasmine into my hair comb. And this was only the prelude to the Peranakan Experience.

The Peranakan pull their remedies and treatments from a mix of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tribal Malay wisdom and Indonesian influences. TCM considers a healthy person to have balanced yin (dark, or cold) and yang (light, or warm) energies. Upon check-in, I’d completed a survey with a series of questions concerning digestion and dreaming, skin type and sleep, to determine my body type. It turned out that I was a bit too yin and needed a warm-up. For me, it would be the Suam-Suam Panas Experience, or warming heat treatment.

All Peranakan treatments can be found in a typical Chinese-Malay mother’s cupboard. My practitioner presented a tray of totally fresh ingredients including gula sugar and honey, ground pandan leaves and coconut milk, toasted rice and nutmeg, tapioca and — surely a rarity in any kitchen and the crème-de-la-crème of skincare indulgences — bird’s nest saliva.

My body’s culinary indulgence began with an invigorating, all-over gula scrub, a sweet solution of grainy palm sugar and honey — chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals. The curious concoction, with a scent of crème brulée, was worked into every limb. Since I was supposed to be “getting warmed up,” I wondered if I might also be set to flambé. As the syrup was left to soak into my skin, the therapist treated me with the Pandan-Coconut Hair Mask, to moisturize and remove headaches in us “cold” types.

Nudged awake after another hypnotizing scalp massage — my body cast with a sugar-candy glaze, my hair frosted with coconut-flavored icing — my therapist coaxed me into the treatment room’s private shower to rinse all those calories away.

Next came the Nutmeg and Rice Rolling Massage, focused on removing my excess wind.

In TCM, it is believed that joint stiffness and poor digestion result from “wind” stored in the body. This blocked energy, or chi, is eliminated by vigorously rolling hot sachets of toasted nutmeg and rice mixture along the muscles.

Afterward, I felt warmed up and wind-balanced, ready for the peak of Peranakan pampering: the Bird’s Nest Facial. Dried bird’s nest saliva, found in the spittle of cave-dwelling swifts of Southeast Asia, is considered the “caviar of the East.” Chinese culture holds that bird’s nest soup, a delicacy, is an excellent restorative tonic; hence, the same ingredient is used in Spa Village Malacca’s signature facial. Blended with tapioca, the saliva’s mysterious properties made for an intensive skin-softening experience, bringing sweet hydration to my dry complexion. To cool me off a bit, as well as to tighten and soothe the skin, my therapist delicately maneuvered a pair of chilled jade rollers over my face.

Refreshed from a final shower, hair swept again into a vintage twist, I relaxed in the private parlor corner of my treatment room. At the settee, a fresh pot of tea awaited, alongside a small dish of acar — a spring vegetable pickle used for relaxation in Baba-Nyonya cuisine. Quite unlike the post-spa scone I usually like with my tea, but I was pleased to find the spicy concoction delicious and refreshing.

After tea, I glided back up to my chambers at the Majestic — a perfect blend of class, charm and modernity. Peering out toward the Straits, with a mesmerizing view of the meandering Malacca River and a sunset exploding with orange, pink and blue hues, I felt like nothing less than a true Peranakan princess.

Spa Village Malacca
The Majestic Malacca
188 Jalan Bunga Raya
75100 Melaka, Malaysia
tel 60 6 289 8000
www.majesticmalacca.com

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Feature
Sep 21, 2019

Movie Night at The Logan, Philadelphia

What’s better than an open-air movie night in the summer? A free one hosted just blocks away from fun nightlife, restaurants and swanky activities around every corner, maybe?

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

Feature
Sep 21, 2019

Southwest Adds 2020 Hawai’i Flights

Southwest Airlines is adding new flights to, from and within Hawai’i, beginning mid-January 2020. The airline will add a new daily service between Sacramento International Airport and Honolulu (HON), plus new non-stop flights between Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) and both Kauai (LIH) and the Island of Hawai’i (KOA).

News
Sep 21, 2019

The Luxury Collection Welcomes Eighth Property in China

The Luxury Collection welcomes its eighth property in China with the opening of Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanning. The property is situated in the capital of the Guangxi Province, in a high-rise landmark building in the business district.

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

Daily
Sep 21, 2019

New Luxury Residence Hotel Opens in Tribeca

AKA, the luxury hotel residence brand, opened its sixth property last month, AKA Tribeca —formerly the Smyth Hotel.

News
Sep 19, 2019

Best U.S. Cities for Oktoberfest Celebrations

WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.

TAP Air Portugal Adds 15 Flights Each Week From U.S., Canada

TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020,  a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.

Feature
Sep 19, 2019

Qantas Will Start Using a Dreamliner on Santiago–Sydney Route

Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.