Just arriving in Hanmer Springs makes me instantly feel at ease; whether it is due to the fresh mountain air, the complete lack of traffic, or the many reminders of family holidays past.
The Spa at Hanmer Springs takes this experience of relaxation to another level however, offering a wide range of indulgent pampering treatments for both men and women.
After arriving on a sunny but crisp morning for a mid-week break from the city, I was immediately welcomed into their relaxation area, and soon found myself clad in a robe and slippers, ready for a day of pampering.
Having never experienced a hot stone massage before, but been filled in on its many benefits, I decided to use the opportunity to try it out for myself. Those used, I discovered, are smooth volcanic stones, basalt to be exact, which are sourced locally from within New Zealand. Before use, the stones are soaked in hot water to absorb the heat, which they then release slowly and evenly into the skin throughout the course of the treatment. While this creates a sense of calm in the body by slowly permeating the layers of muscle and tissue to release tensions and ease aches, it also has tangible health benefits, too. The gentle heat helps boost circulation by expanding the blood vessels, increasing blood flow throughout the body.
The stones themselves come in a variety of sizes, each selected for use on a specific part of the body. The largest stones work the core muscles around the spinal column itself, while mid-sized ones are perfect for working the upper back and shoulder areas where people commonly carry a lot of tension, often without realising it. Finally, the smallest, pebble-like pieces are used to gently knead and relax the delicate muscles of the feet.
The hot stone treatment The Spa offers is 90 minutes in duration, making it a truly indulgent and thoroughly relaxing affair.
In quite the zen state after my stone treatment, and not quite ready to return to the real world, I finished up my spa experience with a 50 minute facial, formulated specially with sensitive skin in mind.
For those of us with skin sensitivities, it’s important to know that products used won’t cause any undue irritation. Using products selected exclusively from Sothy’s Paris, the treatment includes a deeply nourishing hydra-soothing face masque, formulated with Belgian Thermal Spa water to restore mineral balance to sensitive skin. Working in tandem with this to hydrate and calm the skin are the comfort cleanser and lotion, which focus on removing daily impurities from the skin while keeping natural lipid levels in balance.
The main event of this particular treatment, however, is a facial massage using cool porcelain spoons. As unconventional as it may sound, the treatment in fact utilises temperature in a similar but contrasting way to the hot stones. While the stones boost and invigorate blood flow, the refreshing coolness of the porcelain helps counteract inflammation, meaning that it is deliciously soothing on areas of the face prone to puffiness, such as the delicate under-eye area. The petite nature of the tools used also means they’re perfect for ensuring the nose, mouth and brow areas feel the benefits of the treatment.
To finish up, a super-nourishing SPF30 sunscreen was applied to the face, meaning that my skin was ready is to brave the real world, even if I myself was not quite ready to leave the cocoon of calm yet.