By Marissa Trew
Images courtesy of Spa Esprit
Stepping into Spa Esprit is almost like wandering into the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, if it took place in a high-class, gentrified tree house. Tucked away at the back of the Dempsey neighbourhood – an area surrounded by greenery – this massive space is far more than just a day spa. At the other end of the beauty emporium is Spa Esprit’s waxing bar, STRIP: Ministry of Waxing, for all your hair-raising needs. (Rest assured, no screams were heard throughout my visit).
When it comes to Spa Esprit’s menu, they leave no stone unturned in offering absolutely every variety of facial, massage and body treatment possible as they embrace both classic and high-tech beautifying techniques. Guests are greeted with a shot of fiery ginger tea to get you in the mood for being plucked, rubbed, waxed and soothed in more ways than one.
On the lookout for slightly more unconventional treatments, I opted to try their Cheeky Chai Detox – a 105-minute massage, scrub and wrap that made large promises to not only purge the toxins I have so lovingly collected throughout my body but to sculpt me to a svelter-looking self. Perhaps the most bizarre and unique spa treatment I have ever undergone, it is definitely one I recommend others experience at least once.
The treatment begins with a lymphatic drainage massage using essential oils, flavoured with masala chai spices like cardamom, cinnamon and clove. A little like marinating prime meat, the spiced oils were rubbed deep and strong into my tired muscles and joints by the therapist’s well-trained hands. Tough areas slowly but surely got teased out, leaving me feeling wonderfully tender and (at least in theory) eased of the many fatty acid deposits that inevitably build after countless brunches and three-course meals.
Right when they had me comfortable (bordering between levels of consciousness), things took a turn. Just like a reality TV show plot twist, everything I knew about spa treatments, body scrubs and wraps changed. Unlike body scrubs I have experienced in the past, which typically involve a salt scrub, the Cheeky Chai Detox used a paraffin wax mud treatment (infused with minerals to help boost metabolism, regulate water balance and stimulate the body’s natural repair processes as well as acting as a gentle exfoliator). Nothing too alien so far.
Then hot liquid wax was painted onto every inch of my body (with the exception of my face) using a large, soft-bristled brush. The heat was startling to say the least, especially on the obviously more delicate areas. Nevertheless, a minor discomfort and clearly a necessary cost for the price of ‘beauty’. As the wax began to harden as it cooled, more was painted over. Buffered from the heat of the first layer, the sensations were pleasant – what I imagine a cat feels like when being stroked.
Encased in my shiny and new wax suit and feeling like a Madame Tussauds sculpture with a pulse, it came time for the wrap – to help sweat out any remaining toxins. I was wrapped ‘en papillote’, with insulating blankets layered on top as the heat of an electric blanket beneath slowly began to build. The temperature comfortably but gradually increased and the beads of sweat that began to form were locked within the wrap, essentially causing my body to steam in its own juices, like a delicate fillet of fish.
Again, it was easy to descend into a relaxed state despite being unable to ignore the building heat within my self-contained oven. As I continued to self-baste, the therapist eventually returned – assessing me for doneness and providing a de-stressing scalp massage before the end of the treatment.
By far the most entertaining element of the experience was watching as the wax was massaged off my skin. The layers were peeled back in large sheets to reveal a moisturised bodice, totally cleansed of all its impurities, steamed and seasoned to perfection. The wax, like a weather-beaten chrysalis, was discarded in favour of the rejuvenated and refreshed person I had metamorphosed into.
This experience at Spa Esprit was novel, exciting and delivered on everything it promised, as I felt not only cleansed but far more energetic than I had been when I entered. If not for its detoxifying benefits, the experience of being steamed ‘en papillote’ is definitely one to add to the list of life experiences.
Spa Esprit, 80 Dempsey Road, tel 6479 0070, spa-esprit.com
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