A Heavenly Retreat at Olaysha Spa.

I recently has the absolute pleasure to visit the new Olaysha Spa in Suzhou Industrial Park. Entering the confines of the elegantly appointed interior, I immediately felt the effects of Suzhou’s noise, traffic and hustle and bustle melting away as the subdued and sophisticated decor allowed my mind to centre itself on the present moment.

The foyer of Olaysha is dimly lit by diffuse light that permeates the space with a sense of peace. A stone wall of recessed shelves, artfully lit, confronted me from the entrance, next to which sat intricate white porcelain sculpture reminiscent of a roaring fire frozen in time.

Gentle music at low volume added to the calming influences and, sitting in a plush and comfortable couch, I was able to peruse the Spa’s offerings at my leisure as helpful attendants waited patiently for my choice.

I opted for the New Zealand Hot Stone caress, an internationally renowned hot stone therapy using heated stones from the Pacific-Island nation, that are combined with special massage techniques and aromatic oils to stimulate the mind and bring the body into equilibrium. This particular therapy is meant to benefit the lymphatic system detoxifying the body and disintegrating muscle tension to being about a feeling of total relaxation and well-being. While this is the treatment I felt would be most beneficial to me, it should be pointed out that Olaysha offers many dozens of diverse treatments tailored to the desires of each customer and carefully explained in the menu in both English and Mandarin.

From water therapies and Tibetan Ayurvedic treatments to ‘Chinese Five Elements’ options that target specific organs and parts of the body for clients who come to Olaysha with specific problems, there is something for everyone. There is also a full range of facials, eye treatments, body toning and contouring therapies, and his and her procedures for beautification and battling the signs of ageing and stress.

There are also a range of fine rooms available, including couple’s rooms, VIP rooms, and other options. Olaysha has a room the likes of which I have never encountered, as well: a room in which one sits surrounded by lodestones radiating magnetism, in which salt lamps emit negative ions continuously.

These combined atmospheric aspects make the room ideal for passively increasing ones health while sitting, talking, and drinking tea.

After choosing my preferred treatment I was lead to another couch, where my shoes were exchanged for plush sandals. Thus shod, I followed the gracious staff member through more of the beautiful interior of Olaysha, which included a small bubbling pool set into the stone floor, in which scores of flower petals fitted about across the surface of the water.

The backdrop of this soothing vision consisted of a towering wall of shelves rising up thirty feet into the air, sectioned off into rows with each row holding a number of porcelain vases suffused with a gentle glow from the reflected light. The upper level of the spa had an opening to allow this patterned wall to rise up to the ceiling of the second story, and railing framed this inner courtyard giving the space a cathedral-like feeling.

Though already impressed by the soothing ambience of this interior, upon arriving at the VIP room in which my treatment was scheduled I felt myself smile at the increased pleasure my body and mind experienced when observing the room.

I was seated on a comfortable couch and served a soothing blend of herbal tea. While imbibing this delicious concoction I took in the room, which consisted of two massage tables in the central section, around which numerous aromatic candles glowed. The area was dimly lit, and the same gentle music tinkled in the background.

A vaulted ceiling added vertical dimension to the space. Finishing off the luxurious chamber where a shower room, a large circular bathtub, and a toilet in the back.

The masseuse gave me a brief introduction to the room before telling me to relax and freshen up, and then to buzz her when I was ready to begin the treatment. She left, and I was undressed and washed in the glorious rainfall-like shower, helping myself to the fine plant-based cleansing products. Once dried and dressed in the spa-provided disposable boxer shorts, I buzzed the attendant and the treatment began.

I lay on my belly, with my face firmly ensconced in the hole that massage tables have for such a purpose. I was delighted to find a beautiful flower in a dish of water directly beneath my face, emitting a subtle perfume and making even this view of the floor soothing.

No detail is missed at Olaysha, as I was quickly coming to understand. I began with my entire body draped in a towel, but as each section was worked on, It was uncovered, only to be recovered when the masseuse moved on.

The masseuse began by rubbing my back with warm oil in circular motions, working tension out of my muscles. After my back had been well-lubed, she took ovular black rocks from a pot of hot water and, after cooling them a bit, began to work my back with these. The sensation was truly amazing, the combination of heat and pressure making me melt into a state of bliss.

This continued for an unknown quantity of time, as I was suddenly incapable of keeping track. It must have been about thirty minutes for my back alone.

Following the rock rub, she sponged off the excess oil and scrubbed my skin briskly with a soft towel. Then she placed new hot rocks at precise intervals along my spine and covered my back with a towel to retain the heat.

Following this, she repeated the process for the backs of my legs and feet, in which much of my tension was stored. When she began with each set of stones, she always checked to make sure they were not too hot – something for which I was grateful. Once she had finished with my back, I rolled over and she began working on the fronts of my legs, which were equally tight.

Whenever she found a place where a lot of tension was stored, she noticed immediately and worked it out with expertise.

After the front of my legs, she moved on to my belly, which was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The hot rocks on my abdomen almost made me go to sleep instantaneously. Finally, she wrapped up the massage with a soothing head rub that was once deeply relaxing and invigorating: she pushed pressure points and shifted sections of my scalp, then finished by briskly mussing the area.

When she had finished, my body and mind were truly at peace. My mother is a massage therapist of great skill, and I have never encountered anyone who could compare to her expertise in creating such an overall feeling of well-being – until now.

To top it all off, after the massage I was served a lovely peanut and bean soup that somehow served to refresh my mind and ready me for reentry into the outside world. My experience at Olaysha was truly wonderful, serene, and bliss-inducing – exactly what I needed to counteract the effects of my busy city life in Suzhou.

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