Sukhumvit Soi 3's ultra-modern 'Hapa Spa' is one of these rare spas. It has the exotic name: the word 'Hapa' originates from the paradise island of Hawaii, and means of 'mixed descent'. And, it lives up to the promise: its treatments and architecture are a hybrid, drawing not only on Eastern and Western influences, but also other fashionable dichotomies like past and future, organic and man-made, science and tradition.
Quirky spaces for organic indulgences
This eclecticism is apparent when passing through its funky circular glass door, into the chic oblong reception area. Cast in a cool Zen style, it is a bright, tranquil space with floor-to-ceiling windows and chic rattan furniture. At one end glass containers of roast herbal teas occupy trendy teak shelves, in the centre sits a raised tea bar, and at the other a beauty salon and foot massage area.
The six treatments rooms are also quirky. Found amidst retro sculptures and furniture, each is little more than an aluminium storage container (they wouldn't look out of place in a cargo shipping yard). However, step past their cold impersonal exteriors and they're gorgeous and private: minimal interiors decked out with cream shiny surfaces, splashes of Thai modern art and showers, deep tubs or jacuzzis.
Although Hapa Spa's setting is man-made and playful, there is one area it doesn't tweak: the ingredients used are nothing but 100% organic. Run your finger down the menu and you'll find rubdowns that use unforeseen natural substances like Arabica Coffee or organic rice, oddities like a body wrap that uses pure chocolate, or oil massages that utilise all manner of natural oils.
No synthetic additives or untested chemicals here. The duration of treatments is just as diverse, if not untested, ranging from half-hour breaks from the harassment of Sukhumvit (a face or foot massage perhaps) all the way up to exhaustive rejuvenating packages that take between two and a half to seven hours.
The Four Treatments Package
With treatments like the 'Infrared Thermal Sauna' available, that's not as exhausting an undertaking as it sounds. The infrared sauna uses radiant heat, a form of energy that heats the person but not the air in-between, to burn off calories, expel toxins and give you radiant glowing skin.
All I had to do was sit there in a small pine cabin and read, listen to piped in chamber music, meditate and reap the benefits. No catch. None apart from the small puddle of hot sweat you purge - a small price to pay, I decided, for an ocean of therapeutic benefits, the lose of 900 calories, and a feeling of purification.
Rituals like the 40-minute Hapa body scrub. This began with my masseuse gently but thoroughly rubbing a coarse, fresh ginseng mixture over every one of my million or so grubby pores. As it hardened and was scoured off I felt as if emerging from a chrysalis. Once I'd showered up afterwards my body felt translucent, as polished as a freshly shored pearl.
Hydrotherapy - exercise without effort
After doing low-tech, it was then onto something more bleeding edge: Hydrotherapy. Never before had I tried immersing myself in a deep tub filled with hot mineral enriched water, one that bubbles like a creamy volcanic pool courtesy of an aerated bathmat that sits beneath you.
Once you do though, you don't forget it: the fierce ultrasonic bubbles take over, quaking the body into a state of vigorous relaxation. So fierce are they, that each cm of skin is subjected to 15kg of pressure each second - the net result, you guessed it, more exercise without effort (15 minutes equals a 3km jog). Aside from weight loss, regular use is said to improve sex life, circulation, complexion, and, by stimulating endorphins, control pain and muscle tension.
If you're under whelmed by treatments like the old school Thai or Swedish, then I can only recommend what came after I surrendered into the able hands of awaiting masseurs. Yes that's right 'masseurs' plural - the unconventional 'Four Hands Massage' gives you two of them.
One takes the leg area, the other tackles the torso and arms. For the occasion I had the choice of four different aromatherapy oils - Flu Fighter, Geranium, Lavender, HAPA. The last (a signature mix of lavender, geranium, peppermint, lemon, cinnamon, orange and eucalyptus) was by far the most arresting. As it was applied in blends of long, sweeping Shiatsu and Swedish style strokes the air was filled with Elysian scents. My mind and body passed through a rarely used door of perception. Here there was no stress, no worries, only the serene calm of pure bodily sensation.
- Location: 20/4 Sukhumvit Soi 3, Klong Toey Nua, Bangkok
- Tel: +66 (0)2 651 096