SHEX Reviews: CHI, The Spa
‘I’ve been seeing so many A&F [American fashion brand Abercrombie & Fitch] models around here [at the Jing An Shangri-La Hotel] lately,’ the communications manager Lauren Yang told me, as we stepped into the elevator. ‘They’re staying here for the store opening in Shanghai.’
I hadn’t even noticed them. All I could think about as Lauren led me to the lobby elevators was the aroma vitality massage awaiting me. Having had a busy couple of weeks with midterms and traveling to Beijing and Suzhou on the weekends, I desperately needed a massage.
Soon, the elevator doors opened to CHI, The Spa—which, along with the hotel as the second Shangri-La in Shanghai, opened last summer. The services offered at the Jing An and the Pudong spas are the same, varying only in name, spa manager Kelly Ji told me.
Kelly led me to some comfortable couches with a magazine stand, offering a hot cup of jasmine and ginger tea, as I filled out a brief, confidential health-related questionnaire.
As soon I finished, the lead therapist Fiona took me to one of the eight treatment rooms. All the other rooms that day were full, Kelly told me. Most of the clients are the hotel guests, but business professionals in the area do request the spa’s many services, from deep hydrating collagen facials to its popular couple’s massage.
Another popular treatment is the 75-minute CHI Balance massage (880 RMB), which is advertised as the best for treating jet lag and insomnia. Kelly said it is a very soft, gentle massage.
The whole spa is dimly yet warmly lit, adding to the serene environment. My room was just large enough to fit a massage bed, with a small changing room, complete with two small water bottles, a comb, a shower cap, a hair band, Q-tips, a hair dryer, slippers, tissues, a bottle of Sassoon hair mousse and more. For ladies with long hair, remember to tie your hair back to avoid having it interfere with the massage.
Fiona returned two minutes later after I changed into the fluffy cream-colored robe. The hour-long aroma vitally massage (780 RMB, 1080 RMB for 90 minutes) began with Fiona draping my body with a towel, as I positioned myself face down. Only when she was massaging a particular area did she lift the towel.
Normally, clients can choose from three body oils: spice and floral blend, scent of spring and oriental blend, Kelly told me after the massage. For some reason, Fiona chose the oriental blend for me but I didn’t mind.
As I told myself to relax and listened to the soundtrack of calming flute music, Fiona began massaging my back. The pressure remains rather gentle throughout the massage, but feel free to request harder pressure. This massage uses gentle to medium pressure, 'bringing together elements of Swedish and lymphatic drainage combined with the therapeutic qualities of oriental aromatic essential oils to strengthen the body’s metabolism and vitality.’
The massage includes the back, arms, hands, legs and feet. When I was on my back, I nearly fell asleep. At the conclusion of the massage, you have the option to take a shower if the oil on your skin bothers you, but Fiona said it’s better to keep it on for the oils to work its magic. I opted to skip the shower. As I changed back into my clothes, Fiona told me she would prepare some tea and cookies for me back in the couch area.
The experience ended up feeling shorter than I would have liked, but I did feel a calm wash over me.
While leaving through the hotel lobby, I still didn’t notice if there were any A&F models walking around. Again, my thoughts were on the massage. I could have stayed in the spa all day.
|•||Located conveniently near the West Nanjing Road metro station and opened less than a year ago, the Shangri-La spa is the newer of the two in Shanghai.|
|•||Jasmine and ginger tea is offered both before and after the massage, with plenty of complimentary amenities inside the changing rooms.|
|•||Having to work with a mostly international clientele, the friendly staff knows English.|
|•||Services are expensive. Packages combine two or more treatments and start at 1380 RMB.|
|•||The massages largely involve gentle to medium pressure, so unless you request using more pressure, the massage may not feel effective enough.|