In the first part of a cultural exchange with a difference, therapists from renowned boutique spa, Anazoe at Costa Navarino in Greece, come to Chelsea to offer an Hellenic spin to the London scene. Kerry May indulges…
My massage experiences typically go like this in my head; “Gosh, I’m practically naked with a woman I just met. I wish I had a massage table with a hole for my face at home. Oh wow, she’s got really strong hands. I hope I shaved my legs properly. Ahhh, that’s nice. Mmm, there go all those knots in my shoulder. I KNEW I was carrying a lot of stress around. Ok, now I must relax. Pretend that my knees aren’t tickly.” And so on, until the massage is about 70% done at which point I have the mantra “Please don’t let it be over yet, please don’t let it be over yet” playing on repeat. Then, of course, it always IS over and I wish I had relaxed properly right from the beginning.
Not so today at The Chelsea Day Spa where the Anazoe Spa are visiting. Bringing a taste of the Mediterranean to London, Anazoe Spa is usually found at the Costa Navarino resort in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Costa Navarino is an award-winning holiday destination which is beautifully presented in a stunning brochure I am given upon arrival. Pictures of the serene looking Anazoe Spa look like a holistic dream brought to life and I wonder when I might be able to quietly slip out of family life for a week or two, for a solitary visit of back pummelling and leg scrubbing. Anazoe, by the way, comes from the Greek word for rejuvenation. Flicking through the brochure I am already imagining myself there in the blue water, or on the golden sand of the beautiful cove which is pictured.
Back to London though. For a limited time only, Anazoe therapists are offering four signature treatments, which are; Messinian Salt & Honey Scrub, Healing Massage Remedy by Hippocrates, Aromatherapy Candle Massage Remedy and Melisseus, the Spirit of Honey. I am put in mind of some kind of uber-relaxing, foreign exchange program. The kind of cultural exchange I could only dream of when at school. Today I am having the Healing Massage Remedy by Hippocrates. It is actually by Maria but I like the reference to Hippocrates, given his explicit approval of massage as a force for healing.
Maria begins by asking me a few questions about my lifestyle and preferences and determines that the season I am most aligned with is Spring. I’m flattered. I take up position on the heated massage table. I really would like one of these in my house. Calming music plays quietly in the background and straightaway I’m in the zone, relaxed and ready. Maria is petite but incredibly strong, and the firm pressure I requested is at the upper limits of my threshold. She uses olive oil to lubricate my skin and works away at the lumpy knots on my back. The treatment is described as ‘combining advanced soft-tissues therapies with techniques derived from the ancient healing art of physiotherapy” and indeed there are moments where I find my legs being swung about as if they are almost nothing to do with me, and my hand placed behind my back whilst Maria presses down on my elbow. I imagine this is about the best bodily MOT one could have. Happily my limbs all co-operate and bend and swing the right way and feel all the looser and invigorated for it.
I especially enjoy the part of the treatment where a bag of warmed herbs is placed in various positions on my back, whilst Maria works on my lower body. When I turn over, I have a warm, scented cloth placed over my eyes. The aromas are so refreshing I have to ask what they are, and Maria tells me they include chamomile and cloves. I inhale it deeply.
The next part of the treatment involves reflexology with a ceramic pestle. I flinch slightly at the point where the point for my kidneys, overworked with birthday gin, is pressed and consider this my rather enjoyable penance. My arms are rubbed and gently pulled, and Maria works her way down to my fingertips, giving them firm tugs, which makes me envision all the tension being drained from me. I am practically floating when she gently informs me the treatment is over and gives me some privacy to enjoy a cup of tea.
When I leave the peaceful environs of the Chelsea Day Spa darkness has fallen and I drift on autopilot towards the tube, savouring the lightness in my muscles and limbs. I think I may have to go to Greece next.
Kerry experienced the Anazoe Spa treatments at The Chelsea Day Spa in the first part of their exchange programme, from 11th-14th March 2015. For more information, visit www.thechelseadayspa.co.uk.
The Chelsea Day Spa therapists will in turn be based at the Anazoe Spa in September 2015, offering a range of signature treatments. For more information about Anazoe Spa, visit www.costanavarino.com. Anazoe Spa was category winner Best Luxury Resort Spa at the World Luxury Spa Awards 2014.