MANILA, December 1, 2004
 (STAR) RENDEZVOUS By Christine S. Dayrit - Except for the rustling of leaves that danced with the wind and the sound of our footsteps, nothing more was heard as my lady therapist led me to the Yin-Yang Pavilion, the shared massage area at Mandala Spa in Boracay. The serene walk to the spa center had me communing with nature, becoming attuned to my heartbeat.

"This is your time to relax," my therapist whispered as she lifted the ivory-colored cover of the bed where I would have my shodhana karma detoxification and rejuvenation treatment. The faint sound of smoothing and soulful music, the scent of lavender and eucalyptus oil, and the white gauze-like canopy that billowed in the breeze moved me to quietude. If this is not paradise, I asked myself, what is?

The shodhana karma treatment started with a traditional footbath and a Mandala signature massage using cold-pressed sesame oil, herbalized with calamus root powder. The calamus strengthens the nerves improves energy and depressurizes emotional exhaustion.

Following the massage is swedana, a sauna ritual that assimilates several sauna cycles, aromatherapy and herbal tonics to aid in the elimination of toxins from the body through sweating. Inside the sauna room, the bouquet of rosemary oil mixed with the sauna water stimulates and invigorates. In between sauna, a tonic made of ginger is served to assist in detoxification. Through exposure to sauna heat, the immune system is stimulated and the endocrine glandular functions are regulated.

Shodhana karma culminates with the ubvarian springtime body scrub, a gentle exfoliation treatment using traditional Ayurvedic ingredients. This final treatment includes an energizing Vichy shower after the therapist scrubs the body with granules of chickpeas mixed with sandalwood, cardamom and geranium oils.

At Mandala Spa, they know exactly what spa-ing is all about. Their adherence to the optimum health of mind and body, soul and spirit through the shodhana karma treatment won for Mandala Spa the coveted best rejuvenation program award at the 2004 inaugural Spa Asia Crystal Awards (Saca) held in Singapore. Owners of spas in Asia graced the occasion to receive this prestigious honor endorsed by Spa Asia Media Pte. Ltd., publisher of Spa Asia and Retreats and Vacations, the bible of the best spas and wellness programs across Asia. Mandala Spa director Karen Reina and Mandala Spa manager Dang Romero accepted the recognition at the Pacific Ballroom of the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore.

Mandala Spa garnered 14 nominations in various categories Ė including ambience, design, treatments, products, techniques and even music Ė alongside big players such as Four Seasons Resort, Banyan Tree Phuket, JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Chiva Som International Health Resort.

Of the nominees, only 27 spas were adjudged winners in their respective categories. Winners received a Saca winner certificate and a special handmade 12-inch crystal trophy shaped like a water droplet designed and crafted by the famous Langkawi Crystal.

According to Spa Asia publisher Michael Loh: "For the first time here in Asia, spa operators are now privy to how they measure up to competition and this can only augur well for the industry as a whole as each will strive to retain or achieve the honor of being known as the regionís most valued selection year after year." Mandala Spa brought prestige and honor to the Philippines.

Shodhana karma is so effective a detoxification and rejuvenation treatment that it moved Supreme Court Justice Consuelo Ynares Santiago to enthuse: "Itís like experiencing rebirth. At the end of the treatment, I felt so empowered with positive energy."

Tita Eloís daughter Jenny Santiago added that the 12 luxurious villas at Mandala Spa, each about 100-square meters with imported teak flooring, vaulted ceilings and exteriors clad in bamboo, stone riprap and cogon roofing, are truly magnificent.

Bea Azcuna, daughter of Supreme Court Justice Adolf Azcuna agreed with Tita Eloís declaration. "Itís the best pampering Iíve ever experienced," she exclaimed.

My sister Michelle Dayrit-Soliven, after she experienced her first shodhana karma treatment, was inspired to come up with a new line for Miladay Jewels, calling it the Bora High Jewelry collection.

My best buddy writer Bum Tenorio became emotional after his watsu (water treatment therapy) and shodhana karma treatments. "My spa experience at Mandala Spa was a journey of relaxation and tranquility I have long wanted to discover. Iím devoid of hurts and pains now. Iím born anew," he said.

Even healer Fr. Corsie Legaspi discovered the rejuvenating treatment of this "spa with a soul."

The Mandala experience is further enhanced with specially prepared vegetarian cuisine at Prana Restaurant where guests can enjoy a light meal that perfectly complements the exhilarating spa treatment. Try their delightful pad thai noodles with a refreshing glass of mint slush.

More people are learning how to manage their life gracefully at Mandala, enthused Freida Dario, Spa communications specialist. One may choose from spa holidays like wellness, radiance, yoga, honeymoon, cleanse and detox retreats. The corporate wellness retreat can be tailor-made to suit the needs of the business traveler.

Mandala Spa will take spa-ing to even greater heights. Their newest gifts of wellness include stone magic therapy (a treatment that allows you to experience the harmonizing energies of stones), lymph drainage massage (a very gentle massage that invigorates the lymph system), green coffee therapy (a luxurious slimming body scrub and wrap that tones and polishes the skin) and prenatal massage (an essential side-lying massage designed to care for pregnant women). Topping the list of royal pampering treatments is the Spa Asia Crystal Awards much-applauded rejuvenation program, the shodhana karma.

One need not go far to find a place where total healing of body and soul can be achieved. Mandala Spa is not only paradise; it is a state of mind. And yes, it is now a world-renowned Philippine pride.

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For inquiries about Mandala Spa, call (036) 288-5858 to 59 or log on to Asian Spirits flies to Boracay 10 times a day. For flight details, call 897-1333.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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