, DECEMBER 31, 2007  (STAR) LIFE & STYLE By Millet M. Mananquil - The Peninsula HongKong just got more special. Or should I say, more spa-cial.

As if it were not enough that The Peninsula has some of the best features in Hong Kong. It has the best suites with the most excellent details ever. It has the best lobby which is the most elegant meeting place in Hong Kong, a feature that The Peninsula Manila likewise has (and never mind if recently, some people thought it could be the setting of their not-too-elegant fantasies). It has some of Hong Kong’s most interesting five-star restaurants, my favorite of which is still Felix because it is so Philippe Starck.

Now, The Peninsula offers the most awesome spa in Hong Kong — and I mean awesome!

”You have to experience our new Spa in Hong Kong,”said Mariano Garchitorena of The Peninsula Manila. “It is the first of its kind in Asia.”

So I did discover what turned out to be a relaxing experience for the mind, body and spirit.

The experience began in the dedicated spa elevator where LCD screens show the digital art created by New York video artist Monika Bravo titled “Lift Me Up.” The concept is that of a breathing wall to transition the guest from urban intensity to surreal calm.

Bravo, Monika!

Occupying the hotel’s three-floor health and fitness facility covering the seventh to the ninth floor, the 12,000-square-foot Spa offers breathtaking floor-to-ceiling views of Victoria Harbour and 14 state-of-the-art treatment rooms.

From the dedicated spa elevator on the seventh floor, the door opens on the ninth floor where you are greeted by a sparkling curtain of shimmering water flowing over a Japanese-inspired setting of black stones and green moss.You start to feel relaxed already. What serenity, what calm is this that makes you forget the stressful world where you came from.

For me, there are two trademark things that make The Peninsula so special: its attention to fine details, and its unforgettable, excellent service. And these two patented trademarks are so clearly seen at the Spa.

The receptionists, clad in black dresses with peephole Mandarin collars, welcome you with an aromatic cup of tea and an in-depth wellness consultation. On the menu are a wide range of services combining ancient with modern therapies, eastern with western techniques in massages. Treaments range from a 10-minute eyebrow shape for HK$190 to a bikini wax for HK$250 to a full-leg wax for HK$460 to intensive facials for HK$990 to massage treatments from HK$940 to a four-hour “Escape from the City” full-day spa package for two in a private suite for HK$10,000.

You can have a 10-minute eyebrow tint for HK$200, a 20-minute eyelash tint for HK $250, or both for HK$375.

I examined the menu and found these the most interesting offerings:

• Freedom of Life-Oriental Life Dance — This powerful stress-buster includes salt and fresh ginger foot buff, a skin-softening body scrub, a cleansing facial with mind-clearing head massage and a shiatsu-inspred massage with hot stones and warm body oils.

• Skin Brightener Age-Defyer Facial — Combined with rich antioxidants, this treatment helps minimize fine lines, counteract the effects of city pollution, stress, flying, business pressures or lack of sleep. Skin cleansing, exfoliating, intensive eye treatment and stress-defying shiatsu pressure point facial massage make the face, neck and decollete smoother and brighter.

• Purva Karma Four-Hand Synchronized Massage — Two therapists simultaneously massage you using body oils enriched with Ayurvedic herbal concentrates. A mentally cleansing and nurturing experience to release tension.

• Ama Releasing Abhyanga — The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda brings inspiration to body and spirit while clearing the chakras. This consists of a salt and oil total body scrub, a hydrating facial, an Ayurvedic point massage using herbs and oils. Pressure is applied to the vital energy centers to help eliminate toxins and negative energy.A mind-clearing Oriental head massage promotes tranquility and prepares you to face the world completely restored.

• Anti-Cellulite Hip and Thigh Treatment — This stimulates the circulation and lymphatic systrems, by exfoliation, vigorous detoxifying massage, and the use of warm marine algae. Reflex pressure points on the feet are activated, and lymphatic drainage massage is done also to the eye area, gentle reducing puffiness and dark circles.

• Back, Face and Scalp Massage with Hot Volcanic Stones — This sophisticated holistic therapy on the body and face includes a deeply intensive massage. The result is rehydrated skin, a cleansed and powerfully massaged back and a deep sense of relaxation.

Before you undergo your preferred treatment, the receptionists lead you to the Thermal Suite, where a range of heating and cooling experiences cleanses your skin, and soothes your aching muscles. Then there are the Crystal Steam Rooms, the aromatherapy “Experience” Showers (I cannot describe it, you have to experience it), ice fountains and harbor view saunas.

Treatment beds in the Spa are the first of their kind in Asia, made by top interior designer Clodagh. Sleek, electrically operated and super comfortable, the beds are wrapped in 100 percent Egyptian cotton pique Frette covers, just like The Peninsula robes. Details, details!

More details: The Peninsula Spa serves four kinds of teas, including their chrysanthemum tea, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine to help cure ailments including high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and high cholesterol.... Guests will never be disturbed by the ring of a telephone, because all spa phones are located in a separate, centralized sound-insulated room.... Each of their 50 therapists took a 10-week holistic training course covering topics ranging from anatomy and physiology to the study of the ancient cultures of China, Bali, India and Europe — cultures from which the massage techniques and philosophies have been derived.

For its Spa, The Peninsula partnered with ESPA, the leading international spa consultancy headed by world-renowned spa authority Susan Harmsworth, to develop the ultimate in personalized spa concepts.The Peninsula Hong Kong Spa by ESPA is a US$6 million project which opened in May 2006. This generation of new spas is now also found at The Peninsula in Tokyo, with the next ones opening in Beijing in spring 2008, New York in autumn 2008 and Shanghai in 2009.

I spent two hours of the most relaxing massage at the Spa. After that, it seemed like I left behind all my body aches, all my stresses.

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For information and reservations, contact The Peninsula Hong Kong at (852)2315-3137, or fax (852)2722-4170, or visit www.peninsula.com. In the Philippines, call The Peninsula Manila at 887-2888.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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