This space I’ve been so graciously given by our publisher and friend Rey Fortaleza is about my forays into the world of food and that unmistakable itch I in the soles of my feet every few months that takes me to places old and new. It’s about finding out what the rest of the world has to offer, making memories and coming back home. I hope you all find something new , something delicious, something wonderful as we journey in The Roundabout.
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My work ( I’m a food stylist and writer among other things), often has me bending over tables and counter tops, manipulating different types of food into showing their best self for the camera. As such, my back is often strained, my neck and shoulders a jumble of knots. Either that or I am lugging my not- too- light suitcase from one place to the other, often without the help of a porter. Thus the need for a regular massage.
So one rainy Friday afternoon I wheedled my seventeen year old into coming with me to the spa for some much needed mommy and me time. She was starting school in a day or two and after working hard all summer trying to complete her requirements and getting a head start on school work, I decided she need a break.
We often get together at our kitchen table or at a restaurant nearby. Our bonding time was more often than not over food or the other activity we both love … shopping. So a spa date was the perfect respite for us. I booked us at Le Spa at Sofitel Hotel, one of the best hotels in the Manila area.
We arrived early for our spa appointment, in anticipation of Friday’s epic traffic jams.
Le Spa is located on the ground floor of the hotel ( pool level) right beside the nail and hair salons. Through it’s glass doors is a tranquil receiving area with comfortable couches and illuminated capiz work on the walls. Like a hidden cave of calm, everything is muted in this space. It’s like stepping into a world of your own. From the reception, we were immediately escorted to the well appointed locker room with the Jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna. The facilities are impeccably clean ( as they should be) and the staff, attentive and courteous.
After a half hour of catch up chatting with my girl, we headed for the serenity of the treatment areas on the spa’s second floor. Up the massive wooden stairs to the second floor, much like the “bahay na bato” of yore, the treatment rooms are done in old wood punctuated with tactile native materials like banig and other fibers. Our room happened to face the bay, with the rains whipping the seas grey and threatening to overflow onto the Sofitel’s well manicured gardens. The leaves were thrashing the glass rather wildly , so we turned our backs on the howling winds and settled in for an afternoon of pure bliss.
Le Spa offers a wide variety of massages, scrubs, facials and combination treatments. The menu was dizzying. We chose the massage, scrub and facial combination that guaranteed a full two hours of pure bliss.
The therapists covered our eyes with cool cloths scented with cucumber before commencing with a mango body scrub for me and a sea salt and coconut scrub for my daughter. The scents of the mango and coconut alone were enough to bring back happy memories of our travels and travails together.
We shared a happy silence as the therapists moved on to our facials. We couldn’t really tell how the facials felt afterwards, as we had both drifted off to sleep. In a dreamy haze, we woke up 15 minutes later to turn over on our stomachs for specialty Hilot Secret massage. (For the spa virgin, the Filipino Hilot massage is a good starter. Hilot is the Filipino ancient art of healing through massage. The strokes are deep and penetrating to ease away tension and promote well being and good circulation. ) Expert hands kneaded and cajoled my stressed out flesh into a molten mass of relaxation. My back yielded and let go of the months of tension from work and travel. Then I vaguely remember being told to turn over onto my back again before I faded into unconsciousness.
That little ping from the bell broke through the quiet in the room, signaling the end of our treatments. Across the room I saw my girl gently stirring. She padded over to me in our plush spa robes and warm slippers and rewarded with the best hug only she can give and a “ thank you so much mom for nagging me to come with you today. I sooooo enjoyed this. Thank you for knowing that I needed this. I love you mom!”.
And with that we capped off our day together with a light dinner at Sofitel’s Le Bar. My mommy work is done. Braving the traffic to get to the Spa was all worth it.
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