Indulging in an ancient curative

Morning Tai ChiSpa incorporates feng shui values
Treatments help to ease fatigue

HONG KONG – The trip promised to be a whirlwind – three days in Asia after a 15-hour flight, crossing the International Date Line and entering another hemisphere.  I knew it would be exhilarating; I feared it would be exhausting.

So I arranged a visit to I-Spa, InterContinental Hong Kong’s award-winning urban retreat, attracted by its reputation as Hong Kong’s first and only spa incorporating the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui – the perfect balance of nature that creates harmony and well being through free-flowing energy.  A traditional Chinese fish bowl graced I-Spa’s entrance.  It’s home to four goldfish (the number is determined by feng shui).  The three Chinese characters on the metal sculpture at the entrance translated to “wishing you smiles and happiness.”

Tea light candles illuminated the black stairs leading to the relaxation area where a variety of teas was served.  Awaiting my treatment I sipped on detox tea, a soothing blend of fresh ginger, honey and lemon, (three cups to be precise – selected to combat jetlag, I reasoned) and marveled at my sense of calm.

The serenity of the third-floor oasis was a notable departure from Hong Kong’s exciting but hectic frenzy.  Could it be my feng shui-enhanced environs?

Tai Chi master, William NuDesigned by renowned feng shui master Jackie Chan (no relation to the martial arts action star), the spa’s delicate symmetry is re-evaluated annually.  The result may mean that the back of a door is painted gold, the number of goldfish is altered or the sound of the water fountain may be softened. Guided by British-born spa director Tracy Lord, I selected a 60-minute ‘Jet Lag Recovery Massage’ ($102 U.S.) with technician Brigida Chang in private spa suite number 4, named Wu Qu (meaning prosperity).

Designed to combat fatigue and interrupted sleep patterns, the full-body aromatherapy massage incorporated a powerful blend of peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus.  Brigida’s strong hands seemed guided to body areas that ached for attention.  She initially concentrated on my upper body, neck and shoulders, and when I turned to lie on my back, a heated pillow was provided as a headrest.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Sometime later (due to drifting, exact timing is unknown) I heard Brigida’s soothing voice indicating the treatment was over, but that the room (equipped with a private Jacuzzi, sauna and steam shower) was mine.

I emerged from the womb-like retreat, refreshed and revitalized.

After a full night of sleep, I again pushed the elevator button to I-Spa’s third floor, bypassed the spa’s 24-hour gym and its numerous Stairmasters, and headed to the pool deck for the complimentary (for hotel guests) tai chi class.

“Ah, yes, please join us,” greeted 70-year-old tai chi master William Nu.  Not much taller than 5 feet, dressed in a white silk pajama-like outfit and wearing a wise, welcoming smile, he was anything but intimidating.

Soft background music played as our movements mimicked reaching for the moon, bending to gather a large beach ball and spreading bird-like wings.

And so it was that like many locals, who start their day practising tai chi on the lawns of grassy parks and atop random rooftops, I began my day in Hong Kong on a pool terrace overlooking Victoria Harbour.