East Meets East

Hong Kong's Penninsula Spa by ESPA Relaxation Area
The relaxation area offers more sweeping views of the harbor.

I first visit the network of Thermal Suites, which includes a sauna, peppermint-vapor steam room, snail-shaped experience shower and infrared marble ice bath. I start in the darkened steam room. It’s quiet save for the hissing of mint-scented steam, meant to clear sinuses. Amid the steamy haze sits a large rose-quartz crystal. “We believe the crystal imparts a sense of strength, love, beauty and energetic balance,” Codner says.

Next door is the spacious sauna, overlooking the harbor, and then the ice bath, where I encounter an unfamiliar feature: hand towels, immersed in an infrared ice fountain, meant to help guests tighten the skin and stimulate circulation when they use the towels to rub ice all over their bodies.

In my requisite plush robe and cloudlike slippers, I next head to the Asian Tea Lounge for the tea ceremony, where therapists serve hot beverages and conduct pretreatment consultations.

“Before opening, we worked with a Chinese tea master to design the ceremony and select a tea that could assist our guests in reducing internal stress and pressure,” Codner says. My tea is a soothing ginger blend, with notes of honey, cinnamon and lemongrass. I’m told the drink also has powerful flu-fighting effects and aids in digestion and respiration.

My therapist is a beautiful, bird-like Hong Kong woman with perfect English. Throughout the delightful two-hour treatment—which includes a full-body exfoliation, wrap, and aromatherapy body-and-scalp massage—I’m dazzled by the attention paid to every detail. For instance, while facedown on the table, I look below into a glass bowl filled with aromatherapy oils and see that several orchids have been gracefully arranged inside—just so I have something beautiful to look at.