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Spa Breaks
Published: Volume 14, Issue 4, July-August, 2006

Rejuvenation, relaxation, time out from a hectic schedule...the buzzwords are 'spa time'. If you want to lie back and be pampered, whether for an hour or a week or more, whether in the midst of the city or in sylvan, idyllic surroundings, Verve has some luxurious suggestions

Three best-kept secrets

Far from the madding crowds of Java, the location of this eco-resort and spa near Magelang, is 900 metres above sea level with spectacular views of the eight surrounding volcanos. The Losari principle is that of a holistic approach to life - the spa offers therapies ranging from traditional Javanese remedies to the best of international treatments.

A touch of Turkey
The hammam, with separate facilities for men and women, is an authentic Turkish steam bath tiled with Javanese yellow volcanic rock and complete with relaxation rooms. Quite a sensation in Indonesia, but sure to be replicated eventually, worries Gabriella Teggia, the Italian owner of the resort.

At first, the thought of the hammam's sticky heat in this tropical climate, was discouraging. Despite learning that the moist warmth of a traditional hammam offers the perfect opportunity for deep cleansing and detoxification, followed by a fragrant, infused oil massage, we were still not tempted. So we let another Franco-American couple, whom we met the first evening, try it out. They were so relaxed afterwards that they disappeared to their villa and only came back for breakfast the next morning! So we gathered that it must be good!

Soothing strokes
Californian spa expert, Susan Stein, of Jari Menari (Dancing Fingers) spa in Bali, regularly visits to train the Losari spa staff in the various techniques of massage, while carrying out quality control. Together with Gabriella, she advocates the use of natural products and Indonesian herbal recipes, an example being a coffee-based soap developed for Losari.

The treatments begin with a 45-minute, non-oil massage for the back, neck, scalp and feet. This is free of charge and introduces those who have never experienced a massage to that heavenly sensation. Even my husband who hates massages tried this one out- for 15 minutes, and survived.

The Italian job
This includes skilled Indonesian-style treatments for the hair, face and feet. I enjoyed a traditional Indonesian cream steam bath treatment for my hair, a luxurious hour-and-a-half with a heavenly head, scalp and neck massage. The face pack smells wonderful and my feet were pedicured after a foot reflexology treatment. The Italian herbal mud-wrap uses special volcanic herbal mud packages which are imported from Italy. The warm mud wrap is excellent for a bad back.

Apart from the spa treatments, afternoon yoga classes can be booked at the fitness centre. Singaporean wellness therapist and yoga teacher of Javanese origin, Azmi Samdjaga, flies in at least once a month to train the resident yoga teachers and masseurs at the resort. For those up early, the free gentle yoga classes take place in the garden at 8.00 a.m.