May the Force Be With You at Chi, The Spa

(This article was previously published on Zen Health magazine, May-June 2010. Only the text are by me. Hotel photo used below is from Google) 

Ancient Chinese philosophy believes that life is moved and maintained by a force which is called Chi. It is the life force that moves and dictates the flow of energy in one's body, and even life, is believed to be important in preventing diseases and all kinds of pain. According to the philosophy, if one's Chi is out of balance, it can be expected that there would arise problems such as injuries and aches that could potentially lead to a disrupted flow of positive energy that may eventually lead to a depressed mind and body state.

Fortunately, not so far-off from the city is a sanctuary that promises personalized pampering treatments. The Chi Spa, embraced by the private walls of EDSA Shangri-la Manila, provides spa enthusiasts with personalized Chi treatments that promise not just an invigorating and energizing experience but also a refocused life energy to cure any ailments caused by imperfections with one's Chi.

My Chi experience started with a quiet walk towards the peaceful sanctuary. The Chi is located at the hotel's garden wing, and is embraced by a subtle zen vibe mixed with a distinct tropical character. It was quite easy to forget, at that early point of time, that I was still in the middle of the city. Not far away was EDSA, but as if it were magic, the noise and even the feel of pollution was hardly present as I made my way through the lush greens of EDSA Shangri-la's poolside.

Before anything else, I was asked to fill up a quick survey form which intended to determine what my element is. This is important because at CHI, The Spa treatments are customized depending on the dominant element of the guest. There are five personal elements that CHI, The Spa depends on in customizing your spa treatment.

These elements are based on your preferences in color, taste and daily living. They are Earth, Fire, Water, Metal and Wood. During my visit, I was found out to be of the Wood element.

My primary element represents personalities that love adventure and competition. It was an exciting experience to discover my personal element because it allowed me to rediscover where exactly I am mentally and spiritually. Wood people tend to prefer green and yellow colors, sweet and sour foods and afternoons; and most wood people dislike humidity.

After determining my element, my therapist gracefully guided me to the spa suites. From Chi's facade down to its very exclusive private suites radiates a feeling of escapism that is rare in other spas. The moment we stepped into the hallways of Chi, the sun seemed to have set, the lights were soft and warm, and the ambiance was mellow. The Tibetan inspired interiors contributed to the feeling of being brought to another place. Each room was even named after Tibetan words that evoke a dynamic yet relaxed mood for the guests.

Before the treatment, I was given enough time to clean and prepare myself with a warm shower. The shower room doubled as a steam room so all the tension in my body gradually leveled down. Their lemon shampoo provided a nice citrus pinch in what could've been the longest shower I ever had. Time seemed to have stopped as I prepared myself for my Chi experience. Queer enough, my spa treatments haven't even started yet!

After cleansing, I was directed to a nice corner to a foot cleansing ritual where my therapist explained to me what will happen in the following hours. I was also given the warmest, sweetest and the most delightful ginger tea I've ever tasted. By the time my therapist was using freshly crushed orchids to cleanse my feet, I was already on a high with all the flavors, metaphorically and literally, enveloping my senses.

But it doesn't stop there. The flavors of Chi escalate as grains of time breezed through. The first treatment I "taste-tested" was the Kakang Wrap with Conditioning Gugo Hair Treatment. The treatment was 75 minutes of invigorating vitamin-rich scrub that successfully buffed away dead skin cells while soothing dry skin. The invigorating scrub also stimulates cell regeneration which makes it the perfect partner of Chi's all-natural moisture balancing coconut cream.

After the scrub and the application of the rich coconut cream, I was wrapped in banana leaves to preserve and to further optimize the nourishing effects of the cream. Simultaneously, my therapist thoroughly cleansed my scalp with the natural cleansing effects of pure calamansi extract. Afterwards, she nourished my hair by applying conditioning gugo that has been used for ages as a natural hair-revitalizing ingredient.

The all-natural ingredients used during the procedure were a delightful experience because it brought me back to basics. It ensured safe, organic, and not to mention an environment-friendly spa experience for me.
After the body treatment, I took a quick shower to prepare myself for the next spa treatment I was to indulge myself with, the Chi Balance.

The Chi Balance in one of CHI, The Spa's top-ranking signature therapy and massages. It is a blend of Asian techniques that takes into consideration the guest's personal element to suit current Yin and Yang status. It includes acupressure, an energizing massage for Yang stimulation and relaxing massage for Yin to calm.

Guests have a choice of what oil to use, but to make the most of my Chi experience I opted for the pure oriental element oil suited for my personal element at the time of my visit, which was wood. The gentle lavender scent completely lulled my spirit to a serene state. It was like I was carried off closer to nirvana as the soft ambient music and the energizing touch of my therapist realigned my Chi.

After Chi Balance, I felt so ready to conquer the rest of my day. The experience didn't leave me all sluggish and "battered". In fact, instead of feeling overworked by all the massages and treatment I've tried, I felt alive and stronger. The Chi experience was a remarkable visit, perfect for spa-goers who would like to extend their spa experience further than just scented oils and instrumental music.


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