Hilot massage

Hilot massage

15 December, 2013
Traditional bliss
CHI, The Spa, at Shangri-La Resort & Spa, Boracay, Philippines

"CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La draws inspiration from the origins of the Shangri-La legend, a place of personal peace, enchantment and well-being."  This inspiring missive lifted from the CHI spa pamphlet says it all. On entering the spa village, with lush scents of tropical flowers and foliage wafting through the air and soothing sounds of water features tickling my ears, I have the sense of peace and utter enchantment of being in a secret garden, and I haven’t even begun my treatment. As I tiptoe across the expansive koi pond on a stone path and enter the main pavilion, my stress levels are already lowering.
CHI, The Spa is the signature spa of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, with 18 locations worldwide. The most recent of the three Philippine incarnations is on the renowned island of Boracay, where I have booked a Hilot massage treatment today. Hilot is a traditional Filipino healing method, based around the concept of using deep, soothing massage techniques to release physical and emotional tension and encourage harmony of mind, body and spirit. This is part of the CHI spa concept of featuring local traditions and products on the treatment menu, giving each of the 18 spa locations a distinct local flavour and supporting local culture and custom, while still being unified by the CHI concept.
My spa experience starts with an excellent tip from the resort’s general manager, Mr. Mark Kirk, who recommends I go early and make use of the private swimming pool inside the spa village. As the early evening sky begins to fill with stars, I lay back in a vitality pool and reflect on my day. By the time I am beckoned by my masseur to my private spa villa, I am already halfway to dreamland. Although the darkness of night has fallen, I can sense lush gardens and winding paths all around me, a testament to the spa’s design intention to be “a sanctuary within the resort”.
Each private spa suite is decorated simply but thoughtfully, blurring the lines between outdoors and in, such that I feel like my massage is taking place in a secluded rainforest grove. Before my treatment, I was asked several questions about things like my favourite colours and tastes, to determine my “element”, which was Metal. This ritual is done with every spa guest, and suitable aromatherapy oils chosen accordingly. 
Once my masseur begins his magic, I sink into a deep reverie. The fragrant oils fill the room with aroma and soothe my senses. Gentle attention is paid to my needs, such as room temperature, thirst and massage pressure. The firm, confident movements attest to the professionalism and experience of the masseur, and my relaxation deepens with every stroke. Afterward, I barely wake enough to stumble back to my villa in a happy stupor, soothed and enchanted with my taste of Filipino tradition in a luxe setting.

By: Nissa Marion


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