The tranquil and peaceful CHI spa at the Shangri-La hotel, tucked away on a floor of its own in the tallest building in Vancouver, offers a complete escape from city living. The Aroma Vitality treatment (70 minutes, $175) aims to "strengthen the body's energy", and my therapist, Roya, concentrated on doing exactly that. She took me through to my own private spa suite -- Padma -- Sanskrit for lotus flower -- where I changed into a miraculously soft robe, leaving my street clothes in a small wardrobe.
Roya began the treatment by inviting me to place my feet in a warm bowl of water and to sip on some warming ginger tea. She rubbed my legs and feet with salts until I felt refreshed and ready for the next phase of the treatment: a warm-up in my personal steam room, so nicely hot, I had to use the cooling shower from time to time while I was in there. When my time was up, Roya rang a little bell to let me know. Warmed and welcomed, with sea music playing in the background, I padded barefoot across the heated floor and got onto the almost infinitely adjustable (and also heated) treatment bed, where Roya made sure I was comfortable for my massage.
There followed an excellent treatment. Roya began by holding different parts of my body, tuning into my energy. She used a variety of massage techniques, all very focused and centred: Swedish massage movements of pressure, tapping, and kneading, but also shiatsu and stretching. In the reflexology on my feet, attention was paid to every individual toe. I had told Roya I was concerned about my neck, so this was Roya's particular focus, aiming to increase my range of movement, gently but deftly pushing my muscles a bit further, bending me until I could feel knots unravel and the vertebrae align themselves.
I was very sad when the treatment came to an end. If I could, I'd book this every day for a week; Roya's massage was perfectly personalised and tuned to my needs.
My stay at CHI ended with some more ginger tea and dried fruits, with me dressed and out of the suite, back in the reception area, where I gradually drifted back to the real world.
Try this treatment if: you need to realign your body and realign your mind.