One of the reasons The Good Spa Guide was invited to the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles was to try the recently launched Vaishaly Experience. Building on her renowned work in London as a facialist, Vaishaly has created this treatment to live neither in the facial nor the massage section of a spa menu, but as a stand-alone experience in its own right.
The treatment involves cranial sacral therapy (CST), a complementary therapy based on the idea that manipulation of the bones in the skull (the cranium) can unblock any restrictions in the flow of cerebro-spinal fluid -- the fluid that pulses around the brain and spinal cord. The therapist gently feels the scalp and neck to test the rhythm and ease of motion of this fluid, then uses soft-touch techniques to release any restrictions in the tissues. While many are sceptical as to the benefits of CST as a medical treatment*, there is no doubt that CST given as a "massage" can be both relaxing and enjoyable. I am a devotee of any form of head massage -- just a gentle touch on my scalp seems to ease tension -- so I was looking forward to the "experience". My therapist, Soma, is just one of a small group of therapists personally trained by Vaishaly in the technique.
The treatment began with a foot ritual then I climbed onto the treatment bed. The room was darkened, with music playing in the background. This is a treatment where you have to trust your therapist. Soma placed oil on her hands and held them very close to my face. I could smell the warming scents of the product and also feel the warmth from her hands; this proximity generates an intimate sense of closeness between you and your therapist.
Soma held my head in a variety of positions; sometimes face-up, sometimes to one side. Some people report rocking their body from side to side during this part of the treatment; while I did not, I could feel a gentle rhythm in Soma's hands. While Soma massaged my scalp, my face, shoulders and neck, the delicious scents from the Vaishaly products -- lavender, geranium, ylang-ylang -- helped me drift away from the world. I had a series of meditative dreams that lifted me up and away from my tensions.
However, everyone's reaction to this memorable treatment will be personal. I was with a group of journalists and we had varied tales to relate: one cried -- happy crying, she said -- with a complete out-of-body experience. One simply found it profoundly relaxing. I found it relaxing, too, but perhaps I needed a few days' run-in to make the most of the interaction. You may find it the perfect opening to your de-stressing Seychelles stay, and certainly the resort itself offers an ideal environment for any further relaxing you wish to do; on the other hand, like me, you may prefer to experience this treatment as the final touch of your stay, so that you leave Paradise with a profound sense of calm, with your spirit lifted and your mind balanced.
Top tip: Ask your therapist to turn off the in-room music so that you can enjoy this gentle treatment with only natural sounds: the wind in the leaves of the hibiscus trees, the birds settling for the night, the distant shush of waves upon the shore.
* Research has concluded that there is no evidence for the therapy's medical effectiveness: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2042-7166.2012.01174.x/abstract
4th April 2014
Warm floors when you put your bare feet upon them; heated treatment beds; soft towels; attention to detail, so that your treatment room looks and smells beautiful when you arrive in it.
Cold floors when you put your bare feet upon them; therapists who use your treatment time to write up a list of product "recommendations" that they hope you will purchase.
Behind the scenes