The Maradiva Spa, on the west coast of Mauritius, usually has the Indian Ocean on its doorstep, but for its months residence in Harrods it will have to make do with the Egyptian escalator
Mauritian Retreat, the Maradiva Spa pop-up at Harrods Urban Retreat, had its work cut out if it was going to help me unwind. Even at the best of times, I am rarely chillaxed — and the afternoon of my treatment I was struggling with the after-effects of two days travelling for work, a busy weekend in Amsterdam and a stonking big cold. I wasn’t really after whale music and essential oils; I wanted to curl up in bed with a mug of Lemsip and a book.
I left work a little too late, and in the Tube experienced alternate hot and cold sweats while mentally composing my to-do list, before battling with rising rage as I wrestled through crowds of tourists at Kensington Tube — ‘you’re standing on the wrong side of the escalators!’ I screamed inside. By the time I arrived at Urban Retreat on the fifth floor of Harrods I felt as uptight as Simon Cowell’s trousers.
The Maradiva Spa, on the west coast of Mauritius, usually has the Indian Ocean on its doorstep, but for its month’s residence in Harrods it will have to make do with the Egyptian escalator. You can forgive a slightly slapdash massage if you’re overlooking the ocean — not so when you’ve sacrificed your lunch break and several Harrods shoppers to get there on time, so I was interested in how the spa would fare so far away from home.
I needn’t have worried. I was booked in for the Ananda oil massage, one of the spa’s signature treatments. The massages are all based on Indian Ayuverdic principles – and the Ananda massage was traditionally given to Ananda wrestlers. The closest I’ve come to wrestling is the occasional boxercise session, but as I imagine Andanda wrestlers are quite demanding clients, I decided not to let this put me off.
My masseuse Anisha wore a beautiful white and gold shalwar kameez and invited me to smell the massage oils she was going to use. The body oil was a blend of ginger, clove, lime and sweet almond oil — I could just about make out its warming, exotic scent despite my cold — while for my face she would use sandalwood oil.
Pictured above: Maradiva Spa pop-up at Harrods Urban Retreat
The massage was wonderful — the long, smooth motions began gently enough but quickly focussed in on areas of tension. I like firm massages (so, I’m sure do, Ananda wrestlers) and wasn’t disappointed. The head massage left me looking a lot like Worzel Gummidge and I regretted not bringing a hairbrush, but it was worth the style sacrificed. By the time it finished, I was blissfully relaxed — or so I thought.
‘Your body is very tense,’ Anisha told me sweetly as she lifted off my eye mask, before suggesting a breathing exercise I should try every morning. As if that can cure a lifetime’s worth of neuroses, I thought, but perhaps I should give it a try.
At £85 for an hour-long treatment, the Ananda massage is good value and while it may be a little more expensive than a mug of Lemsip, it proved an infinitely more pleasurable and effective treatment for Autumn blues and the first cold of the year. The pop-up’s only around for a few more days so if you can’t get to Harrods on time you’ll just have to book a trip to Mauritius.
Stay at Maradiva Villas Resort and Spa in Mauritius from £2,089 per person. This offer includes return economy flights with Emirates from London Gatwick, as well as seven nights half board in a garden suite, based on two sharing. The offer must be booked by 31 October 2012 and is valid for travel in either November or 20 January–28 February 2013. For further information or to book visit www.destinology.co.uk or call 0800 634 2866