This note makes my day for two reasons – lovely client sends a handwritten note and it reaffirms my process: our hand selected teams all over the world have once again thrilled a client! This family was my very first client over 11 years ago. Always up for adventure, an 8 hour layover in Hong Kong set the stage with our China team who whisked them off to tour in a junk boat, stopping for dim sum and pantyhose milk tea. Flying to Chiang Mai and BKK adventures and still onward for surfing, shopping and touring in Bali where the volcano eruptions didn’t stop their fun! Thank you to my teams in three pockets of the world who guided and shared their unique locations, including Jason Friedman, the GM of The Siam in BKK, who enjoyed elephant dung tea with them one evening! And thank you, Julie!
Where to begin – many whirlwind escapes this year; yet despite the accelerated pace, vivid memories remain from each unique resort.
One memorable location – Bora Bora in May, the month usually denotes the travelers are Honeymoon Couples. I am comfortable everywhere and I’m always working when I visit these glamorous settings, thus an over-water bungalow office is just peachy, even if lovebirds surround me!I will write soon at great length about the magnificent, in every detail, Four Seasons Bora Bora – honestly, it is heaven on earth and actually a very efficient jaunt from our coast.
My very last day of a delightful 9-day excursion to Tahiti, which included working every morning and evening skyping with Benjamin tweaking client itineraries, rendered me weary. Yes, Paradise can be exhausting! My new friend Arnaud Dieutegard, Four Seasons spa director, who had been at the divine lunch at Yrondi’s home – rang me and said you haven’t experienced a Polynesia massage yet, I am sending a buggy for you!
Arnaud is the warmest and most generous guy – he loves the hotel, he loves their products, he is truly imbued with the hospitality gene! You might be surprised that many in the travel industry lack the hospitalitygene.
I had wandered the gorgeous spa a few times for photos and lingered on the to die for view relaxation decks, but hadn’t yet indulged in the services. Everything about the spa whispers rest and unwind – the cathedral like wooden building is sandwiched between a tranquil lagoon and the edge of the sea. Dappled sunlight and shadows play on the lacquered floor – the quiet is truly church like, people passing in robes and soft slippers, disappearing behind enormous dark doors. Sandlewood and frangipani perfumes the space. Arnaud encouraged me to try the traditional Polynesian massage using the hotels exclusive monoi oil that contains flecks of 24-carat gold – E Mauruuru- (Ay mah-roo-roo) is Tahitian for yes, thank you.
Monoi oil is considered a holy oil, priests use it in worship ceremonies to anoint newborns and purify objects. Traditionally used the “sacred oil of the Polynesians,” is cultivated by soaking fragrant Tiare Tahiti blossoms (an exotic gardenia) in refined coconut oil, producing a light and aromatic oil with immeasurable soothing and moisturizing properties. Staff tuck the sweet-smelling blossom behind their ear and leave a creamy white bud nestled on pillows at evening turn-down. I found the scent blissful and sleep inducing.The signature spa experiences reflect ancient traditions, therapeutic disciplines and Western practices – linked together to nurture and re-balance the body. Begin with the Maeva foot ritual to purify both mind and body while renewing the spirit. Your feet are thoroughly exfoliated and massaged with a detox oil to cleanse the body of impurities and prepare you for the transformative treatments to come.
Polynesian Massage: inspired by the culture of the French Polynesian Islands, this type of massage draws on rich therapeutic traditions and uses the graceful, soothing dance-like style of taurumi to achieve a deep state of physical and emotional relaxation.
Balinese Massage: a skill passed down through generations, features long strokes, gentle skin rolling, stretching and thumb pressure. It aims to relieve tension, improve blood flow, ease stress and calm the mind.
Arnaud insisted I try the Polynesian massage, I was a willing volunteer; my afternoon schedule included an early evening flight and late dinner in Papeete before the slog home via LAX and onward to SF. Why Not? My newfound phrase to everything lately – Why Not?
I’m not sure when I passed from groggy and wilted to comatose on the massage table – certainly a combination of travel fatigue and massage magic- my masseuse, Moeana Moetaua, is an expert Polynesian practitioner; the gentle massage pressure rendered me motionless. I know I was awakened and led down the hall to the relaxation room i.e. recovery room – with a view of the jungle like lagoon, calming music and a comfy warm chaise. Floating, really, barely cognizant of the soft music and muted whispers of other guests, but I could also see myself from above – an out of body experience – I heard soft murmurs but felt I was hovering above the lounge looking down at my resting body. I think an hour passed and I woke with a start, but quite rested!On my farewell with GM Michel Volk and the lovely group of staff who gathered for my departure were not at all surprised when I uttered: I think I had an out of body experience in the spa! I mentioned Moeana’s name – everyone in unison: oh yes, Moeana… apparently a traditional miracle at Four Seasons Bora Bora Spa- I was rested and ready, fragrantly oiled with specks of 24 carat gold for the trip home.
Miracle Massage at Four Seasons Bora Bora, Mauruuuru Arnaud!