“A slice of Bali” we proclaimed as SabahBah walked into the central garden of the new Spa village at Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
“Actually”, our host said, “the concept’s influence is Tibetan”.
CHI The Spa is built on a little peninsula at the Tanjung Aru Resort, where for years an under-utilised hut, used as a venue for occasional dinners and cultural events, occupied this prime piece of real estate.
Clearly not realising its potential as a serene corner of the resort with a beautiful view, Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort decided to build KK’s first Spa Village in the shape of CHI The Spa.
A year in the making, CHI The Spa finally stands as a proud feature of the resort. A little over budget so far as time and money is concerned, it’s worth every Ringgit. As you approached the village from a distance, seeing it secluded against the backdrop of blue ocean and distant Borneo islands, you already start feeling at peace.
This is where you meet the first eastern elements, and it prepares you for a barrage of Asian philosophy designed to dissolve your aches and stresses and numb you with pampering bliss.
The reception area is airy with lots of wood, water and stone, featuring an abstract centrepiece designed to represent the five elements of fire, water, wind, earth and metal.
Here is where you make your booking and get assessed, so that CHI The Spa can provide you with exactly what your ailing body needs.
Beyond the reception you step into the central garden. On sunny days, the green of the plants are dramatically contrasted by the stone and wood buildings with little glimpses of the ocean and islands visible in the gaps.
From here the earthy pathways lead to single treatment rooms, double treatment suites or to the Yoga platform perched on the outer most edge of the peninsula, where there is nothing but sweeping views of the ocean and islands.
The double treatment suites are clearly designed for serious pampering and extreme relaxation, preferably for a romantic couple. Able to function as a self-contained suite, it would be easy to spend a blissful night right there.
Aside from the changing area, shower, steam room and the small foyer that receives you, there is a main treatment area. The focus of this area are the two treatment tables, which occupies its centre. Imported from Tibet, as are many of the finishings, it’s all with quality of the overall experience in mind and no expense has been spared.
A full-sized double bed, half built into the façade of the room with chiffon drapes pulled back and looking very sexy and inviting, it’s intended purpose is supposedly for the relaxing sipping of tea presented prior to the start of the treatment.
Sensibilities might ignore this prudish suggestion and race to imagine a host of alternative uses and applications that such a comfortable and sensual cubbyhole could present.
With most treatments lasting well over an hour and a half, the longest being a four-and-a-half hour relaxation and pampering marathon, being soothed and massaged and pampered with a loved one would inevitably include some quiet time… and this enclave.
In the outside area there’s a small garden of which half is covered by roof and the other by nothing more than the skies. Sun loungers perched on the grass verge provide an opportunity to relax in the sun between treatments. Under cover the Jacuzzi awaits to pelt with bubbles where massaging hands had been, perpetuating the serenity you undoubtedly would be experiencing by then.
The premium pampering of CHI The Spa at Shangri-la’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa doesn’t come cheap though, but after you’ve been exposed to the riches awaiting you in its treatments, you might still think it a bargain. An ample menu of 26 treatments starts at RM250 for a variety of hand-and-foot care treatments. From there the prices move upward with body scrub treatments, body wraps, men’s skincare treatments and facial treatments.
The massages include treatments with names like Asian Blend, Himalayan Healing Stone Massage, Aroma Vitality, Echanted Journey and Pulau Bayu Retreat, the latter two from the premium CHI Journey section. The two flagship treatments, Serenity Ritual and Paradise Found, are epic four-and-a-half-hour journeys of health, vitality and relaxation and is at the top of the price list at RM930 each. The prices are per person and excludes taxes.
As a complete experience from the moment you approach the Spa Village until you leave, CHI The Spa seems to have found their spa shangri la.