The One&Only Spa is described in the brochure as “an oasis of serenity on a lush private island.” Indeed, the entrance to the spa is very impressive; one must amble through the luxurious foyer of the hotel, stride across a bridge surrounded by water and wild foliage, and then climb a set of sweeping stairs lined with bronze springboks spurting water from their mouths.
What matters most however, is that the space, treatments and therapists should live up to this glittering façade.
With suitably high expectations I arrived at the spa on a rare bright winter’s morning to experience the aptly named ‘Defrost Package’ – a package that allows a personally mixed and matched combination of relaxing and rejuvenating treatments from a selection of six.
Challenging economic times have seen many spas cut back – or sadly cut out – the little touches that elevate a spa from standard to luxurious. Happily, the One&Only Spa cuts no corners, and before the treatment even begins, an indulgent tone is set. Iced tea is available besides the standard water jugs, the gowns are soft and plush, slippers are not worn and recycled, good quality amenities (all by Espa) are freely available in the changing rooms as are scrumptious little treats of mini muffins, dried fruit and crunchies in the spacious relaxation lounge. The lockers have combination locks, so guests do not have to worry about losing keys, and come with dedicated spaces for jewellery. It’s the little things that count. A friendly spa attendant accompanies guests and explains the facilities rather than leaving you to figure it out. The only thing missing is a glossy magazine to browse through whilst relaxing outside on a huge lounger in the sun.
At this stage my therapist greeted me warmly and confirmed the two treatments she would be doing. In total I had three different therapists and they were all equally lovely. The treatment rooms are spacious, with attention to design and comfort. Massage beds are big, heated and dressed with soft quilts. Diffused light shines through the grey, gauzy curtains and music plays quietly. Everything is in place to offer a calming and nurturing experience.
The personalised package began with a warming ginger back, neck and shoulder massage, followed by a Brightening Boutique facial with the One&Only’s exclusive Espa product range. As part of a package, the duration of the facial was only 30 minutes, but it still felt thorough and unrushed. The products were a little harsh for my sensitive skin, but the next day it felt soft and clean.
My other two treatments were the acclaimed Bastien Gonsalvez manicure and pedicure treatments. As they are exclusive in Africa to the One&Only spa, I was curious to experience them, though with the massage and facial over I assumed the relaxing part of the package was too. To my delight, I was wrong.
The first luxurious hint is that the treatments are conducted in a private ‘studio.’ No awkward apparatus balanced on a massage bed or lined up too cosily with other guests at ‘pedicure stations.’
The second surprise came when I was ushered into what looked like an upmarket dentist’s chair complete with a scary array of drills and tools. My two therapists quickly put me at ease, tucking me up and explaining the theory behind the French podiatrist’s special tools. The uniqueness of the treatment lies in the fusion of wellbeing and beauty. No water is used for greater precision as skin is too soft after soaking, and no abrasive foot files or techniques are used which may actually damage the feet. A glass nail file is smoother and more hygienic and cuticles are not pushed back to prevent infections. Nail polish is traditionally not used, but the nails are buffed to a high sheen, which lasts on the toes six to eight weeks and two weeks on the hands.
Impressed with how groomed my nails looked and how soft my skin was, I resigned myself that the treatments had ended. However, the lights were dimmed, the chair was reclined and I was offered a choice of music. So began the most blissful synchronized hand and foot massage ever. Therapist Lauren and studio manager Annie worked in perfect harmony to deliver a wonderfully relaxing massage experience. Crushed on completion, yet completely converted, I thoroughly recommend the Bastien Gonsalez treatments. Besides being heavenly, my nails are still shiny and groomed several days on.
After treatments, one is free to rest in the darkened relaxation room, or lounge around on day beds, soaking up the sun outside. There is no feeling of rush and it is easy to feel a sense of escape from the daily grind. Hours pass by peacefully. The spa also offers couple treatment suites, a hair salon, vitality pool, steam room, sauna, yoga pavilion and gym for the ultimate wellness day.
The One&Only Spa lives up to its setting. Serene, private and with touches of quiet luxury, one leaves feeling more impressed than ever.
Sam Reynolds is a freelance writer, photographer and spa consultant, with over 12 years international experience in the spa world. Her writing and photography can be seen at goldendreams.me, and her creative services at www.horsepowercreativemedia.com.
One&Only Spa Cape Town
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Daily 8am to 8pm
Tel: 021 431 5810
Defrost Package R650 for 2 treatments, R900 for 3 treatments, R1250 for 4 treatments.