Crouching in the less than perfectly comfortable German arm-chair, you stoically waited for the end of the 11-hour flight from Frankfurt to Singapore. All the not-seen-before movies were watched, the book was read; for the final couple of hours all you could count on was your own imagination. The imagination was painting a rather uplifting picture: at the airport you would be greeted by the stairway, taken right to the luggage belt, escorted to the limousine and delivered to the historic Raffles. If Paris is well worth a mass, Raffles is well worth an 11-hour flight. Also, you had called the concierge from Frankfurt and booked a session at the hotel’s spa.
This is what hotel spas are for: you arrive, and, before even taking a shower, you go to the masseuse’s table. For an hour. Or an hour and a half. Or two (even better). So that the girl with her Asian hands of steel (no one is better at massage than ladies from Thailand, Bali and the Indian state of Kerala) could disassemble you and then assemble back the new you that has forgotten all about the long flight, awful food and snoring neighbours. It’s not even necessary to ask guests whether they needed massage or not. It’s just necessary to prescribe it pre-emptively: you crossed the ocean? Welcome to the spa. No excuses, otherwise you’ll be deported. Because even in the first class, in a private jet with marble bath and champagne-filled fridge, at 30,000 feet our bodies start to behave in a less than friendly fashion, and changes to the body are immediately followed by changes to the mind and soul. You have to put both body and mind in order as soon as possible, not waiting for the worst.
In summary, a spa — along with a restaurant, a bar, a gym — is something that every hotel must have. If there’s no spa, it’s not a hotel at all. An inn, a dorm, a hostel, maybe; not a hotel.
It’s a different question, though, whether hotel owners should invest in spa so much that room prices double even for those guests who never see gold-leaf-covered, venetian-stucco-plastered, onyx-panelled massage parlours. Should they, as the owners of a certain historic hotel in Marrakesh, turn the restaurant featured in a number of classic films into an appendage to the spa? Is it at all necessary to dress up so nicely all that slapping, stroking, jointwrenching, pinching and scrubbing? You don’t think it’s a good idea. Like in a restaurant: if the food and the service are good, a simple interior is the best backdrop for the chef’s talents. Same in a spa: apart from Thai spa therapist, dimmed light and flat tables with face holes there’s no need for anything else. Gold statues, stupendous floor tiles, Meissen porcelain, chirping birds — all that is so redundant.
It should be noted, however, that these statements of fact and opinion are made on the responsibility of the author alone and may not represent the views of the editors and the convictions of those who spend more time in the hotel spa than beyond the hotel walls.