One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to visit one Health Spa a month. It’s kind of my reward to myself for a job well done (my blogs just started generating income after nearly 2 years of hard slog) and also a necessary re-focus on Self Care.
I’m also treating my Mom to Spa days all year as compensation for her time and effort on my blogs, as my Virtual Assistant.
On Thursday, 12th January we kicked off 2018 with an entire day of pure indulgence at… drum roll…
Bakwena Spa Zevenwacht Wine Estate, Cape Town
On this occasion it was not just the two of us. The day was arranged by Cayleigh, a close friend of one of my best friends, Mandy, as a group outing. Cayleigh introduced us to The Entertainer App in December last year and we were able to purchase three 2-for-1 Specials of the Full Day Package.
Here’s the whole group of us hanging out at the pool before our first treatment.
I’m the one wearing the blue and white striped hat. Please don’t laugh at my lily white, jelly-like thighs… I’m hoping by the end of a year of Spa Treatments they will look a whole lot better. Guess I might have to throw in a bit more exercise while I’m at it. Blogging is rather a sedentary pursuit and I can see the results of non-activity developing into middle-aged spread. Eek!
When I mentioned something to this effect to Mandy (or was it Cayleigh? It’s all a bit of a blissful haze) during our Spa day, she laughed at and said:
“Today is not the day to be worrying about THAT, you’re here to relax and enjoy yourself“.
And that we did. It was heaven.
Bakwena’s Full Day Package
The Full Day Package we purchased in December included:
- 6 Amazing 50-Minute Treatments
- A Hearty Breakfast
- Delicious Lunch
- As well as a Cheese Platter in the late afternoon (we did not go hungry)!
- Oh, and our choice of wine, sparkling wine, beer or cider at lunch too.
We were very grateful to Cayleigh, who has been to Bakwena a good few times as she knew the ropes and gave us plenty of brilliant suggestions.
For a start, Cayleigh recommended that we schedule our free time session first so that we could ease into the day with a bit of time at the pool and one the Spa’s Speciality Treatments, affectionately called Mr. Nibble.
Mr. Nibble is a Fish Spa Therapy. As you can see by the picture above, you sit with your legs dangling into a fish tank so that tiny scavenger fish feed on the dry skin of your feet.
This concept sounded horrible to me at first but my Mom had heard of the treatment and convinced me to go, saying, “We’re here now, we might as well experience everything the Spa has to offer“.
I’ve read up more since then and apparently the fish are freshwater fish called “Garra Rufa” fish and are found naturally in rivers in the Middle East, especially inTurkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
I’m so glad I agreed to give it a try as it was really different and a lot of fun. They had 2 large fish tanks so we were all able to go together as a group and dip our feet into the tanks.
I was envious of my Mom at first because we were sharing a tank and a gazillion fish were nibbling her feet and they didn’t seem to like the taste of mine. Once Cayleigh taught me to be really still, more fish started nibbling and it felt amazing. Not nearly as ticklish as one would expect, more like pleasant pins and needles (if you can imagine such a thing). Tingly I suppose would be the best way to describe it.
Certainly something to experience rather than read about. And your feet feel wonderfully smooth and soft afterwards.
Cayleigh also sent an email to the Spa beforehand requesting that we have all our treatments in exactly this order:
- Mr. Nibbles (during our Free Time Session)
- Foot Massage, Ankle & Calf Massage
- Hand And Forearm Massage Foot Massage
- Head, Neck and Shoulder Massage
- Invigorating Full Body Exfoliation
- Full Body Hot Stones Massage
- Facial Massage and Face Painting
She had a few reasons for this.
- All the first 3 treatments are upstairs near the pool and dining room, whereas the others are downstairs, so it feels like a natural progression.
- It’s lovely to have the full body massage after your body is exfoliated and you’ve showered off the scrub. Having the exfoliation after the massage would mean you’d shower off all the lovely oils or cream.
- If you have the facial earlier in the day your face paint gets rubbed off during the other treatments.
- Mr. Nibble was definitely one of my highlights.
- I loved the scent of Lemongrass as you walked into the changing rooms – they had candles lit under the essential oil burners and the effect was beautiful. To me, it really created an atmosphere of SPA. I felt happy every time I walked into the changing rooms.
- The food was wonderful.
- The therapists were lovely, full of joy and enthusiasm.
- During lunch, all of the lady therapists line up and treat you to live song and dance. One of the ladies drums on Djembe Drums and it’s just gorgeous.
- The African Face Painting is so pretty.
- They gave us a little gift of a gemstone bracelet just before we left. I thought that was a very nice touch.
- And glass of liqueur, which I declined as I was designated driver.
My Only Gripe
It seems in poor taste to have a gripe after you’ve enjoyed a full day’s indulgence. But to give a fair and honest review (especially as I am going to review other Spas this year, so for comparison purposes as well), I have to mention that the massage and facial were not my favourite treatments fo the day. Simply because the staff are not that well trained.
I trained and practised as a Massage Therapist for years (Swedish Massage Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Polarity Massage, Reiki and Quantum Touch). I’ve also had a lot of massage in my time and trained a number of people personally.
So I could be a tad pickier than most. So please take the criticism below with a pinch of salt.
For me, the massage was just a whole lot of Effleurage (long stroking movements), with no kneading, no pressure points, no varying of pressure. And no knowledge of the muscles below the surface or where the bones are and how you should treat them. Having said that, I never learned to do Hot Stone Therapy and I enjoyed that experience.
There was also no sense of Rhythm. We were always taught to have harder strokes towards the heart and lighter strokes away from the heart. Rhythm creates deep relaxation.
Some ladies have an innate awareness of this and don’t have to be taught and so some treatments during the day were naturally better than others.
I always thought, when I was training people that you can either massage or you can’t, it’s something inside of you. It reminds me of dancing. You either have rhythm or you don’t, right? You can take the time to cultivate it, to hone your skills, but you also have an inherent skill.
When the ladies tried their hand at Tapotement (Percussion movements), it was clear they had not been taught properly. The idea with Tapotement is to lift the hands off the body really quickly, not thump them down. And it’s no fun to start whacking someone who’s just drifted off into sweet oblivion.
During the facial massage it felt like I was being throttled when she worked on my neck. I was dying to jump up and show her how it’s done. Again, I put this down to insufficient training. Her heart was in the right place, she was a Sweetie pie. But there was one moment when I thought I was not going to make it out of there alive.
Ooh, that turned into a bit of a rant. Forgive me.
My Overall Opinion
All in all, I felt we had an incredible day of pampering and we all went home happy and relaxed. Another bonus was that none of the treatments were deep tissue, so I didn’t feel like I’d been driven over by the bus the next day. Some absolutely awesome massages can make you feel that way.
Thanks to Cayleigh for introducing us to The Entertainer, I also felt our first Spa experience of the Year was incredible value for money. We paid only R 800 per person for the entire day. (About $70).
Thanks to Cayleigh’s attention to detail, our day was super awesome. She really thought of EVERYTHING.
- ✮✮✮✮ Environment – on a Beautiful Wine Farm, dust road a bit tricky to navigate
- ✮✮✮✮✮ Atmosphere – Relaxing, Scented Changing Rooms, Happy Staff
- ✮✮✮✮ Facilities -Nicely run, nicely kitted out
- ✮✮✮ Products Used – All in-house, no oils, only creams for massage
- ✮✮✮✮✮ Food & Beverages – Plenty and Delicious
- ✮✮✮ Treatments – Staff lacked proper training
- ✮✮✮✮ Staff – Pleasant, Joyful, Caring, Service Oriented
- ✮✮✮✮✮ Value for Money – Thanks to the Entertainer Special
Overall Rating: ✮✮✮✮
Can’t wait for our next Spa Experience. We just found another awesome deal at the Day Spa closest to my house, Sunset Beach Lodge and Spa! A stunning Mother-Daughter Package. We just happen to be going on a Thursday again…next Thursday- Woohoo! Which works perfectly for me as my son has PlayBall after school on a Thursday so I fetch him later than usual.
I’ll be reporting back soon.
Over to You
I’d love to hear about your Health Spa Experiences. Have you been to Bakwena Spa? When was the last time you treated yourself to a Day of Pure Indulgence?