Bohol spas are usually hidden away amongst lush tropical foliage and emerald green trees, and you’d never know what to expect until passing through a property’s gates – sometimes a palatial driveway, or a meandering secret garden lane – but always, a cooling and calming escape befitting a tropical island getaway.
FONTANA AURELIA SPA AT THE PEACOCK GARDEN
Past a landscaped driveway and the peculiar 18th century-themed lobby of this European-style resort is the Fontana Aurelia Spa, featuring six airy, column-flanked treatment rooms and a private suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi. The Pevonia Botanica skincare line is displayed at reception –award-winning, natural formulations that are used throughout the spa offerings.
A standout on their extensive spa menu is the Divine Relaxation Treatment – an indulgence to clear the mind and uplift the spirit of any harried traveller. The three-hour treatment begins with a welcome foot soak, followed by a vigorous full-body scrub, using aromatic salts that mysteriously dissolve into a milky lotion upon rinsing.
Back on the spa bed, you are in good hands when your therapist firmly tucks the eye shade behind your head, encouraging you to drift off during the detoxifying Flora Body Cocoon treatment, when a warm, soothing body masque is brushed onto your skin before you are wrapped in a fabric cocoon. Seemingly too soon, albeit a good 20 minutes later, you are brought back to reality with a request to rinse off prior to the Essential Massage. This is a seamless combination of Swedish massage with hilot, the traditional Filipino healing massage that provides relief from pain, illness and other discomforts.
The final focus is on the face with the Veneris High Performance Facial, where a series of mildly scented Pevonia concoctions are expertly smoothed on then off in a sequence designed to eliminate toxins and impurities. True to its name, you will emerge from the Divine Relaxation Treatment in a divinely relaxed mood. The only regret is that the three hours will seem far too short.
SPA VILLAGE AT TARSIER BOTANIKA RESORT & SPA
The newest player in Bohol’s luxury resort & spa scene, subtle opulence is the hallmark here. An eye for beauty and expert hands complement a lush tropical hideaway from the limestone landscape, with the addition of 12 elegantly designed villas, each with a private garden.
Where alluring sights, sounds and scents from nature abound, the crowning jewel in Tarsier Botanika’s celebration of the senses is the Spa Village experience. Eastern and Western influences are fused into 45 to 90-minute treatments that use ylang-ylang, lavender, rosemary, coconut, lemongrass and other essential oils in blends and poultices designed to encourage balance and harmony through massages and scrubs.
While the spa menu seems short, and each carefully curated item sounds irresistible, the no-brainer is the Bohol Chocolate Latte Body Scrub – concocted from milk and locally sourced chocolate. In the low light of the bahay kubo-style spa room (meaning ‘native house’), your therapist will scrub you from head-to-toe with the heavenly-scented albeit warm and gooey solution. You won’t mind being left looking and smelling like a Swiss milk chocolate bar for the few additional minutes required for the body scrub to work its magic. The post-scrub lotion is almosy unnecessary, because rinsing off the chocolate concoction in the shower reveals unbelievably velvety soft, smooth skin. As you savour your post treatment tea at the central pavilion, you’ll be secretly planning your next visit or considering extending your stay. www.tarsierbotanika.com
MIT-HI SPA AT PANGLAO ISLAND NATURE RESORT AND SPA
Established, lush vegetation leads new arrivals to this secluded property on the quiet side of Panglao Island. Low rise structures are ensconced in the terrain, with meandering paths that connect the 14 hectares of villas, gardens and amenities at this 70-room nature resort. Up and down one of these paths on a golf cart, you arrive at the airy wooden structure that houses Mit-hi Spa.
Named after mit-hi, the Filipino word for ‘ideal’ or ‘desire’, an uplifting experience awaits, beginning with an enchanting view of the sea from the reception deck. Stepping into the pavilion is a literal transition into serenity, with candles extending their warm glow, setting the stage for your spa experience. Downstairs, a delightful surprise awaits, as the upstairs views are echoed through the glass wall of your capsule massage room.
Accompanied by tranquil music, your therapist expertly soothes worries away during the 60-minute Stress-Free Aromatherapy Massage, using the custom massage oil concoction of your choice. Extending this relaxing experience is possible with the Indian Head Massage – an additional half hour of therapeutic bliss concentrated on your head and scalp. Treatments over, you linger under the rain shower while gazing out to sea.
Premier massage therapies from Japan, Africa, and Hawaii are also on their menu, as well as face and body treatments that use Babor and Phytomer skincare lines. But, for now, having reached your mit-hi or ideal pampering, relaxed and enchanted, you’ll have to save those other treatments for next time. www.panglaoisland.com
SEA TREE SPA AT AMORİTA RESORT
Perched atop a cliffside at one end of bustling Alona Beach is the luxury boutique resort called Amorita. A distinctly modern aesthetic is reflected in their expertly run Sea Tree Spa, a gently perfumed minimalist space. Upon entry, an instant calm overcomes you – you know you are their priority here.
Uniquely on offer is the Buros Prenatal Massage, developed especially for pregnant women. True to the resort’s family-friendly commitment, expectant mothers (at four to eight months) can indulge in 60 minutes of their massage therapist’s instinctive, healing touch. This is tailored to a very personal level by their very experienced masseuse, employing long, soothing strokes to relieve the typical pain and discomfort in the limbs and lower back that are associated with pregnancy.
Other massages fittingly named after native Philippine royalty grace the menu, and you will be confidently advised on the one that suits your needs best – to soothe, energise, relax or all of the above. Should your massage of choice require it, only signature oils are used here, usually with a base of virgin coconut oil. As an added bonus, you can have your massage at one of the outdoor cabanas overlooking the sea and sky, or under the stars at night. www.amoritaresort.com
AMUMA SPA AT BLUEWATER PANGLAO
Bluewater Panglao exudes a warm, friendly vibe that appears unparalleled in Bohol. The exuberance is evident inside and out, from the sprawling beach and activity areas, to the vividly decorated rooms and villas. This extends to the thatch-roofed cabanas of their Amuma Spa – airy, open and inviting.
Of the four signature therapies on offer, the rhythmic hair-pulling plus head and shoulder massage of the Hingut-an takes you back to childhood, memories of having your hair combed by a trusted adult – soothing, comforting and sleep-inducing. This, despite being treated at the cabana near the resort’s front desk – actually a great idea for weary travellers in need of a quick fix upon arrival, or the departing guest who wants one last pampering before heading back to the real world.
The other three signature therapies are best experienced at the inviting beachside cabana: The Hilot Lamang (a healing oil massage with long strokes), the Hilot Ablon (a dry massage using thumb and palm pressure), and the Pikpik Kawayan sa Siki (rhythmic foot massage using bamboo sticks). This well-curated set of therapies is a wise selection for guests initially raring to enjoy the resort’s eco-focused outdoor activities. When it’s time to slow down, it’s time to head for some amuma, which means to be pampered, indulged, comforted and spoilt. www.bluewaterpanglao.com
HANDURAW SPA AT ESKAYA BEACH RESORT & SPA
The highly exclusive Eskaya’s palatial proportions are unparalleled in Bohol, spread out over 16 hectares that look out to sea. The equally palatial villas (well spread out from one another) with de rigueur private pools are designed to enchant honeymooners or those who are simply looking to escape from life’s stresses.
Escape is imminent, as shiatsu massages at the Handuraw Spa are privilege for guests – as well as a chance to check out the most luxurious spa treatment pavilions in Bohol, with vast hardwood floors and a soaring beamed ceiling consistent with the resort’s Filipino architecture. And while the complimentary massage is enough to satisfy the spa-curious, the spa-ravenous will look at the extensive menu and wonder how to squeeze in as many treatments as possible over a limited amount of time.
The range of services seems endless: body massages and wraps, exotic scrubs, pampering soaks, tropical and European facials, foot treatments, as well as four to six-hour extravaganzas for couples that include a private meal by the cliffs, and access to the spa’s mini-infinity pool and seaside waterfalls. By naming the spa Handuraw (meaning ‘daydream’ or ‘reverie’), they clearly aim to make fantasies and daydreams come true. www.eskayaresort.com
THE SPA AT BE GRAND RESORT
You will be spoilt for choice at the BE Grand Resort, another new luxury player in the growing Panglao scene. Resort and villa-style accommodations with semi-private lagoons and a plethora of services and activities inspire guests to choose how to spend their days.
Tucked away in a quiet corner, The Spa completes the resort offerings to relax or revive body and soul. The fairly brief menu ensures quality over quantity, as The Spa thrives on a no-frills vibe – your well-being and satisfaction are utmost priorities.
Top-billed is the ordinary-sounding Swedish massage, but this item packs a secret. This is, hands down, the most fluid and effectively relaxing Swedish massage available for miles and miles around. The pre-warmed oil in the hands of your confident and experienced therapist will send you into blissful torpor – total relaxation at its best.
Apart from eight spacious treatment rooms with individual spa beds and in room shower facilities, The Spa features additional oversized rooms to accommodate couples, families, and spa parties. Spoilt for choice indeed. www.begrandresort-bohol.com
AZUREA SPA AT THE BELLEVUE RESORT BOHOL
Winner of the ASEAN Green Hotel Award, the environmentally friendly Bellevue Resort supports sustainable tourism and caters to family getaways, corporate escapades, honeymoons and everything in between. The five-star resort spans thoughtfully planned 3.5 hectares, including expansive sea-view rooms, its own white sand beach, and of course, a spa to relax and indulge in.
Hidden away in a nook of the award-winning resort, Azurea Spa sends its welcome via scent, a warm, uplifting aroma that emanates from the reception area. A hot cup of ginger tea appears as you peruse the spa menu, and from all the walking and exploration visitors tend to do in Bohol, a foot massage sounds appealing.
The excellence of this choice is revealed when your therapist leads you to a spa suite instead of the usual chair reserved for foot massages. Laying down on the massage bed, ‘foot massage’ becomes a misnomer, as the lower half of your body receives a combination of gentle kneading and long strokes designed to soothe and relax. From the bottom, to upper and lower legs, down to the toes, lavender-scented coconut oil is used to massage and pamper – a 60-minute treat that’s not just for tired feet. www.thebellevuebohol.com
KAI SPA AT HENNAN RESORT ALONA BEACH
Within Hennan Resort’s own bustling atmosphere is a sanctuary called Kai Spa. Housed in a modern structure with contemporary, oriental touches, it overlooks the composite pools and beach and is reserved for calm pampering in the midst of what the resort and the rest of Bohol has to offer.
The Imperial Room is indeed fit for emperors and royalty, with an en-suite bath and shower fitted into a spacious corner suite for two. The popular Kai Signature Massage is a treat in these environs, with your therapist setting the pace for complete relaxation. It begins with a foot ritual, and is followed by the application of thermal pads, warming the muscles in preparation for the relaxing and detoxifying strokes, scented with a virgin coconut oil-based concoction of your choice.
Kitted out with a thermarium (steam room and hot whirlpool bath), and a hydrobath in the Emperor’s Courtyard, Kai Spa is designed to be experienced at a slow, luxurious pace. No expense nor detail is spared, and everything – fluffy towels, fresh slippers, cold drinks, hot ginger tea, ice-cold face towels, music, lights, temperature control, fresh flowers – the smallest of details all contribute to what a grand spa experience should be. www.henann.com