Treatment review: SpaPolynesia, at the Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, Rarotonga, The Cook Islands
By Daniel Scott
By the time I arrive for my treatment at SpaPolynesia, three days into my visit, the Cook Islands have already become my latest favourite destination in the world. It’s all been so delightfully languid, the people have been so lovely and welcoming and the warm winter weather such a refreshing break from the cold back home that you could give me a quick scrub with an oily rag and I’d say nothing but good things about it!
We are holidaying in the Cooks as a family of four and this afternoon Mum and Dad have the chance to indulge in successive one-hour treatments while the other helps build sandcastles on the beach a hundred metres away.
SpaPolynesia is just across the road from The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa and, like the hotel, it is mostly staffed by friendly Fijians. It is housed in a one-level historic island homestead, surrounded by gardens and an explosion of colourful tropical flora.
Like much of the Cooks, it feels like a sensual setting, just right for a spa. An attractive pool and two adjacent four-poster day beds on which to languish before and after treatments fill the backyard. There are two treatment rooms inside, both of which have two tables for couples and a hydrotherapy room. The spa also offers treatments in your room or in any location around the hotel grounds you choose.
Our Mirimi Aromatherapy massage treatments are both with Lucy, a smiley 30-something Fijian who has been on Rarotonga for nearly two years. I’m the first cab off the rank and while Lucy is running late by half-an-hour it’s no big problem in this relaxed environment.
I undress and cover myself in a light sarong and Lucy soon begins the treatment, starting with my legs. I am pleasantly surprised by her strength, and the firm, therapeutic pressure she exerts. She is also unafraid of giving attention to the gluteal muscles in my buttocks – a problem area for somebody who does a lot of sitting in an office chair and somewhere rarely treated.
Lucy delves deep with both hands and elbows and this continues when she moves onto my back. I’ve pretty much never had such an effective treatment when it comes to the knotted mass of muscle tissue underneath and round my shoulder blades. She gets right into them and though her work verges on the painful, I can feel it doing me good.
All the way through Lucy checks how I am doing and the answer is always positive. Toward the end of the work on my back she begins a vigorous chopping movement up and down, which re-invigorates me after the deeper attention. After turning me over the work continues with my legs, and then my arms, neck and shoulders. The oil she is using for the treatment is “Maoro”, a muscular deep treatment blend of Cedarwood, Peppermint, Rosemary and Lemon. My partner later chooses “Iriamoe”, a relaxing blend of Yland-yland, lime, lavender and Jasmine. They both smell good enough to eat.
Although my hour is up too soon, it’s one of the most thorough massages I’ve ever had in just sixty minutes. I normally yearn for at least 90 minutes under the therapeutic hammer but Lucy has nearly worked miracles. I decide to book in with her again on the day we fly out to prepare me for the eight hours in the air.
My partner Sarah’s subsequent treatment is equally good and runs over by about twenty minutes, which shows the therapist’s generous spirit. Lucy’s work sets Sarah up perfectly for the rest of our week on Rarotonga, a place where she could happily live.
You can get massages for just $NZ 50 elsewhere on Rarotonga, so the $NZ 115 ($AU 96) charged by SpaPolynesia for just an hour is obviously expensive. But whether island therapists charging less than half could deliver anything like as positive an experience as Lucy does is debatable.
Either way, my two massages with Lucy, one on day three and the other at the end of our visit, add considerably to a wonderful holiday in a lovely Pacific island setting.
SpaPolynesia at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa,