Stellar wines and exceptional food is not the only good reason to drive from Cape town to Franschhoek — The Camelot Spa at the Le Franschhoek Hotel is another, according to Rebekah Kendal. Go on, you’ll thank her later.
Somewhat counter-productively, spa menus fill me with a sense of anxiety. What if I pick one treatment and miss out on something better? So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that the signature massage at The Camelot Spa at Le Franschhoek Hotel rolls four different massage techniques into one treatment!
After a soothing cup of tea, a bite of chocolate and a quick nap in the sauna — where little ceiling lights make it seem as if you are lying in the desert looking up at the stars — I am sufficiently softened up for more softening up.
The Camelot signature massage kicks off with a hot stone massage, which quickly banishes the persistent knots in my back. The scent of frangipani wafts across the room as the therapist moves on to the Hawaiian Kahuna massage, which involves long flowing movements, on my legs. My arms — apparently storing years of pent-up tension — get the Balinese treatment, which focuses on pressure points. Before the hour is up, the therapist treats me to an Indian head massage, which is very relaxing despite all the hair pulling.
While this particular massage lessened my fear of missing out, the menu is full of other exciting sounding treatments such as an energising Salt Glow Exfoliation and a Marine Algae Detox Wrap. The spa offers a variety of massage treatments, including Swedish massage, reflexology and aromatherapy, as well as beauty treatments.
Le Franschhoek really is a beautiful setting for a spa, so take the opportunity to stroll around the gardens before or after you treatment. And remember to make a reservation to eat at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant to round off a perfect pampering session.
Only about an hour’s drive from the centre of Cape Town, the Garden Spa at Babylonstoren will make you feel you’ve gone even further, and stepped into a secret fantasy garden.
While the middle of the Cape winelands is an odd place to find a hammam, or Turkish bath, the hammam at the Babylonstoren Garden Spa near Franschhoek doesn’t at all feel out of place. Tucked away in an enclosure of trees, the hammam, with its beautiful blue mosaic ceiling, is the perfect spot to let go of tension…and inhibitions.
The degree of nakedness required for this treatment — not to mention some of the intimate stretches — could be awkward in the wrong hands. Happily, the therapists at this spa are adept at putting their clients at ease.
The 60-minute water ritual in the steam-filled hammam involves a full-body exfoliation, some passive stretching and a magnificent body-butter massage. The scalp massage and cool water rinse at the end leaves you revitalised and ready to tackle the post-treatment fruit salad and freshly squeezed juice that’s waiting for you.
Who knew you could work up such an appetite being pampered?
While the private hammam water ritual is the Garden Spa’s signature treatment, a variety of other massage treatments, wraps, facials and manicures are also on offer, all incorporating fresh herbs picked daily from the estate’s extensive gardens.
You’ll find the usual spa amenities here: a sauna, steam room and heated plunge pool. If the weather is good you can have your treatment in one of the private outdoor treatment areas and in summer you’ll want to spend some time relaxing next to the pool.
Some of the treatments include — soba noodles with wild mushrooms and a coriander and miso dressing, for example — but, if not, you’re spoilt for choice between the estate’s Greenhouse and Babel restaurants.
You don’t have to get out of Cape Town to say goodbye to city stresses. These top-end spas, all located at equally luxurious hotels, provide an oasis of calm in the midst of a bustling metropolis.
1. Librisa Spa
It’s not surprising that the first hotel in Cape Town to offer hot and cold running water — the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel — also boasts one of the city’s best spas. In keeping with the style of this grand hotel, the Librisa Spa, which occupies three late-Victorian buildings, embraces understated opulence with its muted velvets and sparkling chandeliers. Because the spa focuses on natural ingredients, it uses the Kalahari and Africology skincare ranges.
In addition to a Finnish sauna, steam bath and plunge pool, the spa also features a tranquil conservatory where you can sip on herbal teas after your treatment. An unexpected perk for parents is the fully supervised children’s club, where kids are kept entertained while their parents are pampered.
2. One&Only Spa
Taking the notion of getting-away-from-it-all to the next level, the One&Only has positioned its spa on a lush island in the middle of the hotel’s palm-lined grounds. The spa island comes with 12 treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion, a fitness centre, sauna and steam facilities, an ice fountain, and two vitality pools. Treatments, which incorporate African influences, are grouped around three themes: unwind, restore and elevate. The relaxation suite, which comes stocked with nutritious snacks, dried fruit, smoothies and herbal teas, makes it easy to buy into the island fantasy.
3. The Heavenly Spa
Set on the 19th floor of The Westin hotel in Cape Town, the Heavenly Spa offers panoramic views of the city and ocean. In addition to 13 treatment rooms, the spa also boasts a Sea of Dreams sleep room, which has four heated cocoon-style waterbeds. If travelling has you feeling sluggish, the Jet Lag body treatment will get you back on track. For something a little more local, opt for the African Breeze spa package, which incorporates traditional massage techniques and wooden massage sticks, as well as marula oil blended with African shea butter.