Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mangwanani: An appointment with heaven

I didn't know that heaven had several addresses around South Africa. A piece of heaven is exactly what Mangwanani African Spa's offer and today I was privileged to have a taste of it when I visited their Indaba branch in Fourways, Gauteng. After the week I've had I needed it more than ever. My heart is so grateful for the angels that God has surrounded me with in this season of my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My visit to Mangwanani was a gift voucher for a afternoon half day spa - perfect! I could sleep in till 9am and have a lazy breakfast and bath before heading out to the spa - a roughly 45 min drive. The last thing I wanted to do was having to get up at 6am to be on time. Believe me, it is not the kind of appointment you want to be late for.  

The "pearly gates"
The day started with lunch at noon: a choice between chicken or fish. I chose the fish and a colorful garden salad on the side. (Sorry, no picture. I still felt a bit unsure of how the day was going to unfold, so I left my phone in my locker just in case.) Oh, how I missed my Nikon today, but they specifically told us to leave our valuables at home. It soon became very clear that I haven't taken photographs with my phone in a while, but I really wanted to share some of the experience with you.

The ladies sang traditional African songs, including birthday songs and songs of celebration for anniversaries among the guests. A beautiful personal touch, but just as Murphy's law dictates, I would finally have my hands on a camera just as they disperse :( What a pleasant welcome to the beat of a drum (even if I didn't understand a word they sang.) 

The treatments commenced at 1pm and included the following:
  • Izimanga - Traditional full body massage with hot stones
  • Molala - African head, neck and shoulders massage
  • Neo Maoto - Traditional African royal foot massage (toes to knees)

We walked this plank several times today between treatments. The different rooms/sections are off to the left and right alongside it. 
Izimanga - full body massage with hot stones - my favorite one of the day
This was my all time favorite stop of the day: the traditional full body massage with hot stones. I loved the flowers and petals that can be seen everywhere. It adds color and class to the surroundings, and it certainly helped that there were lots of oranges and reds, my favorite color scheme. Perhaps it had something to do with the colors of the Spa (orange and black) or perhaps creating the feel of an African sunset in a bushveld setting. Either way, it worked for me.

Where the bright light is to the left is actually a transparent tent sail with nothing but bushveld on the other side. On a hot summers day the sail can be lifted, giving you a beautiful bushveld lodge scenery and feel. It wasn't quite hot enough today - not cold, but since you're not wearing that much for a full body massage, autumn temperatures didn't quite cut it. The little heater above the bed came in very handy instead.

Here I almost fell asleep for an hour. 

Home of Molala - the African head, neck and shoulders massage
Although I enjoyed the second treatment, it was more of a neck and shoulders massage - not so much of the head. She did ask my permission to use oil in my hair, but I felt a little disappointed that it was not followed up with that much massaging.

I love head massages. At my hair dresser they usually massage your scalp for 5 minutes while you have the conditioning treatment in. Oh boy! Talk about heaven! I always try to slow down time so that 5 minutes can feel like half an hour. What a treat! Personally I consider the hair salon ladies experts. I did consider making today a full house pamper session - a hair appointment and day at the spa, but after the oil in my hair for the head massage I was very glad that I changed my mind so as to not ruin a 600 bucks hair do.

One thing I did not expect - and didn't quite like - was the group therapy set-up. In order for them to do this massage you had to take your gown off over the shoulder - pull your arms out. Yes, they did say in the brochure that you should bring a bathing suit to wear under your robe, but it is inevitable that some don't. Then what you end up with is a room filled with people - men and woman (for those who come as a couple) - and the ladies have to make sure that everyone don't see their bra. Even if you're wearing your costume you still feel pretty naked in a room full of strangers. I felt my privacy invaded a bit and struggled to relax - constantly keeping an eye on my towel just in case. I made sure though to grab a "front row" seat looking out at nature so I'd have the audience as much at my back as possible, and the view of the garden waterfall was a welcome distraction. Froggies don't stare ;)

Neo Maoto - Traditional African royal foot massage (toes to knees)
 Again a group therapy session, but this time I didn't mind too much. I'm not that self conscious of my knees or my toes; all eyes are welcome. This time though, there were perhaps only four or five of us. I wasn't even aware of any of the others (besides the lady sitting next to me) till after the session. Not that I mind. (Only problem I had here is that these chairs do not give you good back support. After about half an hour my lower back was taking a little strain, but I was able to maneuver the pillow behind me a bit to be more comfortable. Thankfully it worked.) These are the same sails that can be opened up, the ones I mentioned in the first room. 

This is Delicious - that's her name. She does a very 'delicious' foot massage!

Delicious was kind enough to be a sport and let me take some pictures. As she positioned herself at my feet I was reminded of the first time I ever heard of Mangwanani. My sister and I had just finished a cycle race (94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge). If memory services me right I had terrible cramps this particular year. Eventually I had to stop every kilometer to rub my legs. I could barely ride my bike and I could hardly wait to finish the race. I have no clue why I had such bad cramps - it had never happened before - but thankfully my sister had packed a little first aid kit - something that didn't even cross my mind. Anyway, at the end of it we were wondering around trying to find another friend who rode with us, when we stumbled upon the tent where Mangwanani were giving complimentary leg and foot massages for participants of the race. Here is me on that particular day --->>>

U-hum... let's get back to the spa, shall we? ;)

Yummy cheese, biscuits and fruit at the end of the day. I was overwhelmed with joy to see the sweet chili sauce - my favorite - yum!
Topped off with Amarula (liqueur) and dark chocolate
I really liked the bathroom
The restaurant area had many of the typical bushveld elements: wooden floors, bamboo, reeds, thatch roof, etc. Even though Indaba is still in (what I would consider) the city, it doesn't feel like it at all when you're inside the spa.

At the end of the day guests are welcome to purchase any of the products that are used at the spa - to make the experience last a little while longer (or at least for the memories to linger). A good variety of soaps, creams and scrubs are on sale, as well as robes. Slippers are complimentary and each one was welcome to take theirs home. I didn't have to be invited twice! 
Thank you to Mangwanani for a terrific day of pamper, good food and friendly service. I wouldn't mind visiting again.

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