For hedonists who like to recalibrate their spirit every once in a while, there’s no better place to head to than the Philippines. Already famed for its breathtaking beaches, warm hospitality, and fun vibe, the Philippine islands now boast a growing reputation for stellar pampering services and wellness retreats. And when spectacular island scenery meets mind-blowing massages, can life get any better? Discover the best destinations spas the Philippines has to offer.
By Pierra Calasanz-Labrador for Yahoo! Southeast Asia Mandala Spa & Villas, Boracay You haven’t really been to the Philippines if you haven’t been to Boracay (rated #1 island destination in 2012 by Travel & Leisure magazine). And you haven’t really been to Boracay without trying a Jonah’s shake (Peanut Butter and Banana!), falling off a banana boat (double knot your bikini top!), and indulging in a massage at the sublime Mandala Spa. This lush tropical day spa is on a 2.5 hectare hilltop on Boracay island. Brought to you by the same visionary dynamos that dreamed up the Kon-Tiki Floating Bar back in 1985, Mandala captures the peace and serenity Boracay was known for in its early years. It offers natural spa treatments in four private day spa villas, and in the privacy of 12 luxury resort villas. Unique to Mandala is Watsu (water shiatsu). In the Watsu Pavilion, you are taken to a very deep state of relaxation by Mandala owner Karen, the only certified Watsu therapist in the country and the only certified Watsu instructor in Asia. If your timing is right, you might just be able to catch a yoga retreat by world-renowned yoga teachers. For bookings, inquiries, and yogi-stalking, visit www.mandalaspa.com. Fontana Aurelia at Peacock Garden, Bohol After dolphin-watching, a cultural tour, or climbing the 200+ steps to view Bohol’s famed Chocolate Hills (hundreds of freak-of-nature grassy mounds that turn brown during summer), your body will definitely look forward to a divine spa experience at the Fontana Aurelia in Peacock Garden Luxury Resort & Spa. Sure there are kitschy goddess statues, a Roman bath-inspired Jacuzzi, and other attempts to recreate Mt. Olympus in this scenic corner of Bohol, but their rejuvenating massages is what will most likely make the most impact. You can’t leave without trying the decadent Signature Peacock Massage, where every muscle will be gently kneaded by two therapists who mirror each other's movements. Two words: utter relaxation. Complete your pampering with the Timeless Pearl and Caviar facial, an all-natural, non-invasive facelift, lavishing skin with pure caviar and pearl extracts to improve skin elasticity. Hello, posh anti-aging routine. Did we mention the spa also only uses elite, natural skincare products from Pevonia Botanica? Don’t blame us if you get spoiled. For bookings or inquiries, visit www.thepeacockgarden.com. For information on Pevonia and other partner spas located in the Philippines, visit www.pevonia.com.ph. Pangalusian Island, El Nido, Palawan Aptly called the last frontier in the Philippines, Palawan boasts countless virgin islands, including the group of isles of El Nido in Bacuit Bay. Set within a marine reserve and towering limestone cliffs, the El Nido Resorts was recently named as one of 12 finalists worldwide in the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Just last year, El Nido Resorts introduced its fourth premier eco-luxury resort, Pangalusian Island. Imagine waking up to a view of Bacuit Bay, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, exploring Pangalusian’s house reef teeming with marine life, and retiring in one of the 42 deluxe villas ensconced in a secluded cove. Can you say ultimate island hideaway? After sunbathing in one of the 45 secret islands and islets of Bacuit Bay, treat your skin to a Pevonia Water Lily Wrap at Pangalusian Island’s in-house spa. The cooling combination of desensitizing Water Lily, Green Tea, and Chamomile soothes the burning and stinging sensation from too much fun in the sun, while marvelously leaving skin cool and supple. Pair this with the exquisitely gentle Pevonia Water Lily Facial to restore lost moisture, care for sensitized and dehydrated skin, and vanquish free radicals that can cause premature skin aging. You’ll return home from your island holiday with an enviable tan and a radiant glow. For inquiries and bookings at Pangalusian Island, visit www.elnidoresorts.com.