By: Claire Locking
Ahhh, the good old Mandarin! I don’t think I can be alone in my love of this local institution. It is my sanctuary from the world and without a doubt my number one favourite place in Hong Kong. In this city that is constantly changing, the Mandarin remains reassuringly the same; the afternoon tea is always sublime, the lobby still sparkles under its huge chandeliers and the Captain’s Bar still serves pints in silver tankards.
This particular Thursday afternoon I get to spend a delicious three hours cocooned in my favourite sanctuary as the guest of the Mandarin Spa. They want me to experience their Utopia Advanced Anti Ageing Facial, which has been awarded “Novel Facial Treatment of the Year” by reputable industry bible, Spa Asia.
“Novel” is not the first adjective that would spring to mind when describing this 90-minute procedure: try sublime, blissful, decadent!
Proceedings kick off with a visit to the relaxation room. I must confess to being something of a spa expert having reviewed them from Mauritius to San Francisco for magazines from London to Dubai. With this in mind, I prefer my relaxation with a little more recline; this space reminded me of my doctor’s waiting room, admittedly with more luxury touches. My R&R might also have been helped along if my fellow spa-goer hadn’t insisted on munching on his perfectly marinated fruit with quite such vocal enthusiasm.
But time to put these very minor grumbles to one side and concentrate on the main event. My therapist explained that renowned skincare expert Gaylia Kristensen has designed the Utopia facial exclusively for the Mandarin. Gaylia and her Danish husband Preben have worked in the world of international cosmetics for over 20 years but it wasn’t until they returned to her native Melbourne that they found there was an overwhelming gap in the market for a results-driven, anti-ageing product that would help women overcome the ageing effects of the harsh elements of the Australian climate. Three years of intensive research and testing resulted in the range being launched in April 2010. The collection of cleansers, masks, toners, serums and moisturisers all use revolutionary molecular polypeptide and protein technologies that them claim will help us stay looking younger longer.
The Utopia Advanced Anti-ageing Facial that the Mandarin offers is the only one of its kind in the world. Gaylia products are shortly to be offered in another two Mandarin locations, but for now this is an international exclusive – so aren’t we the lucky ones!
The facial begins with a thorough cleanse, exfoliate and then a tone using a cooling hydra mist. A pressure point massage follows which is both therapeutic and relaxing. Collagen is the magic word when it comes to anti-ageing products and this facial uses a 100-percent pure plant collagen face mask which, while slightly claustrophobic, is cooling and toning and lifting.
When the mask is removed the real fun begins. The therapists at the Mandarin worked closely with Gaylia to develop a unique range of massage movements that work the lymphatic system in the face. The lifting and massaging is concentrated mostly around the jaw line and you can almost feel the results. My therapist also catered to my specific needs by concentrating on the skin around my eyes, my obvious problem area.
The facial is finished with a final flourish, a light overall facial massage with Passion Treatment oil, a product that Gaylia Kristensen calls a “skin miracle”. The smell is certainly sublime and the result when I looked in the mirror was a dewy, radiant and – if not line-free, certainly line-reduced – complexion.
As residents of Hong Kong, we have to deal with some unique and frankly tiresome dermatological issues thanks to humidity, pollution, sun damage and the harsh effects of aircon and dehumidifiers. This facial may not tick all the boxes for those looking for a really deep cleanse – choose the Mandarin’s Eve Lom Facial for that – but as a step towards reversing the ageing process, it certainly gets my vote.