Holiday Pampering at Andaz Tokyo’s Ao Spa
Between decorating our homes, gift shopping, meal planning and cooking, organizing year-end parties and get-togethers, upholding social commitments, and somehow managing to still complete our regular work and household tasks, this time of year can be extremely stressful, to say the least. But a little pampering can go a long way in abating some of that stress, which is what makes the seasonal treatments at Ao Spa so very well timed.
Now through January 9, 2016, Ao Spa is offering five relaxing, healing treatments that promise to make you forget about the headaches of the holidays for at least 90 minutes. They make fantastic gifts for anyone on your list, including yourself.
With its high ceilings and glass walls, the reception area of Ao Spa is light and airy. Entering it is like stepping into a luxurious, modern apothecary, complete with mortars and pestles, glass jars filled with dried fruits and liquids of various colors, and even fresh herb plants that seem to sprout directly from the check-in desk. This is your first clue that what awaits you is a completely customized and very unique experience.
The ingredients in this apothecary change with the seasons, and right now you will find such wonderfully fragrant options as cinnamon, orange, brown sugar, cranberry, ginger, yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), eucalyptus, peppermint, and kuzu (or Japanese arrowroot). The fun begins when you choose your favorites to be mixed into a welcome drink, and also to be used in your upcoming treatment. I personally loved this part of the experience, but also found it somewhat agonizing due to my inherent indecisiveness—I wanted to try everything!
For the holiday season, Ao Spa is offering three treatments that encourage guests to take a bit of time out from all the hassle and commitments. Time for Me (90 minutes, ¥28,000) is perfect as a treat to yourself. It starts with body brushing of the décolleté, followed by an essential facial to rejuvenate the skin and get you holiday photo-ready in no time. The treatment ends with a relaxing foot massage that will instantly make you forget about all the hours spent slaving away in the kitchen or teetering on heels at the company bonenkai (year-end party). Time for You (90 minutes, ¥30,000) is designed to be given, and makes an ideal hostess gift, special indulgence for your best friend, or present for an important colleague. It includes a 60-minute custom massage and a 30-minute express treatment of the recipient’s choice. Finally, Time for Us (90 minutes, ¥45,000) is an indulgent couple’s treatment that beats any matching Christmas sweaters or single-use household item hands-down. Take your partner along and treat yourselves to a bespoke selection of relaxing treatments, followed by champagne and a decadent dessert. Pure bliss.
While I love the idea of a pampering spa treatment, I must admit that I often find it difficult to justify spending time and money on my own relaxation and wellbeing. Of course this is ridiculous (because what’s more important than your own health and sanity?), and so I finally convinced myself to try out Ao Spa. I must say I am 100 percent a convert.
After all the apothecary fun, my therapist led me to my treatment room, which was bright, serene, and had an amazing view of the city. She gave me a quick foot bath and scrub using the ingredients I had selected, and then asked me to undress for the treatment. After this, I have very little recollection of what happened, as I was so relaxed that I was drifting in and out of sleep the entire time. At one point she asked me if the pressure of the massage was suitable for me, but it seemed more rhetorical than anything. She was so in tuned to my body, and her touch so responsive, that it seemed like she had known me and all my various knots and tightness for years.
I left Ao Spa feeling completely rejuvenated, light on my feet, and at peace with the world around me. As I walked back to the station, I even caught myself grinning for no other reason than my newly elevated mood. Take that, holiday stress.
Address: 37F Andaz Tokyo, 1-23-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open: Appointments available Mon–Fri, 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. and Sat–Sun, 8 a.m.–8:30 p.m.