03 December 2008

A trip down sensory lane

A quiet space with an incredible energy: ONEwellness at the Radisson is breaking new ground.


The spa idea has been hopelessly abused. I’ve been to facilities where finishes are patchy, hygiene is iffy, therapists are ill-trained and underpaid, and the smell of exploitation is only just masked by the cheap perfume oils they’re burning in place of aromatherapy oils.

But still… on days you’re cold or exhausted, or your back is rigid with stress, there are few things as alluring as the idea of the full-body caress – hot water and enforced idleness, a beauty or body-therapy massage, time out in a dim, restful place. So we persist, and hope for fabulousness.

You’ll find it in buckets at ONEwellness at the Radisson Hotel in Mouille Point, Cape Town – but more than fabulousness, you’ll find integrity. The group’s eco-philosophy means it strives towards operating as a ‘green’ spa. It’s rarely possible for a business to be 100% green, but where it can, the group has adopted the most green option available. The amenities range, for instance, is sourced locally and is an organic, environmentally healthy product range, with packaging that is both recyclable and biodegradable.

The man behind ONEwellness is ‘Mr Spa’, Rob Cowling, and the spa’s excellence has been acknowledged by both the coveted international TUV Rheinland Certificate of International Day Spa Standard, awarded after just four months; and the 2008 Best Hotel Spa of the Year award, in the annual Les Nouvelles Esthetiques South Africa Spa Awards. Cowling himself was recipient of the Spa Visionary award in the Les Nouvelles Esthetiques awards.

ONEwellness is a big spa, with more options than most. In addition to 10 multi-functional treatment rooms, there’s a fitness centre equipped with Technogym equipment, including the revolutionary Kinesis training system; and a good-sized pool with a surrounding relaxation deck and café area where spa cuisine is served.

There are limited membership options, but, significantly, all members are assigned a personal wellness coach whose job is to take on your goals. A programme is worked out for you after a comprehensive health and wellness assessment, and the coach is there to set up a schedule, and follow up with regular re-assessments and health checks.

Treat yourself
The signature treatment, called ONEjourney, will blow back the hair of even the most seasoned spa-goer (and do go with a friend: there’s much you want to exclaim about as you’re progressing through the stages). It’s focused on sensory stimulation: heat, steam and ice; darkness and lights; wet and dry heat; and includes:

  • A full-body exfoliation, followed by a Vichy shower, to strip off your layer of dead cells and prepare your body for all that is to follow;

  • Caldarium – a steam room, which opens up the pores, and gets you glowing;
  • A Kneipp treatment: alternately hot and cold footbaths, while a therapist gives you a neck and shoulder massage (a nice distraction from the ice cubes sometimes bobbing around your ankles).
  • Rock sauna
  • Aroma mist room – a fine rainforest-feeling space, peppermint-scented, and possibly the most beautiful feeling I’ve ever known.

Afterwards, you’re encouraged to relax in the Sleep Room – and I adore the fact that you can request a wake-up call.

Each of the six stations is enhanced by light therapy: the Vichy glows with red light; there’s silver quartzite stone on the walls of the sauna; the mint mist glows ice blue.

You don’t leave with that familiar washed-up, detoxed-through-a-wringer feeling. I felt refreshed and light.

Pevonia facial
A facial is in part about the experience, and in part about the results. On both fronts, the Pevonia Botanica range used by ONEwellness scores really highly.

First the basics: it’s a spa-only line, one of the world’s best respected, and very comprehensive. There are a number of ranges within the line, including an anti-ageing range, suncare, a male range, site-specific products (eyes, lips, heels etc) and problem-specific products for rosacea, acne, pigmentation, dry or oily skin, and so on. The products get the eco green light, and aren’t tested on animals.

The Pevonia range is based on marine and botanical ingredients, and one of the most delicious things about a Pevonia facial is the application of different serums that smell like a bouquet – fresh, immediate. If you could smell healing, this is what it would smell like.

The specialisation of the options means your facial just has to deliver. Like half of the country, I have skin that, damaged by sun when I was young, dumb and careless, has ended up with that peculiarly irritating sensitivity that derives from dehydration. So in a facial I look for something that cools and calms, hydrates and leaves me feeling like Keira Knightly looks. I got it. I got it so seductively I bought a couple of those serums to take home with me. They’re very, very expensive, and they’re very, very precious: I savagely guard every drop, and every application means another good day.

Keira I’m not, but that’s not the fault of the facial. I’d highly recommend it.

- (Heather Parker, Health24, August 2008)

* ONEwellness is open for spa treatments daily from 08h00 to 20h00. Fitness Centre hours are 06h00 to 22h00. Towels, slippers and robes are provided and guests only need to bring their bathing suits. Parking is complimentary. Call (021) 441-3331 / 2 / 3; email; more info:
* Other ONEwellness facilities include a ‘boutique’ spa at Dock House, in the V&A Waterfront; and the facility due to open in October 2008 at the Radisson Hotel in Sandton Isle.


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