Health & Wellness

Ignite and chill

These are certainly trying times in the era of COVID-19 with having to adjust the way we live and how things are done, and no place is exempt. Heightened hygiene, physical distancing protocols and enhancements put in places at wellness facilities like Amber Spa are making for an experience that is that much more “delicious”.

Prior to The Bahamas confirming its first case of COVID-19 on March 15, Amber Spa was gearing up to release its “Ignite and Chill” contrasting hot and cold therapy to its menu. But that was put on hold as the country sought to contain the pandemic.

As the country relaxed restrictions, Amber Spa at the Warwick Paradise Island reopened to the public on July 1, rolling out its enticing new treatments and protocols, which enticed many people, who had gone months without receiving any professional treatments for the body’s largest organ – the skin, and are all wearing face masks. And were looking to not only shed the dull skin build up on their body (as the skin’s outer layer undergoes constant renewal every 28 days), but to relax.

Amber is one of the world’s oldest and most coveted treasures – a talisman of beauty, protection, and renewal. It is coveted for its healing properties that promote a sense of health and healing. It balances emotions, clears the mind and releases tension. An experience at Amber Spa is all about the journey to rest and healing of the spirit, soul, and body, according to Carlethia Thurston, manager.

With this in mind, she said they endeavor to remain on top of enhancing their world-class offerings with wellness experiences and treatments for clients that fall in line with the luxury boutique spa’s theme, hence the introduction of its “Ignite and Chill” contrasting hot and cold therapy, alternating of heat with cold, which stimulates the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

It’s a method that reduces inflammation, stimulates circulation, and relaxes tight muscles, easing pain through the use of alternating lava shells with glacial shells, which helps every cell in the body receive more oxygen and nutrients. It’s a combination that creates a vascular flash.

It’s a wellness experience I was eager to indulge in prior to COVID-19, but had to wait months to have, due to the shutdown of non-essential services, which meant it was literally four months since my last professional skin treatment. I was in desperate need of a spa day for head to toe treatments to slough away the COVID-19 blues.

TREATMENTS

I put my fate in the hands of trusted therapist Lynn Evans to decide on the best course of treatments after the months-long build-up. She suggested a body scrub, massage, facial and a manicure and pedicure. I was more than ready. And of course, a standard for Amber Spa is their heated beds, which makes the treatments that much more amazing.

The Purissima scrub, which she used to slough away the dead cells, is formulated using granules from fruit seeds, was an effective, but gentle skin cleanser that contained a combination of bamboo extracts and organic essential oils to soothe, relax and tone the skin. Evans massaged the scrub in until it was absorbed into my body in a motion that aided with circulation and assisted with encouraging lymphatic system drainage.

Then it was time to hit the shower to rinse away the remnants of the scrub, which had prepared me for the massage to follow. Evans suggested the 80-minute “Ignite and Chill Massage”, which would give her the extra time needed to work on any overstressed areas of my body that may need extra attention, which for me, as a typist, includes my back and shoulders.

The “Ignite and Chill Massage” incorporated the use of cowrie shells (cold) and codacia lava shells, which heat up to 45 minutes and offers two heat levels.

Cowrie shells is perhaps the most versatile shell massage tool today. Its unique contours and ergonomic shape enabled Evans to delight with both hands-on and tool-driven massage, elevating the service with just two shells. This enhancement therapy allowed multiple modalities – trigger point, reflexology (hands, feet), spot therapy (neck, head), as well as facial services.

Evans made use of the higher heat two level on the codacia shells on my back, and the lower level on the more sensitive parts of my body.

By this time, I was totally blissed out. But there was even more to come.

Four months since my last face treatment, Evans opted for the Vitamin Power facial, which she said has a potent combination of antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E that support the micro-circulation of the skin and reverses the damaging effects of environmental ultraviolet (UV) radiation, pollution and stress. She opted for a 25 percent glycolic solution to exfoliate and rejuvenate – which she said is great not just for dead skin cells, but fine lines and wrinkles and clearing out the pores.

The Vitamin Power facial got rid of the dull look after four months of dead skin buildup, leaving the face with that healthy glow that you want.

I finished up my day at the spa with the “Ignite and Chill” manicure and pedicure. We did a green tea soak to aid in detoxification, again after not being able to have a pedicure for months, and which also aided in relaxation due to the aromatherapy. The “Ignite and Chill” technique with the cowrie and codacia shells were again incorporated. In this application, they help with any swelling and the heat helps with circulation.

The “Ignite and Chill” experience at Amber Spa left my body feeling rested – it healed my spirit and soul after months of feeling stressed and cooped up –  and refreshed, after sloughing away all those dead cells. My Amber Spa visit was a healing experience from head to toe.

HYGIENE PROTOCOLS

In this COVID-19 era, before entering the spa, I did not fail to ask about the heightened hygiene protocols Amber Spa has implemented in reopening.

Thurston says sanitation compliance, hygiene and social distancing protocols have been given the utmost attention. Appointments are now in 30-minute intervals to manage guests and to allow equipment, tools and treatment rooms to be cleaned, disinfected and sanitized after each guest.

In fact, I was informed there was another person in the spa at the time I was there receiving multiple treatments as I was, but I never even saw that person, as they had scheduled the services, so that we would never cross.

The spa manager says they’ve also implemented personalized service. If a client is having multiple services like I did, with most of their therapists dual certified, that client is assured of having one person designated to them for all of their services, down to bringing them water or tea, to cut down on cross contamination.

Everyone is required to wear a mask on property and in the spa. But before you get to the spa doors, they’ve implemented an online intake form, which reduces the amount of time a client needs to be in the lobby. Once you confirm your appointment, a link is sent to you to be filled in, which you complete and return to the spa.

Upon arriving at the resort, my temperature was checked at security and a COVID-19 intake form filled out before I was allowed into the spa. Upon arrival, at the spa, the online intake form is printed out for review and initialing by the client.

Clients also now have to undergo a newly implemented two-fold cleansing ritual, which I didn’t find to be a hardship at all.

I was presented with a warmed towel scented with lavender, which is known to promote relaxation and releases those feel-good endorphins.

Evans encouraged me to inhale the aromatherapy, and then use the towel to wipe my hands, before I was directed to the hand sanitizer station, then escorted to the lounge, which reduces the time people spend in the spa’s lobby.

I noticed the absence of plexiglass that is popping up everywhere else. Thurston said at Amber Spa, they decided not to install plexiglass in an effort to retain the ambiance of the luxury boutique spa. They opted to instead limit the number of people that can be in the spa at any given time to ensure physical distancing is adhered to at all times, and as such, stagger their appointments every 30-minutes.

Once ensconced in the treatment room, the cleansing ritual continued. Once comfortable and lying face down, Evans re-cleansed the hands and feet with a hot towel with alcohol; then, she cleansed the back with a hot towel sans alcohol. And it’s all in an effort to ensure the client is clean before the therapist touches them, but at the same time, the warmth from the hot towels puts the body in a state of relaxation before treatment even begins.

With the Amber Spa experience all about healing and relaxation in these days of mask wearing, Thurston says they have made it so that when a client has to lie face down, they don’t have to wear a mask, which the spa manager said is uncomfortable. To ensure safety, they have created a hammock under the headrest, which cuts off the area, into which the client breathes – and all of their droplets end up in the towel attached. To continue to promote relaxation, they place aromatics in the hammock, so you inhale scents like lavender or lemongrass.

When I had to turn face up, Evans put on her shield, to ensure she was protected.

Throughout the day, Evans wore a mask and face shield, and when doing my manicure and pedicure, she also wore gloves.

Thurston says if a guest would prefer a therapist to wear gloves during therapies such as massage, they can request it.

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