Review: Aroma Hot Stone Healing Therapy at St. Gregory Spa, Penang
Drop it like it's hot
Tucked away in the corner of Parkroyal Hotel Penang's first floor is St. Gregory Spa, where you can indulge in a range of holistic therapeutic treatments in one of the seven uniquely designed treatment rooms. I was about to take on the spa's signature Aroma Hot Stone Healing Therapy, a 75-minute full-body treatment that supposedly helps to relieve muscle tension and relax the mind and body with the penetrating heat of small stones, all placed on key energy points of the body. After serving a hot cup of ginger tea, my therapist led me into one of the rooms with a one-way mirror that provided a view of the picturesque sea.
This was my first time undertaking a hot stone massage—I attribute it to my reservations about the word 'hot' in the same sentence as the idea of placing hot stones on my body (would I get scalded? The horror!) wasn't an exciting prospect to look forward to. But this spa session very likely changed my mind about similar therapies that I just might indulge in in the future. As I lay facedown on the massage table, my kind therapist informed me to give her a heads up in case I find the temperature of the stones to be unsatisfactory. She began the session with soothing, kneading strokes with her palms on my legs using aromatherapy oil. While I personally preferred a deeper, firmer pressure (I quite like deep tissue massages for a reason), I thought to wait it out as the stones have yet to make an appearance.
My previous understanding of hot stone massage/therapy is that it's a form of thermotherapy that incorporates the placement of heated stones on specific areas of the body for greater deep tissue manipulation. In a nutshell, the heat replaces the need for excessive pressure during the massage. But the basalt stones were quickly introduced right when I was thinking about her gentle techniques. My therapist proceeded to rub and massage my legs with the heated stones coupled with aromatherapy oil in a stronger pressure than before—a warmly soothing experience that wasn't uncomfortable. I did inform her that the stones were a little too warm for my liking, and she promptly adjusted the temperature accordingly.
The therapist repeated similar movements across my back, shoulders and arms that helped ease muscle and tissue tension, then placed the stones on specific points across each part of my body after massaging. As I switched positions to lie face up, a chilled eye pillow filled with lavender and flaxseed was a welcoming addition on my eyes to block out the light while reducing puffiness. The session ended shortly after she was done with massaging my arms, and I was served another cup of ginger tea for a jolt of energy. I left St. Gregory Spa with shoulders that were decidedly less stiff, and a sense of ease in my overall well-being. And who knows, I might be inclined to take on another session of hot stone therapy in the future.