Petr Kavkas yoyos

The Oriental Spa in downtown Bangkok is for those whose idea of aerobics is lifting a champagne flute, writes ELISABETH KING. SINCE it opened in 1876, The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok has skateboarded from sailor’s bar, through bankruptcy and a stint as a wartime Japanese officers’ club to become a de facto private principality in downtown Bangkok. Sitting on the terrace of the Oriental at dusk, in a comfortable old cane chair overlooking the Chao Phraya River, it is hard not to fall in love with this institution. An infatuation that can only be deepened by catching the ferry to the new Oriental Spa. Massages in Bangkok have the reputation of being more louche than luxurious and legitimate. Not so at the Oriental, where the 25 programs designed to act like ecstasy on spa kind of people.

Michael Palin and supermodel Claudia Schiffer used the spa during my stay at the Oriental and they join former United States President George Bush, Sally Field, Terence Stamp and Jean-Claude van Damme who have sampled the facility since it opened last September. If you want a New Age boot camp built around extremes of exercise and diet, head off for the Asram in southern California. The Oriental Spa is for those whose idea of aerobics is lifting a champagne flute. The spa cost $5.5 million to build and this is immediately apparent as soon as you take off your shoes to enter the inner sanctum of the teak foyer. We were assigned therapists who padded us upstairs to one of the 10 individual suites - in reality, vaulting wooden housettes with power showers large enough for 10 people, a lounge, raised massage area, a huge marble-and-porcelain vanity unit and a large fish pond filled with carp just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows.

You disrobe before surrendering to a large, soft mattress to the sound of Schumann’s Liebestraum. Your skin is pampered with the Thalgo skin and body care range from France, essential massage oils from Vie Arome, Guerlain cosmetics and an extensive range of private label products incorporating Thai herbs from the northern hills of Thailand. But before you get carried away by the fantasy, my companion’s experience was ruined by an allergic rash that broke out after her second massage. As most of the therapists are unable to discuss the list of ingredients, you must check with the receptionists or, if you have a sensitive skin, inquire at the public relations department for the printed handout sheets normally reserved for visiting media.

There is a bewildering array of treatments that walk the line between Asian and European philosophies. A simple Papaya Body Polish - 30 minutes - or the 45-minute Jet Lag Massage cost only $25 or you can go for the Ultimate Spa Day (six hours) of Oriental Body Glow, a Hydrotherapy Session, a Revitalising Seaweed Treatment, a manicure or a pedicure, an Aromatherapy Scale Massage and shampoo and blow dry for $306 - the top price. George Bush and many other men sign on enthusiastically for the more blokey-sounding sybaritic sessions, which are the same as the ones designed for women. Such face-saving terminologies as Stress Recovery Full Body Treatment, the Stress Solution, the Executive Rejuvenator and The Invigorator are used to cover for tender male egos. Everything is accomplished with almost ceremonial grace at the spa, including the covering of your body with a sheet for a quiet interlude of meditation between treatments.

The Japanese are the most frequent users of the five-hour sessions for two that come under the extravagant title - Pre-Nuptial Pampering - held in one of three deluxe suites. An addiction not hard to understand after a quick look-see at the suites’ private whirlpools, saunas, power showers, steamrooms and vast vanity areas. If you are famous or embarrassingly rich, you can hire the Oriental Suite, of which there is only one and which has its own private elevator access to the ultimate in luxury surroundings. The spa has a Meditation Room and an Alpha Massage Room featuring a contoured bed that cradles the body with soothing massage vibration, gentle aromatic breezes, synchronised lights and calming music. I was a tad worried when my Jet Lag Solution treatment included a hydrotherapy session.

The last time I had indulged in this French- invented form of water torture was in Deauville after being told that Catherine Deneuve owed her legendary beauty to a good hose-down. In real pain after that session, I swore that the next time I felt tempted to try being battered by high-powered avalanches of water I would start a riot and let the police do the job for free. Fortunately, at the Oriental Spa, the hydrotherapy constitutes a gentle scrub-down with a mild exfoliant, a 20-minute soak in a jacuzzi filled with sea water and gently stimulating spray. The Oriental Spa doesn’t push its ancillary exercise and diet programs but they are available for those who feel that the body being worked on could be in better shape. Compared with European, American and Australian treatment prices, the Oriental Spa is highly affordable. Full-day programs like the Oriental Experience, the Revitaliser and Spa Madame or Monsieur come in at $220, $284 and $306 respectively.

A two-and-a-half hour Jet Lag Solution of body polish, hydrotherapy and full body massage is $97. The highest price is $3712 for the week long Romantic Getaway for Two, which includes all accommodation at the Oriental Hotel, limousine transfers, daily spa cuisine meals, sessions at the Thai Cooking School and Culture School and all spa treatments. But you don’t have to stay at the Oriental to use the spa. Simply book in for treatments from your own hotel if you wish. Getting There. QANTAS Jetabout Holidays have a low-season, twin-share five-night package to the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok from $2023 per person; includes private car transfers.

Contact your travel agent or Qantas Travel Centre… For rates at the Oriental Hotel, contact Mandarin Oriental Reservations in Sydney on: In October and November the twin-share rate per night is $328; 17.7 per cent VAT is extra.
CAPTION(S):Photos The spa, which opened last September, cost $5.5 million to build. Those who have sampled its offerings include former United States President George Bush, the supermodel Claudia Schiffer and Sally Field; The Oriental Hotel has become a de facto private principality in Bangkok; The Oriental Hotel has survived bankruptcy and a stint as a wartime Japanese officers’ club

I think 4? I would rate the Cliff the best, followed very closely by the Scout. But the 2 are very different, so it’s difficult to do a fair comparison. I tried out the compass briefly, and thought it was good, but not as good as the Scout, though it does fingerspin much better. Never tried the advanced Scout.

Cliff > the rest ;D

He also had the Slusny Nest around the same time the cliff came out. I don’t know how it plays.

from my favorite to least:

Adv Scout

Compass! It’s my favorite yoyo