Mandala Spa Facilities
Beyond the Mandala Spa's reception office (which also houses a dressing room with lockers), guests can walk into one of four private spa villas, a heated watsu therapy pool, or a yoga shala for larger yoga classes and retreats.
The spa villas are luxuriously appointed, as far as a rustic Asian style sensibility allows. The villas are constructed using natural materials and luxurious accents - bamboo and wood allied with fine ceramics and Italian bathroom fixtures. Outdoor and indoor meet seamlessly, the spa's manicured garden being visible through the spa villas' large sliding windows.
All four spa villas have two massage beds, all the better for couples who seek therapeutic bliss in each other's company. One spa villa is specially outfitted to accommodate patrons of the Shodhana Karma treatment: its facilities include a sauna and a Vichy shower on top of the usual accoutrements.
The Mandala's therapists undergo an extensive training and ongoing learning program to ensure constant quality service. The spa uses natural ingredients, either sourced locally or manufactured on site (such is the case with the yogurt used in the Mandala's Lulur treatments); the Mandala imports materials from abroad only when absolutely necessary.
The Mandala Spa's facilities host a wide selection of spa treatments, all designed to combine traditional Asian therapies with modern Western techniques. If the guest doesn't know where to start, the spa's personnel are always happy to make recommendations.
Mandala Spa's Treatments
The treatments in the day spa's extensive menu are grouped into several broad categories.
Massage Treatments - Mandala Spa's massages are the linchpin of Mandala Spa's holistic treatments. The Mandala Signature Massage (US$49) is a great starting point.
Rejuvenating Therapies - a combination of massages and other treatments for cleansing and purifying purposes. The award-winning Hilot Trilogy (US$55) is the signature treatment in this line.
Scrubs and Wraps are refreshing treatments involving natural ingredients. For sunburned Boracay beachgoers, the Cool Cucumber Aloe Wrap (US$99) combines the healing properties of aloe with the cooling effects of cucumber to provide blessed relief from the sun's effects.
Treatment Packages involve deluxe combinations of the Mandala Spa's massages, scrubs, and other treatments. This includes the Heritage Package (US$125), which combines indigenous Filipino healing modalities and holistic treatments into one three-hour experience.
Soul Connection uses Eastern techniques to heal body and soul. The key treatment in this range is Watsu (US$75), which uses a specially-heated pool to bring the guest into a state of deep relaxation.
The spa's treatments have won some of the industry's most prestigious awards, including Best Boutique Spa at the 2009 SpaFinder Reader's Choice Awards and the 2007 Asia Spa Baccarat Award for the Hilot Trilogy as the year's Best Holistic Treatment.
The Award-Winning Hilot Trilogy
I made a 1pm appointment for the Hilot Trilogy, timing it to avoid the noonday sun. At the spa villa, I change into a sarong provided for the occasion, whereupon I am led to a seat on the veranda to begin the treatment.
The Hilot Trilogy begins with a footbath. One gets the feeling that the sense of ritual is immensely important to the process; I couldn't help but settle into a relaxed frame of mind as the attendant silently poured the water, added flowers and salt, bathed my feet, and patted my feet dry.
I was then led to a massage bed so the treatment proper could begin. The Hilot Trilogy combines three traditional Filipino healing modalities.
Bentosa is a form of cupping, which uses glasses turned over a candle to create areas of low air pressure on the back.
Hilot refers to the traditional Filipino massage that uses a combination of long, deep strokes, stretching and pummeling, and acupressure.
Dagdagay is a foot massage using wooden sticks, applied with long motions and paying particular attention to acupressure points.
The total effect is deeply satisfying - the attendant drapes banana leaf slathered with hot coconut oil on my body, then applies deep long strokes that reach into the muscle and push out all the tensions balled up underneath.
A less accomplished masseuse would make this a painful process, but the attendant is masterful: working each muscle group in turn until my whole body, front and back, has been worked free of kinks.
The treatment ends with a hot cup of ginger tea, with me feeling for once that all was well with the world.
Mandala Spa at a Glance
Location: Boracay, Philippines - 15 minutes from Caticlan, or 90 minutes from Kalibo, either of which may be reached via a 45-minute domestic flight from Manila. VIP transfers from Caticlan may be arranged upon request.
Guest Services: Complimentary daily breakfast, fresh fruit basket, and yoga class; WiFi at all resort villas; in-room spa treatments upon request; island picnics and activities arrangements upon request
Facilities: 12 private luxury resort villas; Prana Restaurant, open daily from 7am to 10pm; four private spa villas; outdoor heated Watsu (water shiatsu therapy) pool; yoga shala for Yoga classes and retreats
Activities: Yoga classes and retreats; reiki; corporate wellness and rejuvenation retreats. Private instruction from certified Yoga instructors available on request.
Rates: Double rooms from US$416. Rates, promotions and spa/room packages available on request.
Affiliation: Mandala Spa & Villas is a member of Great Hotels of the World – a collection of the world’s finest hotels and resorts. Double rooms start from £242. For more information or to book visit ghotw.com/mandala-spa or call +44 (0) 20 7380 3658.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations, meals and treatments for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.