5 minutes with artist Heather Straka
Heather Straka is tickled by the irony of being isolated in Auckland and unable to attend her own Isolation Hotel exhibition in Christchurch. ...
“You look like you have a spring in your step,” beams Champs-Elysées Day Spa coordinator Angela Rewha, as I pad down the lavish wooden staircase and into the relaxation lounge.
She’s right. I sink into the cushioned comfort of a well-upholstered French colonial chair in a Zen-like state of Nirvana and sip a tangy lemon water designed to flush the toxins from my invigorated system – this is living! When I arrived at the destination spa in Christchurch, the spring was more a shamble, courtesy of some recent hard labour in the garden on top of week of desk-jockeying, with a dull ache in my shoulders and neck a painful reminder. Now with a new lease of life, super slack and chilled, I’m relaxed and ready for the weekend ahead.
Now in the slice of suburban Merivale history that is the character-filled Charlotte Jane Building, Champs Elysées marries old-world charm and opulence; think stunning leadlight windows and ancient polished wooden surfaces alongside the cutting-edge nous of an iconic, modern, luxurious (and award-winning) spa. It's an oasis of tranquillity – the hustle and bustle of modern living is instantly left on the other side of the door, along with the hurried traffic buzz on Papanui Road, as soon as you enter the Spa’s refined surrounds. I can feel myself relaxing already just as I talk about the upcoming deep tissue massage I’m booked in for with Misa (Misaki) Sugiura, my therapist for the session (over a cup of calming herbal tea) – and after that gardening I'm careful to highlight my neck and shoulders as requiring particular attention!
In the refined lux of their high-ceilinged treatment room, I slip between the covers into the toasty warmth of the heated massage table, and wait for Misa to return – I couldn’t be more ready for a massage. More delicious anticipation occurs when I can feel the heat radiating from a hot towel near my feet before they’re enveloped in the soothing warmth in a pre-massage cleanse.
The massage ticks a lot of boxes! It's specifically designed to release tension in individual muscle groups, increase circulation, instigate relaxation and relieve muscular aches and pains – just what I'm after. Misa gets to work correcting the bodily wrongs of the past several weeks, manipulating knotted muscles into submission with hot oil and some tricky massage ninja moves.
Despite the pressure required to unwind my body’s tension (along with some hurts-so-good moments as she expertly irons out some serious kinks), I find myself drifting off during the luxuriant strokes. I’m also in danger of becoming addicted to the intense embrace of the decadent, aroma-infused hot towels involved in the finale as she works her mojo and annoying tensions and stresses simply dissipate with the towels’ steam.
There are few better ways to spend 60 minutes of therapeutic pampering as I take my final sip of lemon water. I'm sad to head back into the real world, but at least I'm ready to face the weekend as a whole new person!
Champs-Elysées Day Spa
(03) 365 3630
110 Papanui Road, Christchurch