I should have felt relaxed, but I didn’t.

Hotel Botánico Oriental Spa Garden

Walking down the pretty walkway alongside the carp filled pond with its happy-faced cascades of pink busy lizzies and bougainvillea flowing from their blue glazed vases, I should have felt a tingling of anticipation. Instead I felt the nerves wind tighter with every step.

That’s the trouble with being a spa virgin, you’re filled with fears. What do I wear? What do I do? Will I look like an idiot?

“Take off all of your clothes, put these on and lie face down on the bed.”

The confidently and assertively despatched instructions couldn’t have been clearer and they instantly took away all my self doubts. I didn’t need to worry about what to do, I was being told exactly what to do and how to do it. I did as I was told, hanging my swimsuit and bath robe on the peg, putting on the disposable panties and climbing face down onto the soft, warm bed.

For the first time, I became aware of the delicious scent of jasmine, the perfect ambient temperature, the gentle flutter of the candlelight and the soft melody of the Oriental relaxation music. I smiled and breathed deeply. Let the pampering begin.

Hotel Botánico Oriental Spa Garden

The ever growing popularity of spa hotels and spa breaks is something I’ve been aware of for a long time but, like the rising popularity of cruises, it’s not something that has ever  really raised my interest. Up until my stay at the Hotel Botánico at the foot of the lush La Orotava Valley in the north of Tenerife, my only other ventures into the world of spas were a rather clinical massage that was really a physiotherapy workout and a wonderful hour spent in a Jacuzzi at a wine spa in Costa Brava in the company of good friends and an ample supply of chilled champagne.

Little did I realise as I lay on that bed waiting for my Thai masseuse to return, that my first experience of an authentic spa treatment was going to be of the gold standard variety.

My Oriental Ritual began with a complete body exfoliation using black olive soap which left my skin tingling from forehead to toes. Covered in creamy goodness, my body the consistency of a bar of wet soap, I gingerly stepped off the treatment couch and two steps into the sauna where the intense heat and steam opened my pores and allowed the black olive soap to deep cleanse. Mid way through my sauna, my masseuse brought me hot, fruit tea which immediately took up the mantel of the most refreshing cup of tea I have ever had.

Hotel Botánico Oriental Spa Garden

After 15 minutes, my amazing personal sauna turned into a high powered jet shower to thoroughly cleanse all the soap. Then it was back onto the couch for a rhassoul wrap.
“ This will make your skin look ten years younger,” my smiling masseuse assured me. I asked her if she could possibly give me a double dose but she just giggled and began to apply the brown paste to every centimetre of my body and up into my hair.
There goes my decision not to wash my hair tonight I thought as, now completely covered in mud, I was wrapped up like an oversized enchilada and left to relax in the warm, scented room with its ambient background music.

Back into my personal power shower to de-mud and then it was time for my now 10 years younger looking skin to get its massage in silky argan oil. By this time, not only had I lost my spa virginity, I was becoming an addict. As the masseuse’ hands kneaded, stroked and gently pummelled my body into a state of complete relaxation I didn’t want this treatment to end – ever.

Hotel Botánico Oriental Spa Garden

The next time I have an opportunity to stroll towards the ornate, golden, antique Thai doors of the Oriental Spa Garden I will be taking in every sensory aspect of the journey in anticipation of what lies beyond.

All the facilities of the Oriental Spa Garden are freely available to guests of Hotel Botánico but treatments and massages are an additional cost. My Oriental Ritual experience can be enjoyed as an individual or as a couple, costs €120 and takes an hour and a half.

I was a guest of the Hotel Botánico for my spa experience.

Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+

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