Massages: You’ve had one, you’ve had ’em all right? Uh, no. Sometimes someone will come along and do something different and in the case of the Wushu Body Wisdom Massage at the Shangri La Hotel’s Chi Spa in Vancouver, we really didn’t know what was going to happen at any given moment, starting with the pajamas. Undress and put these on, we were told, and were handed some martial art-style PJs. Have you ever tried to tie those? It’s weird. Anyway, turns out the Wushu starts out with gentle stretching exercises you do in tandem with your masseuse (who happens to have been trained by a Wushu master in Wudang Mountain), as you both grip shiny bamboo sticks. Rather like t’ai chi, only you know, with a five-foot piece of shiny bamboo. The reason for the stretching is that it warms your muscles up before they even start the massage, which actually makes complete sense, right? Warmer muscles = less pain when they get in there with a shorter version of the stick which they use throughout. There’s plenty of room in there for this stretching, by the way. Each spa room is actually a suite – it has a changing room with a shower, vanity and closets, a separate loo and a huge bathtub in the actual massage room. Plus a fireplace and seating area. You could legit move in and listen to those pan pipes all day long if you wanted to. Essentially what Wushu involves is a mix of pressure using the short bamboo stick, stretching (assisted by the stick) and a regular old pummeling by hand. The stick is very rounded at either end though, and maybe two inches in diameter so it’s not like you’re getting “prodded” as such. More kneaded. And rolled, like with a rolling pin. It’s amazing. You just visualize all those toxins being urged out via lymphatic drainage or whatever, and then sip some unbelievable ginger tea after. At some hotels the spa is blah, not here. We will be back!
Chi Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, 1128 West Georgia St., Vancouver, BC V6E 0A8, Canada tel 604-689-1120