Over the Easter weekend The Captain and i wrote a list of all the things we really wanted to do. One of the things was go for a massage. We booked an appointment for En Masse and were thrilled to discover they were open late on Easter Sunday afternoon.
When we arrived it took a few seconds for our eyes to adjust – the entire space is painted a beautiful, deep indigo blue which looks electric in some places as the light hits it. There are two floors and it looks like it’s housed in the old movie theatre – the building used to be the Avalon theatre so i’m assuming so. The colour and the volumes combined create an instantly soothing ambience, as if you’re cocooned in an entirely different world. And SUCH a relief from the ubiquitous Zen style that 90% of spas adhere to these days.
So…how is En Masse different?
I’d say it’s a true urban massage experience. By this i mean it’s in the city obviously (it’s in Gardens in Cape Town) but they’ve taken people’s lives into context. They’re open every day of the week from 8am until 10pm and there’s a measure of efficiency that i like – don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely about rest and relaxation here but there’s a sense of purpose that i like a lot. The ‘How it Works’ sheet is a case in point – explaining everything from what you’ll be wearing for your treatment to the availability of flavoured teas afterwards. I’m the kind of person who likes to know the lay of the land so it works for me perfectly.
The run up
I had originally wanted to book a reflexology session – since my foot fracture i am suffering with a trapped nerve and it’s driving me nuts. The Captain was keen for a full body massage. Although there wasn’t a reflexology specialist on duty on Sunday, my therapist had already been briefed and offered to focus on my feet for 25 minutes of my hour-long session.
Before we headed on upstairs where the massage pods are situated we each changed into our ‘uniform’ – a set of Thai fishermen’s pants and a smock top. Made in soft cotton, i loved this detail and although i’m not a prude i much prefer this to the near-naked experience of most massages. Thai and Shiatsu massages are oil-free – another bonus especially if you’re popping in and have plans to go somewhere after your treatment.
We were each ushered to our all-white pods. These are separated from each other by thin white screens that slide up and down; here you lie on a thin mattress covered in a soft fitted sheet with your head on a soft pillow. The therapist then sets to work using their body to stretch yours and to anchor you while they manipulate various muscles. The foot massage was so intense and what i needed that i felt as if my foot was being unlocked afer months of constriction! After that my therapist worked on my back, neck and shoulders – working out all the little knots that had accumulated over the weeks before. I have had many massages in many styles and i have to say this was certainly one of the best i’d had. Without oils and by using resistance, it felt like the therapist was really able to access my hidden knots. The person who worked on me is studying Chinese medicine and the fact that she is passionate about Asian styles of therapies gave me even more confidence about my experience.
As you can tell – i am seriously impressed by En Masse. As is The Captain. Both of us fell asleep during our massage and we both felt so energised and at peace with the world afterwards. After we had come back down to earth we headed to the downstairs lounge where we each had some herbal tea – served in those stylish Bodum glasses (details making the difference again!)
We paid R385 for each of our massages – En Masse has a host of loyalty type offerings which brings the price down significantly and i will definitely consider purchasing one of these in the future (click here to read about their membership offerings and prices). The great thing is you can give some of these away as gifts too – and who wouldn’t love a massage experience as a gift?
We visited the Cape Town branch but there’s an En Masse in Joburg too – click here for contact details and info