Mandara Spa's aromas overcome life's stresses

Associate editor Kimberly Scholz soothed away the aches and pains of travel at the Mandara Spa at Aruba's Marriott Ocean Club, the sister property of the Aruba Marriott & Stellaris Casino. Her report follows:

PALM BEACH, Aruba -- A potpourri of scents enveloped me as I entered the Mandara Spa, while soft, therapeutic music and burning incense added to the relaxing effect.

The scents were the spa's signature aromatherapy blends: Mandara, Tranquility, Island Spice and Harmony.

Containers everywhere overflowed with the blends, enabling guests to sample them and make a choice before venturing off to the locker rooms and treatment area.

The 16,500-square-foot spa opened in the Marriott Ocean Club, adjacent to the Aruba Marriott, on Dec. 22. Guests at each resort have access to the other's facilities.

Treatments at Mandara Spa cover the spectrum, from a selection of massages and facials to body scrubs and wraps as well as hydrotherapy treatments and hand- and foot-care.

I chose the Caribbean Coffee Scrub, a full-body treatment consisting of a blend of Balinese coffee and pumice scrubbed into the pores.

The treatment is designed to stimulate and elevate the mood, according to spa director Nicky Wood.

The treatment began with a lavender body wash, followed by a scrub with the coffee/pumice concoction, applied in a massage. Next came a five-minute wrap to allow the mixture to seep deeper into my pores.

A cold paste made from a blend of carrot and aloe topped it off, and that was the best part of the treatment.

The coldness of the paste counteracted the heat generated by the wrap and left my body tingling.

I felt invigorated yet pleasantly relaxed.

Although the coffee scent wasn't as strong as I had expected during the scrub, as the day went on the effects got more intense.

I found it acted like a high-octane kick, and I smelled like a steaming cup of java for the rest of the day.

Mandara Spa also features a special menu of treatments derived from other local ingredients. Among them are the Aruba Salt Glow wrap derived from sea salts and the Aloe Cucumber wrap.

The ingredients used in all treatments are fresh cut and used the same day.

The spa also uses machinery sparingly, according to Wood, in favor of more hands-on treatments.

"Our guests get to feel the benefits of human touch and get to see part of the Aruban culture," she said.

The Mandara Spa is equipped with 14 treatment rooms, including four double treatment rooms and four wet rooms.

The facility also features a spa shop and an outdoor lounge, complete with a hot tub and lounge chairs to relax in after a treatment.

Items for sale include incense and holders, scrubs, aromatherapy items, candles, hair items and toiletry bags and kits.

Prices start at $85 for body treatments and $35 for hydrotherapy baths.

For the active guest, the resort features a 2,000-square-foot health club, open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

A beauty salon also is on site.

Fitness classes are held each day. The latest offering is a Tai Chi class, taught by a martial arts expert once a week on the pool deck near the beach.

A minibasketball court and two lighted tennis courts round out the resort's fitness facilities.

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