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The Guide to Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing from Pearl Escapes 2017

The Guide to Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing from Pearl Escapes 2017

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The Guide to Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing from Pearl Escapes 2017

551 pagine
5 ore
Sep 29, 2016


Seven years ago I had a traditional massage in Morocco and felt the deep physical, mental and spiritual healing that can come from a great treatment.

I started researching massages and spas, particularly traditional treatments from around the world; I travelled to China, Japan, Mexico, Iceland, Tuscany and tried ancient treatments in central London, then I started writing about them so that others could benefit from this research.

In 2016 I experienced the most powerful healing yet, in a Native American spa in Arizona. It's all in this book. Was the healing all down to this one incredible treatment, or was it the cumulative effect of years of exploration? I don't know, but wherever you want to start, this guide to over 300 different massages and spa terms will help you plan your healing journey.
Sep 29, 2016

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The Guide to Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing from Pearl Escapes 2017 - Pearl Howie

The Guide to Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing from Pearl Escapes 2017

The Guide to Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing from Pearl Escapes 2017

By Pearl Howie

Copyright © Pearl Howie 2016

All rights reserved

ISBN: 978-1-326-80317-9

The moral right of the author has been asserted

New to This Edition

All the treatments in this guide are listed alphabetically. 

If you're looking for something specific but can't find it from the main index then you can also check the back of the book where treatments are listed by region, type of healing and also by ailment.  Hopefully you'll find what you're looking for.  If not drop me an email and maybe I'll try to add it to the next edition.

This year I experienced the incredible Thoachta (Healing) at Aji Spa in Chandler, Arizona – life changing (for me at least) so you may just want to skip straight to that one!

New Massage, Spa Treatments and Healing In This Edition




Beto Perez

Brené Brown - updated



Don Miguel Ruiz - updated



Healing Crisis

Health & Safety



Marie Kondo and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Mother Stone

Native American Healing – updated

Onsen (Japanese Hot Spring)


Polarity Massage

Sahra Desert Aromatherapy Massage at Sahra Spa & Hammam (Cosmopolitan Spa – Las Vegas)



Shiatsu (in Japan)

Six Senses

Star Gazing

Stopping To Smell The Roses

Third Eye

Thoachta (Healing)

Toltec - updated

Tree Hugging



Wave Room


Hi there, I'm Pearl Howie (aka Pearl Escapes) and this is my guide to healing. 

On a trip to Morocco about seven years ago I had my first traditional massage.  I didn't know what hit me.  That massage changed my life.  It helped me to let go of some deep sadness at the time, then a year later it took me to Barcelona to another Arabic spa, where, thanks to my little sister, I first dreamed up the idea of sharing all these wonderful experiences.  Later that year I quit my job in the middle of a recession with no real plan for the business except that I would teach Zumba® Fitness for a bit while I figured it out.

When I look back at the vast range of places I've visited and experiences I've had, all while juggling a Zumba® Fitness practice and worrying each month about paying the mortgage, it shows me that anything is possible.  In seven years I've gone from that first massage to being one of the world's experts on massage, spa treatments and healing, particularly indigenous or traditional practices and this book is the most accurate resource in the world to my knowledge. 

Not too shabby.

This year (2016) I experienced such a profound healing in a Native American spa (see Thoachta) that I had to come home and write a self-help book; free – Feeling Real Emotions Everyday - a full colour photographic book (now available as a download on Lulu and paperback from online bookshops – if you don't see it, ask for it, demand it and in your local bookshop too – it'll help get it there!)  I'm also speaking about the book and the message within it, and I'll be going on tour as well as researching more incredible experiences around the world. 

They say; It's the journey, not the destination.  I'm not so sure, because in that extraordinary healing I finally found myself.

But I do know for sure that you can only get there at your own pace, one step at a time.  Where you start is up to you.

I got there by following my heart, dreaming my own dreams and believing in them.  (I also had a lot of detours when I was afraid to follow my heart, when I tried to live other people's dreams and struggled to believe, really believe that anything is possible.) 

I write this guidebook each year because it's a legacy - I want people to benefit from this research, and for this wisdom to continue to be shared when I am gone. 

I believe that we are in the process of reclaiming thousands of forms of healing that were driven underground by the Spanish Inquisition, medieval misunderstanding, psychotherapists and psychiatrists and other authorities who outlawed practices that they could not understand.  We are also reclaiming healing from the charlatans, from the uninitiated and the chancers, from the snake oil merchants and the well-meaning but ignorant who do not understand the full power of the tools they have picked up.  I am in the middle of re-reading The Fifth Agreement from don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz with Janet Mills which is this; Be sceptical, but learn to listen, and I say, about healing, Be cautious, but don't be afraid to explore.

I hope my books will help you to find the perfect escape for you. Although this book is about healing, massage and treatments, of course many of them could be described as escapes, but if you are looking for a more specific recommendation for a spa, hotel or something else then please check out my sister guidebook The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2017 – you can see the full list of escapes at the end of this book and then just listen to your heart to feel where you want to start.

I know it's a lot. 

Which is why I've also tried to break everything I've experienced down into very short focused guidebooks, because there are times when I have been so burned out that I can barely put one foot in front of another, let another plan a perfect escape, and all I wanted was someone to point me in the right direction.  I wished someone would write a guide that just gave you one perfect escape; the perfect hotel, spa, flight and restaurant.  So that's what I try to do. 

Some of these healing practices work in a moment, an hour, a day, a week or seven years, but if you have the courage to try any of them (even the ones I am not so keen on) it will be an adventure, a step forward on your path and you might just find, as I have, when you look back, that your life was perfect, your beloved perfect, you were perfect, there was enough money, enough time, enough space and enough love all along.


An Ayurvedic full body massage, this could technically be the name for a treatment I had at Salon Sensoriale in the Terme di Chianciano Spa in Tuscany, but at Jivita Ayurveda in Kensal Rise this is the actual name on the menu.

What differs from a regular full body massage is the heated oil and faster movements that are used, and also special care is paid to your feet, which some full body massages ignore.  This means that even with a 50 minute treatment you can feel probably done by the end of an Abhyanga massage. 

The treatment at Jivita Ayurveda did seem to use harder pressure than the massage I had in Tuscany, but that could also be because my body was so much tenser this time.  As Megan, the therapist at Jivita Ayurveda, worked on each area I would be close to asking her to stop, then the second she stopped I wanted her to do more!

Another massive difference was that at Jivita Ayurveda I went for a special offer which included a Shirodhara treatment at the end of the full body massage, this made this the perfect experience for me as the massage relaxed my body and the Shirodhara relaxed my mind (and then got it working again).  See Shirodhara.

I do love the use of warmed oil in massage and it’s very hard to go back once you've experienced this (and to go back to non-heated beds – yes this bed was heated!) 

I started, as with most massages on my front, with my back and shoulders being worked over.  I could actually feel the tension and possibly air being released from my body as in a chiropractic session, before Megan moved onto my legs and then went for it on my feet.  This was some of the best footwork I have ever had, and I would absolutely go back for an Ayurvedic foot massage aka Padabhyanga or Reflexology here.

See also Ayurvedic Massage, Chiropractic, Deep Tissue Massage, Holistic Treatments, Padabhyanga, Paper Knickers, Prishtabhyanga, Shirodhara, Udvatarna, ILA and ILA Kundalini Back Treatment.


If you’ve ever liked the idea of acupuncture but didn’t like the idea of needles then acupressure is probably something to try.  It’s based on the same Chinese philosophy as acupuncture and Reflexology; that there are energy lines or meridians in the body that can benefit from manipulation.  It’s not that far from the concept of energy chakras, which is part of the basis of Reiki; a much more passive practice.

Sometimes also called oriental meridian massage, it’s a speciality of the Mandarin Oriental spas, and indeed a key element of their signature treatment, which I’ve now tried in Hong Kong and London.  (I preferred it in Hong Kong.)  Their Miami spa also has fantastic treatments but it has a relaxation room filled with hectic Miami ladies on their Blackberries, so think about making sure you have some relaxation time in a massage suite, massage cabana on their artificial beach, or even a spot on one of the loungers for post massage chillout.

Tui na is also another type of massage, very popular in China, which works along the same beliefs and may well be the same in practice.

By stimulating various key points in the body it is believed that the therapist can improve the flow of chi (universal energy) through the body and alleviate problems.

I must admit that sometimes it’s very hard to differentiate this type of massage from any other kind.  The only major difference I have noticed in acupressure full body massages is the way that the legs are often lifted and pressure is applied in a more forceful way (but always very pleasurable in my experience).  In the past I think there’s been a tendency for certain reflexologists to be a little aggressive in the pursuit of wellbeing, but I have to say that all of my Reflexology treatments, in the UK and China have been nothing but blissful.

For a first rate acupressure massage I recommend the Mandarin Spa, Hong Kong.

Other spas that offer great treatments:

Tian Spa, Park Hyatt Beijing

The Spa At Mandarin Oriental London

New Otani Osaka, Japan

See also Reflexology, Reiki, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Malayan Massage and Chi-Nei Tsang – Thai Abdominal Massage.


I'm a huge fan of acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine in general, (especially after my trip to China), but even though I was brave enough to try cupping and Gua Sha I was a lot more cautious about where I was going to try acupuncture.  (In Japan many centres will not practice acupuncture on foreign visitors.)

During acupuncture very long, fine needles are inserted through your skin.  They can either be used to stimulate acupressure points, which are believed to relate to specific conditions or, in my case, used to directly stimulate the area where you have a problem.

I'd been having some problems with my back and when my GP suggested I try acupuncture I got serious about looking for a local practitioner (unfortunately my GP couldn't recommend anyone directly).  Then, when I went to visit a physiotherapist for my back I was delighted to find that she practised acupuncture too.  This is what I'd been looking for, a super clean clinic-style environment where I knew the therapist was highly trained and understood the issues I was having with my back.  After one session of physiotherapy I was already starting to feel better, so I was very excited to book in for acupuncture the next day.

As she inserted the needles she explained that they go deep into the muscle tissue, where my back muscles were aggravated and sore, and at a certain point my muscles would grab on to the needles.  I could actually feel this happening.  What did it feel like?  It felt like someone sticking needles in my back.  It didn't exactly feel painful, more like a pinprick and then a dull ache in my muscles.  It also felt, for want of a better word, a bit scratchy.

Once she'd inserted the needles she used the time to give my calves a little bit of sports massage.  It's interesting that during the physiotherapy appointment she'd mentioned that my tight calves from a previous injury could be aggravating the problems in my shoulders; it is all connected.

The sports massage was also quite intense and borderline painful, and I wasn't very happy with that (I've had too many luxurious massages which have helped my body to relax to believe that massage ever needs to hurt – see Deep Tissue Massage).

When she took the needles out I was already starting to feel the effects; a little headache, nausea… she explained that many people feel a sudden drop in blood sugar after the treatment.  Luckily there was a cafe next door and I went straight there for some tea and porridge with honey.  The weird thing was that I still felt as though the needles were in my back, as if... someone had been sticking needles in my back. 

The idea is that the needles stimulate the body's healing mechanism and create the production of histamine, and yes, it felt like I had been stung.  I could also feel my right shoulder tightening up where the needle had been.

It was recommended to have a course of three treatments, but would it surprise you to learn that I didn't go back?  I was also advised not to have any deep tissue massage on my back for a while.  I did feel like something had been released. I went home and did some of those houseworky jobs that involve beating the hell out of things.  I broke some stuff.  In fact I felt an overwhelming sense of anger... and then I went to sleep for 2 hours.  Afterwards I felt tearful, cranky and sore, but I did find other things feeling better over the next few days.

As I wrote in an article on my website Healing Isn't Always Pretty, but I do feel the acupuncture had a releasing and positive effect.  I just prefer my treatments a little bit more pleasurable.

I tried acupuncture at Pure Sports Medicine in Raynes Park, who I do recommend for physiotherapy.

See also Acupressure, Sports Massage and Deep Tissue Massage.

After Sun Treatment

See Sunburn Escapes at the end of the book.

Algae (Blue Lagoon)

Yes, one of the main ingredients in the miraculous water of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is algae.  According to their researchers there are around 200 different microorganisms in the water (don’t be afraid – they’re all apparently benign or good for you) and 60% of these are new species, which may only be found in the Blue Lagoon.

It’s also one of the main reasons for that wonderful blue colour.

You can benefit from the algae just by relaxing in the water, or you can take it one step further with a self-applied algae face mask from the swim up cafe, or one of the signature algae treatments.  (Or by buying Blue Lagoon products to take home and use in your own bathroom!)

For more details visit

Try this at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland or order products online.

See also Algotherapy, In Water Massage, Seaweed Massage, Silica (The Blue Lagoon), Thermal Spa, Volcano Scrub (The Blue Lagoon) and Waterfall.


As you might guess algotherapy means the use of algae in treatments, however you might not guess that it also includes the use of seaweed – which can also be called Thalassotherapy, which is the use of seawater or seaweed in treatments.

See also Algae (Blue Lagoon), ishga, Seaweed Massage and Thalassotherapy.

Aloe Vera (Key West Aloe)

My research is not all wonderful spas; sometimes the healing I find is almost by accident.

My ex-boyfriend and I were snorkelling in Bahia Honda near Marathon (halfway between Key Largo and Key West) and he overdid it in the sun, getting some vicious sunburn on his shoulders.

I had no idea what to pick up to help his poor shoulders, so I asked the locals who recommended Solarcaine from the chemist.  This was pretty good for helping him put a shirt on, as it contains a pain killer as well as a hefty dose of Aloe Vera, but, even better for actually helping his body get over the sun burn, was the almost pure Aloe Vera (Aloe Max 100) we picked up from Key West Aloe which has many fantastic products based on high dose, high quality Aloe Vera.  I have never seen skin act like his did when I put the almost pure Aloe Vera on.

About 20 minutes after applying it his skin went white, like classic peeling skin, and then when he showered the whole lot just disappeared, unlike the kind of patchy peeling skin I am used to.

We had just bought a small sample tube of gel, so had to go back to the shop for a bigger bottle.  As I walked in the lady behind the counter just smiled and nodded Yup.  It really works.

If you are in Mexico and suffering from sunburn there are many places that offer products with extremely high doses of aloe vera or you may even be offered chunks of the plant, which you break in half and rub all over your body, as in the Temazcal, Cozumel.

If there ever is a next time I would also try their Comfortcaine, which contains Lidocaine – like Solarcaine.

See also Solarcaine and Temazcal.

Amethyst Steam Room

Although the generic steam room is very common these days, a lot of spas are now adding a new twist with the Amethyst Steam Room.  This is essentially a normal steam room, but with either a large chunk of amethyst to improve the room’s healing properties (as at The Spa At Mandarin Oriental London), or an infusion of amethyst in the steam itself at some other spas.

In particular it is supposed to help people to stop overworking and relax, ease bad dreams and generally heal everything that ails you.

Having experienced one at The Spa At Mandarin Oriental London I really enjoyed the extra boost!

I must admit I am not overly excited about crystal healing, and when I first walked into the Amethyst Steam Room by myself I was kind of making fun of it, dancing around and being silly until I felt a strong sense of sit down, shut up and let it heal you, which I did. 

Senspa also has an excellent Amethyst Steam Room.

See Crystal Healing and Steam Room.


Driving through Sedona, Arizona; one of the spiritual centres of the world, even I was taken aback by all the types of healing, reading and guidance on offer, and angels are especially big out there. 

There are two mindsets about angels and my mind is not made up so let me tell you what I know.

Some people believe in supernatural beings they call angels.  Having read a little about them, I liked the sound of guardian angels, and particularly the idea of asking our own guardian angel to talk to another's guardian angel on our behalf when we couldn't seem to communicate any more.  However when books started talking about angels of great power I felt uneasy and switched off.

Another idea and one that chimes with my own feeling and experience of angels, is that we humans are all each other's angels.  I've certainly experienced meeting exactly the right person at the right time to help me or say what I needed, and been that person for others at times.  Meeting a man on the road when I was looking for a gas station who was willing to give me his spare gas without me even asking… I have no doubt that that man was an angel.  I've also been the person that a young woman looking for a youth hostel in Paris asked for directions - I told her if she couldn't find it she could stay at my place (not the kind of offer I ever make normally).  As I was on a goodbye date with my ex-boyfriend the fact she came back and spent the night at my place (and he went home alone) made us each other's angels that night.

But there are also bad angels.  Don Miguel Ruiz puts it this way, when someone speaks the truth they are a good angel, when they lie (even unconsciously) they are a bad or dark angel.  The problem is that so many people don't know that they're lying because they're just sharing what they've been taught.  I had a friend when I lived in Paris and every time I was having a particularly difficult or unpleasant evening I would bump into him, I called him my bad angel.  Not that he was a bad person or even lying, but I could certainly have got into trouble with him, so when I saw him I knew it was time to go home and get myself out of harm's way.  I'm sure we all have friends like this, and it helps us to be aware.  When we are fearful about money it doesn't make sense to listen to the friend who is always complaining about not having enough.  When we're trying to have a beautiful romantic relationship it doesn't help to hang out with the person who is so bitter and jaded about the opposite sex. 

So that's just the most pragmatic way of looking at the concept of angels.  They can be good for us or bad for us and we have to take responsibility for who we choose to follow.  Just because someone has a title with the word spiritual or coach or even therapist in it does not mean they are to be blindly trusted.

If there are supernatural beings called angels, (I haven't experienced them) then I believe we have to be even more wary of the messages they give us, even more sure of our own truth, our own beliefs, before we touch them with a barge pole.

I have experienced Angel Healing, which I chose to do with a close friend who I really trusted.

See also Angel Healing.

Angel Healing

My friend, Hayley Felton, had just qualified in this treatment so I had the great privilege of being one of her first clients.  There's no massage and you remain fully clothed, but you still lie on a massage bed for about an hour, while Hayley works with the angels to heal you. 

Like Reiki there's every chance that you may feel nothing, but on this occasion, and on the next occasion (when Hayley did this as a distance treatment) I felt like I was letting go of my problems, feeling a deep sense of peace and, at the end, when Hayley talked about some of the thoughts that had come to her through the session I felt that something very special had happened.  One of the lovely gifts from this treatment is a short affirmation and positive message that Hayley writes down for you to take away.  Mine is on a card that sits in my purse, and which is dog-eared from my constantly taking it out to read and take heart from.

It's wonderful to have some of the deep wisdom that comes from healing treatments just there in my purse, so that when I am thinking frustrated and confused thoughts (and buying a coffee) it pops up for me and sets me back on my path.

See also Distance Treatment and Angels.


Although I was excited to visit Japan and try traditional healing I found it hard to find much being offered besides Shiatsu on the traditional side, so I was very excited about trying Anma, which the Asahido Massage Therapy Clinic describes as;

Anma means to press (an) and rub (ma).  It also means to spread peace by rubbing or to calm with the hands.  Anma is one of the oldest forms of massage in the world (from ancient China over 7,000 years ago), and it is the oldest form of bodywork in the Orient.  The anma technique was brought to Japan and was further refined and developed into its own therapeutic art form.

Like Shiatsu it is performed without oil and clothed (pyjamas are lent free of charge).

Asahido is over 50 years old and it is in a refurbished machiya (traditional Kyoto-style townhouse).  The website also assures you that massage is performed by government-certified therapists in quiet and comfortable private rooms.

It's very beautiful in an old, quaint way (I adored it) and, once they had gotten over their initial surprise at white, non-Japanese speakers, they couldn't have been more welcoming – apologetic at having to ask us to please remove our shoes, providing slippers, pyjamas and leading us to curtained areas for our massages.

It was great, and this time I had a strong man to rub me all over, and it definitely helped ease muscle tension, but it was also extremely similar to my Shiatsu massage the night before.

It's lovely to try these things and I would highly recommend Asahido, as much for the welcome and hospitality as the massage, and you can definitely feel at ease to come here and be treated professionally and perfectly, but I do quite like finding something odd and unusual when I try massages in different countries, so this was five star, but not the most adventurous of massages.

Experienced at Asahido Massage Therapy Clinic, Kyoto in December 2015.

Arabian Massage

Any treatment in The Spa, Dolphin Square is an opportunity to get lost in Arabia.  Even popping in to visit their shop, opening the heavy wood door, experiencing the thick curtains leading to the dark, sensual spa is like visiting Morocco, so their Arabian Massage cannot really be separated from the caring ritual surrounding it.

As this treatment involves an abrasive body scrub it's not recommended to be booked with the hammam scrub (which was fine as I've tried that before) but we were still welcome to use the salt steam room and relax in the tepidarium on their ceramic loungers before the treatment began.

If I'm honest I think they forget about us, and I had to come back to reception to remind them of our treatment time.  Having said that, once they started our treatments they more than made up for any lack.

Going into the massage I was experiencing all the usual issues that people complain of.  Instead of looking forward to my massage I was feeling stressed, worried about all the many things on my to do list.  Through being set up on the very comfy bed, with rose petals under my face, through the body scrub, through

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