Saturday 21 January 2017

Tried and Tested: The alternative massage you have to try

Published 18/11/2016 | 14:42

Monart spa at night
Monart spa at night
Masters of Shaolin from the Ancient East are hosting a three-month Shaolin residency at Monart
Masters of Shaolin from the Ancient East are hosting a three-month Shaolin residency at Monart
Monart Destination Spa
Pods at Monart Destination Spa
Monart Destination Spa, Ireland
Masters Zheng, Yang and Ma are part of the Masters of Shaolin from the Ancient East hosting a three-month Shaolin residency at Monart

What if I told you the latest must-have massage required you to be fully dressed, draped in a sheet while a monk highlights pressure points on your body?

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Having tried every traditional massage under the sun, anything that promises relaxation perks my interest and even more, I'd get to try it an one of the best spas in the world.

Monart in Co Wexford, which was recently named in the top three global spas by Conde Nast Traveller, is hosting two Masters of Shaolin for another year running in order to share their unique knowledge and offer alternative options to relaxing the body.

The two Masters, from the Henan Province in China, are residing in Ireland in to educate spa-goers on the importance of bodily equilibrium. The brochure promises results in everything from harmonising the link between body and mind; releasing tension and even improving breathing.

monartShaolin Masters Zheng, Yang and Ma.jpg  

I don't have any breathing problems, but I can't remember the last time I wasn't stressed and nearly every day, I threaten to take up meditation.

During my stay at Monart, I booked in for the Shaolin Massage and while Master Yang didn't speak any English, I'd like to think we bonded over awkward smiles.

When I say this is an alternative massage, I'm not kidding - if you're expecting oils and deep tissue rubbing, it's not for you. Firstly, they encourage you to be fully clothed - exercise gear would suffice, but in my case, I didn't know in advance and we had to settle for a swimsuit.

Then, there's the sheet. You're covered head to toe with a thin sheet and they "massage" you through it, which involves putting pressure on points throughout your body, not unlike reflexology but not restricted to your feet.

The technique was purpose built for warriors to keep them in fighting shape and it was easily the most memorable massage I've had in my life.

The additional perk is access to Monart's spa which is quite simply, out of this world. It includes nine thermal suites, a hydrotherapy pool and an unparalleled view of their carefully cultivated gardens and it's easy to see why it's often regarded as Ireland's finest.

Monart Destination Spa pool.jpg  

The perks: The food. Dinner in their fine dining restaurant manages the perfect balance of delectable cuisine without being too stuffy (try the beef and thank me later), but if you're looking to spend less, lunch at the Garden Lounge provides a tranquil space for your meal.

What you need to know: Get used to wearing your robe. Monart is considered a "robed environment" which means you get to wear it everywhere - including breakfast and lunch. It's not only accepted, it's encouraged. The hard part will be giving it back at checkout.

About the package: The Shaolin Experience includes a two night stay with breakfast each morning and dinner one evening as well as a Shaolin Warrior Massage. You also have access to the Shaolin classes including yoga and meditation.

Where: Monart Spa, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

When: Until December 11

How much: Prices start at €309 for Shaolin Packages 

The verdict: Quite honestly - magical. 10/10.

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