Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa - Review

The Royal Treatment

by Irvina Lew

Javanese massage
Javanese massage

The Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa in Whistler is a small, yet idyllic retreat that offers the antidote to whatever stress accompanies travel to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.

While the longest torch relay in the history of the Games has already begun, a record breaking 17-foot snow has fallen and many of the 1.6 million tickets have been sold, you can still check to see if accommodations and tickets are still available before the opening ceremony on Feb. 12, 2010.

This Olympic background — which welcomes an international array of top athletes and around-the-world visitors — is a fitting venue for a spa culture that promotes harmony among people and with their natural surroundings. We experienced the royal ancient ritual of relaxation and pampering at the Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa, the only authentic Javanese-style spa in North America. And, whether or not you take your trip to Whistler in time to participate at the Games, it is worthy of note.

Herbal healing has been the hallmark of Indonesian Spa practices since ancient times on 17,000 islands and in thousands of Indonesian spas. While many spas profess to balance body, mind and spirit, the Javanese tradition integrates that harmony into their lifestyle and has long been a part of daily life at the Royal Court.

Spa Bath Massage
Spa Bath
Massage

Mooryati Soedibyo learned the ancient wellness secrets that members of the Javanese Royal Court used to maintain their beauty and physical well-being while growing up within the Royal Palace. The concepts are based upon Jamu — which is loosely translated as traditional herbal medicine (orally or externally) — and are associated with the plants that Javanese people consider as partners in achieving a balanced life.

Ms. Soedibyo, who is said to be the world’s only noble-woman/successful-entrepreneur (she represented Indonesia in the World Entrepreneur of the Year Competition in Monte Carlo in 2003) developed these plants into natural, homemade herbal products and created a major corporation selling these products throughout Indonesia. For the past decade, she has been incorporating their use in spa treatments at her Taman Sari Royal Heritage spas which are located in seven countries on three continents.
 
At Whistler’s Summit Lodge where the spa exudes an exotic ambiance with the fragrant aroma of flowers, spices and therapeutic oils, there’s a sense of soothing serenity, natural colors and exotic textures. The décor brings the outdoors in so, even within a small lounge and treatment rooms, we could feel space and calm from the private outdoor patio and heated swimming pool (there’s also a dry sauna and whirlpool).

The Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa offers a variety of holistic services using combinations of water therapy, natural herbs and traditional Javanese body techniques. Among the signature treatments, there’s an authentic Javanese Lulur body scrub, the exotic Merapi Volcano Body wrap and the Javanese Massage. For this, the therapist uses Indonesia’s essential plant-based oils that stimulate blood circulation and improve energy flow. The technique incorporates thumb and palm pressure in an intense, medium-to-strong, deep-tissue massage. After the service, we were offered a complimentary loose-leaf tea comprised of tea from 50 different regions around the world. A favorite is the proprietary “Jamu,” which the spa company manufactures in its Indonesian factory.
 
We’re not athletes but we were absolutely energized, yet relaxed, for the travel activities that followed.


Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, GAYOT's favorite superfoods promote wellness and help combat cancer and other health threats.

While it can be hard to separate the trash from the treasure when it comes to self-help books, these tomes are admired for their insightful advice.