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Woodlands Spa - reviewed by Georgina Guedes   
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Tranquil Treatments in a Wooded Wonderland There is something incredibly special about being able to take an hour’s drive out of Johannesburg to be pampered in a place of great beauty.

Woodlands Spa is situated near Avianto in Muldersdrift, and the setting couldn’t be more beautiful. The parking lot leads down to a series of unobtrusive, earth-tone buildings with roof gardens. The architecture is similar to Forum Homini and Roots – the famed boutique hotel and restaurant nearby – so much so that I ask if they used the same architect. They didn’t, but the look is obviously indicative of a design trend that seeks to integrate buildings with their natural environment.

The reception is airy, and overlooks a dam in a bubbling river. The banks are wooded with twisted trees, and a deck overlooks the vista, which immediately sets the tone of relaxation. A little off to one side, a woman in a long white dress was gently rocking her baby on the riverbank. This is obviously not a part of the décor, but on our morning at the Spa, it certainly contributed to the otherworldly, tranquil ambience.

A Choice of Treatments
My husband and I had come to sample what Woodlands has to offer. As I am pregnant, he was doing me the service of trying out those treatments not advised for women in my condition. We were kitted out in soft robes and slippers, and he headed off to try out the hydrotherapy, while I was taken off my Dr Ela, the medical director, for a bodytalk session.

Bodytalk is a therapeutic treatment that uses the body’s muscle memory to identify and eliminate problems stored within the body. I have done similar treatments before, but Dr Ela’s gentle hands were very reassuring, and when she extended the treatment to my belly, the baby happily kicked back before settling down into a period of intense stillness. At the end of the session, I felt very relaxed, which was a great counterpoint to the feedback that Dr Ela gave me – that I can be too stressed.

A Balanced Philosophy
She explained the philosophy of Woodlands to me. She and managing director, Marisa Lloyd, believe in a holistic approach to wellbeing. Dr Ela is a qualified doctor, using her training and exploration in alternative medicine to help people to relax and heal. As well as pampering spa treatments, the centre offers Bodytalk, women’s health, energy medicine lifestyle consultations, medical treatments and individual lifestyle programmes that can go from four to 12 weeks.

But, on to the pampering spa treatments. I rejoined my husband, who had had a wonderful time in the hydrotherapy baths – although he did confess that he missed my company. The Roman-style, hot-and-cold baths had left him feeling rejuvenated and energised, and we were both ready to receive our massages.

These were done in a small room overlooking the river, after the therapists had checked our preference for hard or gentle pressure. The fans were adjusted to our liking as we lay side by side and had an hour-long intensive treatment that left me feeling so tranquil, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to rouse myself from the bed at the end.

Pulling us Back
Tranquil Treatments in a Wooded Wonderland Regretfully, time came to depart, and my husband and I reluctantly pulled on our clothes. Woodlands Spa is a truly special place, its location and philosophy really enhancing the exceptional services it offers. Everyone who works there is cognisant of the fact that guests are there to be pampered, and they treat you accordingly. Nobody speaks in loud tones about their holiday while you are getting ready – a consideration that is often lacking in establishments that are supposedly focused on relaxation.

I’ll definitely be back when I’m not pregnant to sample the hydrotherapy, and perhaps one or two more of the beauty treatments. Perhaps I’ll be the next woman in the white, flowing dress rocking her baby on the banks of the stream.

Woodlands Centre for Wellbeing and Spa
29 Woodlands

+27 11 957 3269

Georgina Guedes is the editor of Harmonious Living.
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