Blissful Experience

Chilling out in the pool at sunset - Pix by East Indie

An escapade to the Thistle Port Dickson Resort & Spa does much to help Peggy Loh recover from the stresses of daily life.

What’s your idea of bliss?  For me, it’s the pure pleasure of tasting a tub of Belgian Chocolate ice-cream on a hot and humid day, soaking in a luxurious long-bath, chilling out in a sun-warmed pool or surrendering my body for a deep-tissue massage.  It’s probably one or another of such selfish indulgences but every now and then, I think I deserve to spoil myself, not with just one but all of the above!

When my friend, Aidah, suggested a retreat to relax and recuperate from the daily grind, I did everything possible to match our calendars for this much anticipated escapade.  Then after months of planning, we were finally on our way to two days of serious pampering at Thistle Port Dickson Resort & Spa.  The smooth drive from Johor Baru to Teluk Kemang brought us to the beach resort just as the sun was setting and I can’t forget that first sight of how the airy lobby was bathed in a golden glow.  I still have a vivid picture of that panoramic view from Steps, the lobby lounge, with guests lazing in the Jacuzzi and pool, surrounded by swishing palms, set to a backdrop of sunny streaks reflected as a thousand diamonds on the shimmering sea.

Lobby of the Santai Spa - Pix by East Indie

“Can I have more than one spa treatment in a day?” I wonder aloud because I aim to do everything possible to pamper myself in a short time.  To get all our questions answered, we take a short walk to Santai Spa that’s housed in a separate building just a stone’s throw away from the hotel.  Even before we reach the spa, I can taste a heady scent in the air and when I step into its lobby, I’m wrapped in a Rose-scented cloud!

Meals and music

I learn that many spa treatments work in synergy with each other and therapeutic effects can be extended and improved by having more than one treatment in the same day, so I schedule three treatments over two days.  Guided by the experienced therapist, I pick treatments to detoxify, energize and simply to relax under her professional hands.  I know that many treatments use pressure techniques so I make a mental note to have light meals before my appointments.  But that’s tomorrow so tonight, I can still enjoy a sumptuous meal at Glass, the resort’s Italian-Mediterranean restaurant.

Soaking my feet at the start of my treatment at Santai Spa

Glass is so named probably because the entire wall on one side of the restaurant is made of floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a wooden deck for a choice in alfresco dining.  Mindful of how our meals should also complement the impending therapy sessions, I choose a small soup and a main course of pan-seared cod while Aidah picks a prawn appetizer to share.  We agree without guilt or hesitation that our dessert of a creamy hazelnut gelato is but a tiny treat!

When we find our way to Cumulus, a two-tier chill zone, many guests were already grooving up to cloud nine with live music entertainment.  Comfy sofas were arranged around the entertainers on one level but we decide to sit at the lower level, close to the sandy shores.  The echo of the constant rush of gentle waves is both soothing and refreshing as we watch twinkling lights from passing ships and tankers on the horizon.

Retreat and relax

The Malay word, santai simply means relax and that’s exactly what I aim to do in Santai Spa.  As I sit on the sofa to sip my tiny cup of tea, I’m ready to surrender my tired body to the therapist’s professional touch and begin a spa journey to restore a healthy balance to my mind, body and spirit.  In a few moments, Salina, my therapist usher me into the locker room to change into a comfortable robe and when I emerge, she’s waiting just outside the door.  Then she leads me to a therapy room for my experience of Santai Spa’s signature aromatherapy massage.

Mia giving me a relaxing foot massage
“Is the pressure ok?” I hear Salina ask as she started with the professional ministrations of this deep tissue massage.  But I only manage to mumble, “Hmm” in response because her firm touch is reaching in to undo the knots in my very knotty sinews. 

I wish the 80 minutes will pass more slowly because I feel almost bereft when her hands leave me at the end of the session.  Feeling well relaxed, I float out smelling like a rose because the gentle and calming massage is enhanced with aromatic Rose essential oils. 

After a fun afternoon at Lukut Museum and a straits cruise around Cape Rachardo to feed fish, I’m back in Santai Spa for my foot reflexology treatment.  As Mia, my therapist applies acupressure on my tired feet she answers my queries about which part of the body is linked to those reflex zones.  The finger-point pressure from her strong hands certainly works wonders to unclog energy flow in me because I see Mia pause a few times in her skillful ministrations to giggle.  I guess she’s just amused at how ticklish I am!

Salina inviting me in to soak in a bath enriched
with micronized seaweed
At my body polish treatment, before Salina starts to spritz water mixed with lemon essential oils all over my back, she warned, “This will feel a little bit cool.”  As she gently scrubs with a mixture of strawberry, pineapple and apple extract, I can almost feel my skin detoxify and regenerated with the removal of skin impurities. 

After a soak in a tepid bath enriched with micronized seaweed to sluice off the scrub ingredients, Salina smoothes a body milk moisturizer all over my new skin that feels almost as soft as a baby’s bottom!  She wraps me in a soft robe and rounds off the treatment with a gentle back massage that aptly completes my blissful sensory experience in Santai Spa.

Fast Facts

Thistle Port Dickson Resort & Spa is situated at km16, Teluk Kemang, Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan.  It’s a beach front resort with resort accommodation that combines lush surroundings and stimulating environment for business or pleasure.  A level lawn adjacent to the sea is an ideal spot for special events and corporate groups enjoy excellent team-building exercises at the Superior Work and Attitude Training or SWAT Camp.

A comfortable 3-hour drive from Johor Baru or 1-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur on the Plus North-South Highway will take you to Thistle Port Dickson Resort & Spa.  For reservations Tel: 1800 886 886 and for enquiries, Tel: 606 – 648 2828, Fax: 608 – 648 2868 [Resort] and 608 – 662 7994 [Santai Spa].  Email:  Website:

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 8 December 2011

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