“Are you sure you want to do it?” asked my therapist of the day, Fion, with perplexed look when I selected the Rhythm Sticks Treatment (RM300) at the Rock Spa in Hard Rock Hotel Penang.

“Err…yes? Why?” I suddenly doubted my decision for a second. Why wouldn’t it be suitable for me?

She later explained gently that the treatment utilises bamboo rods of various sizes to destroy knots and relieve aching muscles belonging to those of brawnier body type. While it was sweet of her to think that I have a small body (clearly she needed glasses), I convinced her that I have had a similar treatment in a local spa back in Kuala Lumpur and fortunately, my body survived. Besides, the stress on my lower back due to too much sitting and working on computer was killing me that I was desperate for it to go away.

Complying to my request, she escorted me to my treatment room: a dimly lit space decorated with music memorabilia that creates a casual atmosphere ideal fit for a rock star seeking a quiet refuge. Fion then consulted me on my areas of concern before she showed me the set of bamboo canes I was about to be beaten with.

I changed and lay faced down on the bed and surrendered myself to Pion’s sublime hands, who started by slathering the back of my legs with the uplifting warm peppermint-based essential oil. Then, she used a thick rod to knead my aching calf and tight muscles in a rolling pin motion as if she was kneading a dough. The ends of the rod were alternately used to press on pressure points. Fion also made percussion movements on my thighs, which I was told to be effective in breaking cellulite. A bunch of thinner bamboo rods was then used to pat the legs rhythmically before she moved on to the other parts of my body.

Moving on to my back, Fion continued to knead and roll with the rod firmly upwards from my lower back right to the shoulders and neck, thankfully avoiding the bones. This was the time when I felt the pressure was more intense, but the relief was wonderful. I then turned over and Fion massaged the front of my arms. She noticed that I was feeling uncomfortable with the pressure, so she reduced the pressure a notch down before concluding the session by hitting a Japanese suzu gong gently that produced positive vibrations to help reenergise my body.

I must say that the ‘Rhythmic Sticks Treatment’ would not be for everyone, but it does put a whole new meaning to deep tissue massage. I would suggest for guests to start with gentle pressure in the beginning and gradually request for firmer pressure as the treatment progresses to find the ideal pressure that works best for them. I was glad to have had Fion for the session – she was highly attentive and smart when it comes to applying the right pressures that suit my body.

For guests who instead prefer other forms of treatment, there are plenty of options on the spa menu. The treatments can be conducted either in the spa’s private rooms or at the outdoor cabanas. Parents with children could also enjoy family massage as there are treatments catered to the little ones. Besides spa, a free yoga session is available every Saturday morning from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. for in-house guests who intend to savour more of the hotel’s wellness offerings.

Rock Spa at Hard Rock Hotel Penang is rated five stars by the Ministry of Culture Malaysia and Tourism, and the winner of ‘Best Luxury Day Spa’ at the World Luxury Spa Awards 2012. For bookings, refer to penang.hardrockhotels.net/amenities/rock-spa/.

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