My latest Tried & Tested experience was a four-hands Lucky Treatment at the swanky Electra Palace Hotel, at the Aegeo Spas. Although I have tried and tested massage therapies at some of the world’s best spas – such as the Pimalay Resort in Thailand, Amansara in Cambodia, Ryokan in Japan, Grande Bretagne in Athens – as well as a colourful and impressive variety of smaller wellness centres and quirky, off-road therapy retreats both near and far, I had never experienced a four hands massage. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so, but for some surreal reason it never appealed enough. What really piqued my interest in the Lucky Treatment, also known as the Wish Massage was its enchanting concept. Not just a massage carried out by two therapists but an entire ritual in which the client is asked to make a wish at the beginning of the therapy, this had a spiritual element that I could not resist. I feel sorry for those who cynically scorn “magical thinking” – in fact, I think being able to practice it, (with measure of course because we always need to remain grounded to a basic degree) is a superpower that offers strength, resilience, the ongoing capability to dream your world into being, and an important connection to creativity, to the magic that lies within us.
The Electra Palace Spa is not fancy or huge, but it’s luxurious, with a relaxing ambience of dim lights and dreamy aromas. The staff are all extremely warm, professional and comfortingly familial, so as soon as I arrived, very excited about my massage booking no doubt, I felt right at home. After 15 minutes in and out of a hot sauna, I wrapped myself in a fluffy white robe and was greeted by smiling massage therapists Kalliopi and Bora, both beaming and presenting me with a lit candle. In the therapy room, I was asked to make a wish and then blow out the candle. I had thought about my wish while in the sauna and the objective now was to focus on it gently during the therapy too.
At first I was in mind-mode and got myself into a little spiral of paranoid thinking: “What if they are looking at each other and making faces?” Then I decided to tell my mind to shut the hell up and try and focus on what I actually felt. Starting from my legs, the therapists kneaded and pressed all the tension out of my limbs in perfect synchronisation. “It is like a dance,” Bora told me, that we choreograph spontaneously as we work!” Their movements came in flow with the music that was playing, which made the experience even more immersive as I lay feeling aware of their synchronised massage, the emotive but not overwhelming music, and how I felt.
So how did I actually feel? Like I’d never felt before during a massage. It was as though I had been taken into the hands of some mythological creature that was floating and flying me around while I happily surrendered (if it had been a mythological creature I don’t think I would have been as relaxed!). At various points one therapist began where the other had ended, so there was an ongoing flow of movement, like deep, calming waves of relaxing tranquility. When one therapist massaged my head and the other my feet, I could do nothing but feel that even if the wish I’d made at the start of the treatment was not realised, I was nonetheless experiencing a wish come true, one I’d made a few hundred times on nights when my son wouldn’t sleep, or when I crouched over my laptop trying to finish off an article. I could sense that they were not going through the motions, but instead were working with giving and dedication to help me feel good, and at the end of the session I felt so blissed – and blessed – that my only wish was that these two wonderful individuals have all of their wishes come true!
One and a half hours of the session are focused on the body, while the last half hour is centred on the head (where you think of your wish) and face, with special attention to the lips (from which you speak your wish) and the eyes (from which you see your wish manifest). A cleansing and glow-inducing mask is slathered indulgently onto the skin, and if the client accepts, the head and hair is massaged with hot olive oil. Unsurprisingly, I was pretty spaced out after the therapy, but putting on the clothes that define who I am I soon regained my urban instincts and got back to ordinary life. Not that after that experience I felt ordinary in any way, shape or form.