Relief for the Weary at the Peninsula Shanghai Spa

03/05/2013 06:20 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2013

By Illeana Hoffman and Steven Lapidus

How often does one travel over 12 tortuous hours in an airplane?! We can think of a handful of times in our collective memories, with trips to Africa, Middle East and parts around Asia. That said, we wanted to seek relief for our aching, tired inbound Shanghai muscles. Massage seems to be a ritual embraced by all of China. Have you taken advantage of the quick "traditional pressure points" "clothes on" massage at your local nail spa located seemingly on almost every corner of domestic urban America? Why not try something that stretches beyond this mundane experience?

As a consequence, we decided to go "all in" and upscale in Shanghai and treat ourselves to a luxurious 80-minute spa treatment in the Peninsula Hotel's elegant Peninsula Spa located adjacent to the Huangpu River that bisects Shanghai and at the top of the famous Bund section of the city, the Bund a regal amalgamation of the city's colonial past with carefully restored historic buildings even if the occasional not always successful modern communist touch.

While Peninsula Hotel itself is designed in an Art Deco, 1920s Shanghai style, the spa has more of a Southeast Asian influence. This is seen in its abundance of greenery and its carved wood furniture and doors. We were offered soothing ginger tea, graciously greeted with hand towels to cleanse hands and feet, and offered special slippers to put on immediately as our hosts checked our shoes at the front.

We then went off to our respective locker rooms to prepare for our individual rewards. As is recommended by the Spa, guests should plan on arriving an hour or so before scheduled treatment in order to take advantage of the enriching vitality pools, saunas, steam rooms and showers available in each locker area. One very interesting touch was the availability of large bowls of ice to place on the body upon exiting steam room and sauna something neither of us had seen in American spas.

Each Relaxation room had a table of Green apples (yum) and bottled water, cranberries and raisins with tranquil music piped in. Our treatment offers were a choice of Aroma Therapy, Swedish or Chinese Acupressure point massage. Some treatments are provided directly on skin, others on provided special pajamas. Anxious to strip and feel the soothing hands we each opted for Swedish with a sampling of Acupressure and each chose our preferred massage oils. Another very nice touch was the use of a small bucket of menthol infused water directly below face down heads on massage table to facilitate easy breathing, sometimes an issue with laying face down for a long period of time. Both of us couldn't have been more pleased with our results as each of our massage therapists were able to use a combination of Swedish and points to work out the plane-infused knots and pains.

The Peninsula Spa has both male and female therapists, so you can request whomever you're most comfortable with. There are far more female technicians than male, so if you prefer a male you may need to book in advance. In addition to the massage options that we were offered the Spa also offers various facial, skin and cleansing treatments and for time periods ranging from as little as 50 minutes to 80 and 110 minutes and even half and full day experiences, some of which may also include pre or post session meals. The starting price for 50 minute sessions are about 720 RMBs (about $120 USD); and for 110 minute sessions generally 1,500 RMBs.

All long flights should have an automatic inclusion of a massage, a travel relief package to ease the body over to another time zone! After a visit to the Peninsula Spa, the almost 13 hours on the airplane didn't seem quite as long.

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Peninsula Spa at the Peninsula Hotel is located at No. 32, The Bund, 32 Zhongshan, Dong Yi Road, Shanghai 200002 PRC (near the Nanjing Road East stop on the Shanghai metro); tel #(86-21)2327- 2888; fax # (86-21)2327-2000; email The 14 story Peninsula was newly opened in late 2009 at the top of the Shanghai's most famous street next to the former British Consulate and is the only property allowed to be built on the Bund in the last 60 years. In addition to luxuriating in the Spa, visitors might also enjoy the hotel's famous high tea (daily 2-6 p.m.).