Fairlawns Spa the gracious spacious oasis
Strung out? The revamped Fairlawns Spa might help
The idea of a Balinese spa in the middle of Johannesburg sounds like it could be tacky, but in a city of faux Tuscan houses and zealously overlit shopping centres it turns out to be a welcome relief.
The Fairlawns Spa in Morningside has been expanded and revamped. The options once you’re inside feel boundless.
The spa embraces Balinese and other Asian spa features, so it’s lush and you hear birds and running water. The place is spotless. It’s no island, but in the contained space you easily forget there’s a hotel and the buzz of conference facilities just beyond the walls.
If spas are your thing (and how can they not be?), this is a candy store. There’s an outside covered heated pool, and more loungers than you’ll know what to do with. There are relaxation rooms, outside showers and a steam room. There are resting rooms, rinse-off shower rooms, and a couples treatment suite, with a double spa bath. There’s a traditional Japanese sento bath and private Thai sala (open pavilions) and the private dining sala seats up to eight guests.
Treatment rooms are inside, and outside. To get to the latter you meander along delightful little stone paths, in what feels like a bamboo grove.
You get to lounge around in luxurious dark robes, but this is no purist experience with only water and green juice. Here you can order classic cocktails from a Bloody Mary to a Piña Colada. There are light food options including salads and finger sandwiches, or you can order from the hotel’s restaurant, Amuse-Bouche.
The relaxation package itself was sensational. It’s aimed at stress release, and it does just that with a body exfoliation and strong massage followed by a head massage, or foot rub if the former freaks you out.
There are several fancy five-star hotels with top-notch spas around town, and they’re great. What sets this apart is the abundance of space. It allows you to tap into some solitude, some earnest relaxation time. You’re not in close proximity to everyone else, so you don’t have to hear the constant chatter of little groups of people, which can be counterproductive and irritating when you’re in pursuit of zoning out.
There’s a sign asking for a "disconnect" from cellphones. And sure, when I visited, all four women who were outside were on theirs, but not talking — just texting, one taking an occasional selfie. So perhaps the mobile message was missed.
Tech dependency aside, the sheer expanse of space and the wide choice of rest options buffer you from feeling cramped, which goes a long way to switching off and feeling like you can cope a bit better with the world outside the spa’s walls.