Try this: a lava shell massage
When I first heard about lava shell massage, I was sceptical. Who on earth would want to have a massage using self-heating, tiger-striped clam shells? Well … me, it turns out, after I enjoyed one at the FrontlineStyle salon and spa in Wells: it was very nice indeed.The FrontlineStyle salon in Wells (there’s a salon in Bath, too, but this is the original), has a shop on the ground floor, filled with all sorts of tempting potions and lotions to make the face and body look, smell and feel beautiful …
… and a large hairdressing salon upstairs.
Sophie, who would be giving me the massage, took me through a door at the back of the shop into the tranquil, twilight world of the Frontline spa, which has several treatment rooms (they offer everything from the latest micro-current ‘face lifts’ through manicures/pedicures, waxing and tanning to Hopi ear candling) and lots of glowing candles and flowers. I was feeling calmer already.
And so onto the massage. The lava shells, which come from the Philippines (recycled after the clams inside have been harvested to eat), are filled with a little bag of minerals and some salty water. These react together and heat up – and continue to heat up for more than an hour. The therapist then uses the palm-sized shells to give the massage.
During the massage, the shells gradually transfer the heat to your body and in doing so become cooler; they start heating up again if they’re put to one side. This means that the therapist can adjust the heat for each client, and unlike hot stones, they don’t have to be constantly reheated. I was surprised at just how hot the shells were – they have to be to penetrate the deeper muscles, apparently – but as the massage progressed, I found myself wanting them to be even hotter still (is that weird?). Sophie used her hands but mostly the shells to work down into the muscles – and knots, there were lots – in my back and shoulders, as well as using them on my arms and legs and feet.
What with the soothing music, the heated massage couch, and Sophie’s magical touch, I felt more and more and more relaxed. It was almost an out of body experience (I jest not). Far away, I could hear a gentle snoring sound. Readers, it was me.
I came out blinking into the daylight feeling relaxed but sort of invigorated at the same time, and wondering when I could book myself in for another one.
Lava shell massage: full body massage (1 hr) £55 ; back, neck and shoulders (30 mins) £37.
Frontlinestyle, 11 Broad Street, Wells, BA5 2DJ. Tel 01749 672225.