Pampering Heaven at Donna Spa, Starhill Gallery

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“THE JAVANESE MASSAGE is the best in the world.” It is a bold claim to make, and as I arch my eyebrows sceptically at the man who makes such a statement, he merely smiles, and shrugs his shoulders; “You will see.” John Yee may be a Malaysian-born business man, but he has been a fierce advocate of this massage practice since discovering it 15 years ago on a trip to Indonesia.

Claiming a 4,000 year history, the Javanese massage originates from the days when healing women were on hand to help with delivery of babies and the aftercare of mothers. They became masters at understanding the points and nerves of the body and would work to encourage blood circulation to ensure all the organs were well supplied with vital blood and oxygen.

These skills have been passed down through the generations, and John, with his wife and partner May Ang, tracked down a group of Javanese ladies with these prized skills and brought them to Malaysia, where they lurk demurely out of sight as I chat to John in the entrance of his spa tucked within the opulent serenity of Starhill Gallery.

Donna Spa, as it is thus named, is fast developing a following. The bodies of people from Dato’ Jimmy Choo to actress Michelle Yeoh have been underneath the hands of the women at Donna Spa, and just recently the spa scored three awards in Harper’s Bazaar’s Spa Awards 2012.These accolades came hot on the heels of last year’s Malaysia Spa and Wellness Awards, where Donna Spa was named the Best Day Spa in the country – and all this for a small spa with no chain and no hotel behind it? I was more than intrigued, and keen to try it out for myself.

No sooner had I lost the work attire than my brain begin to slide. I was manoeuvred onto the warmed massage bed and softly pummeled with a warm compression ball to soften my muscles, before being gently massaged and scrubbed with my chosen body scrub (the wafts of papaya sent me further into a daze) until I felt I was glowing.

Peeling myself off my bed of warmth was a real effort, but the shower that cleansed me was just as luxurious, and had I felt the urge, a steam room and Jacuzzi were there for my use. I was keen to return to my cosy cloud for the massage – a 90minute traditional Javanese massage and my chance to see if John’s hyperbolic claim was true.

It was, without doubt, one of the best massages I have ever had. Ino (my magician) was somehow simultaneously delicate and thorough, her fingers finding even the smallest nerves that were blocked. She worked always with a word to me and adjusted in a second to my requests, while the release of the tension sucked me into a world of bliss, with nothing but the tinkling music to occupy my ears and mind.

Leaving my cosy nook at the end was something of a struggle, but made easier by the promise of a comfortable, cushion-lined gazebo where a warm drink, a refreshing cup of juice, and a platter of fluffy cakes awaited.

The spa offers all manner of services, from value packages to indulgent spa treatments for couples, and the “A La Carte” choices list facials, scrubs, herbal baths, and even a Balinese massage. If you want the true experience, however, the Donna Spa Massage is the only way to go.

The health beneÿts can be listed off – improving blood circulation can help diabetics, those with migraines or high blood pressure – but the physical, sensual benefits have to be experienced to be realised. Donna Spa offers a little slice of heaven; a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.
Donna Spa, Pamper Floor, Starhill Gallery, Jalan Bukit Bintang; 03.2141 8999;


Source: The Expat September 2012

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