Amrita Spa, Swiss Hotel in Quito, Ecuador
A few weeks ago I found myself in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. It’s a lovely colonial city steeped in culture in the Andean highlands. The city’s historical center is crammed with churches, plazas and museums – which is great if you’re into all that. If you’re not, you might want to do as I did, and spend an afternoon at the spa. Spas in South America are super cheap and up to western standards. Here’s what went down.
Best day spa in Quito
First things first, you’ve got to figure out which spa to go to. If you want a full on cultural experience, it’s best to go local. Even if your Spanish sucks, the language of beauty is universal. I saw numerous signs for mani-pedis at $5 a pop and facials for $10. Asking your flight attendant on the way down is also a good bet. For me, I was staying right across the street from Amrita Spa in Swiss Hotel, so for convenience, I went with that.
There’s a variety of treatments offered at Amrita Spa, but I wanted to go big. I opted for the Day of Luxury – a five hour, $200 extravaganza that included lunch. The spa is located next to the hotel’s gym and pool, so if you want to take advantage of those, be sure to factor in more time.
The women’s change room was clean and basic. Guests receive a robe and slippers inside their own locked locker just like in North America. Arriving early, I made a beeline for the women’s steam room, sauna and cold plunge pool before my treatment.
The Day of Luxury officially begins with a luxurious soak in an oh-so deep tub. Just look at all those roses petals! My gal then scooped out all the petals, pored in a bath oil and started the jets. Fortunately, I had my book by my side, as I was in that tub for a good 20 minutes. Jacuzzis freak me out, so reading took my mind off contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
Spa treatments in Quito, Ecuador
Disease-free, I hopped onto a massage table after my bath and got dry brushed, followed by a full body salt scrub. After rinsing off in the shower, I came back to find a plastic sheet covering the table. After laying upon it, I had the most decadent part of treatment: warm chocolate poured over me. Words can not describe how heavenly it smelled. It could only have been made better if some was drizzled into my mouth. Then I was wrapped up to bake like a brownie under layers of thermal blankets. That entire process was so much more relaxing than I anticipated. I tend to think scrubs and wraps are bullshit treatments, but to my delight, I fell right asleep.
After my gal nudged me awake, I had another shower, got back into my robe and floated over to a private lounge where I rested ( ok texted and edited images), while waiting for my meal. I was expecting to be served on a tray in the lounge, but I was ushered to a white linen table facing the outdoor pool.
Dining in at Swiss Hotel in Quito
Guests choose between three different menu options of three courses each. I went with the chicken caesar salad, steak and banana cake. Not exactly spa fare, but it was one of the better meals I had on my trip.
Did it feel a little awkward dining in my robe while conference goers and gym rats strolled by? Sure did! I did my best to block out the rubberneckers and concentrated on pounding back my meal.
Best massage in Quito
Then it was onto the final phase of my Day of Luxury: massage time! It wasn’t a sports massage, nor was it an oily pat on the back, either. My gal used real pressure – enough that I regretted throwing back all three courses a few minutes prior. After the massage, my hands and feet were treated to warm paraffin wax and wrapped in mitts and booties.
Then it was facial time. I had an efficient cleanse and scrub, before hot towels were applied (like the Europeans do) instead of the steam machine. Then my skin was scrutinized before my gal went to work extracting what lurked beneath the surface. (The only bummer was that she didn’t go deep enough and I ended up with three massive zits that erupted the next day). We finished off with a fruit enzyme mask, facial massage and another soak in the hot tub, if you so desired. I did not. Truth be told, all that pampering wore me out. I was itching to get outside.
It really did take the full five hours, and was fantastic value for money. Would I come here again? Absolutely!
Have you ever gone to a spa in another country? What was it like?