The sign of a great hotel is the ability to make you feel right at home the moment you arrive, to embrace you like family and to know you by name.

This is what I love about the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney.

According to Deane Brosnan, Director of Communications, most of the guests are repeat guests. “We are their home-away-from-home. They almost feel guilty disclosing how much they enjoy being here to their ‘real family’. It’s their sanctuary.

“There is also a sense of familiarity. Our staff knows each guest by name, their personal preferences, their favourite room, and how they take their tea or coffee. There is a genuine interest in them, their family, their work, and what they’ve been up to. Several of our guests have confessed to enjoying, even looking forward to their business trips, because they get to stay with us!” says Deane.

And this service filters to every aspect of the Hotel…. Including my favourite place… the Spa!


I always look forward to a Spa treatment, but especially at the award-winning CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La. You know it’s going to be more than just a treatment. It is a therapy session for the mind, body and soul, plus the superficial aspect of your skin looking and feeling amazing afterwards. And they make you feel like a Princess!

Today I’m having Sodashi’s NEW Oud Renewal Therapy marketed as 'an impossibly deluxe 90-minute treatment. It works on both face and body to provide a complete head-to-toe experience, delivering incredible results in terms of released muscular tension, improved digestion, detoxification and skin radiance. The benefits of this exceptional holistic treatment however extend far beyond the physical. It has a profound ability to release stored emotions and alleviate negativity to improve emotional, energetic and spiritual wellbeing."

Perfect! I’m down for all of that, and if only half is delivered, I’ll still be stoked. I’ll be happy if I leave with less tension, some emotional release and radiant skin! Seriously, wouldn’t you?

The treatment uses Agarwood Oil known as Oud oil. Oud oil is an extremely rare and precious natural oil obtained from several species of Agarwood trees (Aquilaria malaccensis). It originates in North Eastern India, Bhutan and parts of South East Asia. It has a very long history of medicinal use dating back as far as the eighth century. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to calm the nervous system, while Buddhist monks burn the oil to boost devotion in meditation.

Oud oil is known to bring stillness, focus and clarity to the mind, and invoke a sense of strength and peace. Buddha himself referred to the burning oil as the scent of Nirvana.


So, what makes this oil so rare and precious? The fact it is only released by Agarwood, and since 1995 this tree has been listed as a Potentially Threatened species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In addition, the oil is only produced when a specific mould has infected the tree. The tree produces a dark aromatic resin commonly called agarwood, or oud, as a result of the mould attack. The oil is distilled from this mould-induced resin.

Agarwood or Oud oil is one of the most expensive natural raw materials in the world, attracting high prices depending on its purity. The current global market for oud is estimated to be in the range of US$6 – 8 billion and is growing rapidly. Knowing this, I start to feel like an Indian Princess and ironically, begin to feel nervous about being around something so precious (don’t drop the bottle, don’t drop the bottle I chant to myself)!

The odour of agarwood is complex; at first I found it to be a bit Eucalyptus-sy and interesting (I couldn't decide if I liked it)! However, after a few deep inhalations, I was mesmerised. It is hard to explain… I’ll try… as the aroma fills the room, it softly glides over you going from a strong "oriental-woody" to a "very soft fruity-floral”. It morphs into the most perfect fragrance, akin to a nice drop of wine as it fills your mouth and swirls to the back of your throat. Delicious.

Laying face down, the treatment starts with a warm aromatic Oud Oil compress to the feet. Then with firm intent pressure, my therapist walks her hands from my feet, up the back of my legs and along the spine, finishing at my shoulders. The tension ‘sweet spot’! Then with three deep inhalations of the Oud Essence I begin to relax, and calm my mind.

Warm Oud Body Oil is trickled along my spine, followed by a circular massage. This stimulates trigger points along my spine, which leads to a powerful emotional release. I physically exhale, breathing away tension. It was like a sneeze, something you can’t control, yet you feel great relief afterwards.

After an amazing back, neck and shoulder massage, I turn over (in float-like fashion) so I am now face up to enjoy a much-needed facial using the exquisite Sodashi Rejuvenating range. The facial includes more massage, again tapping into the healing zones and using the precious Oud Oil.

A mask is applied... and this is where a facial can go pear-shaped. If you are left for 10 minutes to ‘relax’ with a mask covering your entire face, including your eyes, it isn’t quite my definition of relaxing. However, if you enjoy a scalp massage, even a hand and foot massage while the mask goes to work, then I can relax! I was about 2 heartbeats per minute away from being comatosed.

To finish the treatment, Oud Oil is applied to my Third Eye, Heart Chakras and the arches of my feet. Hands linger on my feet, focusing on the chakra points massaging every last ounce of tension out of my body. Fittingly, a final crown press... did she just put a tiara on my head? It didn’t matter, I felt like a Princess any way!

In my view, this treatment is a culmination of the best elements of all Sodashi’s treatments – a foot massage, a scalp massage, a back massage, a facial and that something extra that makes you feel grounded, relaxed and in total control of your world. Satisfied and renewed!



90 MINS $240

Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La, Sydney

This exquisitely luxurious and opulent treatment is available exclusively in Australia at CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. Please contact CHI, The Spa on 02 9250 6032 to make a booking.