Massage therapy is high on the list of many as a method to cope with body aches and stressful minds, but often times forgotten is balancing a massage with the correct selection of essential oils. Luckily for GHM and those seeking the massage table at GHM properties, Brenda Ramen, an expert in aromatherapy and essential oils, has elevated the GHM spas to wellness haven where hand-crafted massage oils are used to create experiences that are anything but ordinary.
Walk into any GHM spa and you’ll know what instant bliss feels like, even before your treatment begins. This is thanks to GHM’s spa maven, Brenda Ramen, a 20-year-plus veteran of all things spa, and the woman in charge of just about everything at any of GHM’s five deluxe spa escapes. A passionate and intensely dedicated body and health guru, Brenda has elevated the spas at GHM’s diverse property portfolio from standard to anything but, and while the main draw, the massages, are undoubtedly the reason why, there is something else that sets these spas apart, and that something else is actually what Brenda takes the most passion in – aromatherapy and the essential oils responsible.
“Through the research and experimentation, I am able to put something together that really represents the land – something that embodies the spirit of where you are,” she explains. The result? Five unique lines of intoxicating six-oil sets that range in effect from uplifting to de-stressing.
If you’ve not gotten a massage at any of the GHM spas, two things to remember are, A) you’re missing out; and B) one of the most important stages in the GHM massage process to stay aware of is the pre-treatment massage oil selection. Why? Well as Brenda explains, these oils you are choosing to be massaged with are just as important as the massage movements in just about every case. Designed for a spate of reasons, but namely to reduce stress, promote blood flow, ease aches and pains, balance emotions, moisturise, and above all, to produce a general sense of therapeutic well-being, each of the GHM-produced massage oils is an integral part of the massage experience, and that which will elevate your massage from amazing to altogether silencing.
Presented, explained, and offered as a test to clients before treatment, so that the most suitable match can be made, the GHM massage oils are unique in that they are created, tested, and used by Brenda herself before production. Asked where the ideas for each oil come from, and how they originate, Brenda elaborates that the oils are based on a copious amount of research into the indigenous plants, aromas and landscapes of the area in which each GHM property is located. “Through the research and experimentation, I am able to put something together that really represents the land – something that embodies the spirit of where you are,” she explains. The result? Five unique lines of intoxicating six-oil sets that range in effect from uplifting to de-stressing.
But these potions aren’t only there for you to get a massage with, and Brenda encourages guests to try a bottle or two for themselves at home to really obtain some of the benefits of aromatherapy. “Use them to ease minor joint aches and pains, or to calm you down in times of high stress,” she explains. “You don’t need a therapist to rub them in for you, just massage them in independently and leave the oil on for 20 minutes to an hour so that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream, and you should begin to feel the effects.” Alternatively, you can also mix the oils into a bath and allow the aromatics to take over, which ellicit a more psychologically-targeted response, such as feelings of calm or relaxation, rather than a physiological one (and for those getting a massage at a GHM spa, they get the full on effect of both). Either way, Brenda explains, you can’t do yourself any harm with these bottles of bliss.
And if there is one person to trust when it comes to the world of essential oils and aromatherapy, it’s Brenda. Having studied aromatherapy at Australia’s College of Natural Medicine, the spa specialist says that aromatherapy and essential oils became a big part of her life early on, and are actually that which helped her out of a high-stress job. “I worked as the state manager for a group of clothing stores with more than 40 outlets that spanned the eastern coast of Australia, and it was just such a high-stress environment that I used to get massages as a part of my de-stressing routine,” she explains. “Then one day, I found out that my therapist and her family had a herb garden that was used to supply the herbs for the essential oils and aromas that were being used when I got the massages. Really valuing the work that my therapist had been doing, I talked to her a bit more about aromatherapy and the herb garden, and before long became hooked on aromatherapy.” Books and studying followed Brenda’s initial interest, and she says in no time, her kitchen and house started to become filled with various oils and herbs that were used for any number of reasons. “Simple things like keeping lavender in the kitchen to help in case I got a burn, or using eucalyptus as a decongestant and tea-tree oil as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial aid, these were all of the practical uses I was getting out of this newfound passion.” And Brenda urges those interested to think about doing the same, especially with the GHM oils.
“We select the right products, and while it might be a bit more expensive, it’s absolutely worth it. Why? Because we focus on one thing here, and that’s quality above all else.”
The hand-crafted GHM massage oils themselves, which are usually the result of anywhere from three to five different individual essential oils, are created with one thing in mind: quality. Brenda explains that while many spas are content to use very basic oils such as the non-effective cooking oils or grape seed oils to cut costs, the GHM essential oils are made up of entirely hand-picked and imported ingredients. “We select the right products, and while it might be a bit more expensive, it’s absolutely worth it. Why? Because we focus on one thing here, and that’s quality above all else. You never have that oily feeling after, the oils all absorb as they are supposed to – they work, and that’s the quality we want.” And work they do, but in such a plethora of ways, how is one to choose? She explains that before any massage at GHM, the receptionist or spa director will help to guide you through the process, describing the intended effects of each oil, and which massages pair well with which oil. Of course, the selection is ultimately yours, but when presented with the pairings that Brenda herself has passed onto the spa staff, I don’t know that you need any other persuasion – and my experiences at the spas say just as much.
So next time you pop into one of the GHM spas remember that the oil selection isn’t just a gimmick, but an integral part of the massage process, one that is just as much a part of the unwinding period as any. And once you have been led through the selection of primo essential oils that Brenda has cultivated for each of the five properties, sit back, relax and breathe easy as the GHM staff guide you to paradise.
(Featured image: The Spa reception at The Chedi Muscat carries several lines of spa products though perhaps the most intriguing is GHM’s line of Muscat-specific essential oils.)