By Marianne Betts
Victoria Falls Safari Spa, the largest and first purpose-built spa in Zimbabwe’s leading travel destination, has been open for 100 days, but what is it like? I popped in to try it out and see what all the fuss is about.
I’m booked in for a 30-minute muscle ease massage – a deep pressure massage which promises to “accelerate the body’s healing abilities and restore energy levels whilst improving circulation”.
It boasts “the therapeutic benefits of arnica, peppermint and eucalyptus will help muscle fatigue, aches and pains.”
It sounds like a great introduction to Victoria Falls’ flagship spa offering!
Entering Victoria Falls Safari Spa, taking in its earthy tones and peaceful bush setting, gentle instrumental music playing and the scent of healing essential oils, a sense of tranquility envelops me.
Stepping into this calmer, more peaceful world, the hustle and bustle of life is left at the door.
A smiling therapist offers an orange infused water or iced tea refreshment while I complete a consultation form in an open plan lounge area.
The central area, which features pedicure and manicure stations, a café, a hair and make-up studio, a bathroom and change room and three relaxation rooms, incorporates eye-catching traditional Ndebele designs into its décor.
After changing into slops and a bathrobe I am led to one of three relaxation rooms, which are named after trees – baobab, kigelia and moringa – all of which possess great healing properties.
I await my treatment on a day bed, admiring the view of an infinity pool, deck and reflexology pond, as well as the lush green vegetation brought on by an African rainy season.
The pebble-lined reflexology pond is a “do-it yourself” treatment, in the form of a foot massage, which stimulates pressure points, in turn helping the body to rebalance or to heal itself.
Therapist Rumbi later explains, the idea of the relaxation rooms is for guests to relax there after their treatments, so they are not being rushed out of the spa or if they arrive early for their appointment they may also unwind there.
Rumbi soon collects me and takes me down a path to one of three outlying treatment rooms (one double and two single), called Londiwe, a Ndebele girl’s name, meaning nurtured or protected. Each of the treatment rooms has a deck overlooking indigenous bush and an adjoining outdoor shower.
To calming instrumental music, Rumbi fills a foot bath with warm water and she begins to scrub my feet, a “ritual” done to introduce guests to the therapist and the touch of her hands and to help them to feel relaxed.
“Our therapy is very personalised, and for some people it is their first time to experience such treatments so we do that for them to be more relaxed, receive it and enjoy it and to be able to tell people about it,” Rumbi says.
I then ease myself onto the bed and the massage begins – it is a back, neck, arm and head massage and it is incredible.
Far too soon it draws to an end, and it’s time to reluctantly transition back into the outside world.
Spa manager Avalon van Leent says since the spa (which has the capacity to do 50 to 55 treatments a day) opened in November, it has gained popularity, with 700 treatments done in its first 100 days of operation.
It has been popular with both families and couples visiting Zimbabwe’s leading travel destination with full body massages and facials being the most sought-after treatments.
Top treatments have been the Body Renewal, which includes a full body massage and a mini facial, the 60-minute Muscle Ease and Stress Release full body massages and the age-defying African Goddess facial which incorporates a collagen infused 24 carat gold mask, Avalon says.
“The spa is being received very well … we’ve had a lot of families, and couples too, booking together and coming in and spending the day lying by the pool, having treatments, and enjoying smoothies from the café,” she says.
Families with young children have taken advantage of the mini treatments available to those aged 6 to 12, which include massages, nail polish and a facial, while others have spent quality time there with their soon-to-leave home teenage children, she says.
Open 8am to 7pm, it has been attracting Victoria Falls Safari Lodge estate guests, as well as guests from other hotels in Victoria Falls, and Victoria Falls locals while some have even travelled through from Livingstone, Zambia, and Kasane, Botswana.
Rumbi, was working on cruise ships, but she returned to Harare when the Covid pandemic brought the industry to a standstill, and she then had a baby girl, so chose to look for opportunities closer to home and found this one.
My taste of Victoria Falls Safari Spa left me wanting more, much more.
Rumbi begins talking about the “must try” Balancing Rose Crystal Facial, the African Goddess facial and the hot stone massages … Oh stop it!
I’ll be back!