Bali Four-Hand Massage – Twice the Pleasure

The Balinese may not have invented massage, but over the years, they sure have perfected it.

MASSAGE HISTORY
India, China and Egypt have records of healing massage dating back about five thousand years. Bali is a relative new-comer with the Lontar Usada, (ancient Balinese medical manuscripts), recording massages used for traditional healing for only about the past thousand years.

In Balinese villages, massage was and still is practiced to maintain good health and assist healing. Mothers and other family members, regularly massage babies and infants to relax them, sooth away discomfort and ensure strong growth. This practice has the added bonus of ensuring family bonding which is still so important in Balinese society. Adults also massage each other to relieve aching muscles, clear tension headaches, improve blood circulation and for sheer relaxation. Every family seems to have at least one member skilled in massage and villages have a specialist masseur and healer who plies their trade as needed. With massage being a normal part of daily life in all villages, the Balinese were well placed to offer massage when tourists began knocking at their door.

COMMERCIAL BEGINNINGS
It was not until the surfing community discovered Bali about 60 years ago that commercial massage took off. Balinese women, using their village massage skills, offered massages on the beach, to soothe bodies pummeled by hours in the Kuta waves. Laid out on a sarong or beach towel, these backpackers enjoyed massages that combined healing oils with strong strokes, kneading, skin rolling, and acupressure. At times, depending on the wind, a generous sprinkling of sand was added to the whole massage experience. There was room for improvement.

BOOMING SPA SERVICES
Over the years tourism in Bali has flourished and grown. Salons and spas have kept pace with market needs and sprung up all over the island. The on-line Bali Spa Guide (www.balispaguide.com) lists 385 spas and salons that offer a range of treatments. ‘Balinese Massage’ was about the only treatment on offer twenty years ago, but this sure has changed. Spa menus have expanded to attract the tourist dollar and new additions have included hot stone massages, holistic combination massages, tension relief massages, healing reflexology massages, Lomi Lomi, Swedish and Shiatsu massages, EsalenTM massage, plus a range of body scrubs, peels and wraps. Every spa gives their massages a fancy name to entice you to try them. Today most salons and spas in Bali offer massages of a world-class standard in surroundings ranging from modest to opulent, and always at prices a fraction of what people are used to paying in their home country. Many consider Bali to be the Spa capital of Asia, if not the world.

A NEW TREATMENT
A couple of years ago an Ubud spa added a four-hand massage to their offerings. It was the first time I had seen this sort of massage offered and I decided that if one therapist working on me felt good then the effect of two would be incredible. Unfortunately, this didn’t prove to be the case. My two therapists were marching to their own drummers and were in no way synchronized. Their individual techniques were delivered skillfully but not in tandem or harmony. I felt over-stimulated and certainly not relaxed by the end of the workout. As I left, I decided against trying this type of massage ever again.

CHANGING MY MIND
Leif, a friend and licenced massage therapist in Australia, was visiting and he dropped by to see me after a treatment at Eve Spa in Penestanan, Ubud. When I asked how his massage went, he replied, “I’ve just had the best massage of my life. I tried the four-hand massage and those girls were amazing. They were totally synchronized. It was perfect.” Although a part owner of Eve Spa, I’d never experienced this addition to their spa menu.

One opinion is never enough to change my mind, so I went onto TripAdvisor to see what others thought of the four-hand massage. Reports were glowing and the final one I read stated, “Something new on the menu is the Four-Hand Massage; initially I was reluctant, wondering how this would work, however with minutes, I was swept away into a relaxing dream world, while the two girls worked in unison, perfectly co-ordinated on either side of my body. Probably the best experience I have ever had in a massage salon, and I thoroughly recommend it.”

It was time for me to give the four-hand massage another try. At 200,000rp, I had little to lose. Everyone’s comments were accurate; my experience was amazing. The two therapists were a matched pair and seemed to intuitively know how to massage in complete harmony. One therapist mirrored their partner and the sensation was calming, healing and invigorating. I was nearly a convert but wanted to see if other spas offered this massage to a similar standard.

Sang Spa in Ubud call their four hand massage, the Good Kharma Body Massage. Their website claims, “This is truly a unique and wonderful experience. If you’ve never been massaged by two people at once, then you must try it at least once in your life. The sensation of having 4 hands working on you at once is incredible. 20 fingers kneading and squeezing your muscles, working out the stress, awakening your kundalini and re-circulating that powerful, sensual energy!”

At 220,000rp, it is also exceptional value, so I made a booking. Sang Spa cannot be accused of false advertising. I tried it and loved it. This time I had two male therapists and they too worked in unison, massaging away any doubts that lingered as to the value of a four-hand massage. I was definitely a convert and on a mission to try other spas.

Rejuve – The Spa on Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai, Kedonganan, was the next one I visited to try their Rejuve Imperial (4 hands). This was a 2 hour treatment for a cost of USD90 and their promise of an epitome of outrageous pampering was delivered. The four hands of two therapists worked together using Lomi Lomi, stretching and Balinese massage techniques. It really was like experiencing two full body massages at the same time but the synchronized delivery ensured that I left fully recharged and re-energize. I was still hungry to try it one more time.

In my search for great four-hand massages, I did not intentionally leave the best to last, but this is just how it worked out. I rang Jari Menari at No 47, Jalan Raya Basangkasa, Seminyak and requested to book a four hand massage. They were able to fit me in at 5pm as all other appointment slots were taken for the day. In perfect English, the female receptionist explained that all their masseurs were male so I knew in advance of arrival that I would be having two men doing my massage. She also asked me to come ten minutes early so they could discuss any specific muscle aches or problems that needed special care. I felt encouraged by their thoroughness.

Their four-hand massage was amazingly different to the others I had experienced and loved. Here the therapists worked in tandem and harmony but not usually mirroring each other’s massage strokes. One therapist worked on the head and upper body, while the other massaged the feet and legs, but their massage strokes were complimentary and totally relaxing. I never felt over stimulated. These men were the ultimate professionals, who knew exactly what they were doing. At 450,000rp plus tax and service, it was good value. I left, promising to return and I will. I will happily revisit every spas I tried and with the help of the internet, search out many others. I’m hooked on professionally delivered four-hand massages. They definitely offer double the pleasure.

GIVE IT A TRY
Well, what are you waiting for? Do your research and find a reputable Spa where you can try your first 4-Hand massage. It will amaze you and I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Tips for getting a great 4-hand massage.

To ensure that you receive a memorable and satisfying 4-hand massage, you need to check out the spa before you book. Following the below tips will ensure you are not disappointed.
Check reviews of 4-hand massages on TripAdviser or other reliable websites to locate spas that have been recommended by satisfied clients.
Ask friends who have tried 4-handed massages for their recommendations.
When you decide on a spa and ring to book, check if you are getting a pair of male or female therapists. Make the booking only if you get the gender you prefer.
Ask your chosen spa if the pair of therapists regularly offer this treatment as a team. If they do, you can be confident that they should work well in tandem.
Check prices, remembering that the inexpensive treatments can be as satisfying as expensive ones. Some spas add tax and service, so ensure you get the net price.
Visit your spa to ensure it offers the sort of ambience where you can really enjoy this very special treatment. Cleanliness, road and external noise and shower facilities should all be checked.

If 1 to 6 all get a tick, go ahead and make a booking and enjoy your 4-hand massage experience.

~ Steve Castley

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