ikoi Japanese Day Spa

For a treatment that promises smooth skin, a great night's sleep and a marked improvement in digestion, you must visit this enzyme spa in Auckland says Trudi Brewer.

A Japanese day spa 

I would have passed Ikoi spa at least five times, before walking up the stairs to book in. And it was only after a conversation with a girlfriend I found myself in a spa that is truly like no other. At 1 Huron Street in Auckland's Takapuna you will find ikoi Enzyme Therapy Japanese Day Spa. Ikoi in Japanese means to rest and recharge energy - and that is exactly what happens once you disappear behind the luxurious glass doors. After leaving my shoes at the door and changing into paper bra and boxer pants, the treatment begins with a fruity enzyme drink, which tastes a little like a fermented fruit wine. Next, I am guided into a room with an enormous, earthy smelling sawdust bath.
What is it?
An enzyme spa is a fermented bed of compost that helps to break down toxins in the skin. A very simple explanation for what is a unique and decadent treatment, highly sort after in Japan. The dry enzyme bath at Ikoi is a blend of rice bran, pinewood sawdust and Japanese enzymes carefully sourced from organic fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and seaweeds grown in Hokkaido, Japan. This mixture is carefully kept at a constant heat of between 65 to 75 degrees Celsius. This heat is naturally occurring due to the enzymes breaking down. The mix is refreshed every few days and turned with a garden fork before you slip in and get buried chest deep in this bed of woody goodness.
How does it benefit skin?
Our bodies have over 5000 kinds of vital enzymes, all of which have different functions to assist the breakdown of toxins. The blend of enzymes at Ikoi not only aid clearer healthier skin, but they also relieve any muscular pain, help with weight loss, improve sleep and increase energy levels. And, while it is doing all of the above - boy do you sweat. For anyone who may be claustrophobic or sauna-phobic rest assured the therapist does not leave your side during the spa. And while you ferment, a scalp and shoulder acupressure massage took my mind off the little itches I experienced, in those hard to reach spots. I'm told this is due to enzymes eating away the dry, dead skin. During the dry bath, cold towels are pressed onto the face and neck to keep your body temperature even. And after 15 minutes I was encouraged to sit up and move my arms, while the enzymes were pressed into my shoulders and neck to help loosen the tension of tight, overused muscles.
Why do we like it?
After a dry body brushing to dust off the enzymes, and a glass of cool water, it takes around 10 minutes for your body temperature to readjust, and the hot shower that follows is heavenly. You do need to move slowly as you rise from the enzyme bath. I had to sit down in the rainforest style shower, because I did feel slightly light headed, but that did pass quickly. The reason being every five minutes you spend in this enzyme bath is equivalent to a 15 minute run. So to slip my fatigued body onto a bed for the last part of the treatment, a deep tissue massage using my choice of uplifting citrus essential oils was divine. After the massage, I float back out to the relaxation area, for the finishing touch, another enzyme juice, green tea and a sweet Japanese biscuit. While your skin feels so smooth post treatment, the long-term benefits include a lightness about the body that feels amazing, and that night you will have a jolly good night's sleep. This spa is gorgeous, every room has been crafted from natural wood, which gives it the authentic Japanese touch. From the neutral interior colours, to slate tiles and bathroom accessories it's super luxe. It's also an experience you will not forget. And, unlike many treatments I've experienced, I don't often rebook before leave - with ikoi I can't wait to return.
Allow 60 minutes, expect to pay $190.

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