Enjoy the tranquil setting at Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Zimbali Resort.

It was only when I was having my cup of chamomile tea, with a slice of spanspek, my legs elevated and taking in the ocean breeze, the chiffon curtain billowing around me in the After-Treatment Lounge, that I realised how much I needed a pamper session.

I felt sorry for the therapist because she must have found knots as big as rocks, especially on my shoulders, and yet she pounded through them. It felt like I could finally relax my shoulders.

It was then I thought: this would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift for your lover or another special person in your life. There’s so much pressure when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifting. These days, you have to really go all out to not only impress your partner, but also their social media followers who are all craning their necks to see what lavish gifts were received in celebration of the day.

A spa treatment at what has been named one of the best spas in the region, at the 2019 World Luxury Spa Awards, should suffice as a perfect gift either for yourself, your partner and whomever you want to spoil this Valentine’s Day.

Relax in the after-treatment room.

Arriving at the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Zimbali Resort, I was already a bit frustrated. I wasn’t aware that the M4 had collapsed and was now closed. Having to reroute and find myself in morning traffic in uMhlanga, was not how I wanted to start the day. Weirdly enough, I felt like I needed to be zen before I arrived at the spa to get my treatment.

I’ve always described the Fairmont Zimbali Resort as an oasis off the highway. The M4 is a busy road linking Durban and Ballito, but after just a slight turn and a drive up a hill, you find yourself at a dreamy resort. 

The Fairmont Zimbali is beautiful. The spacious reception area, which overlooks the stunning pool and the pristine Dolphin Coast beach, will take your breath away the first time you see it. Your brain instructs your body to get into relaxation mode - you are already imagining yourself in the pool. If this was the view from the spa, then I would be in heaven.

The décor at the Willow Stream Spa, with its beige, brown and burnt orange accents, gives it an earthy feel. It encourages you to leave behind the grime of the big city and dig into serious relaxation. Or was it the music? Either way, I was slowly forgetting my traffic nightmare and getting ready for my treatment.

I was soon getting my zen on, relaxing in the men’s lounge area with a cup of Nespresso in my hand, waiting for my therapist to come get me. I quickly forgot about the many things I had to do back in Durban.

Oh, and I dumped the phone in the locker. On flight mode. There was no disturbing me.

From the lounge to the treatment room, you walk through the spa’s beautiful interior. The trickling sound of water, the stairs and then into a warmly lit room.

There are options for single or double rooms.

Sit back and enjoy some pampering at the manicure station.

I was getting a full body massage, facial and hand grooming. Depending on what your particular needs are, there are many options. There are nine treatment rooms, steam rooms and three outdoor cabanas.

I loved the massage. The therapist was attentive, gentle and when I did ask her to increase the pressure, she advised that if she did, I would get hurt, which I appreciated.

I had the facial done just after the massage. I understand that it was probably a time thing, but going from a full body and straight to a facial - I needed a bit of a break (and a trip to the gents). I stuck it out anyway. In the end I felt like I should have chosen another treatment.

I was satisfied with the hand grooming, even though it wasn’t done in the manicure room as I had expected.

The one thing that really disappointed me was that there’s hardly a view of the pool and the beach from the spa. It would add an extra element to the already beautiful spa.

I also wish there were more options at the after-treatment lounge. I would have appreciated it if there had more tea, coffee, water and juices, and a bit more fruit, on offer. And someone to check if you are good.

Oh, and the sight of the hotel’s staff walking outside the spa, talking loudly, does detract from what has the potential to be a world-class facility. The point is to experience complete serenity and the sounds of people talking loudly snaps you back into reality.

So do they deserve the award? On it being a beautiful spa, yes. On giving great massages, yes. And will your partner be impressed? No doubt, they will be the envy of Instagram.