Great expectations

Great expectations

A trip to the luxurious Leeu Spa in Franschhoek takes mom-to-be Rebekah Kendal on a journey of self-discovery

After a few minutes at Leeu Spa at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek, you’ll come to the realisation that the city really isn’t that far away. And, by the time you’ve finished your treatment, you may well be mulling the feasibility of a daily commute. Leeu Spa – together with the estate on which it is situated – is a relative newcomer to the historic little town, having opened in June 2016. While the estate, with its neat vineyards and established gardens, blends seamlessly into the surrounding winelands, the spa has a decidedly modern feel to it. In addition to the usual treatment rooms, the spa also has a plunge pool, a swimming pool, a hydrotherapy area, and a hair-and- nail salon.

Neutral tones, clean lines and abundant use of natural stone create a calm, soothing environment. Hints of incense as you walk in the door, discreetly placed statues, and a spa menu sprinkled with Sanskrit words all suggest an Indian-inspired aesthetic, in a tastefully understated fashion. I’m pregnant (with twins!), so stripping down to my knickers and displaying all of my extra bumpy, wobbly bits isn’t exactly at the top of my wish list. But, I am also cranky, uncomfortable and in need of some serious TLC, so the prospect of a bit of pampering quickly drowns out any self-conscious whimpering. I’m met outside the changing room by my therapist, Monecia, who takes me to one of the spa’s three treatment rooms. Monecia has a knack for putting a person instantly at ease, and halfway through my foot scrub – all treatments start with this ritual, to ground the body – I have totally forgotten about feeling ungainly. I’ve been booked in for the 90-minute Mother-to-be Journey, which kicks off with a full-body scrub. The spa uses only hand-blended ila products, imported from the UK. The scrub – which is made from rose, blackcurrant, lavender and rose geranium – smells heavenly. Pregnancy does make things a little bit awkward, as you can’t lie on your stomach and lying on your back can soon become uncomfortable. Monecia does a good job of navigating these inconveniences, and the modern treatment beds make all the difference. With the push of a button (or maybe two) the bed transforms to support my body in such a way that lying on my back is not the slightest bit painful. This is – hands down – the most comfy I’ve felt in months. Just as I’m about to drift off to sleep, Monecia gently rouses me and directs me to the shower in the adjoining room. It takes me a little while to wash off the thick, oily scrub, but there’s something luxurious about taking my time beneath the large, gushing shower head. Monecia begins the massage section of the journey with a scalp-and-face massage. When you’re carrying an extra five kilos on your belly, it is easy to become preoccupied with stretching ligaments and back pain; but, as Monecia’s fingers deftly find little pockets of tension on my face, I realise that the strain of growing two little humans has left its mark all over my body. By the time she is done with the rest of me, I feel like a new – much nicer – person. Throughout the treatment, Monecia takes the time to place her hands firmly on different parts of my body. They just rest there for a few moments while I take a couple of breaths, before she moves on to the next step. At first this is a little odd, but over the course of the entire treatment, I come to appreciate this calming gesture. Somehow, it makes me feel more relaxed and more in touch with my body and my babies. I suspect this is largely because Monecia performs the ritual with such care and attention. Afterwards, it is tempting to spend a few hours lounging next to – or in – the plunge pool, overlooking a tranquil lily pond. But having persuaded my partner to drive me all the way to Franschhoek  (it’s really not that far, is it?), I feel that the least I can do is buy him lunch at a suitably spectacular wine farm.

To book your treatment at Leeu Spa at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek, call 021 492 2222 or visit

Photography: courtesy images

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