Finding a truly memorable massage can be a little hit-and-miss. And when you are a qualified masseuse yourself, as I am, you can be a quite spoilt through training and practice. I often inadvertently find myself, when under the palm, tracking every massage stroke, from effleurage to cupping, knowing the drill like the back of my hand—or front, as the case may be. Luckily, however, I can count on that hand, the forgettable massages. Perhaps that weary therapist had been on their feet all day and I was their last client (it is hard graft). At worst, they might have lacked that personal touch, steamrolling over your corrugated protuberances (my ribs being a fine example), like a 4WD on heat.
But last night, I experienced what every Fijian highly recommends their visitors experience: the traditional Fijian Bobo Massage. Indeed, I shamelessly sighed my way through the transcendent hour of kneading and pummelling that splayed me out like an anesthetized manta ray.
At Harmony Retreat, set within a mini moated island within Radisson Blu Resort on Denarau Island, Ima, a tall, glamorous beauty introduced herself in that soft, refined manner that Fijians do best. “Bula, Marie!” she began, leading me along a hibiscus-lined path to an alfresco three-walled hut screened with bamboo. Palm leaves fringed the roof on the open end, with sun dappling through the forest of palms ahead of the therapy bed.
As soon as Ima laid her hands on me, I felt their power to heal. That may sound like a cliché, but take it from me; you know it when you get it. Using a nourishing blend of Pure Fiji cold-pressed nut oils, plants and flowers in a coconut base, her energised palms drizzled across my tense corners, crags and peaks like molten lava, her fingers reading my knots like braille. According to what my body was silently screaming out for, Ima alternated her palms, fingers, knuckles, elbows and forearms until I lay there, limp, as malleable as dough, and soothed by the gentle patter of rain and chitter-chatter of tropical birds. You just can’t beat swapping air-conditioning for ambient temperature, bathed in subtle humidity.
If you pass through Denarau Island on your Fijian travels, do look up Ima at Harmony Retreat; she truly has the Midas touch: island-style.