You know the tingle you get when a hairdresser massages your scalp? Imagine that sensation but over your whole body – that’s what it’s like to receive an intuitive body massage at Venustus Beauty Lab, and there’s no awkward small talk.
Before our massage, owner Jeannie Bourke is burning white sage and wafting the smoke around the room. We’re seated, shoes off, with our feet placed on a large white crystal, and Bourke is asking gentle but probing questions about how we’re feeling about life at the moment.
Bourke has built her spa as a sanctuary that draws on healing and calming practices from all over the world. There’s influences from Hawaii, India and Japan, but our modern-day shamanic healer also calls on images of the waves rolling in from the ocean as you stand with your feet in the sand. (Jeannie would like us to do more of this in our lives, and we’re happy to receive this order).
There’s a vulnerability and openness that comes from consulting with Jeannie ahead of your time on the massage table – and it’s a compulsory introduction to her beauty lab. We’re building trust, and Bourke and her team – Fleur and Haruko in our case – will use elements of our conversation and energy to help inform their intuitive body work later on.
The $245-body massage is one of the most popular ones with Venustus clients. There’s a sense of handing over the mental load, not feeling the pressure to keep up conversation, or running through your medical history.
Our therapist, Fleur, explains that the massage will largely be conducted in silence. She breaks that promise only briefly to guide us through some of the more unusual practices. Eyes closed, we hear the transcendent sounds of singing bowls moving around us. Our feet are massaged with oils before being wrapped in a heated, weighted slipper. Hot rocks are carefully placed on our lower back, and latter on our chest. We’re feeling comforted, warm.
We’re also given an intuitive personalised facial. The $245-treatment is like the body massage – mostly in silence, and performed with a respectful and sensory embrace. Hot towels are wrapped around our jawline, before cooling jade rollers are used to massage in a house-made serum, ‘Om’, which is organic, plant based and created without animal testing.
Each intuitive body massage is entirely different, of course. Bourke’s team draws on remedial, shiatsu, reflexology, reiki and trigger-point massage, among other rituals and health practices. When Bourke suggests we take home a selenite crystal to hold each morning with our eyes closed as we think about what we feel grateful for, it reminds us of our grandparents who were always advocating gratitude diaries. When Bourke suggest we keep a journal, it reminds us of friends who use those tools for mental health management. It’s familiar, and feels safe, even if those home ceremonies might fizzle out with time.
Venustus, which means ‘to love and care for’, is not a beauty salon in the common sense. It’s more like therapy for the body and soul. You may walk away with a quartz crystal, but you’ll most certainly come away feeling nurtured, truly heard and deeply rested.