Long-term traveling makes me tired, and sometimes I just need to treat myself and relax. Looking for massage in Kota Kinabalu, I found about Ulu Ulu SPA, and their menu convinced me immediately. In fact, it’s one of the most luxury SPA in Kota Kinabalu, which proudly carries 5 stars SPA title. I haven’t tried massage in Malaysia before and wasn’t even sure something like Malaysian massage exists. I was keen to try something new which will release tension from carrying my backpack over and over, rejuvenate and empower before the next journey. After one month traveling in the Philippines, I decided to slow down significantly in Malaysia, enjoy the massage in Kota Kinabalu as well as the nearby balmy islands and one day tours to nearest attractions.
Malaysian massage – Uratan Malaysia
Everyone knows about Thai Massage or Swedish massage, which are unique technics, developed in certain regions. Those, together with Chinese reflexology and Indian Ayurvedic massage crossed the world all around. But what about Malaysian massage? Traditional massage in Malaysia was crafted from several massage technics of indigenous people of Borneo mixed with Chinese or Indian technics. The Ministry of tourism decided to preserve old technics and create the signature massage of Malaysia called Uratan Malaysia.
Urutan Malaysia experience begins with a foot soak. The water contains local citrus, flowers such as jasmine or hibiscus and herbs like kaffir lime, screwpine leaf (pandan), lemongrass or ginger.
Meanwhile the massage therapist guides through a breathing exercise that uses qigong breathing techniques. The focus is on inhaling through the nose and expanding the belly, then exhaling through the mouth while pulling the belly in. Deep belly-breathing is said to draw more oxygen into the lungs and relax the body in preparation for the massage. Next, follows an Indian head massage to release tension and stress. Lastly, full body massage which uses Malay techniques with repeated long strokes on the limbs and deep thumb pressure on the back muscles.
The massage oil for Urantan Malaysia uses only local ingredients such as coconut and pandan leafs. Essential oils are from kaffir lime, lemongrass and ginger. Ministry of tourism also took care about the perfect music set for Uratan Malaysia. Special 10 songs at 528 Hz, believed to be the optimum relaxing and healing frequency. Uratan Malaysia is now taught to every therapist in Malaysia and Malaysian massage is getting on offer in more and more SPAs in Malaysia. While in Malaysia, you cannot miss trying this national signature treatment.
Ulu Ulu SPA in Kota Kinabalu
Responsible tourism practices are very important to me as I am trying to improve as a responsible traveler. What I loved about Ulu Ulu SPA in Kota Kinabalu is that they are focusing on high quality service and modern technologies but also don’t forget the past and use traditional Malaysian massage technics from indigenous people of Borneo. What’s more, they buy natural products from a local market to spoil the customers with fresh scents of local fruits and herbs. They not only buy locally but also support local communities by giving a fair salary to the therapists.
When I just entered Ulu Ulu Spa I was amazed how large, but at the same time cozy is the place. The lobby has comfy couches where I could rest while waiting for massage or relax after it with a cup of herbal tea. After warm welcome, I changed my shoes and followed the therapist to the first floor. On the way I saw huge room with a couple of chairs for a foot massage. Upstairs, few spacious massage rooms. Each one of them equipped with a massage bed, small case with a locker for belongings and a mirror to fix hair after the treatment. So practical! Sarong for massage was covered with traditional Malaysian batik patterns. But wait! Before starting, let’s choose the essential oil for my massage. Oh my! I already felt spoiled, but it was just the beginning!
Massage in Kota Kinabalu
Wellness in Kota Kinabalu usually can be found near big shopping malls or hotels. Ulu Ulu SPA is a bit out of the city center, in Aeropod Commercial Square and the best way to get there is to take UBER. It’s not far from the Tanjung Aru Beach – one of the best spots in Kota Kinabalu. After getting massage I went to watch the sunset there and it was magical. Let me tell you what Ulu Ulu SPA has to offer and I will see you calling to make a reservation. Actual list of prices per treatment, you will find on the official SPA website.
Signature massage – original blend from Ulu Ulu SPA
First of all, they offer their signature massage, which is their own, unique style. The massage comes from indigenous people of Borneo (Murut). According to the history they migrated from China and Japan, bringing their massage technics. Those technics have been changing with time until now when Ulu Ulu SPA decided to blend it with a modern style of Swedish massage. In effect, signature massage of Ulu Ulu SPA is relaxing but at the same time surprising because of particular therapist’s movements.
Massage began with a sound of a gong. The therapist asked if I want soft, medium or strong pressure. She started from my feet and continued all the way up until top of my head. Some of the technics used in the massage were very original, and I have never experienced them before in any other country. With the smooth movements of the therapist, I felt so relaxed. One hour passed too fast and I wanted more!
Hot herbal balls – oil free massage
The next time I visited Ulu Ulu SPA I tried herbal balls massage. I felt the smell of the herbs already when I entered the SPA. The therapist was waiting for me together with hot balls full of handpicked herbs.
That’s another thing I love about Ulu Ulu SPA, that they use natural ingredients and herbs from a local market. It’s not only healthy for body but also supporting local farmers collecting herbs and roots. As I support responsible tourism, I really appreciate this kind of attitude.
The herbs treatment was preceded with short full body massage to relax the muscles. The hot balls massage was really hot, sometimes felt too hot, but that’s the thing which made me so relaxed. Infused balls are really good for many sorts of pain and this technique is oil free. After the treatment Ulu Ulu offers a cup of herbal tea at the lobby.
Mount Kinabalu stones massage
Kota Kinabalu is a short distance from Mount Kinabalu – the highest mountain from Himalayas to Papua with a stunning nature of Kinabalu National Park, which I had a chance to visit. This over 4 000 m. sleeping volcano warms up the waters in Poring Hot Spring in Kinabalu Park. In Ulu Ulu SPA they use therapeutic stones from Kinabalu volcano which help to relax sour muscles and manipulate deep tissues.
Meridian magnotherapy treatment
Magnotherapy stick with a magnetic field absorbs bad energy from the body, removes tension from muscles and is specially useful for headaches.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is designed for those who do a lot of sports. It not only relaxes but also improves the flexibility of the body.
Four hands massage
Something particular and surprising as movements of two therapists at the same time. This would surely take me to heaven, need to try next time. Looking for massage in Kota Kinabalu why not getting yourself spoiled with unusual experience?
Sumazau Hapap foot therapy + body massage
The name comes from Sumazau traditional folk dance which is inspired by eagles flying above the rice fields of Borneo. I had a chance to see the traditional dance of Dayak tribe – indigenous people of Borneo as well as the modern eagle dance on the wedding in Semporna. Sumazau hapap foot therapy is to relieve sore feet with soaking them into herbal mixture, for example after the dancing the whole night. Herbal foot soak follows foot reflexology and finishes with 60 or 90 mins full body massage.
Body scrubs are beneficial to remove dead skin and leave it silky smooth. After, skin looks more vibrant and healthy as well as can absorb more moisturizers. Choosing wellness in Kota Kinabalu, you may also want to get some body scrub, which are numerous in Ulu Ulu SPA. All body scrubs at Ulu Ulu last 45 minutes and will leave your skin youthful and silky. Body scrubs are perfect to soften and smoothen skin as well as moisturise or whiten, depending of the product you use. At Ulu Ulu you can choose from:
- anti-aging coffee;
- healing turmeric;
- moisturising black rice;
- whitening pandan leafs with lemon and salt;
- antioxidants green matcha;
- detoxifying Himalayan salt;
- cleaning moringa leafs.
When at home, I used to mix sugar, olive oil and mint and scrub my body occasionally. However, I found this blend too rough, as the crystals of sugar scratch too much. After visiting Ulu Ulu I got inspired to create coffee scrub as I am going to bring some Indonesian coffee from my trip as well as coconut oil. Combination of both leaves the skin silky and moisturised. I love to do my own SPA, can’t wait to make the coffee scrub at home!
Facial & Body treatments
As I mentioned Ulu Ulu SPA appreciates tradition but also is up to date with modern technologies. Treating yourself, you can get oatmeal with honey facial mask but also try meridian technique or Korean Ruby-Cell. Koreans are known for their passion for beauty and innovative anti-aging technologies. Ruby-Cell is a high-performance skin repair with help of proteins which can soften wrinkles, scars or black patches using safe, not invasive method.
I appreciate modern technologies but would prefer to deep myself in the milk bath and later smear my skin with avocado mask. This and more natural masks offers Ulu Ulu SPA in Kota Kinabalu and I can proudly say that they truly deserve their 5 stars for the high quality service and wide offer.
Ulu Ulu SPA treatments offer a mixture of the above as a holistic wellness experience. First of all, I have to mention Uratan Malaysia as signature Malaysian massage. Apart from that SPA offers mixture of treatments including foot soak, facial and body treatments such as scrubs and baths.
- Uratan Malaysia – foot soak and unique Malaysian massage;
- Scrub series – foot soak, detox sauna, body scrub and full body massage;
- Malaysian SPA – Uratan Malaysia with herbal ball compress or coconut scrub;
- Body & Facial Works SPA – foot soak. body mask + full body massage
- Pure Indulgence – foot soak, foot or head massage, body scrub, body mask, Ulu Ulu Signature Massage, bath treatment;
- Ladies only – foot soak, body scrub, body contour + slimming + breast firming massage, facial treatment, slimming wrap.
If you aren’t in heaven already after just reading these, I invite you to try some of their treatments by yourself and get spoiled by luxury wellness in Kota Kinabalu!
Well-being while traveling
People tend to forget about well-being while traveling, busy with their tight schedules. However, it’s important to rejuvenate and release muscles tension regularly, to keep our body healthy and our mood uplifted to the sky. I am not able to carry moisturizers and conditioners in my tiny backpack and tend to forget to take care of my body when I travel, as days are fulfilled with so many excitements. However, as well as body and the soul need to be balanced in order to don’t weaken the whole system. Eating well is the most important and how often we skip the meal or eat whatever when we travel? Myself, often and I really don’t like it. Therefore, in care for the environment and my well-being I practise slow travel. It allows me to produce less carbon footprint to the atmosphere and don’t get my body depleted by constant fatigue.
Slow pace traveling enables having more regular meals and daily self-care practises as yoga or meditation. From time to time, I allow myself for a luxury of having SPA treatment which rejuvenates muscles, smoothen the skin and surely uplifting my mood and motivation for the next trip.
What are your well-being while traveling practices?
The Bee is a nature lover and tea addict. Loves the idea of slow life and responsible traveling, constantly trying to improve to bee more eco-friendly. Appreciates old cultures and traditions, loves to immerse with locals, listen to ethnic music as well as taste regional food and drinks. Her favorite spots while traveling are family houses and street markets.