Destination Johannesburg: Saxon Spa Manager

Interviews | 12th Dec 2018

Discover Johannesburg through the eyes of Saxon Spa Manager Tanya Lopes, a longtime Joburg’er.

Tell us a little about the Saxon Spa?
The Saxon Spa has been in existence for 10 years, and I joined a few years ago to handle the major renovation project. Stephen Falcke was the main designer, and it was about creating the wow factor – what makes each space memorable – to make people want to come back. We’ve got a Himalayan salt sauna which is the first of its kind in the country, and we’ve adapted a Turkish Hamman into more of a treatment experience.

How do you want guests to feel after leaving the spa?
I want them to leave thinking “wow”. And I think that comes from a lot of the design elements we’ve added in. It’s all about the five senses. We look at everything from what you see to what you eat and even the scent in the air. The beautiful chandeliers in every single room use a combination of rose quartz and Himalayan salts for therapeutic purposes. The chandeliers also have a great social responsibility – they’re made from recycled glass in workshops populated by the local community.

Time is the new luxury. Are people making time to pamper themselves, or going for shorter treatments?
We find our weekday guests come in for a quick treatment. On weekends we get a lot of couples coming in. It’s their quality time together. We are one of the few spas in South Africa that have most of our facilities as joint facilities, so it’s an easier space to be with your partner.

Beauty tips for long distance travel?
Massage is great because with a long haul flight you’ll get a lot of muscle tension. We have a great treatment called the Hot Mineral Boost, which is specifically designed for people suffering from jet lag, to energise you.

What do you recommend for pure, indulgent relaxation?
All of the packages we’ve designed have been around the ultimate spa experience. However, we can tailor-make anything to your needs. Often a guest will phone in and we’ll ask them, “What would you like to feel?” There’s one particular treatment which is called the Saxon Signature Journey, which includes all our signature treatments and literally goes from head to toe. It’s a long one, it’s seven hours, but it’s the ultimate in pampering.

Any favourite spots in the city for retail therapy?
I find the local markets really nice because you get back to that essence of creativity. Like, Fourways or Arts on Main on Sundays, or the Neighbourgoods market on Saturdays. Every suburb has its own craft market or organic market, and those are always great fun.

What about high-end luxury shops?
Definitely Sandton City and Melrose Arch Shopping Centres. They are the prime of prime when it comes to your top end stores.

How would you spend 24/48 hours in the city?
Lunch at Nelson Mandela Square has always been a top favourite for me ever since I was a young girl; it’s just got a great vibe. Also, the whole Melrose area is a great place because you can walk around and there’s a lot of bar life and activity going on. The great thing about South Africa is the weather – there are loads of restaurants that have mini farms where the children can go and feed the animals.

Anything you still need to see or visit in Joburg?
Recently they’ve redeveloped Ponte Tower in the CBD; it’s quite amazing to see people restoring abandoned areas. It’s a very beautiful building. There’s a guided tour that takes you there and talks about the history of the city and the tower. It’s absolutely amazing. It’s nice to see those old buildings be brought back to life.

Safari or city?
From a historical and cultural point of view, there’s a lot in Joburg. I’m so proud of the amount of art and culture that our people have, and how we’re embracing that. There’s so much to see. But, I’m probably a little bit more biased about Safari. Especially the private game lodges where they know where the animals are.

Three words to describe Joburg?
Magical. Home. Diverse.


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