As a snowboarder who is more enthusiastic than skilled, I’m anticipating the first few weeks to be full of aches and pains. So I booked myself a 60 minute relaxation massage with local legend Leo at Body Sanctum Day Spa, who is fabled to have ‘magic hands’ (according to the numerous 5 star reviews from Tripadvisor anyway.) 

As soon as I walked into the Body Sanctum spa in the centre of Queenstown, I felt instantly relaxed. Spas often intimidate me a little, but here the reception was welcoming and the staff were friendly and chatty, offering iced water and asking how my day had been.

I had a brief chat with Leo, and learnt he’d worked with the body for over 20 years with 17+ of those working with massage. Starting his studies in Brazil, he travelled the world learning new therapies and treatments, including Reiki, cosmetology, Thai yoga, traditional massage, pregnancy massage, bioenergetics and the vipassana meditation technique. I was in safe hands.

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Lying down on the heated massage bed, with scented oils, soft lighting and soothing music, I had to resist falling into a delicious sleep. My lower back and right leg had been sore lately, so Leo focused on activating the muscles and expertly manipulating them to feel zingy and refreshed. (I have no idea how he did it, but I’ve since found running on my right leg much easier.)

The massage was firm, with Leo occasionally asking if the pressure was ok. It always was - he seemed to know my body better than I did! I particularly liked how after working on a body part, he’d wrap me up in a hot towel. It felt like getting a warm hug by an aromatic-smelling sumo wrestler. 

But what stood out most for me was the neck and head part of the massage. Inviting a stranger to work on your body can be quite scary, but I trusted Leo completely, and could feel myself totally chilled under his skilled hands. Knowing how much he’d studied, how passionate about his work he was, and how many years he’d worked for Body Sanctum (3+), I was able to let go and enjoy.

After a luxurious hour, my time was up. Leo and the Body Sanctum Day Spa had been fantastic, it was by far the best massage I’d ever had, and not just in Queenstown! Casting an eye over their other treatments, which include remedial, hot stone and reflexology massages, I have a feeling I’ll be back in a month’s time for some much-needed Apres-ski pampering...