Photos & Text by Harris Gaffin
Summary: An intimate look at a chocolate massage
Jakarta, Indonesia – An attractive young woman strolls into the spa at the five star Dharmawangsa Hotel. She is a well-to-do lady, has been to spas all over Asia and has had all the treatments there are to offer.
Not that she needs them. In fact, she is a very healthy woman and the spa, well, it’s just for personal pleasure.
She is here because there is one treatment she has never had and that can only be found here, at the exclusive country club that hotel guests are privy to, just on the other side of the outdoor pool.
The treatment in question is not the usual ‘healthy’ type of service. In fact, if anything it is just the opposite.
It is a treatment with chocolate. That’s right, the guest will soon be covered from head to toe with a product that was actually once illegal in parts of the so called civilized world.
Now to be sure, this is not a chocolate sauce treatment. Nor is it to be confused with chocolate ice cream or even chocolate bars.
Chocolate after all, comes from a plant. The seeds are dried, roasted and ground into a fine powder before they are mixed with coco butter.
There are approximately 400 varieties and uses of the coco bean and the quality and texture varies considerably. Fine gourmet chocolate is the most refined and has the most intense flavor. Cocoa added to milk, ice cream, candy bars or used for baking each have different composition. Chocolate used for baking, for example, must be extra hard so it melts only in oven temperatures.
Now at the Dharmawangsa, they are kind of chocolate crazy. This is unusual for any place located in a tropical location. Guests can order a chocolate martini at the bar. And there is a wide range of chocolate desserts at the different restaurants.
The lady checks in and is ushered into the changing room where she disrobes. She heads into the hot steam sauna where heat will open her pours so the chocolate scrub can thoroughly cleanse her skin.
While she is warming up, the masseuse is heating up the chocolate. These are rough granuals with an almost sand-like texture, except that it is made from a living bean, not a pulverized rock.
But first, there are also the oils named, uplifting, which is Rosewood mandarin, healing or Grapefruit Clarysage and relaxing or Sandalwood Ylang-ylang.
The ground cocoa powder is mixed with oil and the guests body is prepared in the following way. First, her lips are protected and softened up with balm. This adds moisture to dry skin. Next a white cream is applied generously over the entire body. This is the same cream used for massage and prevents chafing when strong hands are rubbed against soft skin.
While the cream is medical in nature, it really looks like delicious whipped cream, especially now that the chocolate powder has been heated up and its scent begins to float around the room.
The masseur next scoops out some chocolate and proceeds to smear the back. She rubs it into the skin and this acts as a gentle and sensual scrub. But to the observer, it looks surprisingly like the baker who smears chocolate frosting over the layer of a cake.
Once the body is covered, the massage begins. Not only is the body scrubbed, dry skin simply rubbed away with the natural vitamins inherent in chocolate going into the pours, but the muscles are also kneeded until to the guest, they feel like muscle turning into butter.
The guest at this time is usually in a dreamlike state wondering why life can’t be like this all the time. Her senses have been heightened, yet at the same time they are encouraged to relax by the soothing expert hands working over her back, down her legs and her feet.
The lady is scrubbed a second time, this time with a finer smoother chocolate mixture.
The entire process can take two hours and then it is time to wash off. The guest at this point looks like something between have taken a mud bath and having played in wet sand at the beach all afternoon. One big difference is the room smells like chocolate. It is much more decadent!
The lady is wrapped in robe and taken to the Jacuzzi where a special mix of another chocolate soap and skin conditioner has been prepared and poured into the swirling heated bath. When every trace of chocolate grains are removed, the lady will exit the Jacuzzi and perhaps finish with a refreshing cool shower to close up all her pours and get her ready once again to face the battle with the harsh elements. Her next stop will probably to the find some chocolate.
The journey from South America to the Dharmawangsa Hotel is a centuries old story. The cocoa bean is native to Central and South America. It was first brought to Europe via Spain by Hernando Cortez in the 1500s. Jewish artisans then developed the bean into chocolate where it became a local specialty enjoyed by Spanish royalty.
During the Spanish Inquisition of 1492, Jewish immigrants fled Spain with their lives. And their knowledge of making chocolate. First, they went to Portugal and with them went Spain’s chocolate making secrets. A century or two later, many found their way to France, particularly Bayonne-St. Esprit where they were forced to live in a ghetto across the river from the city.
The leaders of Bayonne high society considered chocolate making a lowly craft and so chocolate was barred. However, the regions reputation reached connoisseurs across the continent. Those who wanted ‘evil’ chocolate, simply had to cross the river by going over the bridge to score a hit.
After the French Revolution in 1789 full citizenship was granted to people of all religions. Chocolate officially became an accepted part of city life.
Today, Bayonne is still renowned for its chocolate. There is an Academie du chocolat de Bayonne. And the city boasts a number of world ranked chocolatiers. However, virtually every city in the world now offers a wide selection of chocolate products. Chocolate is grown in many tropical locations, particularly in Africa. There are roughly six major manufacturers of raw coco and they sell it to a wide range of companies, everything from children’s cereal boxes to huge scale international candy bar companies to high quality artisans who ad intense flavors to the chocolate. The uses of chocolate, it is apparent is limited only by ones imagination.
And at the Dharmawangsa Hotel, they have found yet another use for it. //end// (1,085 words)