Discovering ‘Hands on Retreat’ in Craighall, Johannesburg, is like discovering an oasis in the desert. It is in fact an oasis, but one in the heart of an urban jungle. This gorgeous four-star guesthouse is just a few blocks away from busy Jan Smuts Avenue, close to the hustle and bustle of Hyde Park and Sandton, but it is so quiet and so peaceful that you would be forgiven for thinking you were far out in the country.
Hands on Retreat is calm. It is tranquil. It is everything that you would expect of a Sleep Spa. It has a huge wild garden filled with enormous trees, and – like the movies – a river runs through it.
It also has a wonderful story. Martina Laurie is the owner. Martina is one of those women who took the plunge and followed her dream. Martina used to be an Auditing and Taxation practitioner but at the age of 40 decided it was time to do something else. To do something that she loved. She sold her tax business in 2002 and started a whole new career – ‘Corporate Mobile Massage, Hands on Treatment.’
Martina not only wanted to do what she loved, empowering women but also wanted to help young black urban women. She employed and trained these women, and then, as she got busier and became more successful, she opened a Day Spa.
These women came with her, after being further trained in bodywork massages.
Martina went from a ‘Hands on Healing Day Spa’ to a ‘Hands on Retreat Guesthouse and Sleep Spa’
She started off quite small but over the years Hands on Retreat has grown and has a definite place in the market. She offers the most fabulous massage treatments in the most fabulous space, has divine food, divine staff – she trained them all – and really came into her own in 2010. Hands on Retreat took off like crazy during the World Cup and since then has grown from strength to strength. Currently, Hands On Retreat is listed under Top Ten Guesthouses in Johannesburg.
Today, Martina is busy and satisfied. She loves welcoming her guests, settling them in, offering them a glass of juice or champagne while the massage therapist gets ready. Couples can book ‘us time’ which combines couple Spa pampering with accommodation. Hand and feet treatments are done on the deck overlooking the bubbling river and massages are in the private garden rooms.
The garden is truly astonishing, the guest rooms are gorgeous, staff are excellent, and oh my, you have to try the chocolate cake! Have a look at the website and look under ‘specials’ too. There are always some amazing deals.