In 2014, while working on the SandtonPlaces book, I made a brief visit to the Indaba Hotel in Fourways. I took a walk around the hotel grounds with the marketing person, looked at the rooms, the restaurants, etc. Then we went to see the spa, and my eyes widened. I vowed to go back there someday for a massage.

Three years later I finally got my chance, when Hello Joburg Magazine invited me to participate in a blogger event at the Indaba. I got to have dinner at the hotel, spend the night, and then enjoy an entire morning at the hotel’s Mowana Spa where I received not one, not two, but three incredible massages.

The Hotel

First, the hotel. The Indaba is a large hotel and conference center, just off William Nicol Drive in Fourways. I know what the locals among you are thinking: William Nicol Drive does not seem like the most peaceful place for a relaxing getaway. Trust me though, once inside the hotel grounds you’ll have no idea that you’re steps away from the horrors of Fourways traffic. Everything is green, the fountains are trickling, the birds are singing. The real world disappears.

Inside the Indaba HotelThe Indaba Hotel grounds.

My room was an average conference hotel room, along the lines of a Radisson or Hilton. I do think there are some fancier suites at the Indaba but this was a basic room — nothing to write home about but nothing to complain about, either. The best thing about the room is the open and unlimited wifi. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know why every hotel in the world doesn’t offer unlimited wifi with no passwords or stupid little paper vouchers.

Room at the Indaba HotelMy room, complete with cute elephant towel art.

When I first arrived I took a leisurely walk around the grounds, which are extensive, and had a glass of wine on the hotel terrace. (Shout-out to my old friend Charles Drewe, general manager of the Indaba, for taking time out of his day to catch up with me.)

Soon it was time for dinner.

The Restaurant

Dinner was at Chief’s Boma — a huge, African-themed buffet reminiscent of a safari lodge restaurant. The Boma is a place where one throws out all pretensions of being cool and plays hard-core South African tourist for a night. That’s exactly what we did.

Marimba band at Chief's RomaSouth African marimba band.

Heather with face painted at Chief's Boma restaurant
Yes, I let them paint my face.

Starters at Chief's BomaClassic South African fare: Samoosas and stuffed vetkoek. These were the starters but there is also a huge buffet where you can get any kind of meat imaginable, cooked to order.

Face-painting with LucyFace-painting silliness with my blogging friend Lucy Sarah.

The Spa

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for.

Mowana SpaThe Mowana Spa.

The best thing about the Mowana Spa is its location — on the edge of the hotel grounds overlooking a grassland. A long wooden deck extends out from the main spa building, with the treatment areas built along the sides. The whole place is basically outside, in nature, which feels really unique considering the spa is actually in the middle of a busy suburban area.

Foot massage area at Indaba Hotel Mowana SpaThe Mowana Spa foot and leg massage area.

The funniest part about our spa experience is that there was a whole big group of strangers there together, all experiencing the Makoya Morning Half Day Pamper Journey, all wearing identical white bath robes.

Heather robe selfie
Robe selfie, complete with lots of sun flare.

Walking to treatment in robesWalking to our next treatment in robes.

Tea and cake in robes at Mowana SpaTea and cake in robes.

The half-day pamper journey lasts from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and includes breakfast (I had a very nice eggs benedict), tea and cake, and a welcome mimosa and parting drink. Honestly though, it’s all about the massages.

Over the course of the morning we had three 45-minute massages: a foot and leg massage, a head and neck massage, and a full-body massage.

People, let me tell you: I needed these massages. And they did not disappoint.

Spa treatments are tricky from a blogging perspective, as one can’t take pictures while enjoying a massage and the feeling is also hard to describe in words. But try to imagine sitting back in a chair while a skilled therapist rubs your feet and calves for 45 consecutive minutes, as you close your eyes and listen to trickling water and birdsong. Then the same thing for your head and shoulders and then the same for your entire body, accompanied by oil and hot stones.

I nearly cried when it was all over. (Okay actually I cried on and off the whole way through. But not because of the massages.)

Luyanda getting a massage
The gorgeous Luyanda, who had her full-body massage in the room next to mine. We did a little re-enactment of the hot stone massage after it was over.

This experience is a great little Joburg staycation idea. If you like massages you should go tomorrow.

My stay at the Indaba Hotel was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.

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