Key Points:

I'm no polyglot, but in some language, somewhere, the word Mangala must mean angel.

Mangala is the name of my therapist at Hong Kong's divine Peninsula Hotel spa, and her blessed hands send me, within minutes, into the kind of trance Buddhists spend years trying to achieve.

I need it though: wired on airline coffee and 12 hours of being shoehorned into cattle class, my chakras and my spine feel as though they've been battered with a pick-axe.

Entering the Peninsula Hotel is like stepping into an alternate dimension: you leave the bedlam of Kowloon behind to emerge in an Eastern oasis of calm and elegance. The lobby has chandeliers the size of ride-on mowers, the tables are filled with ladies who never lunch.

I'm whisked to the seventh floor spa, where my treatment begins with a pot of aromatic Chinese antioxidant tea and a salt and fresh ginger foot buff. I spend the next half-hour alternating between the crystal steam room and sauna, where cooling and heating experiences cleanse my skin.

As the jet-lag kicks in, I stagger on to one of the comfy day-beds in the chill-out room. Here, floor-to-ceiling windows provide postcard-like views of Victoria Harbour .

I'm almost asleep by the time Mangala arrives to assess my skin, overall health and mood (which, had she asked me an hour ago, I could have summed up in two words - the second being "off").

The beauty of this spa is you get to choose your own products: Mangala rubs two choices on each forearm - apparently whichever scent smells the strongest is the one your body needs most.

I lie face down on the massage table while she lightly brushes my body to help shift any blockages of Qi or energy, before she starts a half-body Shiatsu/deep tissue massage. This woman may weigh less than a bag of flour, but she has hands of reinforced steel.

Hot volcanic stones are applied to my back and used to massage particular stress points. Mangala tells me they're 10 times more effective than any human-applied pressure can be. At least I think that's what she says, but I'm so blissed out she could have been reading her shopping list.

I roll on to more hot stones and prepare for the age-defying facial. Too much sun and insomniac tendencies have left my face as crumpled as a linen jacket, but after much cleansing, exfoliating and an intensive eye treatment, I can almost feel the facial muscles tighten.

The ultimate, though, is the Shiatsu pressure point facial massage, which helps release energy blocks that cause fine lines and wrinkles. My skin hasn't felt this soft since I was a baby, and a week later I'm still admiring my much-improved skin tone in the mirror.

Of course, there's a downside to all this goodness, and that's the price. Looking 10 years younger in three hours isn't for the faint of wallet. But it's still cheaper than surgery and you'll save so much money on those Hong Kong shopping bargains.

Sharon Stephenson was a guest of Flight Centre and The Hong Kong Tourism Board (www.discoverhongkong.com/newzealand).