Did you know?
In 1869, Arndt Leonard Thesen, a Norwegian timber merchant, left home with his family aboard the Albatros for a new life in New Zealand. But on reaching South Africa, they decided to stay, settling near Knysna and starting a timber trading company. In 1904 his son, Charles Wilhelm Thesen, bought Paarden Island in the Knysna River estuary. He established a timber processing plant on the island, which became known as Thesen Island.
The transformation of a wood-fired turbine power station into a boutique hotel added a touch of quirkiness to Knysna’s hospitality scene. The result, the Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa on Thesen Island next to the Knysna Lagoon, mixes interesting tones of heritage, nature and industry.
This spa on the iconic Garden Route is a branch of the Amani Spa group (amani means ‘peace’ in the East African language, Swahili), one of the leading names in luxury spas in South Africa. Like the other spas in the Amani Spa group, the Turbine Spa offers a wide range of face and body treatments.
A notable feature of this spa is the mosaic-tiled rasul chamber (a cleansing chamber), reminiscent of a Turkish hammam or steam room, with its own ‘starry sky’ and background music. The spa features lakeside views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows (the hotel is in fact surrounded by water on three sides), and brings tones of the indigenous Knysna forests into its décor.
The signature spa treatment at this facility is the Kurhula Body Ritual, which combines massage treatments from around the globe. Therapists work from the head and scalp right down to the toes, and follow this up with a mini-facial. An exclusive blend of African oils is used to eliminate toxins and relieve stress and fatigue.
Look out, too, for the Leraga Mud Detox, a slimming treatment that reduces bloating, cellulite and water retention. A ginger and lime wrap is applied for exfoliation purposes, followed by a slimming massage with a ginger and lime body butter. Also consider the Khanya of Africa revitalising treatment, using the energy of natural lava stones and crystals along with Babor spa products.
When it comes to pedicures, treatments are performed on a unique massage chair with an integrated foot bath.
The Amani Spas group has a holistic, 360° approach to health, beauty and wellness. The group comprises 15 spas countrywide and is the winner of several international spa awards.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Amani Spa at Thesen Island Boutique Hotel
36 Sawtooth Lane, Thesen Island, Knysna
Tel: +27 (0)44 302 5746
GPS: 34.04861º S; 23.048708º E
How to get here
Knysna is located on the N2 and can be reached by road from all corners of South Africa. It is approx. 500km (about six hours' drive) from Cape Town and 280km (about three hours' drive) from Port Elizabeth. Scheduled flights operate to the city of George, 65km away.
Best time to visit
The spa operates from 8am to 5pm daily. It's a good idea to arrive 20 minutes before your treatment. Book an appointment at the spa beforehand. There is a cancellation fee of 50%.
Around the area
Visit Ile De Pain on Thesen Island for delicious breads and coffees. Take a boat trip through the Knysna Heads...
Tours to do
Book yourself on a tour of the local Rastafarian township.
What will it cost
There are half-day and full-day packages available. Check the Amani Spas website for more details.
Length of stay
Spend a morning or full day enjoying spa treatments (with a lunch thrown in for good measure).
Where to stay
Stay at the Thesen Island Boutique Hotel – a lovely location from which to explore Knysna. The five-star Turbine Hotel and Spa has 25 individually themed suites, two licensed bars, two restaurants and conference facilities.
What to eat
There are a number of superb restaurants on Thesen Island, or eat a meal at one of The Turbine's two restaurants: the Tapas Bar or the Island Café.
Buy a gift voucher for your fellow traveller, or indulge in some wonderful BABOR skincare items.