Spa Video Reviews with Creative Vado

Creative VadoThanks to many loyal readers out there, this blog has risen to about 120 unique visitors a day. It’s still a long way compared to some extremely popular blogs but then again, to me, having a small but loyal bunch of readers is more important than anything else!

Some of you may have noticed the use of videos in some of my recent posts. Well, in order to work harder for my loyal readers, I have invested in a Creative Vado mini-cam to make my reviews more interesting. Why Creative Vado?

I’ve been including photos in as many of my reviews as I can but I thought that having videos will satisfy the desire for readers to ‘experience’ even more of the spa resorts or treatments. However, sneaking a normal size video camera is quite difficult into a spa and a better solution is needed.

In step the Creative Vado. Unlike conventional video cameras which are quite large and sometimes awkward to handle, the Creative Vado is small, compact and easy to handle. Some of the features of Vado includes:

  • Small and compact – About 2/3 size of a conventional mobile phone
  • Affordable US$99
  • Easy one-hand operation
  • USB cable is attached to camera for file transfer
  • Battery is charged when USB cable is attached to computer
  • Includes a slot to attach to standard tripod stand
  • Removable batteries allow change of fresh batteries easily
  • Software allows easy upload to Flickr or Youtube directly
  • Drag and drop to computer

Check out the video qualityThe Vado is one of the first few mini-video cams that are beginning to make their way to the consumer market. The most popular one is the Flipvideo which has gained a following by bloggers but which is not sold in Asia as yet.

Despite some of the obvious advantages of such small video-cams, there are some disadvantages too compared to conventional palm-sized video cameras. Some of the Creative Vado disadvantages include:

  • Only 2X zoom
  • Video quality not as good as conventional cameras
  • White areas tend to wash out if camera is moved too fast
  • Short 1-hour battery life
  • Does not shoot well in low light conditions

Well, whatever it is, look forward to more videos of the massage and spa destinations I’ll be visiting. You too can pick up this small and light-weight video camera at the websites below.


Review: The Aspara Spa, Singapore

The Aspara, a high-end spa in Singapore, enjoy an enviable reputation as one of the most famous and established spa in Singapore. The spa offers a full range of spa, beauty and wrap programs and had won a number of tourism and spa industry awards a few years ago. They also have a number of branches, mostly in various high-end hotels in Singapore and other parts of Asia.

I recently had a chance to try out it’s main spa, which is located at The Goodwood Park hotel, one of the oldest, grandest and most established hotel in Singapore.

I went with high hopes, not because of it’s grand reputation, but because the spa treatment was a birthday gift. I was getting a Jet Lag Riviver Spa package – which includes a hydro-massage dead-sea mineral salt bath, a marine and plant extract body exfoliation treatment and a Swedish body massage.

The Aspara is located on the ground floor of a double-storey side building away from the main Goodwood Park hotel building. Above it is a popular Thai Sharkfin restaurant.

My immediate impression of the spa was that it’s interior design was a wee bit passe – a cramp reception and rest area, lot’s of wooden furniture and furnishing (which you can’t identify immediately if it was Thai, Indonesian or local), the odd incense burner and candle here and there and plenty of shelve space for beauty and spa products.

It may have been grand and impressive design for a spa a few years ago but in the face of newer, sophisticated, well-designed and elegant spas that seems to be springing up all over Singapore and Asia, it does feel a bit dated.

The Malay receptionist was nice, eager and enthusiastic but obviously lack experience. She was quite nervous when she realised I was early by 5 minutes for my appointment as the room was not ready. She went bustling back and forth to get the room, hydro-bath and masseurs ready – but she forgot to tell us what was happening and left me and my companion standing and waiting like an idiot at the reception.

The massage suite is big – one of the biggest I’ve ever seen anywhere. Unfortunately, the large size also enhance the lack of sophistication in it’s design and ambience.

The couple treatment room is huge

A large part of the room is artificial laminated wood flooring – the sort that goes clunk, clunk – no matter how softly you step and which reminds one of the office environment immediately. The floor and hydro-bath is lined with square white artificial tiles – not natural stones or wood that would have softened the room and add some coziness. The ceiling lights were on dimmer control – but it dim up or down together. There were no pockets of mood inducing light and shadow that many modern spa will play on to add to a spa’s warmness and fuzziness.

The hydro-massage mineral bath was pretty normal and nothing to shout about. Luckily, the following exfoliation scrub and Swedish massage save the rest of the session. Both the Singaporean Chinese masseurs were good and their confident strokes for the scrub and massage lull one into total massage bliss and relaxation very quickly.

The tingling tangy smell of the Orange scrub and the relaxing Lavender oil used for the massage did it’s part in adding to the relaxation for the body and this session at The Aspara rank as one of the most enjoyable massage I had in Singapore for quite some time.

If you are looking for a good quality massage in Orchard Road, the heart of the shopping belt in Singapore, this is a spa that you can certainly try. If you are looking for a mood inducing spa, a cozy place to relax and quality of massage – then there are certainly better ones along Orchard or Scotts Road and elsewhere.

The Aspara is currently running spa promotion packages with American Express (Amex) and OCBC credit cards. Both individual and couples spa, massage and facial promotion packages are available.

Location of The Aspara, Orchard
Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road (near Orchard Road), Singapore 228221
Size: Mid size spa with mostly private couple’s suite. Hydro-massage bath and jacuzzi available in most rooms.
Facilities: Large massage rooms. Small reception and rest area.

Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$60 for a facial, wrap, bath or body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$140.


Review: Twinpalms Spa, Phuket, Thailand

The Twinpalms Spa is located within the Twinpalms Resort located at Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Like the hotel, the spa is elegantly designed with a modern and clean touch that adds calmness and serenity to any guest that walks in. (For reviews on the hotel itself, please see earlier article)

As a guest of the resort, we were given a 15% discount voucher if we take up any spa treatment within a day of arrival? Why only a day? I guess Phuket has a proliferation of good spas and if the in-house spa fail to capture your business within a day, you’re likely to have found a good spa elsewhere…

We were served a cold tea and towel upon walking into the spa. Typical of Thai spas, we were enthusiastically greeted with the Thai greeting of “Sawadeeka”. The spa menu indicate that the spa provides a wide range of treatment and some of the more interesting spa treatments include mud-wraps, cream bath, body masks, clay wrap, coffee scrubs to the usual facial, massage, body scrubs and manicure/pedicure treatments.

The massage rooms were reasonably big with a separate changing room and toilets. Some rooms also have a private in-house jacuzzi.I chose a Scent of the Ocean spa package which included a Mud body wrap and a Palm Spa Deep Pore Facial. Warm mud was applied to my body and followed by heated blankets. I was kept ‘under wrap’ for more than 30 minutes and was told that the wrap relieves body tension, aids in detoxification and helps to retain body fluid.

For the facial, I was put under the jet of a continuous stream of steam followed by a deep facial cleanse and a face mask. I certainly feel so clean and fresh after these two treatments.

I was also given a short shoulder and back massage before being lead to the resting area for tea and hot towels. All in, it was a nice and relaxing session especially having just landed in Phuket and checking into the hotel.

I must say that treatment prices are high in comparison to non-hotel or resort spas that are available around almost every corner in Phuket. As an example, my 2-hour spa package cost about US$155, which is pretty high by Thailand standard. However, the high quality of service, the spa’s ambience’s and the 15% discount voucher made it an acceptable choice.

Location of Twinpalms Spa
Twinpalms Hotel, 106/48, Moo3, Surin Beach Road, Cherng Talay, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Size: Mid size spa with mostly private couple’s suite. Hydro-massage bath and jacuzzi available in most rooms.
Facilities: Large massage rooms. Reception and rest area. Separate hair and beauty treatment room.

Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$50 for a facial, wrap, bath or body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$160.


Review: TwinPalms Resort, Phuket, Thailand

TwinPalms Beach Resort Hotel
The long lap pool

Phuket is one of my favourite beach and spa resort destination in Thailand. It is a short flight from Singapore (2 hours), has nice white powdery beaches, clean blue ocean, wonderful spas and resorts and last but not least, my favourite Thai food.On my last trip, I chose to stay at Twinpalms Phuket Resort Hotel, located at Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Twinpalms Resort Phuket is a luxury boutique hotel opened in late 2004. With only 76 rooms and suites, it is not too large to lose the warm and personal touch and not too small to lack the proper facilities either.

We booked the hotel via the internet. We chose TwinPalms Resort because it had very good web reviews from ex-guests who rate it highly for it’s modern and unique design, attentive service, large rooms and toilets, quiet and exclusive environment and closeness to the beach. Although a little more expensive than most beach resorts, we were prepared to pay more to avoid overcrowded or noisy beach resorts.

Room and greenery
The large bedroom

Upon arrival at Phuket airport, we were picked up by the hotel limousine (complimentary from the hotel). A very friendly Thai driver who spoke simple English greeted us at the arrival gate and we were served with chilled distilled water as soon as he drove the car over to pick us up. Twinpalms Resort, Phuket is located at a short 20 minutes drive from the Phuket International Airport.(We were lucky; two days after our departure, Phuket airport was closed for 3 days due to political demonstrations in the airport @ 31 August 2008)

Twinplams large bathroom
The large bathroom

When we arrived at the hotel, the check-in was smooth. One of the nice thing about checking into Phuket beach resorts is that you sit at a sofa while the receiving hotel staff goes through the paperwork and will come to you when they finish. While waiting to go through the check-in process, we were served with a cool welcome drink and scented flowers.

Once the formalities were done, a hotel customer relation officer explained to us the facilities available in the resort while leading us to our room. The hotel has a well equipped modern gym, a wine-bar, a cafe, a beach club and a library. The library also serve as a outdoor trip booking facility and has an excellent selection of books, magazines and games. There are also two 20 inches Apple iMac for guests to browse the internet in the library.

We were then led to our room which was located on the ground floor facing the pool. The room was spacious with a beautiful king-size bed and a equally large bathroom with a full wall of glass which looked onto an enclosed garden area with overhead rain shower and hand shower. Two separate sinks and fully supplied aromatherapy-infused toiletries add to the glamour of the bathroom. The hotel also offers free internet service within the hotel and rooms.

The resort is a short 5 minutes walk to Surin Beach. Hotels in Phuket are clustered around popular beaches and often ended up crowded, noisy and dirty. Surin beach, on the other hand, is not too crowded and is just nice for a relaxing beach holiday. TwinPalms Resort even has their own restaurant and beach chairs right by the beach.

We really enjoyed staying at Twinpalms Resort, Phuket and rate it as one of the better beach resort we have been to. The resort even has a complimentary 15-minute back and shoulder massage for arriving hotel guests. Try it and you will definitely want to book your next spa treatment at the TwinPalms Spa!

Note: TwinPalms Resort, Phuket is highly recommended by me personally if you want a quiet and pampered beach holiday!

Check out Twinpalms Phuket Resort