Review: Afond Boutique Spa, Singapore

Being pregnant is one of the most incredible, interesting, challenging and rewarding experience in a woman’s life. I am now beginning to understand this experience. If I haven’t tell you yet, well, I’m into my 7th month of pregnancy!

As my stomach gets bigger each day, my lower back tends to ache a lot and I get numerous leg cramps every night! The pain can be quite bad and no amount of pain plasters, analgesic ointment or hot water could ease the pain. Being an avid spa goer, I kept asking myself if I should go for a massage to ease my pain. I have done a lot of reading & asking around and I get some people saying it’s a no no and some saying, yes, go for it. At the end of the day, I guess checking with your obstetrician and trusting your own body will be your best judge if you should go for a pre-natal massage.

In Singapore, it seems that Javanese and Indonesian massages are the most popular type of pre and post natal massages. There are also several Malay Macik(aunties) who seem to specialise in pregnancy massage and they can even come to your home.

Not all spas or therapists have the expertise in doing prenatal and/or postnatal massage. I did some research online and finally found one that has both the necessary expertise and the availability for the massage that I badly need. I’ve decided to check out the Afond Boutique Spa.

Afond Boutique Spa
Oriental Tap and Basin

Nice spacious room
Cosy Oriental lights

Nice spacious room
Keep your clothes in this Oriental cupboard

The Afond Spa has two branches. One is located at Chinatown and the other at Holland Village. I went to the Afond Boutique Spa located at Chinatown which is located in a 3 level conservation shophouse besides the popular Maxwell market at the fringe of the historic Chinatown area.

Afond Boutique Spa has a few luxurious couple rooms and private individual rooms with attached showers. Each room is decorated with oriental furniture, ornaments and lighting. I was introduced to my assigned therapist, Susan. She led me to the 2nd floor where all the individual rooms are situated.

Initially, I was quite skeptical about prenatal massage, not sure if it will affect my baby but I know I badly needed a massage as my lower back was really aching. I left myself in the good hands of the therapist but was prepared to stop if I feel that I’m not comfortable with Susan or if I feel that the massage is not going right.

One of the differences between a normal and prenatal massage is …… the lying position! As explained by the therapist, most women find it uncomfortable to lie face down right from the start of pregnancy because of their tender and swollen breasts. And it’s impossible to lie face down on a traditional massage bed once your belly has started to grow.

On the other hand, it’s also not a good idea to lie flat on your back either, particularly once you’re past mid-pregnancy, because the weight of your uterus puts too much pressure on the veins that return blood from your legs to your heart.

For these reasons, I was asked to lie on my side with a full-length body pillow in between my legs for support. I understand that some therapists performed the massage by asking the customer to sit on a chair as well.

Afond Boutique Spa
Hang your towel here if you need to take a shower

Nice spacious room
This Oriental Screen protects your modesty when you take your shower

Nice spacious room
Dry up and change into the undies; ready for the massage

Susan is indeed is a well trained pregnancy massage therapist. She knows exactly where a pregnant woman’s sore spots are and which areas and techniques to avoid. Very soon, I was in a totally relaxed mood and enjoyed the one and half hour massage session.

What exactly is Prenatal massage? Prenatal massage shares many of the goals of regular massage, i.e. to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots and improve circulation and general body tone. But it’s also tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies. It is recommended that prenatal massage is done only after the 2nd Trimester.

Do note the following pointers for pregnancy massage:

  1. Make sure you only engage a therapist that is familiar with pregnancy massage. It is best to get a recommendation from some-one you know or check out reviews online.
  2. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, stop immediately.
  3. Once you are comfortable with a certain therapist, you should engage the same therapist for future sessions.
  4. Skip the other spa treatments – no more steam, sauna, hot pool, scrubs or foot reflexology for this interim period. Facial and hair treatment is still alright.
  5. Although I do not believe in spa packages due to the many hard-sell spas out there, I believe a short-term pregnancy massage package with a familiar spa is worth it. If you’re a busy working to-be mother, a regular massage can take some of the stress and pain off a pregnancy, so a package deal may cut some of the cost involved.

Many mothers-to-be are on the look-out for a good pregnancy masseur. I will not hesitate to recommend that you call Afond Spa for a chat to see if they are a right fit for your pregnancy massage needs.

Address:
293/293A South Bridge Rd S’pore 058837

Size of Spa: About 10 private treatment rooms with en-suite showers
Friendliness: Friendly and professional
Pricing: 1 hour massage starts at S$70. Other treatment and massage services start from that price onwards. Discount available for visits before 5pm and first-time customers.
Others: Sport, ladies and pregnancy massage are also available. No hard-sell at this spa.

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Review: The Benjaphan Thai Herbal Spa, Singapore

I was looking for an authentic Thai Massage in Singapore and The Benjaphan Thai Herbal Spa seems to pop up frequently on the search engine whenever I searched for authentic Thai Massage in Singapore.

I’m a die-hard Thai massage enthusiast. I need a Thai massage fix every so often and since I was not in Thailand but Singapore, I decided I had to trust ‘Mr Google’. I decided to check out The Benjaphan Thai Herbal Spa and booked an appointment.

The Benjaphan Thai Herbal Spa is located at one of the older shopping mall in Bukit Timah area. The decor of the spa is quite simple & rustic, with the furniture made of Teakwood and Thai silk and they even have the Thai Massage day beds.

Foot massage chairs near the reception area
Foot massage chairs near the reception area

So far, so good. True enough, the massage therapists are all from Thailand. Second tick in their favour. There was a strong wiff of Thai massage oil and lemon grass in the air. Third tick in their favour.

I opted for the 120 mins Thai Aroma Oil Massage while my partner chose the 120 mins Royal Thai Massage.  We were put in separate rooms as the Royal Thai Massage was done on the raised Thai Massage bed in the public area while my Oil Massage was done in the privacy of the room.

I was not really impressed by the Aroma Oil Massage. It felt like any ordinary Swedish massage and not the strong, smooth strokes of Thai oil massage.

The Royal Thai Massage was done on a raised flat bed in a public area. That’s quite typical of a authentic Thai massage setting. Unfortunately, most Thai massage places would also let down the bed curtains; hence, ensuring some privacy even within a public setting. However, the masseur left the curtains up; hence, exposing my partner to full public view throughout the massage.

All 4 raised beds were empty while we were there. Instead of choosing the furthest bed, the masseur also chose the nearest bed, which was within the walking path for guests and staff walking to the toilet and changing room. All sense of privacy was totally stripped.

Despite the lack of privacy,  my partner dozed off during the 120 minutes of massage, as she had just arrived from a long and tiring flight. That was how relaxing the experience was but on a second thought, if this was an authentic Thai massage, how could one person slept all the way through as authentic Thai massage would certainly have kept one awake with the many twist and turns of the body?

Tea was served after the massage. As we were there during non-peak timing, we were offered a discount off the menu price.

Will I be back? I doubt so. I had enjoyed Thai massage so much in Thailand but seem to find the same massage experience elusive once outside of Thailand. As much as these Thai spas outside of Thailand offer authentic Thai decor and Thai masseurs, these Thai masseurs simply seems not to be able to match the skills of their counterparts back home. Maybe the best masseur talents are secretly kept at home and only the second rated ones make their way outside of the country. That seems to be the only logic I can think of…

Size of Spa: About 5 private rooms and 4 public beds
Facilities: Shower and changing room

Friendliness: Friendly
Pricing: 1 hour Thai massage starts at S$85. Other treatment and massage services start from that price onwards.

Pix credit: www.singaporemirror.com.sg/

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Review: The Lush Spa, Singapore Polo Club

Bored and tired of visiting typical spas in hotels, shopping malls and office buildings? Looking for something that is both different and interesting, brings you back to mother nature and rub off a bit of colonial Singapore –  all at the same time?

Yes indeed, The Lush Spa is uniquely situated in the Singapore Polo Club where time seem to have sat still since colonial days in Singapore and rich locals and expatriates come to the club for their daily horse rides and to sip tea in open verandas.

Located off Thomson and Balestier Road and just across the former Police Training Academy, the Singapore Polo Club is now a private social club that offers it’s members and the public a little different from the typical country club by incorporating horse-riding, polo games and equestrian training into it’s scope of activities.

The Lush Spa is located on the 2nd floor of the clubhouse with a bird eye view of the lush green polo riding field.  The reception area of the spa is decorated with spa products and a small seating area on the side.

My hubby and I were met and escorted by our therapists to a large couple’s room, with two massage beds, a jacuzzi and a steam/shower bath. The spa room was large and has very high ceiling with windows all round.


Large and airy couple’s room –
note the lush jungle just outside the windows

You can literally look out to the primary jungle that came almost to the edge of the windows and hear crickets and birds throughout our massage session. When heavy rain started towards the middle of our massage session, the pitter/patter of rain on the high ceiling added to the rustic and cosy mood of the room and we thought we were back in exotic Bali!

We began with a floral foot bath and followed by their famous Lush Signature treatment. For this treatment, olive oil was used to massage our body.

After 45mins of a full body massage, I was so reluctant to get up. My masseur softly whispered to me that my treatment was over and would wait for me at the relaxation corner to have my cup of tea.


Couple’s Hot Tub –
why must spas always have a large clock to remind you of time?

While we were enjoying our tea, the spa owner approached to ask for feedback. As it was raining heavily, we were unable to leave the Spa, hence we sat back, read the magazines and waited for the rain to stop.

The spa owner informed us that this Spa started originally by offering only mobile massage services to corporate offices. Their mobile massage popularity grew and hence they they decided to open a permanent spa boutique. Not only do they provide mobile massages services, they also organize spa retreats and spa parties for corporate offices and personal social parties alike.


The small but comfortable rest area

Would I come back? Yes, if I want to smell and feel mother nature all round me when I have a spa session. This is literally the only place in Singapore where a signboard cordon off certain part of a carpark beside a primary jungle and it reads – “Do not park here – Falling durians”! How more rustic can you get in urban Singapore?

My only concern is that prices are a little higher than typical similar spa boutiques and they do not seem to tie-up with any credit card companies for any promotions or discount. However, the spa owner was nice to offer us a 15% discount when we asked for one! So, although there may not be any typical credit card offers, do remember to ask for a discount directly at the cashier!

Note: While located in a private club, members of the public may visit the spa and the various F&B outlets in the club without restrictions.

Location of The Blush Spa @ Singapore Polo Club, 80 Mount Pleasant Road S(298334)

Size: Small size spa with all private rooms. Hydro-massage bath and jacuzzi available in some of the rooms.
Facilities:
Small toilet and rest area
Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$40 for a facial, wrap or bath. US$80 for Body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$120.

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Review: The Orientist Spa @ Central World Plaza, Bangkok

Once again, I’m back in Bangkok, Thailand for a short weekend trip. This time, it is not for business but solely for leisure….. i.e. shopping, dining and most importantly, visiting a Thai Spa. Nice bliss from work anytime!

I have been to Bangkok so many times but was hardly familiar with Bangkok’s shopping malls. There were simply too many shopping malls, too many shops and too little time. I also tend to spend too much time at street markets, checking out Thai eateries and visiting spas that I hardly have time for shopping malls.

This time, like a good shopping tactician, I made plans to shop solely at the Central World Plaza. My online research tells me that The Orientist Spa is also located at the Central World Plaza, Bangkok. Further research indicated that The Orientist Spa is famous for using traditional Thai herbs and techniques to give visitors the full benefit of traditional Thai spa and massage traditions. This certainly sounds interesting and worth a visit.

There are three Orientist Spa branches in Bangkok and they are Ari Branch, Ladprao Branch and Central World Branch.  Each branch is conveniently located near subway stations in Bangkok. Since my target was The Central World Plaza, the Orientist Spa of Central World Branch was my target.

Central World Plaza
Central World Plaza

The Central World Plaza , a huge recently renovated mall, was formerly known as the World Trade Centre. There are two main big department stores in Central World Plaza, namely the Zen Department store and Isetan department store.In addition to these 2 key anchor departmental store tenants, you can find food courts, supermarket, cinemas, shops and plenty of restaurants. This shopping mall has more than 500 shops and no less than 50 restaurants. Many famous international brands and almost all Thai brands are well represented here.

It took me and my girlfriend some time to locate The Orientist Spa at Central World Plaza since the complex is so huge. The Orientist Spa is located on the 6th floor near the Toy R Us store. As we did not make any prior appointment, we thought we might just try our luck to see if there were any vacant slots.

The reception area of The Orientist Spa is bright and comfy with soft music and a strong herbal aroma floating from the oil burner. On each side of the reception area, there are comfy sofa for guest to seat and relax while waiting for their massage.

Reception area
Reception Area

We asked if there were any slots available for massage and the soft spoken lady handling the reception apologized that there were currently no empty slot till two hours later (we were at the spa around 1pm). She also explained to us their spa packages and we eventually booked for the next available slot. We went for further shopping and make short work of the two hours wait.

We started our spa session with a serving of cold flowered tea and was asked to choose the type of oil we would like to use for our massage. The 3 kinds of aromatic oil were their own in-house blend, Thai herbs and Lavender oil. Both my girlfriend and I chose our desired fragrance and shortly our masseurs greeted us with the traditional Thai ‘Wai’ greeting. We were then led to our treatment rooms.

Treatment room
Private treatment room

Surprisingly, the spa is quite big, I saw many treatment rooms along the walkway and one area solely for Thai massage as we walked to our dedicated treatment room.

I wanted to tell my masseur that I would like to take a shower before I start my treatment. However, before I could say anything, she asked if I would like to take a shower. This is so attentive.

We had opted for a 2hrs & 15 mins Orientist Refreshing Body Spa Package which consists of a Scrub with curcuma/grape seed, a facial mask with curcum and a 60mins aromatherapy massage.

Overall, I enjoyed the treatments. However, the initial part of the massage was not very comfortable as perhaps there was too much oil on the palm of the masseur and she slipped off twice in a row when she was trying to massage my back.  This caused some discomfort and I believe this was due to the lack of experience of the masseur.

Another setback was that the treatment rooms are not sound proof and I could hear the person next door chatting away with her masseur clearly. Either the spa should make their rooms more soundproof or discourage their masseurs from engaging in loud conversation with customers.

The Orientist Spa is perfectly poised as an exclusive relaxation oasis to relax and relieve tired and over-shopped shoppers and tourists in this large shopping mall. Do look out for it if you are ever shopping in this part of Bangkok.

Tips: If you are a tourist or first timer, the spa offers a 20% discount on top of the regular price.

Location of The Orientist Spa @ Central World Plaza, Bangkok
Level 6, Asian Senses (Dazzle Zone), Central World, Rajdamri Rd, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Size: Mid size spa with mostly private rooms. Hydro-massage bath and jacuzzi available in some of the rooms.
Facilities:
Mid size massage rooms. One area dedicated for foot massage and the other for Thai massage.
Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$20 for a facial, wrap or bath. US$40 for Body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$70.

Pix credits: http://cdn.wn.com and http://www.theorientistspa.com

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Review: Spa Thematique@Holland Village, Singapore

Spa Thematique, a boutique spa located in Holland Village, Singapore has brought a recession-busting spa package known as Spa Unlimited to the local spa market. Spa Unlimited is uniquely designed to stretch your spa dollars for today’s lean economic time.

I had called the spa earlier to make an appointment. The person who answered my call was a man. I had certainly called quite a number of spas in my lifetime but this was the first time a man had answered my call! Luckily, he was very polite and answered my questions without any hesitation. He recommended me to try their Spa Unlimited package.  I was eager to find out more and the gentleman said that he would get his colleague to return my call.

A couple of hours later, a lady returned my call and explained their Spa Unlimited promotion. In a nutshell, the Spa Unlimited is something like a Spa Buffet. In a spa menu consisting of a massage therapy, a foot therapy, a body pampering session, a waxing session, a facial and a ear candling session, a customer can choose to do one, two or all of the sessions in the menu for one fixed price.

For food buffet enthusiasts, this is your spa equivalent of a buffet – eat some or eat all you want! (Booking conditions apply; please call and check with spa before rushing down!) My friend and I opted for all the treatments in the menu except the body pampering and waxing sessions.

The Spa Thematique is tucked away on the 3rd floor of the Holland Shopping Centre. For those new to Singapore, Holland Village is the place where yuppies, stylish youngsters and expatriates in Singapore hang out in trendy shops, side-walk cafes, al-fresco restaurants and pubs in the day and especially at night.

Reception area
Reception Area

The Spa Thematique is designed in an Oriental concept, complete with oriental decor, furnishing and furniture.  A lady attended to us and asked us to change into house slippers and locked our belongings at the locker at the reception area. We were offered Lychee tea to sooth our throat.

The lady led us to our treatment rooms.  We were told to undress and lay down on the massage bed.  I was surprised that our masseur did not go through with us on the treatments we have opted.  As this Spa Unlimited package consisted of a few different treatments, I asked the masseur what were to be the sequences of the treatments. Only then did she explain to me.

Treatment room
Private Treatment Room

Reflexology Chair
Nice reflexology chairs

We started off with the 60 minute Oriental massage (which is a combination of Shiatsu and Javanese massage techniques), ear candling, a facial (cleanse, tone, mask and massage) and ended with a foot bath/reflexology.  The entire treatment took about 3 hours. All these for the incredible price of S$150/- or US$100/-

Overall I enjoyed the treatments especially the foot reflexology.  I believe Spa Thematique is a relatively new spa fighting in a tough spa market and would like to congratulate this local boutique spa for:

1. Providing a nice comfortable spa and massage ambiance in busy Holland Village
2. Giving ultra value to spa goers with their Spa Unlimited concept

Spa Thematique has the right location, the right decor and the right ambiance to go far. However, they will need to work on their “people-ware” to give more vibes to their customers – more smiles, more friendliness and more willingness to explain what they’re doing. Singaporeans and expatriates are used to receiving warm smiles and friendliness from visiting spas in Thailand, Indonesia and China and will want to expect the same of Singapore spas; especially smaller boutique spas.

They also need to tone down their marketing hard-sell; no one wants to be sold spa packages when they’re relaxing and enjoying their treatments. Do it after treatments; never during treatments. Remember, customers are always more receptive when they have been spoiled and pampered but can get annoyed when disturbed while enjoying themselves.

The next time you are in Holland Village to shop, eat or drink and feel the urge to pamper your head, body or feet in a nice and cosy environment, do make a visit to Spa Thematique. You can’t go wrong with their Spa Unlimited package!

Location of Spa Thematique, Singapore:
211 Holland Village, Holland Road Shopping Centre #03-40 Singapore 278967
Tel: 6469 6949
http://www.spathematique.com.sg/

Opening Hours: 10.30am to 9pm (last appointment is 7.45pm) daily
Size of Spa: Small/Medium with private treatment rooms
Facilities: Steam Bath, Hydro-Bath, Showers.

Friendliness: Friendly receptionist.
Pricing: Massage starts at S$85. Facial, waxing, scrub and other spa treatments available.

Disclaimer: This review was done with compliments of treatments by Spa Thematique. The staff and masseurs were neither aware nor informed of my visit. Neither did the management influence nor edit this review. I want to thank Spa Thematique for wanting a neutral review. This will benefit Spa Thematique, spa-goers and the spa industry in the long term.

Spa owners may write to me if they wish to have their spas reviewed personally by me.

www.aptusinsurance.com
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Traditional Chinese Medicine and Massage in Qatar

Qatar LivingThe popularity of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Massage has spread far and wide from the shores of China. This is true even in the Middle East where products and services from China are not always well accepted or respected.

In the basement of the 5-star Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort in Qatar, along with classy hair and beauty salons, is a small Chinese traditional medicine clinic run by a qualified Chinese Physician. The clinic offers traditional Chinese treatment such as acupuncture, moxibustion, detoxification and cupping.

In addition, the clinic also offer traditional Chinese foot reflexology and Tui-Na massage as part of it’s services. You can tell that this is a very popular massage service in Qatar because despite opening from 10am to 10pm daily(except Friday), you can hardly find a free slot to make an appointment for treatment.

I tried the 1 hour foot massage. Before starting treatment, I was required to fill in a personal particular form and also to indicate if I was suffering from any medical ailment. I was also required to have my blood pressure taken. Despite having Chinese reflexology and massage all over the world, this was the first time I ever had to go through such scrutiny!

In respect of Islamic culture as practiced in the Middle East, the clinic was divided into a male and female section. The massage therapists are all from mainland China and I was told that female therapists may only provide foot and head massage to male clients and body massage will be provided by male therapists for male clients.

The 1 hour foot massage included a foot wash in hot water before the actual foot massage begun. The foot treatment was very typical Chinese foot massage and I had to ask the therapist to increase the strength and intensity of the massage. I was told that most clients here are Caucasian expatriates or local Arabic and their average pain threshold are not too high. Despite that, it was still a very popular service among both expatriates and local Qataris alike and the booking calendar runs over especially over the week-ends.

I was offered Chinese tea after the treatment. Because I speak Chinese, I was surrounded by the therapists after a while because quite a few of them are pretty home-sick and wanted to speak to some-one who was able to converse in Chinese as none of their clients could speak Chinese.

Unfortunately, despite being located in a 5-star hotel, the clinic was not well furnished and feel more like a run-down TCM clinic located in the poorer districts of Chinatown rather than the typically well designed massage boutique you can expect to find in a posh shopping mall or hotel. Hence, I did not want to stay long as it did not have the conducive environment I would like to relax in after a massage treatment.

This despite a whopping 180 Qatari Riyah(@US$50) for a 1-hour foot massage and 200 Qatari Riyah(@US$55) for a 1-hour Tui Na massage. You can pay half that price in Singapore or one quarter that price in mainland China for a similar treatment but in a much more nicer ambiance and greater facilities.

I guess it will be a while before I return.

Location of International Chinese Body Care House:
Sheraton Doha Hotel & Resort
Al Corniche Street, West Bay, Doha, Qatar
Size of Clinic: Small, with separate treatment rooms for male and female clients
Facilities: None. No rest area. No changing area.

Friendliness: Not that helpful if you do not speak Chinese.
Pricing: About US$60 for foot massage. About US$65 for TuiNa massage. Upmarket rates for a non-up-market environment.

Pix credit: http://www.qia-qatar.com

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Review: Riyuegu HotSpring Spa, China

My friends and family visited Riyeugu Mineral Hotspring Spa in Xiamen, China recently. We last visited Riyuegu in July last year and you can read the reviews here and here.

This time round, we spent our visit in the communal hotspring resort park instead of the private treatment rooms. It has been recorded historically that more than 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty period of early China, a royal Ming court official immersed himself in the hotsprings here and felt such joy anf fulfillment that he recorded his experience of this ‘heavenly gift’ on a stone plaque. The plaque was re-discovered in the 1980s where Riyuegu Hotsprings Resort now stands.

The communal hotspring resort park has more than 100 spa pools with water that has been pumped from underground hotsprings. The hotspring park is designed with lush surrounding and together with the serene environment and hotspring serves to make it an ideal holiday destination for friends, couples and family alike to spend a day there.

There are various themes for the hotspring pools such as floral, herbal, mineral, medicinal and alcohol where there are ever such a faint hint of the real stuff in the hotspring. Apparently, it is more of a gimmick than real because where in nature would you ever have a red wine hotspring pool for example?

There are also hotspring swimming pool, sand pool, hot-stone beds, fish pool and other various kind of  facilities you may come to expect from a communal hotspring. For example, you can have a massage while lying on a hot stone bed or have your body massaged by fishes.

You can also get a massage in private rooms within the communal hotspring. The masseurs are professional and the massage is superb. Read our earlier reviews.

At the end of your visit, you can have a meal at the cafe and then hop onto the complimentary bus that brings you back to Xiamen. If you are ever in Xiamen, China, you owe it to yourself to make a visit here. You will not be disappointed!

Location of Riyuegu Hotsprings Resort:
1888 Fulian Road, Haicang District, Xiamen, China 361027
Size of Resort: One luxury hotel, one hotspring theme-park, one spa retreat
Facilities: Multiple luxurious spa facilities

Friendliness: Extremely polite resort staff and massage therapists.
Pricing: About US$17 for hotspring theme park entrance fee. Massage treatment ranges from US$15 to US$40. Between US$85 to US$175 for spa, beauty or detox packages.

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Asian Spas and massage in New York, USA

Our regular blog reader, Reed, contributed this article on the growing Asian spa and massage scene in New York, USA where he lives. You are welcomed to contribute articles too! Just contact me.

Asian spas and massages are fast gaining popularity in New York, USA. With newer and better spas opening up every other day, the popularity of Asian massages is increasing at a fast pace. Today people realize the benefits of a good body massage and go for it not only to relieve stress and promote relaxation but also to gain other physiological benefits.

Therapeutic massages are one of the fastest growing fields in healthcare with more and more people looking at prevention and alternative solutions rather than medications and operative procedures. Let us now take a look at the various physical and mental benefits of spas and massages.

Physical And Mental Benefits Of Massages
Given below is not a comprehensive list of the various benefits of a good body massage. You actually need to take one to know how good it makes you feel!

  • A massage helps relieve stress and gain relaxation.
  • It loosens up all muscle tension and stiffness.
  • Discomfort during pregnancy can be reduced with the help of a good massage.
  • Strained muscles, pain and swelling as well as scar tissue heal faster with a good massage.
  • Joint flexibility and range of motion also increases.
  • Fosters complete peace of mind.
  • Helps keep the mind alert and relaxed.
  • Improves one’s ability to observe stress indications and respond accordingly.
  • Lastly, a good body massage satisfies the need for a caring touch that emotes a feeling of well being in an individual.

Kinds Of Asian Massage Therapies
Asian body massages are known to work with the body’s energetic system to promote,
maintain and restore health. Read on to know the kinds of Asian massage therapies
available in New York today.

Ayurveda:
A holistic form of Indian medicine that is made from complete natural products. The treatment is designed to bring the mind, body and spirit of a person into balance. Ayurveda massage techniques are famous all over the world and is one of the most popular massage treatment offered by New York spas.

Thai massage: Straight from Thailand, this is one of the newer massage techniques
that are being offered by New York spas. Though the tradition of the Thai massages dates back to almost 2,500 years, it has been introduced in US spas only recently. It uses passive stretching along with pressure to relieve muscle and joint tension and balance the body’s energy systems. The main purpose of a Thai massage is to heal a person physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Shiatsu: Shiatsu is a kind of body work that has originated in Japan. The purpose of
Shiatsu is to restore a healthy flow of energy in an individual’s body. A gentle pressure is applied along specific points known as meridians. Several other techniques like rocking, stretching and joint rotations are also a part of Shiatsu bodywork.

Acupressure: There are a huge number of benefits associated with the acupressure
procedure. Accupressure used to be offered exclusively in New York Chinatown but is now increasingly offered by some of the more upmarket New York spas as New Yorkers start to understand and appreciate the benefits of alternative treatments.

Amma Therapy: This Asian therapy is a specialized somatic, skilled touch therapy.
The procedure combines deep tissue manipulation along with application of pressure,
friction and touch to specific points in the body to provide relief to all muscles
and joints.

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Review: Kim Spa, Phuket Town, Thailand

Kim SpaOn my last trip to Phuket, Thailand, we rented a car and drove around this popular Thai tourist island. One of our destination was Phuket Town.

Phuket Town is an old town and the administrative centre on Phuket island. There are distinct Muslim, Thai and Chinese enclaves and it is clear that Chinese influence in the town is obvious with a good number of Chinese temples and Chinese old-time architecture houses.

Phuket Town is off the regular tourist route and the entire town was sleepy and quiet on the Sunday that we drove in. Tourists tend to spend more time in the beach where almost everything is available as well rather then to come to town. Tourists who do come to Phuket Town tend to congregate downtown where a few modern shopping malls, large bargain-price markets, fast food restaurants and souvenir shops were gathered.

Among these few busy streets were a couple of small but modern and clean spas. These spas offered almost similar type of treatments and prices were very competitive – even lower than those available at the beach.

I guess it was because there were only a few streets in Phuket town that tourists congregate so the local spa operators have no choice but to stay competitive. I was particularly attracted to one of the promotion package that Kim Spa, one of these small spas, offered. The spa and massage promotion package consists of a body scrub (60 mins), choice of massage (60 mins) and a facial treatment (60 mins) – a total of 3 hours treatment for the unbelievable low price of 900 Baht or US$30!

I was in Spa heaven and chose to try out Kim Spa immediately! Kim Spa has a nicely decorated reception and rest area. On the first floor, it has about 10 cosy massage chairs for foot reflexology and a small corner for a foot bath. The 2nd floor is for Thai massage (beds are on floor) and 3rd floor is for facial and other body massage treatments.

My hubby opted for a foot massage and Thai massage for 2 hours. I opted for the 3 hours spa promotion package. While waiting for my masseur to prepare the treatment room, I whispered to my hubby that I couldn’t believe a body scrub treatment can last for 60 minutes. I kept telling myself … how much time can one person scrub the body? Will my skin drop off??

Shortly, we were led by our masseurs to our treatment rooms. My hubby started his foot bath on the 1st floor which is an open area foot massage area. I was led to the 3rd floor which had private treatment room and en suite shower. My masseur greeted me with the traditional Thai way “sawadee ka” with both hands together and bowed.

Although language was a barrier, we had no problem “communicating” with each other by sign and body language. The masseur indeed did a thorough body scrub and for sure she took more than 40 minutes before heading me to to the shower. My choice of Swedish massage was, in my opinion, average but the facial treatment was indeed refreshing. The masseur went through 2 to 3 rounds of scrubbing and cleansing my face. She then placed many layers of cucumbers on my face that made me feel very “cool” and relaxed. The smell of the cucumber were so refreshing. The facial ended with a cold mask and facial massage.

When my treatments were completed, the masseur led me to the reception area to relax and enjoy their complimentary floral tea. Overall, I must say this place is value for money, environment is neat and clean and most importantly, the staff were friendly and not pushy.

However, my husband who is an addict of hard massage was not impressed with their Thai massage and reflexology skills. He claim that the Thai and foot massage here were “too soft” and obviously toned down to cater to the many farangs(Thai for Caucasian foreigners) tourists in Phuket. He feels that shabby run-down massage shops run by old ladies offer the most true and authentic ancient Thai massage with the accompanying body-distorting poses, back standing and bone cracking twists. He feels that this is the ultimate form of massage! Funny guy!

Location of Kim Spa
Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand
Size: 3 storey shop units with massage chairs on the ground floor and individual rooms on 2nd and 3rd level
Facilities: Toilet, shower and rest area

Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$20 for a facial, wrap, bath or body massage. Various spa and massage packages available and starts from US$60.

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Qian Zu Ge or Thousand Feet Court, Singapore

Qian Zu GeA new massage boutique palor is in town and judging from it’s decor and type of massage and spa services it provides, seems to be a direct transplant of one of the higher-end massage boutique palor from Mainland China.

Qian Zu Ge or literally, Thousand Feet Court, is a 3 months old massage boutique palor located in Balestier Rd, Singapore. The 5,000 sqf massage palor is nicely decorated in traditional Oriental Chinese style with a service emphasis on Foot Massage, Foot bath and Foot pedicure treatments. Of course, there are also other massage services such as Chinese Tui Na, Thai massage, Aromatherapy massage to the less common Gua Sha, Ba Guan, Ear Candling and even Ear candling. Other spa services such as Facial services, Nail manicure and Nail art are also available.

(Note: Gua Sha and Ba Guan are specialized Chinese Traditional Medicine treatment meant to restore your body’s Yin/Yang balance. Gua Sha involves scrubbing your back with a horn scraper and Ba Guan involves using heated vacuum cups on your body’s accu-meridien points)

Foot MassageI visited this boutique with my husband on a late Sunday afternoon and there were only a few customers around. Once passed the reception area, there were about 10 luxurious Chinese-style massage chairs in the main hall and another 8 in a private room. The private room can be further compartmentalized into 3 smaller rooms with individual LCD TV where you can have some privacy if you come with a small group of friends. (See picture on left)

We were given a pair of loose Chinese-style shirt and pants to change into.

I opted for a Aromatherapy massage and my husband wanted a Thai massage. Unfortunately, the Thai masseur was not available and he opted for a Chinese Tui-Na massage instead. Incidentally, we were told that the Thai masseur is a Thai and the Tui Na masseur is a China Chinese. Plus point given for employing native masseurs because somehow, only native masseurs practise their art the best.

MassageWe were ushered to a curtained-off compartment with floor massage beds. The compartment was nicely decorated (see picture) and there were space for 4 body massage guests in privacy. We had a pleasant one-hour massage as the masseurs applied the right pressure; slow and smoothing for aromatherapy massage and hard and direct for Tui Na massage.

Overall, this is a nice massage palor with nice decoration, clean towers, soft music and good service. There are even 2 computers with internet you can surf while waiting for a friend or if you have finished your massage before them. The changing room is interesting in that you get those fancy round shower cubicles; complete with side nozzles and music while you shower.

There were however, a couple of issues we were not too happy about. While we were having our massage, some of the staff were chattering away just outside our curtained massage compartment. After 10 minutes of incessant chatter, I had to ask the masseur to tell them off. I came here to relax and chill out; not listen to some high-pitch incessant chatter that is so common of Mainland Chinese folks.

Another issue I absolutely hate was that two of the male foot masseurs were curl up in the foot massage chairs sleeping away! I don’t care how masseurs behave in their rest area or if they sleep during their off-duty period but to do so in front of customers is absolutely unacceptable! I hope the management of Qian Zu Ge realise this and stop this bad practice immediately!

As of this writing, Qian Zu Ge is running a foot detox and massage promotion with OCBC credit card. I will recommend this Oriental massage palor if you want to spend a relaxing afternoon or would like a group massage with friends in privacy.

Location of Qian Zu Ge
221 Balestier Road, ROCCA Balestier #04-01, Singapore 329928, Singapore
Size: Mid-size massage palor with large common room and several private areas
Facilities: Internet PC, foot bath massage chairs, facial treatment room

Friendliness: Polite staff and massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$30 for foot massage and US$40 for massage. Facial services starts from US$60. Discounted Spa and massage  packages for members also available.

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