TaiPan Reflexology and Foot Spa, Kowloon, Hong Kong

I have visited numerous spa and massage facilities around Asia for many years. Surprises I had a few. Disappointments; many. Shock; one or two. Star quality; almost nil…until this surprising discovery in Hong Kong.

One of my key passion in wellness therapies is foot spa or reflexology. I must have visited tens of foot reflexology shops around Asia. I have seen grand and opulent foot spa establishments with hundreds of private rooms in China. At the same time, I have my regular foot in a small little foot massage shop in Singapore. Nothing surprises me where foot reflexology shops are concerned… well, until this one in Hong Kong.

TaiPan Reflexology and Foot Spa looks like any foot massage chain in Asia. Lots of colourful shop signage, long treatment price list, beckoning receptionist at the doorway, antique type of furniture, stone path feature and even a fish-tank as a covered walkway. Up till now, a very colourful massage shop, but still, nothing surprising as yet.

The main reception at the 2nd floor also look typical. Lots of wood furniture, a few imitation antique pieces, low lighting and soft spa music. I took off my shoes and selected a 120 minutes foot, head and shoulder massage. This is where it begins to differ…

I was lead to a chair. Not any kind of chair but one of those cosy, leather, sophisticated type of massage chair complete with massaging headrest, arm and thigh brackets. At the bottom was a hot water-tub complete with hydro-jets for me to sink my feet into.

As I lay back onto the vibrating luxurious leather chair, the attendant added mineral crystal to the foot bath, and I had a relaxing 15 minutes of a full body massage while having my feet pounded by soothing water jets. It was good. All too soon it ended and I was lead to a section which was for foot massage.

Instead of typical half-down chairs, their massage chairs went all the way down. In other words, the chairs were like beds. I laid on one chair and was covered with a warm blanket. A warm body pack was then wrapped around my waist and my eyes. The foot massage began even as I laid down. I was in pure bliss!

It was not difficult to understand why I hear snores all around me. The warm blanket, the hot waist and eye wrap, the soft music, the massaging of the feet was such that if it doesn’t induce you into sleep, nothing else will.

When the foot massage finished, the masseur simply moved from the foot to the head part of the chair, to begin my head and shoulder massage. I did not have to move or shift my position on the chair at all. Talk about well designed work-space!

All too soon, the massage ended. I was served hot tea and was allowed to remain curled up and resting on my chair. There were no time limit and I could rest and relax as much as I want. All very well thought out as I do not even need to move to another rest area or rush off because there is a time limit.

I have been to some expensive spas but they always come with a time/space limit. So and so timing for this activity. So and so timing for the next treatment. Move to this room. Go to that space. Time to change up, pay up and see you soon! Don’t forget to make the next appointment so that we can gobble more of your money!!

It is indeed a rare place such as The Taipan that has designed everything to evolve around pampering and relaxing the customer. The mood, the friendliness, the massage ergonomics and flow logic, the thoughtful touches such as the hot body pack, the no-time limit and rest-as-much-as-you-want-on-one-cozy-chair, all sums up the care and thoughtfulness that must have gone behind the owner and or spa designer planning.

If there are Michelin star equivalent for spa and massage establishments as there are for gourmet restaurants, the moderately priced The Taipan will surely get a 3-star award from me!

Unfortunately, due to privacy reasons, I was not allowed to take a video or photo of The TaiPan interior. If you are ever in Hong Kong, do not hesitate to visit The Taipan. Although I visited the one near Temple Street, I believe they have branches all over Hong Kong including Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, Nanking Street and Jordon Road.

Location of TaiPan Reflexology and Foot Spa
Various places in Hong Kong
Size: 3 storey narrow shop building. Walk up a narrow flight of steps.
Facilities: Foot baths and foot massage chairs

Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$20 for a basic foot massage. I paid US$40 for a 115 minutes foot, head and shoulder massage package. Other packages also available.

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Lifestyle.Comfort, WanChai, Hong Kong

When I last visited Hong Kong more than ten years ago, there were hardly any spa/massage or reflexology establishments. If there were any, they were mostly high-price spas hidden in high-class hotels. Today, you see them everywhere in the city, especially in areas where tourists tend to congregate.

Due to high rental costs in Hong Kong, you will find that most of these small spa or massage establishments are either in the basements or the 2nd or 3rd level of a building. You may see the bright signboard but you’ll need a bit of time to look around to hunt down the exact location. Try looking up or down and not just at street eye level.

In my opinion, Hong Kong is one city that MUST HAVE massage or reflexology shops in the tourist districts. Hong Kong is absolutely a shopping mecca and there is just so much shopping choice and variety, prices are low, quality is good, that one tends to shop and shop.

As a result of all these shopping, feet are tired, back are sore and arms are aching. There is nothing more welcoming that seeing the signboard of a massage or reflexology at this point of time!

I was in Wan Chai doing my shopping. Gosh, there’s this street full of shops and stalls selling mostly ladies clothes and accessories and they are good, cheap and well-made. In a short time, I had two shopping bags full and it’s still a decent walking distance to my hotel.

Although it was like 10:30pm in the night, this bright spa and beauty salon signboard, Lifestyle.Comfort,  attracted me. There were some posters pasted on the wall as well. I do need a massage badly! The prices indicated seem to be reasonable (about US$35) for a 45mins Ancient Oriental Accupressure Massage. I decided to give it a try and to check the environment.

Lifestyle.Comfort, is located on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor of a narrow building. You will need to climb up a narrow flight of stairs to reach the entrance of the salon. As you enter, you will find the reception counter in the middle, on the right, a section for facial treatments and on the left, hairstylists attending to customers.

I told the petite lady boss my preference of treatment and I was led to the 3rd floor to the massage area. As I walked towards the treatment rooms, there were two rows of foot massage chair (4 on each side). To my surprise, all the massage chair were filled with customers. Most were tired tourists like me!

The massage room is compact with just space for two massage beds placed side by side. The therapist walked in and immediately started the treatment. Throughout the 45mins of treatment, I only spoke to the therapist twice and she left me alone quietly to slowly enjoy the treatment. It was absolute heaven for shopping aches. It was so good that I even dozed off during the treatment.

After the treatment, I was led down by the therapists to the 2nd floor to make payment.  While settling the bill, the lady boss asked for my feedback and she gladly told me that they offer a special price for reflexology and massage during non-peak hours (10am to 4pm). I was so happy to hear that.  In my mind, I was telling myself….. I could come back tomorrow since the hotel I’m staying is just a 10 minutes walk away.

If you are ever do your shopping in Wanchai, Hong Kong, and need a little mental and physical break, why not check out this little beauty and massage boutique.

Location of Lifestyle.Comfort
108 Johnston Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Size: 4 storey narrow shop building. Walk up a narrow flight of steps.
Facilities: Hairdressing, facial and beauty, foot reflexology and massage treatment rooms available.

Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$20 for a hair treatment, beauty, foot or body massage. Discounts for multiple treatments available.

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Review: Wharney Guangdong Hotel, Hong Kong

wharney guangdong hotelI was in Hong Kong for a week recently to attend a conference and trade exhibition at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre (HKECC), Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island.

I have not been to Hong Kong for nearly 10 years. Hong Kong, and in particular, the business district of Wan Chai remain as busy, bustling and crowded as it was before. Hotel rooms remain in high demand,  expensive and small in size. After some intensive search, I identified Wharney Guangdong Hotel as the ideal hotel for my stay in Hong Kong.

This basic but very well located hotel is great if you are attending a conference at HKECC, have a meeting in one of the many office buildings in Wan Chai or simply want to sample life smack in the middle of busy Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Academy of Performance Arts is also within walking distance.

The hotel is only a short 10-15 minutes walk to HKECC via sheltered overhead bridges and linkways so you’re protected from the weather and traffic all the time. It is also a short 3-5 minutes walk to the nearest Wanchai MTR (subway) station, taxis and buses are easily available and there are many shops, restaurants and eating places all around.

The hotel is very busy and crowded with business and tourist guests checking in and out all the time. Like most Hong Kong hotels, the rooms are generally small and tight. If you are not careful, it is very easy to bang into a wall or furniture if you move around too much!

Despite the small size, room rates are very expensive. As an example, I paid US$180 a night for a small room with no breakfast, internet access or airport pickup. This must surely be one of the most expensive hotel rate after Tokyo, Japan in Asia.

Fortunately, internet cafes, cheap cafes(cha chan tang) and airport buses are easily available in this area and make up for what the hotel does not give you.

The hotel is also located smack middle in a particular stretch of Wan Chai which is infamous amongst Western expatriates and tourists as a pub, strip dance and rowdy entertainment zone. When night fall, you’ll see scantily-clad Filipinos calling out to customers to patronise their entertainment joints.

Despite the seemingly rowdy nature of these establishments, it must be said that children, ladies, couples and families are not disturbed at all and it is perfectly safe to walk around at night to look for supper or pick up a hot drink from many of the convenience stores around the area. I guess it is only in unique places like Hong Kong where you can find a strip club and family restaurant side by side and they co-exist happily in their own space.

Will I recommend this hotel to anyone going to Hong Kong? Definitely if you are attending a trade show or seminar at HKECC or a meeting in a Wan Chai office for both the location, transportation and food convenience.

Location of Wharney Guangdong Hotel
Hong Kong Island, Wan Chai, 57-73 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong
Size: 12 stories with 358 rooms
Facilities: Gym, lounge, swimming pool, non-smoking floor

Friendliness: Polite staff and efficient receptionists
Pricing: Starts from US$150 for off-peak to US$280 for peak season for a normal room

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