Review: Kamala Royal Thai Spa, Phuket

I have just returned from a 4-days short holiday break at Phuket staying at the Andara Resort (See review at earlier article).  It’s always so nice to have a short break in between busy weeks and Phuket has always been one of my preferred short-break destination since it’s only a one and half hour flight time from Singapore. With Phuket, you are always spoilt for choice in terms of hotel accommodation and beaches. Each time, I try to stay at a different beach & hotel to gain a fuller flavour of Phuket.

For this trip, I stayed at the Kamala Beach, which is located on Phuket’s west coast, just north of the ever popular Patong beach. Like most tourist beaches in Phuket, the area behind the powdery Kamala beach has a great many choice of places to eat and drink and not forgetting the many shops, hair salons and local Thai massage salons.  The shops at Kamala beach are not as many and varied as Patong beach but there are enough to keep you busy as you stroll down the streets. In fact, I prefer the quieter Kamala beach as it is not as crowded, busy and noisy as Patong beach.

Along the beach, there are also many small Thai massage open-air salons that offer basic services with a row of chairs or daybeds for giving massages like foot reflexology, Thai massage & oil massage. These are incredibly cheap and a good 1 hour Thai massage can be had for just 300baht (US$9).

I was hot, dirty and slightly sun-burned from spending a day at the beach and was looking for a better class spa to pamper myself. More importantly, I needed a facial as I was afraid I may have burnt my face after sunning myself for sometime at the beach and not always remembering to re-apply adequate suntan lotion.

Along a row of shops along the beach, there were a couple of higher quality massage salons. I chose the best looking one and walked in.

The Kamala Royal Thai Spa is located in a 2-storey house and designed in modern contemporary Thai decor. Just walking into the spa gives you a totally refreshing feeling from the hot, noisy and busy street outside.  Although it is not as posh looking at those spas located in the hotels, the Kamala Royal Thai Spa does have some refine details that gives the spa an overall peaceful feel. The Spa is an open-plan retreat of solid wood pillars with a bubbling waterfall and Koi pond at the boundary area to give a zen-like atmosphere to the environment.

The Kamala Royal Thai Spa
The Kamala Royal Thai Spa

A warm welcome from the receptionist
A warm welcome from the receptionist

Spacious massage room with ensuite showers
Spacious massage room with ensuite showers

The receptionist welcomed us with cold tea and refreshing towels while we selected the treatments from their spa menu. The spa offers various therapies from foot to Thai to oil massage; body scrubs to wraps and facials. Prices are a little bit on the high side compared to the smaller massage salons just outside the street but for the nice environment, I was willing to give it a try.  I opted for a 60 mins Facial Sunrise and a 120 mins Royal Thai Therapeutic Massage.

As I was led by my Thai therapist to the treatment room, I could smell the scent of floral incense. There are eight rooms for oil massage in private closed door environment, four rooms for traditional Thai massage and an area that sit six for Thai foot massage. Most rooms have en-suite showers and some are couples rooms.

One great joy about massage in Thailand is that you are almost assured of good massage therapists. I guess massage tradition and culture has been so long in Thailand that almost every masseur is good and you seldom come across one that is average or below average.

We started with the long and relaxing 2 hour Thai oil massage that put me into a peaceful snooze. This was followed-up with a very refreshing facial that consists of cleansing, scrubbing, toning & moisturizing the face with honey, yogurt & cucumber. It was the first time I had a facial that includes honey and yogurt but according to the therapist, this is the most soothing combination that offers intensive care for after-sunburn treatment.

The Kamala Royal Thai Spa is currently running a special massage promotion: a 1 for 1 treatment (for any 90 mins & above treatments). So it’s really a very good deal especially since it means your partner enjoy the same treatments absolutely free be it a massage, facial, wrap or scrub! Hence, if you are ever in the vicinity of the Kamala beach in Phuket, make sure you make a visit to this spa!

Location of Kamala Royal Thai Spa:
128 Moo 3
, Kamala, Phuket 83000, Thailand

Size of Spa: Medium, with private treatment rooms
Facilities: Suana and Steam room

Friendliness: Friendly
Pricing: Single massage treatment and packages available. Also facial, body wraps and scrubs treatment available. Prices starts at US$22 for single massage session.

Tags:

Review: Andara Resort, Phuket, Thailand

Once in a while, you take a holiday and the hotel or resort you stayed in was so fantastic that you do not want to leave. Andara Resort of Phuket certainly qualify as one such resort as far as I am concern.

We stayed at Andara Resort on our last holiday in Phuket, Thailand. Andara Resort is one of the latest boutique resort/hotel that are giving mass-market hotel chains a good run for their money, not only in Phuket but all round the world. Boutique or niche hotel, in case you are wondering, are usually smaller and revolve around a certain special theme be it hotel concept, architectural uniqueness, outstanding F&B concepts or simply being better, cozier, friendlier, less noisy and more comfortable than most typical large chain hotel.

The grand entrance to Andara Resort
The grand entrance to Andara Resort

The lobby to Andara Resort
The lobby to Andara Resort

Andara Resort is certainly one such boutique hotel concept. Located at Kamala beach, Western Phuket, it is away from the maddening crowd at the popular Patong beach and yet retain all the special charms of a Phuket holiday – sun, sea, beach, pool, shopping, food and massage. Andara Resort is more than just a hotel – in fact, each room is not just a room but an entire apartment – ranging from 1 room to 4 room apartments; many with their own swimming pool. You can call it a ‘condotel’ if you like; it has all the comforts of a full apartment or condominium including a full kitchen, laundry room, dining table, audio-video system, luxurious bathrooms, multiple bedrooms and even a private pool for some units.

You can ‘hide’ in your apartment throughout the entire holiday if you wish; cook, eat, watch TV and luxuriate and suntan at your own private pool. You do not have to meet another soul throughout if you do not want to as the apartment is totally self-contained; right down to ice-maker, coffee-maker, micro-wave oven, cooking stove, ironing board, sound system, ample supply of towels and multiple rooms and bathrooms.

6 luxurious apartments to each 3 level block
6 luxurious apartments to one apartment block

Spacious living hall
Spacious living hall with a sea view

Master bedroom with grand beach view
Master bedroom with grand beach view

Fully equipped kitchen
Fully equipped kitchen – coffee maker, ice maker, oven, stove

Alternatively, you can have the kids, grandparents and yourself living in one apartment or have a boisterous party of 4 to 8 adults and yet be able to retreat to your own personal bedroom at the end of the day. Cook, wash and entertain as you like or pick up the phone and get the resort to provide full housekeeping, F&B and entertainment services.

Other than the facilities provided within the apartment, the resort also has a restaurant, wine bar, health club, swimming pool and a spa (not completed when we were there). Or the resort concierge is able to arrange day trips, rent a car or even send you to the beach if you wish. We organised a day trip and a rental car with the concierge and were surprised that prices are exactly the same as we would have paid if we had approached any tour shops down the road. No ridiculous mark-up as some hotel are apt to do.

Swim at the 30m public lap pool
Swim and suntan at the 30m resort public lap pool

IMG_0578
Or swim and suntan at your own private infinity-view pool

The resort is just a short 400 metres to the nearest beach. Take a short 10 minutes walk there by yourself or the resort can arrange to drive you there. And if you specify a time, even come and fetch you back to the resort. The Kamala beach is on a cove and hence, the waves are not rough and the sand is powdery as Phuket’s beaches are famous for. Incredibly, Andara Resort even has their own private space along the beach and as a guest, you’ll get comfortable deck chairs, towels and even flotation devices while everyone else at the beach will have to pay for their deck chairs and bring their own towels!

Along the beach is a great variety of restaurants, shops and massage palours. You can relax at the beach, wine and dine, shop and have a massage and just give a call and the resort will send a vehicle to send you right back to your apartment. Simply heavenly.

You can also easily get a taxi to explore other parts of Phuket (Patong Beach 20 mins; Phuket Town 30 mins), join the many day tours to go island hopping, elephant trekking, fishing, diving, watch Thai boxing or cabaret shows or perhaps like us, rent a car and go explore the entire Phuket island via a series of good roads.

The Andara Resort is scheduled for it’s official opening only on 12 February 2010. Hence, this is an absolutely brand new resort and you must be aware that final renovation and landscaping work is still an on-going process and may mar an otherwise perfect holiday with some noise and dirt.

Of course, the advantage of checking into a brand new resort also mean that everything still feel and smell brand new and if you’re lucky like us, the likelihood of being upgraded to a higher class suite or penthouse is very high!

Tags:

Review: Six Senses Spa-Qatar

This review is provided from my husband’s point of view. I was unable to make the spa appointment.

Six Sense Spa
Six Senses Spa

You may recall that we visited this hotel and spa a year ago. We were there for a stroll then as we had heard so much about the Sharq Village hotel and the Six Sense spa. The hotel and spa is rated as one of the top hospitality and spa venue in Qatar.

We had made a point that we must visit and try out the Six Senses Spa one day. We finally did.

You know, sometimes I hate to review brand-name spa such as Six Senses Spa. It is a high class establishment and it comes with a high price tag. Hence, the moment I walk into such a spa, I switch into review mode straightaway and I’m not sure I was really there for work or pleasure.

I always want my reviews of such brand-name spa to be good because I know they have invested much time, money and effort into upholding their brand. I also know spa management sometimes read my reviews and I was always worried staff may be blamed correctly or wrongly for a bad review.

Tough call. But I insist my reviews must be true to the spirit. Sometimes, all the more for brand name spa.

Six Sense Spa
Six Senses Spa main entrance

We walked into the spa and asked for a spa menu. There was a Thai massage available and my husband opted for it. Co-incidentally, the January promotion was for Thai massage and he could get a US$30 discount off the price. I walked away then for my other personal appointment.

My husband was assured that it was a Thai therapist but was available only at 10pm. There was a 1 1/2 hours interval and he agreed to use the facilities in the meantime. While he was at the reception desk making the appointment, the male Indian receptionist was at the same time picking up phone-calls, talking to other colleagues and attending to customers who were there to drop off keys or payment. Obviously, he was either overworked or did not understand the concept of personalised attention to a standing customer. In the meantime, 2 other of his colleagues were hovering around in the background.

Anyway, my husband asked that should an earlier appointment be available, that it be arranged. The answer back was a fast ‘no’ and the receptionist was quickly back on the phone again.

No luck, he decided to enter the facilities area with a waiting attendant. He was shown around the facilities area which was done up in a myriad of small alleys to recreate the feel of an old Arabian souk. (Market place).

And then, he found out that shorts were not provided to customers. How would a first-time customer know he had to bring his own shorts in a high-class spa? And this being a conservative Arabian society, even males were not supposed to be seen in the flesh! Luckily, the attendant was apologetic and did his best to hunt down a pair of shorts. He had to make several attempts before he was successful and a good 20 minutes was wasted.

With shorts worn, he was able to explore the facilities. The hardware was there but the ‘heartware’ seems to be missing.

  • The steam room was extremely hot. No one was able to use it.
  • There was a hot pool and a small swimming pool. No hooks/towel racks were provided and towels were strewn all over the floor, sofa and flower pots
  • The quiet(rest) room was also a common corridor area. How does one rest and make peace with people walking by all the time?
  • No jacuzzi?
  • Minimal signboards for the myriads of corridors. If there are any, it’s brown words on brown signboards on brown walls in dim warm light.
  • No attendants in attendance in the wet area. Hence, strewn towels, misaligned sofas, dripping taps…
  • 6 shower stalls but 3 provide cold water only. There were no sign to say that it was a cold shower and so a few customers were confused why there was no hot water…

In the meantime, my husband was approached 3 times that his appointment had been changed to 9pm. In other words, he had less than 10 minutes to enjoy the facilities after wasting 20 minutes hunting down for a pair of shorts. He obviously refused. Apparently, the staff was not prepared to take ‘no’ for an answer because he was asked a total of 3 times to change his mind!

Granted it was 9pm and it must have been a long day for the spa’s staff. However, this is still a 5-star spa and you would expect more. Also, obviously the management had not reviewed the spa’s shortcoming or may have chosen to ignore them. Anyone familiar with spa management should have picked up these minor but niggling issues straightaway. The facilities were great; all it need was management and staff to put some ‘heart’ into managing it. Otherwise, what makes it different from the ordinary spa and massage shop?

Luckily, the rest of the time passed without incident. The massage room was big and comfortable and the Indonesian masseur was good with the Thai massage. Peace has been made.

Location of Six Senses Spa, Qatar:
Ras Abu Aboud Street, P.O.Box 26662, Doha, Qatar
Size of Spa: Large, with private treatment rooms
Facilities: Suana, Steam room, Hot and Cold Pool, Gym. Separate man and woman facilities as well as common facilities

Friendliness: Friendly
Pricing: Single treatment and packages available. Also facial and reflexology treatment. Prices starts at US$125 for single massage session. Membership scheme available.

Tags:

Review: Intercontinental Hotel Club, Qatar

It’s lousy to be away from home during Christmas! So, what’s the next best thing I can compensate myself? How about a hide-away in a luxury hotel, sit by the beach and pool and gorge myself silly on good food?

Decision made. Next, to look up a hotel. This is a no-brainer…I have a free Hotel Intercontinental Hotel voucher set to expire on Christmas Day itself..so the choice was unanimous – Hotel Intercontinental, Qatar. Date: 24 December 2009.

Hotel Intercontinental, Qatar is not the newest hotel in Qatar. In fact, it seems to have been around for a while. The outer facade does not look new, the rooms are well decorated and furnished but you can tell it’s slightly aging, and the restaurants does not serve exciting cuisine. However, it seems to be packed with expats and local alike – much more than some of the newer and grander hotels around.

I think the reason is simply this – once you step past the lobby of the hotel and enter past the pool area – you’re in a oasis of your own. The hotel has a grand pool, health and fitness club and beach area and while not exactly letting your hair down, you can relax and let go some of the inhibition you have while residing and living in conservative Qatar.

I like the fact that the health club has 2 squash courts. I have not played squash for a while and enjoy slamming away at the squash court. The courts are also used for ‘spinning’ – a sort of stationery bike aerobics group exercise – and a group of lady expatriates were cycling away to some hot and pulsating music.

The pool area is large with a swim-up bar. Alcohol is served and bikinis are in abundance. Deck chairs surround the pool and continue on to the large beach area. Once you sink into a deck chair, sip a beer, close your eyes, dig your feet into sand and listen to the waves, you’ll never imagine you’re in Qatar!

Hotel Intercontinental - as viewed from beach
Hotel Intercontinental – as viewed from beach

Large Swimming pool area
Large Swimming pool area

Relax by the sandy beach
Relax by the sandy beach

For those with children, there is a kid’s playground and a shallow wading pool. For those with older children, a beach club cater for kayaks, water-scooters and sailboats for rental.

And when hunger or thirst strikes, there are numerous restaurants dotting the pool area or within the hotel itself. There is a large international buffet restaurant, a cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant, a Mexican restaurant cum bar and a large Lebanese seafood restaurant.

I do have to admit that restaurant prices are on the high side, especially with the galore of Christmas meals, and I couldn’t have as many meals as I wanted in the hotel. Luckily, there are hourly shuttle bus service to the nearest shopping mall and I was able to settle a couple of meals at the mall and back without having to burn a hole in my wallet. Nor face the stress of driving in Doha’s traffic on my day off.

There is a spa at the health club but prices are a bit scary. There is also a Chinese massage and acupuncture clinic at the 2nd level but having visited their sister outlet at Sheraton hotel, I wasn’t too keen either.  (Read here)

But you don’t really need a massage here to have a good time at the hotel. To be able to enjoy the sound of the waves and be able to drink the occasional beer had already made my day. I now understand why this hotel is a top favourite with expats despite being slightly out of the way and not being the newest nor the grandest!

Tags:

AsiaSpa Awards 2009

Asia has it’s own Oscar version of the best spa destinations in Asia. Once a year, the spa and wellness industry get together to celebrate the finest amongst themselves.

Have you been to any of these award winning spas? If you have, why not tell us more about these spas and let us all share why these spas are so deserving of their awards!

Asia Spa Awards

Dated: 13 November 2009

Last night the winners of the fifth AsiaSpa Awards, presented by AsiaSpa magazine, the region’s most recognised spa and wellness publication, were announced and honoured at a glittering evening in Hong Kong. Celebrating the best in innovation and quality in spas around the region, the 27 categories voted on by 28 independent judges were won by spas, spa personalities, associations and resorts that have set the benchmarks for quality and service in the region.

It was a night of glitz and glamour as Asia’s spa community came together to celebrate its finest. Themed “La BelleÉpoque”, the event saw guests dressed to the nines in their most elegant 1920s fashion. Women dressed in their finest feathers, jewels and silky dresses, while the men came in fedoras, vests and suits.

The big winners of the night included Thailand which won for “Destination Spa of the Year” for Six Senses Destination Spa Phuket as well as “Asian Spa Capital of the Year”. Green T. House in Beijing also won for “Day Spa of the Year” as well as “Spa Design of the Year”. “Spa Event of the Year” went to the Global Spa Summit held at Interlaken, Switzerland. In the first year for the category “Best Children’s Spa Menu of the Year”, the Ice Cream Spa at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island emerged as the category’s debut winner.

“The year has been a particularly tough one for the spa and wellness industry, yet some spas, brands and resorts have come out even stronger than before. The highly respected ASA are there to recognise the very best of the best and push forward the whole industry to higher standards.” said Olivier Burlot, Managing Director of Blu Inc Media.

“Asia currently has the largest number of spas under development of any region in the world, a fact that is reflectedin the magazine’s pages,” said AsiaSpa’s Editor-in-Chief, Rebecca Walker. “We are looking forward to an exciting 2010.”

Hosted at Hong Kong’s classy Armani Bar, guests enjoyed buffet treats and musical beats supplied by the bar. Bombay Sapphire cocktails flowed freely and Baccarat’s stunning glass jewellery was showcased by the presenters. Guests walked away with special gifts from Aromatherapy Associates, spa vouchers from City of Dreams in Macau, Fiji Water, LCN products and Baan body products.

The winners of the AsiaSpa Awards 2009 are:

Destination Spa of the Year: Six Senses Destination Spa, Phuket, Thailand

Urban Spa of the Year: Bliss Spa, W Hotel, Hong Kong

Day Spa of the Year: Green T. House, Beijing

New Spa of the Year: The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya

Spa for Men of the Year: Chuan Spa at Langham Place Mongkok, Hong Kong

Spa Retreat of the Year: COMO Shambhala Retreat, Uma Ubud, Bali

Eco-Spas of the Year: Spa by Mandara, Alila Villas Hadahaa, Maldives

Socially Responsible Spa of the Year: The Shinta Mani Spa, Cambodia

Medi-Spa of the Year: S Medical Spa, Bangkok

Asian Spa Capital of the Year: Thailand

Spa Association of the Year: APSWC – Asia-Pacific Spa & Wellness Coalition

Spa Event of the Year: Global Spa Summit

Spa Personality of the Year: Karina Stewart, Co-founder, Brand & Concept Director, Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary

In-Spa Training of the Year: CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La

Spa Academy of the Year: Banyan Tree Spa Academy

Spa Design of the Year: Green T. House, Beijing

Best Children’s Spa Menu of the Year: Ice Cream Spa, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Spa Treatment of the Year: “Hilot Trilogy”, Mandala Spa & Villas, Boracay

Holistic Treatment of the Year: “Sound and Stone”, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Australia

Men’s Spa Treatment of the Year: “Man Space Healing Balance Massage”, i.sawan Residential Spa & Club, Grand Hyatt, Erawan Bangkok

Spa’s Therapist Team of the Year: Mandarin Oriental

Spa Product of the Year: Algotherm

Anti-Ageing Product of the Year: Aromatherapy Associates, ’Fine Line Face Oil’

Natural Product of the Year: ilã, ’ilã Face Oil for Glowing Radiance’

Men’s Product of the Year: Pevonia, ’Easy-Glide Shaving Emulsion’

Spa Cuisine of the Year: The Farm, Philippines

Spa Marketing of the Year: CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La

Source of article: http://www.asiaspa.com

Tags:

Health Club at Ritz Carlton Hotel, Doha, Qatar

Indoor tennis courts
Indoor air-conditioned tennis courts

Health clubs in hotels are expensive in Qatar. They usually cost above US$6000 a year in membership fees. Despite the hefty prices, memberships are still extremely popular as it provides a useful getaway for a day of sporting activity, spa treatment, relaxation and some good food and wine for expatriates who are able to afford the fees.

A friend of mine is a member of the health spa club in Ritz Carlton Hotel, Qatar. One day, she invited me to spend a weekend day with her at the club. I was glad to accept her invitation without hesitation.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel is located at the edge of Doha, the main city of Qatar. It is located very close to The Pearl, a spectacular luxury residential, commercial and marina development that has recently risen out of the Persian Gulf in the shape of a palm leaf . The spa club is located on the ground floor the Ritz Carlton hotel.

We first registered at the reception counter and then made our way to the changing room. Located within the changing room is a sauna, steam room and relaxation corner. We then made our way out and my friend offered to show me the various sporting facilities.

There is an indoor squash court, 2 indoor tennis courts and a fully equipped gym – all in air-conditioned comfort. I’m really impressed… many health clubs in the hotels in Qatar has good facilities but I believe Ritz Carlton has the best sporting facilities. I believe they are very popular because the whole time I was there, the courts were fully occupied.

We then made our way to the indoor, temperature-controlled swimming pool.

I really like the pool. Most hotel pools in Qatar are free-form pools but this pool is a full 25m lap pool. It even has lane markers so one can swim laps in peace and not be knocked into by casual swimmers or kids all the time. We spent sometime doing laps in the pool.

We then made our way to the outdoor free-form pool which is located just beside the indoor pool to sun-tan and enjoy some beverages. As a member, we are entitled to a 10% discount.

We were deliberating to ourselves whether we should get a massage. The spa has a good choice of facial and massage treatments and as a member, we are again entitled to a 10% discount on massage treatments. Before we could decide, a call came in and we were invited for dinner with friends and massage plans will have to be postponed.

I can see why health clubs in hotels are popular. There are not much leisure activities in Qatar and the hot weather prevent one from spending a lot of time outdoors. One cannot simply spend time in shopping malls all the time and health clubs in hotels are really an oasis of sporting and leisure activity to escape from the outside busy traffic, harsh heat and fine sand.

I think I’ll really need to examine my budget and see if I can find a budget-price health club membership if I need to spend any more time in Qatar. Otherwise, I may need to talk to my boss about a pay increment…

Pix credit: http://hotels.lonelyplanet.com

Location of Ritz Carlton Health Spa Club PO Box 23400, Doha, Qatar
Size: Large indoor club
Facilities: Sauna and steam rooms, private massage treatment rooms, tennis and squash courts, indoor and outdoor pool, gymnasium, workout studio
Friendliness: Polite and helpful
Pricing: Annual membership starts at US$5500

Tags:

Review: Chinese Health Corner, Qatar

Pressure pointsI’ve been spending more and more time in Doha, Qatar. The weather is hot and the air is always dusty. There is not much to do in terms of after-work entertainment and there are minimal choices for Asian food as well. I needed to find some comfort of home whenever I spend anytime here… such as a familiar spa or massage.

I’ve checked out a number of hotel spas. Believe me, they are very expensive. Just like most things in Qatar. Expensive. Even a simple Chinese foot massage cost US$65 and above in a hotel. I couldn’t afford to have one.

One day, while driving past the Landmark shopping mall, I saw a building decorated with red Chinese lanterns. That means possibly a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese Traditional Medical Hall or a Chinese Massage Palor. I drove closer for a look and true enough, two buildings side by side which says Chinese Health Corner and Hong Kong Beauty Salon.

I entered the building. A Chinese lady greeted me and passed me a brochure. I was right. It’s a beauty salon cum massage palor. Services such as foot massage, back massage, ear candling, sauna and steam bath, body massage, volcanic rock massage, pedicure, manicure and facial beauty treatments were offered. Traditional Chinese massage, cupping and Tuina were also offered.

The interior decor is typically that of what you’ll find in a massage palor in mainland China with posters of foot reflexology charts and body acupressure points charts. The staff and therapists are all from mainland China and most speaks a smattering of English only.

There is a public lounge area for foot massage. There are 6 comfortable chairs and flat-screen TVs and amazingly, a 45 mins foot massage starts at US$18 only. This must be the cheapest foot massage in Qatar; and even cheaper than similar treatments in Singapore as well!

You can have body massage or facial treatments in private rooms. These private rooms are relative large and comes with a treatment bed, arm-chair and a flat-screen TV as well. Very much like private treatment rooms in mainland China.

I opted for a foot massage. I wanted to gauge the quality of their service and treatment before I decide if this can become a regular place for me. The prices they posted are certainly attractive but I wanted to ensure quality of treatment and service does not suffer because of the lower prices.

My therapist is from Shenyang in North-East China. Apparently, the boss is also a mainland Chinese from Shenyang as well and he has 2 other similar outfits in different parts of Doha, with the Landmark branch being the latest addition. According to my therapist, most of the clients are local Qataris with some expatriates. There are hardly any Chinese clients.

The foot massage started with a 10 minutes soak in a tub of hot water and the quality of the foot massage was pretty good; as good as what I can get in mainland China. This augurs well for me because it means I now have a place that I can relax in whenever I am in Qatar.

Note: The buildings are located slightly after the carpark exit of Landmark Shopping Mall. If you come with a companion of the opposite sex, treatment is segregated and you can only meet after treatment.

Diagram credit: http://www.kheper.net

Location of Chinese Health Corner/Hong Kong Beauty Salon PO Box 30183, Doha, Qatar (Behind Landmark Shopping Mall)
Size: Two buildings side by side. One for men only and one for ladies only
Facilities:
Sauna and herbal steam rooms, foot massage lounge, private treatment rooms
Friendliness: Polite but speaks minimal English
Pricing: Starts from US$18 for a foot massage in the foot massage lounge. Massage starts at US$30 in a private room. Pedicure and manicure starts at US$20.

Tags:

Review: Spa Infinity, Singapore

I’ve always like a day spa that let you hang around and use the facilities as long as you like. My favourite was the this spa at Paragon shopping centre at Orchard Rd but I believe it has closed. I like spas that has hydrotherapy facilities, rest area, free-flow of food and drinks and great ambiance. Sometimes, it’s great to hang out and relax instead of swooping in and out of spas and have your relaxed mood spoiled by the crowd and noise outside.

I received a mailer for Spa Infinity. It has all that I wanted. Hydrotherapy facilities, rest area, in-house food and no time limit. What’s more, there was a promotion for $S39(US$25) per person. It was a irresistible offer and I made an appointment for the earliest weekend for my hubby and myself. We wanted to see if we can make this our regular spa hang-out.

The spa is located at the basement of Far East Shopping Centre at Orchard Rd, a shopping mall smack in the middle of the busiest shopping area in Singapore. We arrived at 5pm and walk into the stylish reception area of the spa. There were 4 people at the reception; 2 Chinese men, a Malay lady and a Caucasian man. That’s where the start of the bad impression began.

None bothered to look up nor greet me. It took a minute before the lady eventually looked up to greet me and acknowledge my appointment. A man took over and ushered us to the respective changing room.

Perhaps, I could better describe it as the locker room cum changing room cum dressing room in a space slightly bigger than a bedroom. Next to it is the wet area where there is a jacuzzi pool, a sauna, a steam room, 2 showers and 2 toilets. There were 3 guests in the jacuzzi and I would definitely need to squeeze in next to a stranger if I decide to join them. All in, only elbow room for everyone if there are more than 5-6 guests moving in the area due to the tight corners.

Hydro facilities
The hot and cold pool – just nice for 4 people – more will be a squeeze

Suana
See-through Sauna room – A nice designer touch interior deco

We next meet at the rest lounge which consisted of about 6 sofa sets as well as 6 recline leather seats for watching TV. Very soon, we were called and 2 Chinese ladies lead us to our individual massage rooms. The massage rooms are small and just right for a single bed. My masseur uses Chinese Zhi Ya (Finger accupressure) method and was a bit rough in her handling but was generally alright.

My hubby  came out complaining he had a masseur straight from the twilight zone. She was a huge frame Chinese woman who insisted on practising deep finger and elbow massage on all the vulnerable areas; neck, shoulder blades and hip bones. She even deep-pressed his leg’s calf muscle which resulted in pain even after 2 days. Although he has a high threshold for pain, he had to ask the masseur to use less pressure and her answer was to promptly increase the pressure and at the same time, insisted he had not been sleeping well or adopting a wrong walking posture.

On another occasion, she noticed a tight spot in his back muscle. Instead of increasing stroke frequency or pressure, she literally started pounding that spot with clenched fist.  Pound, pound, pound pound…. as if she would be able to pound the tightness away!

As connoisseur of  good massage and spa, we know the difference between a good and bad massage. This was obviously a wannabe masseur masquerading as a Chinese acupressure expert.

We met at the rest lounge again and decided we would like some food; as was promised in the promotion mailer. Instead, we were told that food was served only on weekdays but would make an exception for us. However, almost all food on the menu had been served out leaving us only with sandwiches.

By then, our impression of this spa had drop to almost ankle level and the fact that food was not available even when promised simply reinforce our belief that this is one spa we will not be visiting again. We were glad to pay up and make our way out to look for food in the vicinity. We even jokingly said that we’ll probably need to look for a real masseur to undo the damage the spa’s masseurs had done to us!

This was one spa we came with high expectations but left with little.

Location of Spa Infinity 545 Orchard Road , B1-22 Far East Shopping Centre, Singapore 238882
Size: Mid-size spa with private massage and facial treatment rooms. Showers not available en-suite. Advertised as being 9000sqf but certainly does not feel that spacious
Facilities:
Hot/cold pool, sauna and steam rooms, rest lounge, food cafe
Friendliness: Polite but not pro-active
Pricing: Starts from S$39 for a promotion with use of facilities and 45mins massage. Normal prices start at S$75 and include other facial and chiropractic treatments as well.

Pix credit: http://www.spainfinity.com.sg

Tags:

Review: Eucalyptus Spa@Craig Road, Singapore

I badly wanted to give Eucalyptus Spa a top 5-star ranking but had to stop short… read on and find out why they missed out on the last star…

I found out about Eucalyptus Spa off one of the regular mass emails I get for spas and massages services. They were promoting a couple spa package called Energise Me! which consists of a 30 minutes Honey & Sesame Body Scrub and a 60 minutes Energizing Massage at a special S$188 (US$110) price for two people.

Eucalyptus Spa is located in one of the colonial pre-war conservation shophouse at Craig Road which is just off Tanjong Pagar near the CBD outer zone. The spa occupy the second and third levels of the shophouse and you need to climb up a flight of steep steps.

Two smiling heads popped out on the second level to welcome us as we climb the flight of steps. We entered the main door which leads to a reception area. The entire spa was done up in the decor typical of Singapore in the 1950-60s with scent in the air and spa music in the background.

We were served with ginger lemongrass tea and a cold towel infused with peppermint and eucalyptus to freshen up. A soft spoken lady manning the reception (my therapist) reconfirmed our packages and gave us the option to choose our preferred type of body scrubs. I chose the Ginger Tangerine Scrub blended with rice grains and my partner chose the Honey & Sesame Body Scrub.

The therapist explained about the ingredients of the different type of scrubs and went on to describe the characteristic of the mixed Balinese and Egyptian Sports Massage we will be getting. We were very surprised that she had the initiative to explain to us without us even asking! She later apologised that one of the shower room was out of order and so asked if we could do our body scrub at different times and we agreed.

I was directed to a small pebble sink to wash my feet with running water. The massage treatment room was designed for a couple’s massage with a curtain to provide some privacy where necessary. The hour-long massage treatment was fantastic and this was the first I ever had with an Egyptian massage as it alternates between deep tissue kneads and the smooth strokes of the Balinese massage.

We came out of the massage very well rejuvenated and refreshed. The skills, service and quality of massage has certainly been impressive.

Now, let me tell you why they deserve a 5-star:

  1. Greeted as soon as we climbed the stairs… this is rare in Singapore
  2. Plenty of soft smiles and greetings
  3. Full explanations of the scrubs and massage we’ll be getting, without us asking, a rarity anywhere in the world
  4. Shower head facing away… so that we do not get splashed!
  5. Keeping the price at S$188 even though it was a mailing error and the price should be S$228
  6. Singaporean bosses and Singaporean therapists… yet, world class attitude, service and quality

Unfortunately, I could not give them the last star because:

  1. We could hear every motorbike, car or lorry passing by the road outside while having the massage because of poor soundproofing of the treatment room
  2. The shower and massage room were separate… and we had to walk through the reception area in our bathrobe to get from one to the other

I badly wanted to give them a 5-star rating, the highest I would have given any spa in all my reviews in the last couple of years… so near and yet so far.

This spa is just a short 10 minutes walk from my home and I really thought I could make this my ‘bookmarked’ spa place. However, despite all the great service, great treatment and great location…. having a massage and hearing every zooming vehicle at the same time just cannot be anyone’s cup of tea!

I have no choice but to withdraw the last star very reluctantly! Nevertheless, this is still a superb 4-star spa boutique and if you ever wanted great service and try the deep kneads of combined Egyptian/Balinese massage after a tiring or stressful day… this is your place. You have my personal recommendation for this spa… as long as you do not mind the traffic!

Location of Eucalyptus Spa@Craig Road 43A Craig Rd Singapore 089681
Size: Small spa with 2 private massage and facial treatment rooms. Showers not available en-suite.
Facilities:
None
Friendliness: Polite and knowledgeable Singaporean staff. One of the best available locally.
Pricing: Starts from US$65 for a facial, wrap or bath. US$55 for Body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$100.

Tags:

Senso Wellness Centre@Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai, UAE

I stayed in 2 different hotels when I was in Dubai, UAE recently. One of the two hotels was the Radisson SAS Hotel and the other was the Arabian Courtyard, which I reviewed in an earlier article.

There are at least 3 Radisson SAS hotel in Dubai, so you have to be careful, so as not to confuse yourself or your taxi driver. The oldest Radisson SAS is near the Creek, the newer one near the Media city and the latest, near the Marina area. (I believe Radisson SAS was changed to Radisson Blue recently)

I was in Dubai for some work related meeting and hence stayed at the Radisson SAS hotel near Media City.  This hotel is conveniently located near the Media and Internet City of Dubai, where most of the world’s top IT and Media companies have their offices and these include Nokia, Oracle, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, HP, Canon, CNN, BBC, Reuters, CNBC etc

Hence, Radisson SAS is an extremely convenient hotel if you need to do business with any of these companies. The hotel is a short walking distance for many of these companies and is the top corporate hotel choice for them as well. However, convenience for working with these companies translate into inconveniences for non-work choices.

There are simply no facilities once you step out of the hotel. The entire place becomes a dead town at night or over the weekend and you have no place to eat or shop other than the hotel within a 30 minutes walking radius ie if you have not succumbed from the heat. Your nearest food, shopping or entertainment facility is at least a taxi ride away. In fact, to travel to Dubai city centre is at least 30 minutes via taxi in smooth traffic. Much longer if traffic is bad… which can be common in Dubai.

Hence, if you do not intend to go out far, your only source of amusement is within the hotel. This is where the hotel’s spa, Senso Wellness Centre comes in useful. The Senso is located near the hotel’s swimming pool and gymnasium and boasts of 6 treatment rooms which is done up individually in stylish Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Indonesian decor.

Massage room in Indian decor
Treatment Room done in Indian decor

The Senso Spa offers facial treatments, body treatments and body massages. A face hydrating treatment starts at 420 AED (@US$115), a body polish at 220 AED (@US$65) and a 60 mins Swedish massage starts at 300 AED (@US$82). Hotel guest who takes up at least 2 body massage treatments can get a 20% discount.

I was given a tour of the spa, gym and swimming pool by the spa receptionist. The spa is managed and manned by a mixture of Lebanese and Filipino staff. I understand that the masseurs are Filipino and Indonesian.

Although I stayed at the hotel for a week, I did not end up using any of the spa or fitness facilities. The swimming pool and sun deck area is small and the small gym consist mostly of older gym equipments.

I find the spa prices a bit high and I simply dislike it’s location. The treatment rooms are just next to a elevator zone where people and luggage are coming in and out all the time and I find it simply too distracting.

Despite the hotel touting the spa and pool as one of the highlights of the hotel, I find the awkward location and small size of the pool, spa and gym more like a design after-thought of the architects of the hotel than being the highlight that it has been credited with.

Unless you are stuck in the hotel for weeks and weeks, you may be better off taking a taxi and exploring other parts of Dubai which can be more entertaining than what the hotel and spa alone can offer.

Location of Senso Wellness Centre@ Radisson SAS Hotel PO Box 211723 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Size: Small spa with private rooms and facial treatment rooms. Hydro-massage bath and jacuzzi available in some of the rooms.
Facilities:
None
Friendliness: Polite staff and mostly Filipino massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$65 for a facial, wrap or bath. US$82 for Body massage. Various spa and beauty packages available and starts from US$150.

Tags:

« Previous PageNext Page »