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.

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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: 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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World’s highest concentration of foot massage shops?

PPPYou can literally find 20 to 30 foot massage shops side by side, floor by floor, at the People’s Park Complex in Chinatown, Singapore. Can this be the world’s highest concentration of foot massage shops?

People’s Park Complex has been around for nearly 30 years but remain a very popular shopping mall in Chinatown, Singapore. It is surrounded by other old-time popular shopping malls such as People’s Park Centre, Chinatown Point and Lucky Chinatown. These shopping malls are very popular with local bargain-hunting heartlanders of Singapore, camera-toting tourists and recently, new immigrants from mainland China.

The shops in these shopping malls are an interesting mix to cater for their varied clients. They range from traditional Chinese medicine shops, money exchange bureaus, clothing shops, shoe shops, bookshops, goldsmiths, jade shops, travel agents, electronic gadget shops, eateries and to our subject of study – foot massage shops.

You can find other large concentration of foot massage shops in other countries such as Bukit Bintang of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or Patphong of Bangkok, Thailand but these are usually large massage shops and are found amongst various different types of shops.

At People’s Park Complex, the foot massage shops are small, and are literally next to one another, floor after floor. You can and will be accosted by massage shop proprietors literally every step of the way – calling for you to patronise their shops.

Most of these foot massage shops are small, between 2 to 4 massage chairs, with the biggest only with perhaps 8 to 10 chairs. Many shops are simply renovated, with few curtains or partitions for privacy and some even have massage chairs that seem to show much wear and tear.

These massage shops has sprung up over the last one decade, ever since foot massage became popular 10 years ago in Singapore. Many close down quickly only to be replaced by yet another similar shop. Many of these shops are staffed by middle age or old folks and their customers remain mostly middle-age and old folks and the occasional curious tourist. Most of them are relatively cheap; at about S$20-S$25 for 45mins to an hour, and they can hardly charge more due to the cut-throat competition and the basic amenities of their shops.

Will I patronise one of these shops? I doubt so; call me bias if you want but I don’t trust these shops. I started enjoying foot reflexology when I was working in China where they have raised foot massage to an art; what with foot bath, soft music, luxurious chairs and young and energetic foot masseurs who had trained for years in Chinese medical schools and understand body meridians thoroughly.

Many of the shops here look like they have been hurriedly put together, with old age masseurs who look like they just picked up the skills yesterday and reek terribly of Chinese ointment smell (tie da you). I also certainly do not fancy having my foot massaged while sitting close to a passage way where people are passing by every other minute!

If you are a curious tourist who may not have time to seek around for the best foot massage experience, you can certainly try one of these shops for that one time experience. However, if you are seeking a therapeutic experience in a soothing environment, then there are certainly better choices elsewhere.

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Review: The Aspara Spa, Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The couple treatment room is huge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fish Therapy gone wrong

Article reproduced from New Paper, Singapore
Writer: Hedy Khoo 26 August 2008

Thumbs DownTHE latest health fad in town involves letting little fishes nibble your legs to get rid of dead skin.

These fishes are dubbed “doctor fish”, but two sisters who went for the therapy earlier this month ended up having to visit real doctors instead.

They claimed that that their legs became itchy and turned red and blotchy. They also said they had brown patches and scaly skin after going to a “fish spa” that features the Garra rufa fish, a Turkish spa fish.

Miss Jas Huang, 22, a manicurist, and her younger sister Min, 20, a hairstylist, went for one session at a spa called Dr Fish in Ang Mo Kio on 3 Aug.

The treatment cost them $28 each, for a half-hour session. Clients have to submerge their legs in a tank filled with the fish.

Stinging sensation

Miss Jas Huang said: “Our legs had turned red after the treatment. There was a stinging sensation on my legs when I took a shower after going home.

“But my sister thought it was part of the after-treatment process. We didn’t think it was serious until a week later, when the redness and itchiness still did not go away.”

They then went to see separate doctors who told them that they had fungal infection on their skin. They were given cream to apply to the affected areas.

Miss Jas Huang said: “I was very upset and angry at that time. It was supposed to be a treatment to rejuvenate our skin, but now our legs look so ugly that we have to see real doctors.”

She said she had tried asking for a compensation from the spa – $108 each for her and her sister. This is to cover their medical bills ($80 each) and for the refund of the treatment fee ($28 each).

But the shop declined to pay because she could not produce the medical bills. Miss Jas Huang claimed that she had thrown away the bills – hers and her sister’s – in a fit of anger.

She added: “I regret trying the fish treatment. It was fun and interesting at first, but now it has turned into a nightmare. I wouldn’t dare try such treatments in future.”

Her sister Min said: “I usually wear shorts and skirts, but now I can’t. Some strangers who walked past me even commented that my legs look scary and ugly with the marks.”

Miss Jas Huang said that they did not get any receipts at the spa.

When contacted, the spa owner, Mr Steve Wong, said that his shop issues receipts only to customers who pay by Nets and those who ask for receipts.

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Wu You Lifestyle Therapy, Singapore

ZenAlong the stretch of old shop-houses along Upper Thomson Road in Singapore is a unique massage palor, Wu You Lifestyle Therapy.

Upper Thomson Road has always been a hip hangout popular with young people and families alike with a good mix of eateries, cafes, pubs, hairdressing, facial, massage/spa palors and other interesting shops on both sides of the road. A little bit like a Holland Village (a hip/yuppie enclave in the West of Singapore) for the northern part of Singapore. You can take a public bus conveniently or drive to this area although parking may be a little problematic during weekends.

Wu You in Chinese means No Worries. I believe the owner of this massage palor wants to give his/her guests the pleasure of relaxation when they visit this small massage boutique. The words Wu You is also a very Zen concept and philosophy (meditation with no objects, anchors, or content)

Hence, I was not surprised that this massage palor was nicely and simply decorated along the clean lines of Zen philosophy. In the reception area, there is a water feature placed in a corner. It is a Zen concept that the sound of trickling water adds peace and calm to one’s mind. The rest of the palor were also designed along clean Zen line with neutral, earthy or brown colors as it’s main color theme.

Although this is a small massage boutique, the owner did not simply divide the massage beds using curtains so common of other small massage palors. Instead, each guest gets his or her own individual treatment room. This gives each guest absolute privacy, quiet and peace.

If you want to get the knots out from your muscles in a calm, quiet and nice place, come and visit this palor. Wu You is a great place to go to relax and get a decent massage unlike some of the other massage palours along Upper Thomson Rd which seems to want to squeeze as many massage beds into a small space as possible.

Keeping along the simplistic line of Zen philosophy, the massage menu is also simple and minimal with a only a few massage choices unlike the varied and complicated choices that some small massage palors may try to impress onto customers.

The massage therapists, which were mostly Malay as far as I could tell, are professional and good at what they do. A Swedish massage is less than $50 for a 60 minute session. I remembered I was one of the last customer to leave for the day when I visited Wu You a couple of months ago. The friendly therapist never failed to keep the smile on her face after what must have been a long and tiring day for her.

While I certainly loved the zen concept of this massage palor, I doubt I’ll make the effort to come all the way up here again unless I’m on my way to the northern part of Singapore. Nevertheless, if you are staying around Thomson area, then, I’ll certainly recommend that you should not miss this wonderful place. What’s more…food and drinks choices are aplenty around this area once you’ve come out from your massage!

Note: Advanced booking is recommended. I had to go back more than once before I could secure a place. This is apparently a small but very popular massage palor for the Thomson Road vicinity.

Location of Wu You Lifestyle Therapy
235 Up Thomson Rd, 574366, Singapore
Size: Small massage palor with about 8 private individual and couple rooms done in Zen concept
Facilities: Small shower and toilet area

Friendliness: Polite staff and good massage therapists.
Pricing: Starts from US$30 for a body massage. Discounted Spa and massage packages for members also available.

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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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Disappointing Kenko

Disappointing Foot MassageTen years ago, I remembered going to Kenko during lunch hours for shoulder and back massages whenever I needed one. It was a useful 20 minutes perk-me-up especially when work was hectic and stress-level was high. Kenko, then a small massage shop, was simply decorated and situated at Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore. The boss or manager was extremely friendly and the masseurs’ skills invariably good.

Since I stopped working around that area ten years ago, I had never visited Kenko. Over the years, I had seen Kenko move from strength to strength in Singapore – expanding into many branches and going up-market in decor, services and clientèle. I had wanted to try them out for old time sake but their new up-market prices stopped me each time. I would rather go to my regular foot masseur at almost half of what I need to pay at Kenko.

I was busy and had not had a foot massage for a long time. I happened to pass by Kenko in Chinatown one day. The nice decor and atmosphere lured me into the shop. I decided on a S$48 dollars for a 45 minute foot bath and massage.

The shop was nicely decorated and the massage chair was one of the most luxurious I have ever seen. Soft curtains, soft lights and soft music completed the mood. The male masseur assigned to me looked experienced and I was confident I was in for a comfortable foot massage from an experienced masseur.

The luxurious leather massage chair was fitted with a foot-bath; so there wasn’t a need to bring in a hot tub of water. However, the water in the foot-bath was only luke-warm and there didn’t seem to be any crystal or herbal essence added to the water; just plain, warm water. The foot bath had a couple of mild bubble-jets. It was nothing more than putting my feet into bubbling lukewarm water. It certainly pale in comparison with foot baths that I had done in many other places – especially the Taiwanese version where the foot bath are invariably the highlight of a foot massage.

My feet was quickly dried off and the foot massage started. I don’t remember any cream, lotion or powder being applied. The foot massage was weak, being a series of thumb and first finger presses; starting with the toes and then going round the feet. It was simply press, press, press and there were no deep second knuckle pressing, thumb presses nor any knuckle scrubbing so commonly expected of foot massage. There were also no massage of the ankle, calf nor knees except for a couple of tapping action.

Once one foot was finished, the same action was started on the second foot. No towel was wrapped around the finished foot so common in most other foot massage palours. The whole sequence finished quite soon and certainly did not feel like the 45 minutes that I paid for. The masseur then washed my feet before drying them again. This was where he made the mistake that you may sometimes come across when washing hair in hair salons; not ensuring the water was warmed up before starting the wash!

I was totally disappointed! This was certainly one of the worst foot massage I ever had and I suspect that the masseur was new, inexperienced or not well trained in foot massage. The shop was busy during the period I was there, with customers coming in and out for shoulder and body massage, but none for foot massage. I can only speculate that foot massages are no longer popular in up-market shops such as Kenko and perhaps the quality of foot massage had suffered as a result.

Even the ‘tea’ served to me at the end was not hot tea but plain cold water. I’m okay with either but why serve water in a tea-cup complete with tray when it’s just plain water? I or any customer would have expected hot green or ginger tea when served on a tea-cup as in the case for most up-market massage boutiques.

I paid up and left quickly. Once out of the shop, I knew for sure I hadn’t had a real foot massage – my feet did not have the warm, fluffy and tingling feeling I normally have after a good foot massage.

Luckily, it hadn’t become too late into the night. I decided that I needed to go look for a real foot massage elsewhere!

Location of Kenko Spa Boutique, Chinatown branch
211 South Bridge Road, Singapore
Size: Mid-size massage boutique palor with multiple rooms

Facilities: Toilet

Friendliness: Polite staff and massage therapists. Receptionist a bit pushy with selling massage packages.
Pricing: Ranges from US$35 to US$40 for massage only. Between US$85 to US$175 for massage packages.

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Spa Promotion Search Directory, Singapore

Spa search directoryHere’s something interesting for fellow spa enthusiasts in a bargain hunting mood … a spa promotion online search directory.

This is how it works – supposing you are in the mood for a spa or massage session, and you jolly well know that spa establishments run promotions all the time – you look up on the internet: http://www.totallyspa.com, and bingo … you’re shown a list of spa establishments in Singapore that happens to be running a spa promotion! Just pick one and off you go happily!

This website is essentially a niche web search directory targetted to spas in Singapore. In their own words:

totallyspa is your online source for Singapore spa promotions. Treat yourself to the many available treatments on promotion now.”

Nifty idea, isn’t it? Well, almost…

This website is useful if you are too lazy to check out various spa websites and so, you can find various promotions consolidated here on your behalf. However, I find their spa directory and promotions not comprehensive and seems to only cover spas that, I assume, has signed up for their directory services. If your favorite spa is not listed with them, you’ll not find their promotions even if they are indeed running a promotion.

The key attraction for this website is their spa promotions. However, I noted that these are standard spa promotions and not something at a even better pricing or discount. If I have a bookmark of my favourite spa websites or are on the mailing lists for these spas, the promotions I am likely to recieve from these spas will be as good if not better. Hence, this website may only be useful for the occasional spa customer and not hard-core spa and massage enthusiasts like myself or some of my readers.

However, I do appreciate the logic behind the website’s founders. What I can suggest to them is to expand their directory services to not only Singapore but the entire Asia region. Hence, if I intend to make a trip to Hong Kong, I will definitely do my research at this website because I am obviously not familiar with Hong Kong’s spa environment, much less the promotions being offered by Hong Kong spas.

I will also suggest that the website sign up independent writers or get readers to review the spa promotions that are offered. Due to competitive circumstances, almost every spa worthy of it’s name run price promotions almost everyday, and so it is important to differentiate the ordinary promotion from the really, special promotions.

In addition, not every reader go for promotions but some may choose a spa based on service, variety of treatments, location, ambiance and other reasons and hence, independent and well-written spa reviews may attract a reader more than the best price promotion. A poorly managed spa will still fail to attract customer despite the best price promotions!

Regardless, I must commend the website for their attempt in making spa promotions that are running wild all over the various medias into one consolidated location. If they can improve further based on some of my comments, then I am sure spa enthusiasts like myself will make this website a must-have reference in the future.

Pix credit: http://www.totallyspa.com

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