Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tien Hom Thai Massage

After the experience with Ton-Ton last week, this had left me with a very stiff back which probably was aggravated by my fiance's niece stomping on my back the other day. I had decided to try this new Massage place which I passed by every night on my way home. It's called Tien Hom Thai Massage, and it is cheaper than Ton-Ton.

Ambience
The lobby area of Tien Hom is really top class aesthetically it is very well designed. And the fragrant smell of the menthol with some floral accents really relaxed my senses. Upon entering the massage area, I noticed it was really quite small. Just like Ton-Ton, it has only curtains and a matress for rooms. The massage area is pretty crudely finished, with balck ceilings and beige walls, but at least it did look clean. The matress on the floor is aroung 4 inches thick which is an improvement from the 2 inch matress used in Ton-Ton. Still the fragrances are pretty strong, but not too strong just about on the high end of what I would consider comfortable. There are no lockers so all your clothes and bag/s stay with you protected by curtains. Around halfway into the massage their staff turned up the aircon, way up which I did not realize that my curtain room was right next to it. The loud roar of the aircon and the sudden injection of cold air was just about enough for me to get a little uncomfortable, but it was still bearable. I had to remember that this was a 1 hour massage for only 250 pesos and 200 pesos in the afternoons. Also one thing that bothered me was the fact that the off-duty masseuses spoke quite loudly and had to be shushed by our masseuses. And they also give out free hot tea at the end of your massage which is a big plus.

Quality of Service
With my aching back, I was hoping for a really good massage, and wasn't disappointed at the results. At first, I wanted to see what kind of pressure the masseuse would apply, it started out a little soft, so I spoke out and said that I wanted a hard massage because my back was really pretty stiff. She adjusted well to my request and very arduously massaging my back. It felt really good as I felt my back was really just one solid mass and she broke it down very well, the problem is because my back was so messed up that night, the masseuse spent a good part of the massage on the left side of my back leaving the right side a little bit wanting. So maybe given the situation, I should have taken the 1 hour 30 minutes, but still the back massage was done very well. There are a lot more techniques employed here and at least the masseuse I got was very good at these techniques. So for being such a cheap massage place, it really does not disappoint, in fact it does overdo itself with such a low valuation but hey who am I to complain about that. LOL

Ranting on Ton-Ton

RANT. Just a little background for starters, if you've been reading the other reviews you'd know how much I value a good back massage, and my 'go to' place for a good cheap back massage was Ton-Ton Traditional Massage. But last Saturday, they really let me down. I got a masseuse that was not very friendly. First off me and my fiance availed of the 30 min foot and 1 hour body/back combo. The masseuse I got was insistent on having the body/back massage first, even after I had said that we preferred to have our foot massage first, we had not had any problems with this before and I thought it odd that she would try to insist even after being told. I told myself, well maybe she just forgot, so we sat down in the foot massage area. I had been in a relaxed mood since I was pretty tired that night, so I laid back and just closed my eyes. I have a foot massage quite often in Ton-Ton Massage so I know when I say that the foot massage felt like it was rushed, and true indeed, my masseuse finished earlier than the masseuse with my fiance. In any case, we went to Ton-Ton because of its back massage, so I just let the rushed massage slip. Getting a back massage for me happens at least 2-3 times a month and I had very high expectations since I go to Ton-Ton quite often. But not only did the massage feel 'soft' but the masseuse spoke in a very rash manner, quite annoying really and once again felt a little bit rushed. And true indeed of the 1 hour back massage only around 50 minutes had actually elapsed, I had not had the presence to check if the 30 minute Foot massage was actually 30 minutes, simply because of the 2 years of coming to Ton-Ton, I had not had to do so because of the satisfactory experiences that I have had. It was probably because of these moments that I did not open my mouth to complain right then. Which would prove to be a mistake, as when I woke up the next day, my back did not feel right, it was so tight and stiff. I do not write this to discourage people of going to Ton-Ton, I just wanted to share that even in my most trusted Massage places, there can be some lemons, which might lead to a nasty experience. For me, one bad experience does not change my impression of Ton-Ton and would go back there over and over again, hopefully I do not get that same masseuse again, or maybe she just had a bad day herself. Anyway, I endured this pain until last night when I tried a new massage place, Tien Hom Massage.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Family Spa

Introduction
At first glance you would easily mistake the Happy Family Spa for a Foot or a Nail Spa because of their quite comical signboard that utilizes a foot and toes with the toes painted like little people, hence the 'Happy Family', and still me and my fiance still mistakenly call it the 'Happy Feet Spa' because of this. Anyway, to start off what really got us curious is the sign that said back massage 300 pesos. So we went in, expecting to find some chairs (which is typical of a foot and nail spa) but instead we found out that it is a full service spa to our delight.

Ambiance
The great thing about this spa is that if you are a couple you will get a couple's room for sure, but if you are alone you might end up getting a massage in a room with a complete stranger. This is because at the Happy Family Spa, the only rooms they have are couple rooms, so beds always come in pairs. But these rooms are not completely private though, because the dividing walls only go up to around 6 feet, so if you're taller than 6 feet expect to see what's going on in the rooms adjacent and the hallways everytime you stand. The beds are probably improvised though they do have the hole for your face and they do provide a scented candle. The rooms are just about smaller than what they would have to be, so sometimes your masseuse will tend to push and pull your bed just to get around the room, which can be noisy and annoying. With all that said ambiance is really not the strong point of the Happy Family Spa; rather it is price, price, price and as will be discussed quality.

Quality of Service
We've been coming back to this place for quite a while now and probably have sampled most of the massages that they do offer. As with most budget spas, different masseuses have different styles which is not a completely bad thing at all, non standardization makes almost certain that you will at least have a preference of whose style you like the most. In definitely have my favorites but the variety is also great and all the massages are very good. I would definitely recommend this spa if QOS is what your looking for.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sonya's Garden Spa

Introduction
Once a simple garden, turned to a huge business, Sonya's Garden has gone a long way from its humble beginnings. I remember about 10 years ago when my uncle brought us to this place, it was nothing more than a house with a garden and a small but cute covered area in which guests are entertained. The food literally is the freshest you can get, (right off the garden) and it is simply sumptuous and to think that its all veggies and very healthy and good for you. It was nice hidden, private and remote, we even jokingly called it the Sonya's "secret" Garden. Now, 10 years on, I have finally came back to Sonya's Garden, and there have been some monumental changes; there are much more areas to dine in now, there is also a venue for weddings/debuts/etc now, and more relevantly there is also a spa. The spa is located at the innermost area of the whole complex, you get to stroll by a beautiful garden a shop. Just like The Nurture Spa which is also located in Tagaytay, you also get a good dose of unfiltered nature, great for a relaxing spa experience.

Ambiance
Walking into the spa area, you get a sense of culture as I imagine the architects thought it would be nice to use conventional Filipino building materials. Each individual gets a private room all for them self. In each room is a bed, and a private shower area where you can also hang your clothes as you change into the robe and shorts. What I found kinda awkward about the room is that the bath area is almost as large as the room area, because the room isn't really that large to begin with I would have thought that a little bit more room area and a little bit less bath area should have been done, but as I am no architect that's the extent of my complaints on the ergonomics of the room. Anyway, I found that the room is very relaxing and the use of yellow lights extremely calming. You may or may not turn on the high velocity fan in your room, since the room is cooled by the mountain breeze; the spa area has a high roof with no ceiling so it is relatively cool inside, but this of course depends on the ambient temperature outside. Also as the spa is located in a garden, you get to take in a whole lot of nature, no white noise machines necessary here, everything is all genuine nature.

Quality of Service
Here's where my personal experience turned a little bit sour. I was just a little bit surprised that a huge man came into my room, it took me a while to realize that he was to be my masseuse. Not that I haven't had a massage by a guy before but hey he was a huge dude and I have to say it was not a comfortable experience. One of the advantages though of having a dude do your massage is that there is very good pressure. After a little while, I started to get relaxed by the massage, and I got a little bit more comfortable with the idea. They use very nice aromatherapy oils that are very relaxing. One of the things that I pay attention to in quality of service is how experienced the masseuse is or is not. Anyway this big dude did a pretty good job with the pressure but I'm afraid he fell short because he could not sense what areas in my body needed a little bit more time, it felt like the whole thing was a carefully rehearsed movement and that he was not reacting to my personal needs (and no I don't really vocally go out and tell them unless I'm really in so much pain, besides they're professionals and they should know these things) So for me it wasn't really worth it but my companions came out with a refreshed look in their faces, and when I asked them about their experience they all said they had a very good experience. Maybe I just got the lemon or maybe my masseuse just wasn't up to it for that day but hey as Micheal Jordan once said "I do my best all the time, for that one person that one person in the stands, that one person that spent his allowance, his salary, for that one person, this might be his first or his only Micheal Jordan experience, and I want it to be memorable for that person.", I'm not entirely sure those are the exact words of Mr.Jordan, I'm sorry if I got some wrong but I watched this documentary when I was 10 and sort of never forgot the thought of that speech. For Sonya's Garden Spa, I'm sure that they have very competent staff and my experience is the exception not the rule but in my opinion there needs to be a great improvement in the quality of their service. Oh and the tea they served after the massage is really excellent.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nurture Spa - Tagaytay

Introduction
Possibly one of the best known destination spas near Metro Manila, The Nurture Spa in Tagaytay is a great way to escape from urban life and commune with nature. Indeed it is a spa which is somewhat difficult to find which can be good and bad, but I would say being so out of the way (of the highway) it offers a good opportunity for relaxation which sets the mood for one ultimate spa experience.

Ambiance
As I have stated above, The Nurture Spa in Tagaytay is a getaway. Nature surrounds the spa and you almost feel as if you are immediately engulfed in a mood of complete community with nature which makes relaxation a given. None of the rooms have air conditioning as it is naturally cool in Tagaytay. Spa services are offered in small huts and/or gazebos, just find a vacant one and your all set. I would imagine that rain would present a problem here as none of the paths are covered and the huts are made from a very nature friendly nipa which is awesome and great to look at but I don't think it is very strong. When it comes to serenity, tranquility and isolation, The Nurture Spa Tagaytay is a true winner!

Quality of Service
The Nurture Spa Tagaytay has some of the most courteous employees for a Spa. The Nurture Spa Tagaytay offers a lot of services and the best part is it's all natural. All of their products are made from nature even the oils feel so good even after the massage. While the quality of the massage is very good, I would have to say that there are much better alternatives for much, much cheaper. That being said, the massage is not really bad but it's not particularly great either, it's just good to very good, which is not what the price would suggest. Granted that it is not just the massage service that you come to The Nurture Spa for, but it is the primary reason you will be spending your hard earned cash. So overall, a very good massage plus excellent ambience makes The Nurture Spa one ultimate spa experience, well worth trying.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Excelsior Spa

Introduction

Excelsior Spa is located all over the Metro, with branches in Tomas Morato, Shaw Blvd. and Robinsons Galleria, etc. Depending on the branch, the price is around 380-400 pesos for a 60 minute massage in a common room. The price includes 1 drink, which either iced tea or orange juice, use of their steam room and shower facilities. You are requested to take a shower or steam then shower before getting your massage. You’re going to be wearing shorts and a robe that they provide for your massage. We’ve tried the spa in Tomas Morato.

Ambience

To be honest, the inside does not really look like a spa, but rather a huge locker room that leads to a small common room. There are very few beds in the common room, only 8 beds I think. It’s a very small common room so the aircon is really cold, and the lights are very dim. Nature sounds are played in the background. Despite the overly cold air-conditioning and the locker room type feel (because you are still inside the locker room technically), it’s all very cozy. It also is quite relaxing after your body gets acclimatized or just sometimes it can be hell if you have a cold, then the ac just magnifies your cold exponentially.

Quality of Service

Excelsior Spa uses a combination of Shiatsu and Swedish massage techniques. They use a good amount of oil which is surprisingly is not too greasy on the skin, which is a good thing. The masseuses are quite good and the massage is very relaxing. It’s so easy to drift off to sleep because of the soothing massage, very dim lights and cold ac. Not the best by any stretch of the imagination, but good value for the price.

The Big Apple Spa

Introduction

There have been several Big Apple Spas that have been popping up all throughout the Metro. They offer cheap massages ranging from foot to back to full body. Pricing starts at 290 pesos for a full body massage which is very cheap. They employ various styles of massage all on cubicle type rooms. We tried out the branch in SM Hypermart Tiendesitas, there are several others I think in malls.

Ambiance

Massages are done in ‘private rooms’ which is a small cubicle where there is barely enough room for the client let alone for the masseuse. The floors looked nice enough with wood like finishing. The partitions for the little cubicles are painted in white and some have a small shelf with a candle which might be considered a fire hazard being so cramped and so near the bed. The music they played was hardly acceptable for relaxation, in fact I believe that they were listening to a local radio station. But me being the sleepyhead that I am, I still managed to doze off in the middle of the massage.

Quality of Service

They offer massages with and without oil. You get what you pay for here and that’s not a whole lot. The masseuse was always on top of the bed, I think sometimes she was even standing on the bed. The cramped space really affected the quality of the massage. The masseuse was having a hard time figuring out a way to move around the room to massage different parts of my body. The pressure was also not good enough for me. Overall, cheapness and I was not very satisfied with the service.

Contributors