JW Marriott, Seoul
Comment 1

JW Marriott Dongdaemun: new spa, new problems

I am a patient spaist (I eagerly awaited this spa treatment since its March opening).

I show up on time for reservations.  (How can I fault a spa if I stroll in 10-15 minutes later?!)

I take the treatment room I’m given. (Even the best spas have so-so or bad rooms.  Besides, they all make good review material)

But I will complain if things go wrong.  You have to make a stand in Korea because if you don’t cry for ddeok, no one will ever hear the baby.  This is an old Korean proverb meaning make yourself heard and stand up for yourself.  Be constructive, be calm but make sure you spaists out there point out if something wasn’t done properly or you had a horrible dinner, treatment, shopping experience, etc (That’s also what my website www.missspaist.com is for.)

Which is why at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun spa, I choose to accept their interpretation when the therapist tells me the 90 minute treatment is really a 60 minute split (60 body and 30 for tea time, changing and a food scrub), even though I’m a veteran and know a foot bath/scrub cannot last 30 minutes.

We had arrived 30 minutes early and were ushered up and up again from the 8th floor entrance.  Their spa is on the 9th floor but shares a reception area with the gym and swimming pool.   It was a long drawn out saga where they stated what their treatment should be and I countered with what I thought I paid for.   Good thing I’m spaing with someone level headed because talking to them was like talking to a brunch of drones.

Their treatment rooms remind me of a North American home laundry room I’ve been in before.  It’s really an unappealing green and white mismash with no views, windows.   The faucet is plopped right in the middle of what looks like one long kitchen counter.  Even their most expensive couples treatment room didn’t do much for me.   Apologies to my readers that I couldn’t get many pictures of the treatment rooms because the therapists didn’t leave!  That was something else with them on the prowl.

Even without the drama from the by the book spa staffers, the massage goes off the rails. Too much elbows — neck, back and shoulders — throws my relaxation out of whack.  I do, truly believe that massages need an almost synergy between therapist and client and I didn’t get that in two separate sessions at the JW Marriott spa.  Doesn’t help that they seem to massage in a very Korean sports massage jjimjilbang kind-of style.  Two fist taps on my back and shoulders (the traditional Korean sports massage finish) signifies something very out of place for a 5 star hotel spa.  Their foot soak, hand creaming is ineffective at best, droll at worst.

So what went wrong behind the scenes with my 90 minutes staycation spa package? (It didn’t happen the second time.) Was the spa backed up? Does 90min only mean 60min at this spa?

The spa manager, with all due respect, seems out of her depth or doesn’t care about spa experience concerns.  I gave her the chance to explain the 90 minute fiasco but all she could do is offer the standard spiel about being sorry, thank you for the feedback.  I had to go to the very top to seek answers from Marriott corporate.

“Poor communication.  If we print and advertise 90 minutes then that’s what people should be getting,” elaborates the Marriott VP for Asian operations, Bart Buiring, over the phone.

“They should’ve done the 90 minutes (well), apologized and put the customer at ease.”

None of that happened.

edit:  Mr. Buiring has been very good about apologizing for his hotel’s mistakes, making amends with a follow up re-do session, etc.  However, I just still feel spa-tially broken after back to back weekend treatments at JW Marriott DDM’s spa.  Spaing block with some Spa Traumatic Stress Disorder (STSD) thrown in there.



Not very stylish

Not very stylish


The towels were soft at least.

The towels were soft at least.




1 Comment

  1. Pingback: 3rd time’s the charm? JW Marriott Dongdaemun Diamond sublime experience | shinspaist

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