Latest Posts

Something Subtle at MO Tokyo The Spa

Glad to announce that MO Tokyo’s the Spa is now carrying Subtle Energies natural skincare lines and offering #ayurvedaaromatherapy.

I just love what Sara Codner has done with the place and can’t wait to get over to Tokyo and try their new programs out!

 

Here’s some spa porn…

centerpiece

You know it’s important when it gets the orchid placement! 

energytraining

the first ayurvedaaromatherapy in all of Tokyo!

Hyatt Regency Danang: Vie Spa review 

We stayed for three days at the Hyatt Regency Danang in an up and coming part of Vietnam.   It’s a very solid 4 star property but nothing more.  The spa beautifully designed in that Southeast Asia tropical way but a poor work ethic and some questionable attitudes bring it down in my eyes.

It could,  also be closer to the resort with clearer signs on how to get there from the rooms and common areas.

What I loved :

Outdoor bath for treatment rooms

I didn’t get time to use it but looks solo inviting!

The not-so-good

1. Bait and Switch and the adamant receptionist

I don’t like being told there’s one thing available and then it disappearing.  I thought I had successfully changed to a Four Hands treatment on the phone but the receptionist almost threatened my husband that I needed to come now for the previously planned 90 mind couple treatment.  I was fully immersed in my book by the pool.   IM NOT HOPSTEPPING because receptionist threatens to charge me for a no-show.  Her attitude was horrible for a wannabe 5 star resort.

This all,  eventually,  got sorted out by DH and management but it set the tone for the treatments to come.

2. That Diamond discount

It basically covers your tax and service  charge (barely). It’s still a pricey treatment for this developing country at 141USD.

3. Four Hands half of the time

The first 10 mins were… orgasmic, heavenly but it went downhill from there.   I think the other therapist left at around 45 mins.  Synchronized massaging must be hard but don’t offer something as a signature item and don’t deliver a great treatment.

4. Mid range facial products

Vie Spa also uses June Jacobs products, which,  I’m not the biggest fan of so be aware of that for your facials.

5. No accompaniment

No one comes to get you or sees you off back to your room/out of the spa.  They also throw away your footspa water when you’re being treated.   I guess you need to stay at a 5* resort to get escorted to/from the room.

2.5 stars out of 5

Verdict : It’s cheap enough compared to Tokyo, Seoul but it’s premiumly priced in Danang. The spa should improve its service flaws and it’d be a better, more polished one.  The therapists have great technique (very strong and firm hands) but let down by their poor attitude to service.

Missing service, stars and more at Signiel, Evian spa, Seoul 

Miss Spaist is back after a long hiatus.  A combination of WordPress apathy, social media (hello Instagram!) and changing careers put the digital quill and paper away.   I’m back to tell you about the mainly bad from Seoul’s newest spa, Evian @ Lotte Signiel. 

Many worship at the altar of Lotte Corporation. Koreannially (I made this up from Korea and perennial. Maybe, it sounded cleverer in my head but I distress) renown for department stores,  hotels,  confectionery, cinemas,  construction, subpar burgers and baseball teams and a whole lot more. 

I do not.

Lotte is a very successful Japanese company but I’ve never really liked any of their stuff.   I’ve also felt that something changed ever since they change their logos and color schemes in the early 2010s.  

I’ve never been a fan of their flagship Lotte hotel in Myeongdong either.  Just very cheap feeling without the luxury service to match. Amenities,. touches around the suite and even the room height.  At the time,  it seemed geared to Japanese guests more than anything. 

You can imagine my skepticism for their tallest and newest Evian spa at Signiel Seoul in the Lotteworld Tower. It wasn’t a very good experience from the get go.  Somehow, they managed, to turn an 86th floor location into feeling like a B1 spa.  Stuffy and claustrophobic at the same time. 

Signiel Seoul’s Evian spa has plenty of Evian water and that’s about all. 

If you’re going to be a 7* hotel then your spa should reflect the effort put into the guest rooms and common areas.  

Hmm, where to start? 

When the bill comes BEFORE the treatment and what a waiting area means… 

Do you pay before you eat at McDonalds? 

Well,  yes,  it’s fast food and I’m sure many diners would skip out after consuming that Big Mac and fries. It’s expected in that type of low cost environment.  Pay,  get your stuff and go. 

Should you pay before you spa at the self proclaimed 7* Signiel Seoul? 

I think it’s rather unbecoming of a spa to expect payment upfront.  I should feel satisfied and confident at the end to pay.  It’s almost like they think you would spa and dash.   The spa manager says it’s because you don’t have your wallet after finishing the treatment but don’t you still need to get dressed and get your clothes from the changing area?   It was at this point I knew this spa would be terrible

This is the first area your guest sees and I think it should be as warm and welcoming as possible. The best spa reception and waiting areas make you seem like you’ve been teleported to an out of worldly experience. 

The Evian spa waiting area isn’t very of a waiting area at all.  It looks like they forgot about it and put at the end of the reception area near the fire exit stairs.  It’s got uncomfortable pleather stools and logs for tables. This isn’t a waiting area where you’re going to be basking in the opulence of it all.  You’re more likely to think, “I’ve made the worst mistake coming here. ” I know I did. Evian spa has very short ceilings and I know this because I’m short and feel taller being there. 

feels cold and clinical

What spa products can tell you about a spa… 

It’s going to sound bad but I judge spas based on what cosmetics products they use and how they display them.  The scientific method needs a variable and a constant,  and cosmetics are a constant because you can buy it from multiple shops and retail settings and come out with the same end result.  Not the best or objective measure but a good rule of thumb is that better spas will use and make programs using renown cosmetics in one way or another.  They’re also most likely to make you want to buy them after.   Mandarin Oriental Tokyo still has one of the best displays out there and the finest cosmetic lines.  That’s somewhere competing for the 7* spa awards. 

Evian spa uses Payot.  

Definitely an after thought by the spa designers

I won’t be adding Payot to my extensive collection of premium cosmetics.  My trusty friend Google tells me it was created by one French or Swiss Madame Payot in Lausanne and they have many lines but it didn’t inspire me before OR after the treatment.  That shelf looks like it was done by some carpenters because they realized they needed to show the product lines. 

The treatment 

Signiel’s Evian spa charges 200,000 won plus 10% tax (about 176 USD) for a 1 hour treatment. This is slightly more than Four Seasons Seoul,  where, you at least have a pedigree from Four Seasons award winning spas and programs.  Also, more than Grand Hyatt Seoul, with their seasoned therapists and programs.  They didn’t have any 30min facials so I ended up choosing their 120 min program for 374,000 won (about 330 USD). 

No footbath 

A 120 min treatment and no footbath or scrub to start off.  I can understand getting a 60 min treatment and omitting the foot ritual but 2 hours definitely deserves one.  The footbath is a way of getting to know your therapist and start relaxing for the great treatment to come. Everything starts from your feet! 

My treatment was all over the place.  My therapist had good strength but no rhythm or technique.  

It’s a sign of therapist inexperience when you come out of a treatment feeling the same as when you went in.  She also hovered too much. Would not really leave me alone to experience the room height and view. 

The treatment room 

The views weren’t outstanding because a lot of the hotel overlooks ancient former public housing apartments but the height and horizon were nice.  Many spas are on lower levels and don’t enjoy much views at all.  Nice to be on the 86th floor. 

I loved their plush robes and towels.  Suuuper soft.  The spa slippers were better than any others I’ve had in Korea. 

Aftermath 

I can tell that this spa was ill-conceived by all the lacking touches and grace.  Take one walk from the lobby down and you’ll see where glitz and gold becomes plastic and hard.  If there were spa consultants then they committed a felony and stole money.  Signiel Seoul probably is the worst high end spa I’ve ever seen and been to in my life. 

The biggest letdown comes from the spa manager who tells me her therapists followed the French Evian teaching manual.  I think her first reaction should be to make things right and deliver a happy customer than tell me they followed their French book.  Her excuse for the upfront payment was lame because everyone has to get dressed,  either in their treatment room or the sauna area.   The spa manager telling me that she would look out and maybe invite me to an event was insulting.  Accountability seems to be absent from Evian spa at Signiel Seoul and it certainly doesn’t come close to being a 7* spa 

PS: the spa didn’t give us enough parking time allowance and we were 1 minute over 3 hours in the parking garage.  They charged us 500 won!  This was the straw that broke the donkey’s back.  What kind of place holds you for 1 min… 

A place built by Lotte. 


North Korean spaing? Jangmiwon up North

Eek.  This is one spa I never want to go to!

Jangmiwon in Pyongyang, North Korea

image

The spa itself resembles your typical Korean jjimjilbang bathing house with rose petals and roses all spread around.  It’s not going to be on Luxury Spa Spy but it’s definitely luxury for North Koreans.

Please don’t go here and support the North Korean regime with your tourist dollars, euros or yuan.   This is one rose I don’t mind seeing perish! 👎👎

Most spa-able bathroom in Hong Kong: Upper House in Admiralty

I’ve been to all the luxe properties here in Hong Kong and the hotel with the prettiest tub and most Instagram friendly bathroom would have to go to the Upper House.

It’s not the fanciest, shiniest bathroom out there but it’s spacious and inviting (quite hard to get big tubs in Hong Kong!).  Giant views that go out for miles of the Peak or a recessed Harbour view.  

image

The only thing I would want is the tubs near the window for a better Harbour selfie shot!  😄

image

Bathing views from most rooms and suites are spectacular.  They really could lose the shower bathmat as they get absolutely drenched.  Bamboo mat might suit their bathrooms’ aesthetic more.

The bathroom toiletries are just…ok but a letdown at this price level and level of hotel sophistication. 

Grand Hyatt Fukuoka uses these same REN bottles in their suites.  REN works well enough but you expect something greater at Hong Kong’s most expensive rooms.  I know, I do when everything else is so well done.  Even bigger bottles would seem more luxurious and special than these.

image

I would want ’em to bring my favorite L’Occitane Lavender and Honeysuckle!  That would make the Upper House bathroom somewhere I’d never want to leave from.