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We are talking about a happy ending of a different sort—spas that provide customers services beyond the conventional massage-and-wrap treatments. Whether it be a consultation with a Chinese acupuncturist or a light and nutritious meal after your treatment, operators want you to leave their premises feeling good on the inside and out.

We are talking about a happy ending of a different sort—spas that provide customers services beyond the conventional massage-and-wrap treatments. Whether it be a consultation with a Chinese acupuncturist or a light and nutritious meal after your treatment, operators want you to leave their premises feeling good on the inside and out.

“I go for a massage once every two weeks to get some relief for my stiff neck and shoulders,” said Theresa Khoo, self-employed. “I’d feel okay for the next one to two days, and then the lethargy and body aches return.”

Like many regular spa-goers, Theresa admitted that one massage never seems enough. She added that her problem is probably more deep-rooted. “My friends have been telling me to go see a sinseh (traditional Chinese medicine physician) or try stuff like ba-guan (cupping).”

GIMME MORE!

According to figures from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals released two weeks ago, Singapore has emerged as the healthiest place to live in the world. It shares the top spot with highly developed countries such as Iceland and Sweden. The focus on personal wellbeing, physically and mentally, has never been stronger.

Consumers here are also looking beyond the usual massage to seek alternative and more comprehensive wellness solutions—ranging from homeopathy to diets and hot springs.

“We have seen a growing demand for naturopathic consultations among guests who prefer natural remedies,” said a Resorts World Sentosa spokesperson on ESPA at RWS. The spa has an in-house naturopath as well as a team of wellness therapists and fitness experts. Together, they offer a myriad of wellness, fitness, spa, and beauty treatments that includes qigong, yoga flow, chiropractic consultations, and wholesome meals by celebrity chef Ian Kittichai.

Remede Spa at The St Regis Singapore offers a three-course menu by Italian restaurant La Brezza that is crafted specially for guests who book certain spa packages. Designed to be low in calories, the meal can be enjoyed before or after treatment. The packages start from S$320 and include the use of the spa’s facilities such as Cedarwood Finnish Saunas and access to the outdoor spa garden with a foot reflexology path, and they make up 10 per cent of Remede Spa’s total bookings. “These packages are popular with guests who book for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, or a weekend retreat,” said Gabriele Sterff, its director of spa.

To give their spa eats extra oomph, Four Seasons Spa & L’Occitane at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore offers Chinese and Western options from Jiang-Nan Chun and One-Ninety Restaurant. “There has been a strong and growing interest in wellness cuisine, and quite a number of spa guests already head to either restaurant before or after their treatments,” said Eve Chiam, spa manager, about the recent launch of its spa menus.

Although healthier cooking methods and less oil and no MSG are used, at Jiang-Nan Chun, the focus is not so much on calories. Rather, it is on the nourishing properties of the ingredients used. “For example, Japanese black garlic has twice the antioxidative prowess of regular garlic and cordycep flowers are renowned in traditional Chinese medicine for their anti-ageing benefits. Chef’s signature soups are also good for the skin and body,” Chiam explained.

GETTING CREATIVE

Food may be a good way of enhancing a guest’s wellness journey at a spa, but there are other ways to stand out from the competition too.

Take Calla Spa, for instance. Although the sprawling sanctuary is located at Suntec City, it manages to carve out a peaceful enclave consisting of separate facilities for men and women, mineral hot pools, steam and sauna baths, and a bistro serving “free-flow food”. Guests can decide how much time they want to spend in there—from an express treatment to a full-day retreat.

“It’s a lifestyle experience,” said Evelyn Tang, its business development manager. “Our facilities are designed to enhance the experience and increase the effectiveness of our treatments. It is our intention to be the ultimate one-stop spa destination, hence, we’ll be introducing new services such as energy health screenings in the near future.”

For those looking to consult and learn from experts in holistic therapies, COMO Shambhala Urban Escape boasts an impressive roster of experts offering their know-how in functional medicine, life coaching, homeopathy, and more. “Christina Ong, owner of COMO Hotels and Resorts, designed COMO Shambhala out of her personal pursuit for a meaningful spa experience,” explained Gerard Grosse, its spa manager. “Our in-house and visiting experts not only meet our founder’s exacting standards, they also share the same desire to help the individual achieve a better-balanced body, mind and spirit.”

Starting October, COMO Shambhala takes its wellbeing services a step further with The Home Kitchen Edit., a consultation and a two-hour home kitchen review by renowned nutritionist Eve Persak. Persak will personally visit each client in their own home in order to methodically evaluate the foods, beverages, condiments, spices and supplements in their fridge and pantry. Then, based on the insights gained of the client’s eating habits, she will identify items to remove and replace, and put together a tailor-made shopping list of recommended foods that will fill gaps in the current regimen.

It is evident that the industry itself is showing a better understanding of what “wellbeing” is. More than just a firm massage to release knots and tension, operators are also addressing the individual’s emotional and lifestyle needs at different stages of their lives. It is not unusual for mums to bring infants to spa sessions, too.

At Beauty.Mums & Babies, junior can enjoy a baby tuina or baby spa session. The spa provides pre- and post-partum treatments, and lactation massages for mothers. It also has courses on baby first-aid and labour support massage courses for caregivers and parents, taking the edge off the often stressful journey into motherhood.

“The Baby Spa is where babies can soak in crystal water in a hydrotherapy-like environment. It mimics the womb environment and puts the baby completely at ease,” said Flora Ho, its marketing manager. “Some benefits include brain development, increased lung capacity, strengthened immunity, and improved reflexes and co-ordination.”

This rising demand for a more comprehensive spa experience can certainly be attributed to the popularity of wellness resources online such as MindBodyGreen as well as homegrown wellness portals such as Soulscape.

The latter focuses on yoga and healthy living, and is the organiser behind the annual beach yoga extravaganza of the same name which was held last weekend. “Our monthly page views are about 30,000 but during festive periods, traffic grows to 50,000,” said Marc Dass, founder of Soulscape.

Where normally the traffic of most website takes a beating, Soulscape’s trend-bucking performance shows how Singaporeans are hungry for information about the latest developments in health and wellbeing, and “spa-ring” no expense in looking and feeling like a million bucks.

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