One of the reasons for our spa review at the Novotel was to look at the real differences between a massage at one of the numerous massage shops around town and a massage at an upmarket resort. After all, the price difference may be quite substantial, but is it really worth it? Our criteria included the setting, the service and the overall experience. We didn’t choose an elaborate or specialised treatment, just the sort of massage that is at offered at many premises. Our Novotel massage was the ‘In Balance Signature Massage’.
This is a combination of Thai traditional with some added aromatics. Not too many ‘herbs and spices’ but the added benefits of subtle fragrances to increase the massage effects and sensual pleasure. I have noticed that many Thai masseurs may use a rather pungent lotion or oil which can be a distraction rather than a bonus. But to backtrack, what about the setting? At ‘In Balance’, the Novotel’s Spa Centre, the answer is delightful. You wander down past the Resort’s pool area, kid’s playground and fitness centre before going into the welcoming spa reception area. You’ll be immediately greeted by staff offering a refreshing cool tea before being ushered into the spacious and peaceful treatment room. Your booking will be recognised without fuss and the masseur ready and waiting.
None of the uncertainty of many massage shops where you may need to wake up sleeping staff or wait until one of their food breaks is over. The treatment room is huge with expansive beach and ocean views. Not a crowded cubicle with only a curtain separating you from the next customer or listening to idle chatter between staff. This was a calming and relaxing introduction to the treatment. I was also reassured that the glass separating you from the vista is one-way, ensuring your complete privacy. Of course face down there is a slightly raised and open head support, allowing you to remain comfortable in this position; you can breathe normally. This is unusual for many massage shops which provide only a basic bench, not really designed for massage.
My masseur, Khun Ben, was calm, confident and reassuring. She clearly knew her trade and was firm but gentle. She was eager to ask about my comfort level and able to give me the confidence needed to completely relax and drift into that state somewhere between sleep and awareness. Massage can be a great time to ponder the state of the world without distraction, although sleep means you may miss those ‘goose bump’ moments when just the right touch at the right place brings a smile to your face. I remember having some spare time and at a Bangkok Shopping Centre choosing to take a massage there. They wheeled in a male gorilla who probably gave me the most painful massage I have ever experienced. Not a pleasant encounter or one that was anything like my treatment at the Novotel! Time goes very quickly, probably the better the massage to shorter the time seems. I guess that was the downside of my Novotel massage experience. I could have gladly accepted more and that was my concluding remark to Khun Ben; ‘mai jute, mai jute’ (don’t stop, don’t stop)! My thanks to her for the rejuvenating experience.
I also suggested to her that if I was Alexander Parry, the Novatel General Manager, I would be a very regular patron. The conclusion is that this level of massage with the anticipated enjoyment and benefits can be much more confidently realised at the Novotel compared with the less sophisticated uncertainties posed by a visit to the ‘hullo welcome’ down town facilities. Yes, it’s more expensive but your enjoyment will be at a much higher level. For me, confidence is a big thing about the likelihood of massage being worthwhile. That’s just one of the factors that you can expect at ‘In Balance’. About In Balance: There’s not a lot of information about the Spa treatments available of the Novotel website. Apart from my ‘Signature Massage’ there another ten options, including Swedish massage, herbal compress and aromatherapy.
There is also a special private couple’s spa suite which offers 2.5 hours of indulgence including a floral bath and facial, apart from massage. You may also choose to include a glass of wine and a fruit platter. Perhaps a honeymoon or birthday treat? I’m told that earlier in the Novotel’s history the Spa was a separate business and perhaps outside of management quality control. These days that is not the case and the Spa Manager, Khun Nui, takes great care to ensure your experience is the best. No need to be a guest at the Resort; just put away any anxieties and don’t be shy. Make an easy booking and the rest will be carefree. Open: 9.00 AM to 7.00 PM, Phone: 032 708 300.