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“"Lousy service. You're on your own"” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Lasema Jjim Jil Bang Spa and Sauna

Lasema Jjim Jil Bang Spa and Sauna
7232 Malugay St. | Brgy Bel-Air, Makati, Luzon, Philippines
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Ranked #32 of 40 Activities in Makati
Attraction details
manila, philippines
19 reviews 19 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“"Lousy service. You're on your own"”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2013

We've read so many good things about this Korean-oriented spa that we decided to try it. We haven't had a Korean massage before so we thought the rather steep price for a swedish massage in a couples' room was worth it.
We made reservations and presented ourselves at the reception a good half hour before the appointed hour to make time for a sauna because the flyer we had gotten earlier said sauna and massage, and that was what we paid for. We were given shorts, a short robe, 2 small towels and a locker key. Then an attendant walked us to the door to the separate male and female areas and pointed to the big sign that banned shoes inside the area. Then she turned around and left.
I found my way alone to the locker area and changed into the robe and shorts, and looked around for directions to the sauna. There were none. No attendants around either. So for the next 15 to 20 minutes,I had to walk through the area trying to find the sauna since there were no directions, no maps to the place, no signs, etc. I circled the place thrice in case I might have missed a turn or overlooked a room, and asked some clients for directions but since they only gave me a nod or pointed to a general direction, they turned out to be of little help. I found the wet area but there was no sign on the door indicating that a sauna was inside. When I finally found an attendant to ask, it was time for our massage. It was then that we found out that our payment entitled us to the use of the wet area. But nobody told us this when we paid: we could have come earlier to maximize use of the facilities we were entitled to!
When we entered the couples' room for the massage, we were appalled. We willingly paid more for the couples' room rather than the common room because previous experiences in other spas had us expecting better amenites: an ensuite toilet and bath, sometimes a bathtub or jacuzzi, dim lights, good linen, scented candles, piped in music, Balinese decor...In short, a relaxing ambience that went with the pampering theme of the service.
All these were absent in the Lasema couples' room: there was a shower room that was so dingy my husband urged me not to use it; there were two yellow bulbs overhead whose glare hurt our eyes even if squeezed them shut, no music, no scented candles, no ambience. The room was almost bare except for a threadbare translucent curtain separating the two massage beds. I know the place was known for its Jim Jil Bang service, which I read from several blogs, is an alternating dip in extreme heat and extreme cold. But if Lasema couldn't offer the right amenities for a massage, why offer it in the first place and charge through the nose for it?
To be fair, the 2 masseuses we got did a good job and were generously tipped. But we were really disappointed at the utter lack of service that the place exhibited. When I went back to the locker room in the slippers given us, lo and behold, an attendant immediately pounced on me and pointed out that I was breaking their rule about wearing slippers. So where was she when I needed her earlier?
Back in the lobby, I asked the hubby about his experience and it was similar. In the locker room, he looked around for an attendant to ask for a bigger towel since the two hand-sized towels given us could hardly dry his face after a shower. Nobody came despite his calls. So he had to go to the massage room half-washed in his robe rather than come in dripping wet. After the massage, he also walked away in the slippers given us, and again, to his surprise, an attendant just appeared to point out his offense. Where were you earlier when I needed a bigger towel, he asked the attendant.
Feeling really bad about paying a lot and getting very bad (or non-existent) service, we voiced out our complaint to the receptionist. We're not Koreans, we said, and this was our first time in the place, so why did they expect us to know our way around? Why were there no instructions, no attendant to explain what we were supposed to do, what we were entitled to, no directional maps, no helpful notices on the wall at all. What were there were warnings about not taking out the salt clay under pain of a hefty fine,not to wear shoes around, etc.
The woman at the front desk was hardly listening and could not answer our questions. She did apologize, but offered no restitution. Needless to say, instead of feeling relaxed, we were unnecessarily stressed out, ruing that we had paid good money for this disservice. We vowed never to go back. Experiencing something new just wasn't worth the aggravation. The only thing we learned from this place is that, to summon an attendant, wear your shoes inside the place!

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 reviews from our community

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Valenzuela, Philippines
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80 reviews 80 reviews
44 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
“got a feel of an authentic Korean sauna”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

I was truly happy with the experience. I'm such a Korean drama addict so I was really searching where I could live the jjim jil bang experience. Luckily, I got an online deal for a 50% discount on admission fee which includes use of locker, wet sauna, dry sauna and massage services you can enjoy for half a day (12hours). I went there with my sister.

First, Lasema spa and sauna is located in the Lasema Plaza in front of the RCBC builing in Makati. It's not that hard to find. We arrived around noon time on a Saturday and there weren't much guests (so I was happy to enjoy the spa and sauna with less people).

But I have to say, service-wise I wasn't that much impressed. The receptionist was not that accommodating. Being first-timers, she didn't even direct us where to go and what to do. She just gave us our locker keys, two towels, shirt and shorts and let us be. And I can observe that she was more entertaining of the foreigners (bad service for Filipinos, tsk tsk tsk). Anyways, good thing there were signage and directions posted all the place and they were fool-proof.

First thing, you have to take off your shoe wear. Then proceed to the locker room. The lockers are spacious and secure enough to leave your valuables.

Being a Korean sauna, going totally naked is like a given. I have known this before so I wasn't so shocked anymore. But of course at first you tend to be a little shy, but as time passes by and you see others going confidently naked, you'll just think 'what the heck' and throw your worries away.

Anyways, we decided to go first to the wet sauna. So in the locker room you strip totally naked and can have a towel to cover at least your private parts while walking to the wet sauna room. There you can have a shower first. They provide shampoo and bar soaps, but I must say they should have opted for 'wall-type' dispensers for shampoo and liquid body soaps. Some of the bar soaps are lying around and you will have to think twice if they are hygienic or not. Anyways, I'm just saying, not really complaining.
There are also showers where you can do the Korean way of body scrubbing. I have even seen two ajummas helping each other scrub their bodies. So I would advise that you bring your own body scrubs, soaps and the likes for body scrubbing. Then there are two hot pools: the Green Hot Tea pool (42degrees C) and Ginseng Hot pool (40degreesC). Always, the trick is to submerge into the pool slowly. Then there is a cold pool (24degreesC) where you can always dip into to refresh. I think the protocol is to stay in the hot pools for about 5-10 minutes and then dip into the cold pool.
They also have the wet sauna room made of wormwood. It is such a joy to stay in the room. The heat is tolerable and you can really enjoy your stay inside the room. The smell of damp wood also isn't that bad (other wet sauna rooms have this problem).

After taking a cleansing shower, we got into our pink uniform shirt and shorts and went straight to the jjim jil bang. Here you have a viewing area, common room, sleeping area and caves, snack bar, dining area and three dry sauna rooms. Gadgets, food and drinks are not allowed inside the sauna rooms but I saw some guests sneak in those things.

First sauna room is the oak and clay (about 50-56degreesC). The heat is tolerable and we sweat a good lot. The second room is the salt and charcoal (50-53degreesC). The air and heat is pretty much the same, I think the only difference is that there were pebbles on the floor where you lay your back onto and feel the heat conducted to your body by the tiny rocks. The last room is the dome clay (70-80degreesC). I wasn't able to las 3 minutes into this room. I literally felt like I'm inside an oven being cooked. But what's funny was that we saw trays of eggs on the walls, looks like this is where they cook their grilled eggs.
Next, you proceed to the Ice room, where it's literally like a freezer room. We went there after going through all the sauna rooms to close our body pores.

Aside from going to the sauna rooms, you can just laze around and sleep on designated areas. I especially love the sleeping caves where you can have your own private sleeping area. In the common room there are also manhwa books (although it's beneficial if you can only understand hanggul). The viewing area has a TV which shows authentic Korean channel like MBC (although again its' useful if you understand Korean). But I think they also have a room on the other end for non-Korean speakers with a TV showing local channels.

The deal also included a massage worth Php650. You can choose from Swedish, Shiatsu, Combination, Lymph node massage(?) and Lomilomi. We tried the latter which is a hawaiian massage technique. It lasted for an hour and I must say I am satisfied with the expert hands of the masseuse who serviced me. After having our massage, we decided to eat at the snack bar.

The snack bar serves Korean instant noodles/ramen, grilled eggs, kimbap, mandu, kimchi, canned drinks and jugs of cold drinks. I would have loved it better if they serve other korean snacks like tteokboki and jjangmyun. But nevertheless, it was still delicious. I especially liked the drink Shikhye, which I think is a concoction of brewed Tanglad and ginger.

After filling our stomachs, my sister and I decided to just laze around and get some nap. You can also do some other activities like reading books, playing board games (if you brought some) or just chatting (but not so loudly) with friends.

We got off a little after 6pm, but if I just didn't have work the next day, I would have loved to maximize the 12hours. Overall, it's a great experience and I would love to come back again to detoxify and just relax.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Bring your own shirt.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2012

I love to go back during wee hours as there's a good discount on offer on weekly visits. It's a healthy way to sweat out and be relaxed with the different levels of heat you could tolerate. I could even stay to sleep practically safe within the area. But it's always good to bring your own shirt and not catch a body odor.

Visited August 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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