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!
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