Spring Fragrance was recommended to my wife and I, and 2 friends, by the Essence Hotel (see separate review of the Essence on 20 Jan). While the facility itself was modern and clean, there were a number of issues that in total meant that our time there was not as pleasant as we expected.
Firstly, we were meant to have our taxi fare paid for by the Spa, but this was not done (we were subsequently advised that this was an oversight by the doorman). We then sat around for about 20 minutes waiting to be seen, then were led through the different massages on offer - this involved a bit of pressure to upsize to a more expensive "traditional Vietnamese massage" that included the use of hot stones. As an aside, as we were leaving, another potential guest left after objecting to the pressure applied to him to go for the traditional massage when he only wanted a basic one, so I don't think our experience was an isolated one.
The cost for a 75 minute massage had a lower per minute rate than the 90 minute massage. When I queried this, I was given the 90 minute massage at the 75 minute rate, but I shouldn't have had to request this, and I wonder whether this was one reason why we were pressured to take the longer massage.
The massage itself was not what we expected, in that it mainly involved use of the stones, with frequent stops of 1-3 minutes to re-heat them. This could have been explained more clearly at the start and we could have then made a decision on which type we wanted, as we were used to a massage using oil. As an aside, the down time could have been minimised by having a spare set of stones heating up in rotation with the ones being used.
For the women, the hot stones were also placed on their stomachs, which I was quite glad to miss out on as they were too hot and had to be removed. The stones put on my palms were also too hot and I tipped them to one side until they cooled a bit.
My wife and I were together in one room, and our 2 single female friends in another. Their room was meant to have a screen between the beds, but this was not the case. In our room, there were a few times when the masseurs whispered to each other then giggled, which, when you're in your 50's and not in peak physical condition, leads to a certain paranoia.
There was also the fairly bizarre incident about 10 minutes from the end when one of the masseurs in each room used the toilet, which we only knew about when the toilet flushed. Apart from the loss of another 5 minutes of massage time, it did spoil somewhat the Zen-like calm that we were seeking.
To be fair to the management of the Spa, when our hotel contacted them to relay our concerns (see review of Essence Hotel on 20 Jan), they did their best to explain the different style involved in a traditional massage, gave a refund of the taxi fare and said their masseurs had minimal English, which was why they didn't explain the frequent stops (although my point is that this should have been done by the saleswoman at the start). The manager also offered to come to our hotel to explain personally (which we said wasn't necessary).
While the actual massage itself was adequate for what it was meant to be, as an overall package it failed to deliver. Normally after a massage, I expect to be calm and relaxed, however, as a result of all the issues noted above, none of us were in this state.
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