07 Feb2007


One of the more “romantic” gifts I have ever received from Mrs. Marketman was a series of massage treatments at the Oriental Spa at the Mandarin Hotel. I am a big believer in massages and think it is one of the great, great pluses of living in a country where one can afford a terrific massage for a tiny fraction of the cost elsewhere. I have been fortunate enough to try out the spa services in some of the best hotels/resorts in Asia but I almost always have a funny story related to them, and it is probably worth sharing one such story with all of you so you avoid the same pitfalls in future, and have a good laugh mid-week at Marketman’s expense… At the Four Seasons in Bali I decided to try their top of the line “rain massage” oil2with “natural oils and sea salt rubs” which roughly translated into the following experience – a lone man getting a treatment (as opposed to a couple) cannot have a female masseuse due to concerns over modesty or whatever so you get a masseur instead… then you lay down on a marble slab facing down with a sarong and a massive shower head contraption above you that “simulates raindrops” lets forth a gentle and totally soothing “rainshower.” Next you are presented with two bowls or so of very rough looking sea salt and anxiety begins to creep in. When you pick what looks like palengke “organic” salt, you realize what is going to follow next, and with an internal silent scream that would look like that famous Munch painting that was stolen and recovered a few years ago, you feel handfuls of salt scooped onto your back and legs and it is rubbed into your skin with a force I would only apply to an uncooked roast beef or other dead animal when seriously irate. Yikes. I paid over a hundred bucks for this treatment? I felt like a pig being readied for the spit and flames; Marketman lechon as it were! Worse, you next had to turn over and face up (rainshower now off) and while you lay on large salt grain remnants on your back, very uncomfortable, they do the same treatment to your front… Yikes talaga…

Once that was washed off, you were supposed to luxuriate in a huge ceramic bathtub (Kohler, like in the Four Seasons advertisements) out in the open garden, and the tub was filled with rose petals and various flower remnants. I asked the masseur to clear out all the floating stuff and he appeared shocked and bewildered. I tell him I DIDN’T like having stuff floating in my bath but he insisted it was part of the treatment. So there I lay, pink and sore from the salt torture, in a bath in the garden with the entire surface of the water a colorful mishmash of roses, bougainvilla, kalachuchi et al (don’t they know the sap of kalachuchi is poisonous?!) for a less than a relaxing 15 minutes. By the way, why are all of those tubs just too short??? My knees were in the air, if you get the picture… A quick rinse and a too brief traditional oil massage, then more rainshower stuff and it was all done. NEVER DO the salt rub thingee…AWFUL if you ask me. Heeheehee. But back to the main topic of this post… a bottle of virgin (cold-pressed) coconut oil scented with lavender oil was an interesting gift that we received from a friend recently. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but I think it would be a great choice for a Valentine’s gift as well…



  1. Mandy says:

    i’m no massage connosieur (spelling??)–but the massage i had at the san benito farm was the best i had. it was relaxing, not the kind where they try to remove the “knots” from your shoulders resulting in muscle soreness the whole day. another is the dry massage done by a chinese masseuse imported from, yes, china. the madarine spa here in alabang.

    Feb 7, 2007 | 10:12 am


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  3. TOPING says:

    You had me in stitches there, MM. What a bizarre massage! I’ve always been wary of “exotic” packages offered by hoity-toity hotels/spas… I have the feeling they’re all just trying to out-“New-Age” everyone else. Sea salt? Bosh. That’s downright cruel. I’m calling Manang Linda, the neighborhood hilot; THIS is so going to make her day (and mine too!).

    BTW, virgin coco oil does wonders for me. Had ungodly sores/dandruff on my scalp that wouldn’t go away with all sorts of doctor-prescribed topical treatments. Then I remembered how my dad swears by coco oil and tried it out of desperation. The damn thing was gone in a day. Call me a convert then. ;D

    Feb 7, 2007 | 11:02 am

  4. Maria Clara says:

    A clean spa massage treatment with no dirty play is a luxury and invigorating to me. I pamper myself with this indulgence at least every six months or once a year depending on my economics. I like the seaweed and citrus treatment and when I move to the sauna room I feel like all my skin is freshened and exfoliated. The toxins and fats in my body melted and gone with the steam. I do not know if it is just my psyche or mental but I feel very energetic after the treatment.

    Feb 7, 2007 | 12:30 pm

  5. Dodi says:

    I had this super-expensive massage at a spa in Tagaytay City. nothing really remarkable as advertised.Yep, Toping is right, it was trying to out-“New Age” all the others! I now frequent this small,obscure spa along E. Rodriguez Ave. and for just P250.00 – aahh, total bliss! and they let you sleep/relax for 30 mins to an hour after the treatment pa.

    Feb 7, 2007 | 12:33 pm

  6. lojet says:

    I too had a relaxing but less than satisfying massage at a much touted Nidah spa at Eldorado hotel in Santa Fe, NM. With their herbal oils I can’t decide whether I smelled like a turkey or a sausage.

    I’d like to know whether you had experience using virgin coconut oil in your cooking. It’s been advertised as beneficial in weight loss and for boosting the immune system Most important is how it contributes to the taste of dishes and what recipes it is best applied to.

    Feb 7, 2007 | 12:40 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    lojet, I haven’t tried the virgin coconut oils for cooking yet…I have been asked about it before but as of yet, haven’t experimented…

    Feb 7, 2007 | 1:06 pm

  8. tulip says:

    Terrible experience, but you’re still lucky Marketman. I onced went to a spa with some friends and one of the guys went for a massage package which comes with waxing(he didnt know). So while he lays comfortably on his tummy,thinking the masseuse was applying some warm oils or honey for rejuvenation, he suddenly screams at the top of his lungs….after getting waxed near his bottom!

    Feb 7, 2007 | 2:52 pm

  9. elit says:

    Hi MM! Would you know where I can buy that virgin (cold-pressed) coconut oil scented with lavender oil that was given to you? Thanks!

    Feb 7, 2007 | 3:20 pm

  10. DADD-F says:

    Dodi, how on earth did you manage to find this spa of yours? Where is this? Well, you did say, E. Rodriguez but care to provide more details? And the name of the spa, please?

    I love going to the spa, if and when my pocket can manage it. But the best massage I’ve experienced thus far, is in Slimmers’ World in Pasig. Not all masseuses (?) do their job well but 1 or 2 of them are really great! Nothing fancy, just a good old relaxing and therapeutic rub. I also bring my own virgin coconut oil to use on my body instead of their oil or some lotion or powder. Hmmm….

    Lojet, I do not fancy using coconut oil for frying but I find it okay when used in baking, at least for recipes where the coconut taste can complement what you’re cooking.

    Feb 7, 2007 | 3:26 pm

  11. i'lltaketwoplease says:

    I love the Oriental Spa at the Mandarin Hotel. It’s also my sisters’ favorite. We always go with our significant others for the couple’s experience, choosing the body scrub and massage as our choices of treatments. We just love the ambiance as well as those rain showerheads that are in the private showers. The rooms are beautiful, and the service is indulgent.

    During my last trip, I tried the javanese bath at The Spa at Greenbelt 1. It was the new location. At their previous location, I wasn’t too impressed with the service. Though the surroundings are beautiful, employees would ruin the serenity by walking through treatment rooms or by talking/giggling amongst each other during treatments. At this new location near Shakeys, the entire place is beautifully done and the service has improved. Though not the best massage I’ve had, the whole experience was quite nice, especially with the private bath/massage room. I was impressed this time around.

    I’m curious and would like to learn more about “virgin” coconut oil, more for it’s healing properties rather than as a massage oil. There was an episode on TFC about virgin coconut oil being the new “healing” potion, but I wasn’t paying full attention to it. I’ll have to conduct some research.

    Feb 7, 2007 | 5:01 pm

  12. sha says:

    hmmm in turkey this bloody haman i normally love and enjoy except I can tell it was a cheap kind of olive soap. I felt so yuck w it!!!

    Feb 7, 2007 | 6:06 pm

  13. Queen B says:

    Hi Mr. Marketman,

    your story about being treated like going to the roast had me laughing! and it made me come out of my lurker mode. my first post here and hope it won’t be my last. keep up the fab posts!

    Feb 7, 2007 | 7:31 pm

  14. Jean says:

    elit, check out the website for the San benito. http://www.thefarm.com.ph/sanbenito/retailprod.htm

    Feb 7, 2007 | 7:34 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Elit, Jean has it right, its from a Spa called San Benito. But alterntively, I suppose you can just buy virgin coconut oil and add essential oils of lavender…

    Feb 7, 2007 | 9:11 pm

  16. elit says:

    Thanks Jean and MM!

    Feb 7, 2007 | 10:26 pm

  17. wil-b cariaga says:

    hahaha really funny. . . I will share this story here at Four Seasons Maldives, especially to the spa, where I get free treatments, well, for training new staff. . . The spa here is 90% pinoy staff and even pinoy managed. . . they have a similar shower treatment here called Maldivian “Aruvai” (monsoon), but instead of the uncomfortable salt scrub they use sandalwood scrub

    Feb 8, 2007 | 7:05 am

  18. millet says:

    no, you don’t cook with virgin coconut oil – otherwise, it’s not virgin anymore. if you really want to use coconut oil for cooking, most local cooking oils (baguio oil, minola) are coconut oils, i think. just make sure they specify coconut, because some (like susan baker) are palm oil. MM, i had a very expensive massage in a spa once that left me with a purple bruis on my arm for a week, and another one where i had to take a muscle relaxant tablet after because i was sore all over! the salt rub you had reminds me of the punishment that lolas of legend would dish out to erring apos in the olden days (“luhod sa asin”), only much worse. hehe…

    Feb 8, 2007 | 7:07 am

  19. Pilar says:

    Hi Dodi! Where’s this spa you’re talking about? Wanna try a new one. Thanks.

    Feb 8, 2007 | 7:38 am

  20. Mila says:

    I’ve had the massage at San Benito several times, their VCO oils are very nice, I love those bottles (accidentally smashed on one my kitchen floor two years ago, full of oil. I mourned the loss of the oil more than the damage to my kitchen tiles!!!!). Cooking or using VCO can be a matter of taste. It tends to leave a “macaroon” flavor to everything, so use sparingly. There are a few cookbooks that use VCO in lieu of regular cooking oil. I think it’s best used in foods that have a local flair to it, and mixed with local vinegars, makes a good vinaigrette.

    Salt scrubs are good skin exfoliants, but not everyone likes them. My worst massage experience took place in Bali, not the Four Seasons, and likewise had one of the best massage/spa experiences in another spa in Ubud/Bali. With yogurt, and yes, MM, the flowers in the bath experience. I kind of like a bath filled with rose petals.

    Feb 8, 2007 | 8:09 am

  21. CecileJ says:

    Heeheehee! I can see you with your mga tuhod poking out of bougainvillea and kalachuchi strewn water and with a scowl on you face! They should adjust naman the treatments for males and put in more macho stuff in the water…like seaweeds or something?

    Feb 8, 2007 | 10:57 am

  22. MRJP says:

    Hehehe….. you made me laugh, MM. Thanks! :)

    Feb 8, 2007 | 11:53 pm

  23. goodtimer says:

    soo funny, i had to send this article to my spa-addicted girlfriends.

    Feb 9, 2007 | 3:33 pm

  24. Myra P. says:

    MM, no need to leave the Phils for the best massages!

    The best I ever had was at Mandala in Boracay, hands down! I had a papaya-pineapple body polish that included: your own beautiful and QUIET cabana, a foot bath/scrub, fresh warm papaya/pineapple mush slathered allover, a banana leaf wrap ala suman, a facial while you’re wrapped up, a flower bath (just like MM’s) with a lovely kalamansi slush drink, an exceptional whole body massage, and a hot cup of tea on your veranda post-massage. We left the place limp as over-cooked noodles, but glowing from the fruit wrap. The experience was extremely world-class. The only bummer was having to get on a bumpy tricycle to go back to our resort… The 2.5+hr service was totally worth the $99… Check out http://www.mandalaspa.com.

    In Makati, there’s a new Korean spa that’s delicously insane, with aromatherapy saunas, “flavored” jacuzzis, an ice room, small caves for sleeping, all the types of massages you want… I couldnt belive it when i heard about it, but i went with my sister and ended up staying for almost 7 hours (you can stay for up to 10 hours). And their food (in a resto inside the spa), is really yummy and authentic, and cheap too!

    Feb 20, 2007 | 7:07 am

  25. sandy says:

    Myra P. what’s the name of this Korean spa in Makati?

    Mar 7, 2007 | 12:43 pm

  26. Chinachix says:

    Myra P.

    What is the name and location of the Korean spa?

    Mar 30, 2007 | 7:23 pm

  27. Myra P. says:

    Hi sandy and chinachix, the name of the Korean Spa is La Sema and it’s on Malugay street in Makati. I don’t have their phone number or exact address with me now but will post it as soon as I do. If you can’t wait, drive by and check out the place yourself. It’s located in a small compound with lots of parking, restos and believe it or not, a driving range on the upper floor. The whole area over the parking is netted. It’s actually quite cool :)

    Hopefully, all the massages will be available by now; some weren’t when i went because they were newly opened. Try to go on off-hours during the week bec, as one of the therapists there told me, it gets so packed that it looks like an el shaddai rally. I think she was exaggerating, lol, but you get my drift.

    And, consider yourself warned: the Koreans walk around buck naked. In the common areas, we were given pink top-and-tee sets, but in the ladies area… Man, I saw all shapes and sizes, hehe. Like true pinays, we wore bathing suits in the suana and jacuzzi.

    Mar 31, 2007 | 2:46 am

  28. Myra P. says:

    oops, forgot to mention that this place is open 24 hours!

    Mar 31, 2007 | 2:50 am

  29. Mary-Ann Evangelista says:

    Grabee! Nakakatawang experience talaga! I had to read it to my husband again. He was laughing, too. Salamat for sharing.
    When we went back home before, we never had a chance to try spa
    massages at all. But, we got lucky our cousin was a massage therapist. So, after gala, she gave us free massages. Aside from her skills, it was thanks also to her Omega stuff mixed with this green oil thing. Very relaxing! nakakamiss…

    Jun 30, 2007 | 11:59 am


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