Thursday, March 10, 2005

Spa firms offer values of private indulgence

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, March 10, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Spa firms offer values of private indulgence

To continue with our journey on entrepreneurship, we are exploring key value-creation processes that enable business establishments to become globally competitive, to grow and to achieve organizational learning and excellence using the initiatives of Strategic Thinking, Planning and Balanced Scorecard and the Baldrige Criteria for Excellence.

This also gives you a glimpse of the opportunities and possibilities available to you as entrepreneurs. For this column, we will discuss the growing spa business.

Long before spa business became popular here in the Philippines, my mother would treat us to her own brand of spa services twice a year.

Very early in the morning, she’d go to Quaipo Church to pray for our family and to buy those special medicinal leaves, branches and roots beside the church. To make herbal water, she boiled the plants for an hour in a big can of biscuit, which she bought, cleaned and sterilized days before. The night before, she would commission four able-bodied male relatives to carry a really huge slab of buhay na bato (flint) to the bathroom.

This is the best part: she’d put the hot leaves on top of the flint and made me sit on it. Glorious feeling! Then she’d shampoo my hair with gugo sap and scrub my body with the leaves. No soap, no commercial shampoo. Then she made me soak in a tub of warm herbal water to rinse away all my aches, cares and she’d say, “lurking bad spirit.” Heaven!

Then she fed me with arroz caldo and allowed me to doze off for about two hours. Nirvana!

When I woke up, the hilot (local masseur) was there to give me a suob (steaming with aromatic oil) and a full-body massage. Bliss!

Nowadays, life has become simpler and more convenient with so many day spas around us.

One favorite place is Urban Spa at Level 5, Shangri-la Plaza Mall. The owners Irene IbaƱez and Thessa Valdez say that they have been in business for three years now and they have a growing regular clientele, both male and female.

Irene and Thessa are very proud of their personalized approach. As owners, they are in Urban Spa from opening time at 10 a.m. to closing time at 9 p.m.

They personally welcome their clients. They get to know not only their name but also their problems, needs and preferences for a pampering and relaxing spa experience. Employees (therapists) nurture and take care of their clients as persons, not just a piece of meat. They have only private rooms, showers and jacussi; other spa establishments have shared facilities.

Irene says that another reason for their longevity and continued success is their quality service, “We put the aaahh in spa.” For their body and facial care, they use ingredients from Paris and also local oils and honey specially made for them. Specialists flown in from abroad trained their therapists here. They have also their very own Le Urban Signature Aro­ma­therapy Massage and Luxury Polish and Milk Bath.

Irene says to keep their clients coming back to them regularly, they offer special values like their discounted, pre-paid, all consumable, convertible to gift check, valid for one year packages of P7,500, P15,000 and P20,000.

They also pamper their clients with free parking and special gifts.

I miss my mother’s loving spa treatment, but for convenience and availability, I go to Urban Spa.

ASTD 2005. The American Society for Training and Development is holding its Annual Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Florida, on June 5 to 9.

For details of discounted conference fee and travel package, please call Grace Victoriano at 715-9332 or e-mail at

(Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp, facilitates strategic thinking, planning and balanced scorecard initiatives. She is also a trained examiner for the Baldrige Criteria. Her e-mail address is

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