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Asia Insider: Singapore Spa Trends

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: June 5, 2007, from the June 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“A lot of Asian treatments are going back to ayurveda and Chinese traditions,” she explains. “Most of the treatments are hands-on—look at Thailand and India for examples. A lot of people come to Asia as a retreat and for detox programs, plus as a way of their lifestyle.
“In addition, a lot of America is coming to Asia. This includes old, traditional treatments. Singapore turns to the States for esthetics, products and technology,” she says.

My recent trip to Thailand proved this to be true. In Thailand, the trends are all about culture and remaining true to the land. “Those fortunate enough to have experienced the warmth and hospitality of Thailand will know all too well the genuine care and excellent service that are delivered here,” says Richard Williams, spa director at The Peninsula Bangkok. “As a culture that lives from the heart—even having ‘heart’ words in their vocabulary—therein lies the unique advantage to spas developed in Thailand. To have team members who take a genuine interest in their clients, care about their jobs and are proud to work in their respective fields is certainly a plus to the spa industry. All who return to Thailand will be welcomed with the warm wai, which is a prayerlike greeting—just like namaste in India—that offers respect and warmth to all who visit.”

What’s hot in Singapore? Sinnathurai is seeing a surge in body treatments using chocolate, tamaran scrub, papaya wrap, saffron and coffee as main ingredients.

To be honest, I found this to be a bit surprising, having come to this unique little island hoping to find something new and indigenous that couldn’t be found in the U.S. Thailand’s rich resources—including sugar cane, rain forest honey and jasmine rice—left me a bit spoiled.

The high turnover in service is a problem with spas in Singapore, according to Stella Yfantidis, founder of Whatever Yoga & Healing Space, who notes that it is a very business-focused country. She sees the industry evolving toward holistic therapy and wellness. To better position her spa for the future, she would like to franchise it and increase the focus on healing.