Spa Hopping In Baguio!
While one normally associates Baguio with various outdoorsy activities, I've recently learned to associate it with sleeping in, resting, bumming, and doing all the things I never get to do in Manila, including pampering myself. For me, this meant two things: getting a massage and a facial. My officemates and I went up to Baguio last Sunday and the first thing that entered our minds was that this would be the perfect time to get a massage. After scouting several, okay, more like a couple places, we decided on Body and Sole located at the ground floor of SM Baguio. At only P300 per massage, not to mention the promise of individual cubicles, it sounded like a really good deal. We were immediately told that we would have to wait an hour or so since all the attendants were occupied. No problem, we said, especially since we had to buy groceries for dinner anyway. Just like in Manila, they asked for a number they can contact so they can inform us when they would be ready to service us.
We got back half an hour too early. Since the sitting room inside was cramped, we ended up sitting at the picnic bench right outside the spa. Thank god this was Baguio and the weather was lovely, otherwise the waiting would've been horrible. I also noted that there was nothing to help pass away the time and one had to find ways to entertain herself. After we got bored waiting, and after noticing that it's been an hour since we asked that we be booked for a massage, I asked the receptionist if they were ready for us and she said yes. Okay, I thought to myself, what would have happened if I didn't ask? Did she just assume that we were having fun chatting outside that she didn't bother to tell us that they were ready for us already?
The second floor looks more or less like any small-scale spa in Manila: tiny cubicles with a massage bed, dim lights, and piped in sounds of trickling water and chirping crickets alternating with Enya. I was asked to disrobe and lie down and after I was done, the attendant began the massage. At first, the massage seemed promising: liberal amounts of massage oil (I hate it when they scrimp on the massage oil and there's too much friction) and long, soothing strokes.After a while, though, it became apparent that those first five minutes would be the only highlight of the massage. The pressure wasn't standard, sometimes too hard, bordering on the painful, and sometimes so soft that you're left wondering whether the attendant had fallen asleep on you. They also spent so much time on my legs that there wasn't enough time for a proper massage on my arms, head, and face.What was weird though was that during the last couple of minutes, it felt that she had run out of steam and that she was just going through the motions. I also hated the fact that the spa was located next to a happening coffee place where Baguio's teens and yuppies hang out meaning that every single time the main door was opened (or left open, apparently they do that a lot in Baguio since very few places had airconditioning), blaring sounds would overpower the chirping crickets and totally disrupt the ambiance, effectively waking you up if you happened to have fallen asleep. Note to self ,and to all Kikay readers out there, DO NOT GO BACK HERE.
The following day, we chanced upon Wedo Massage and Facial Spa located at the fourth floor of the mall beside the Cathedral. Traumatized by our previous day's experience, we were a bit hesitant in entering another "unknown" place but the desire for more relaxation prevailed. My friend tried the foot massage while I tried the facial with tomato and oatmeal mask.The verdict: two happy customers.
The facial was as normal as facials go, I suppose, but the attendant had very soothing hands, a very soothing voice, and restrained herself from selling every single dermatological product they had on their shelves. She also briefly explained things as she went along, informing me of the products she was slathering on my face. I also noticed that they asked me if I wore contact lenses and took care to protect my eyes as they steamed my face. Lastly, although she had almost convinced me to get my warts cauterized, after she learned that I was about to go back to Manila that night, said that it would be better if I had it done here instead since they wouldn't be able to do a follow-up should anything happen. I noticed that while my skin wasn't visibly clearer after the procedure (there were a couple of red marks here and there), it felt supple and smooth and 24 hours later, a friend remarked that I was "blooming" although I hadn't really had time to sleep yet. The cost: Php220, roughly the same price of a facial in any mall-based center. The foot massage was also very relaxing and while the place wasn't really conducive for relaxing (low ceiling, a bit of construction was being done the day we arrived, and several customers coming in and out), my friend found herself sleeping soon after her foot massage began.She also enjoyed the brief back and head massage that came with the service and mentioned that her attendant was able to relax those muscles and knots that the attendant from the previous day missed. She also commented that the attendant was so good that long after the massage was finished, she could still feel its effects on her feet. The cost: Php300, same price as the previous day's massage, but with much better results.
You'll notice that there a lot of Wedo Massage and Facial Spas around Baguio, in fact there were two centers facing each other on the fourth floor. The receptionist mentioned though that the other one was under a different management. FYI, we tried the one that would be on your left coming off the escalators. Going around Baguio, one would notice that like Manila, a lot of spas have sprung up. Either they've also bitten the day spa craze or more and more tourists, like me, are using up their vacation time to relax and pamper themselves. It would've been nice if I could have had more time to try out the other spas around the city. With my limited experience though, I've the following tips to share:
A mall-based day spa, no matter how inviting-looking and affordable, isn't always your best option.
Don't be afraid to ask, or tell, your attendant to stop if a stroke is uncomfortable or if you want her to spend more time massaging a particular area.
Don't be afraid to take their suggestions.I wanted the regular facial but they persuaded me to try the tomato and oatmeal mask which, for an additional Php30, seemed to have brought on compliments.Not bad.
Relax. Whether bad or good, the fact is you're already paying for the experience and the only thing under your control is how you'll deal with it.
Ed's note: *Image from the Official Baguio Website, additional images from CityofPines.com. Is it obvious we didn't have pics to go with this? Thanks ROSA!:)