I Hate Spas

Most people like massages and spa treatments, but I am not one of them. All those ‘SPA-aholics’, addicted ladies, always try to explain to me how good and healthy the spa is. Balinese spa architectural style has been spread all over the world, meaning that you can find the Bali spa in the middle of nowhere, like in Devon in the UK, in the Alps in France or in the Black Forest in Germany!

When I saw the thickness of the branded towels, the quality of the bathroom equipment, the BOSE sound system and the baskets full of expensive orchids that embellish all this mess, then I suddenly understood that SPA stands for “Super Profit Access”.

My first opinion about all these Balinese spas is that they were created by the westerners for the westerners (and I still think so). I checked online for the most luxurious and expensive one in Jakarta…the best, the top…THE Spa (I won’t tell you the name because I will get into serious trouble with the powerful and international brand who own this place). The entrance of the spa looks like a rich and modern Singaporean bank, full of stainless steel inscriptions on the walls. You will be welcomed in an amazing lobby that Bulgari Hotel still tries to copy. Then they insisted on giving me a cup of “bio fair trade Indian imported green tea.” As I hate tea and “fair trade” is already a nonsense combination word, I asked if I could have an “unfair Italian espresso.” The face of the front desk manager went from “Nice” to “Are you insane?” as though I was cursed for saying the word “coffee”. Thank God, I hadn’t asked yet if I could smoke or get a Bakso soup.

Then I went to phase number two: It meant waiting in some comfortable “le Corbusier” leather sofas, trying to appreciate this green tea, looking around at those amazing customers. A flock of over-aged rich ladies who were playing a game called ‘How many Hermes killy bags can we put on one coffee table?’ because yes, all those ladies have the same bag and it’s apparently very important to show them off on a coffee table! It seems that the ‘havane colour one’ was the winner, and this colour is very rare…

I couldn’t hear their conversations, only words which went something like this:

“Singapore, haircut (haircut is very important for rich Indonesian ladies and has to reach, in a shape of a wedding chocolate cake, at least 50cm high above the head. You remember Sue Helen in the Dallas TV show during the 80s?), Paris, Christian Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Sydney, Mercedes, Rolex, Senayan, Plaza Indonesia, cocktails, grand opening, invitation, imported, Italy, Bulgari, Bali, wedding,” and of course, “Hermes.” I was glad to not have been invited to participate in their ‘Dead Poets Society’.

At this stage of my story I have probably already lost 50% of my female customers at my shop, so let’s call me a brave man for writing these lines:

What I didn’t like:

  • Feeling like an old oily paedophile attached to a bed (yes, the masseuses were about the age of my youngest niece who is…a very young niece).
  • To only have a choice of some very young Balinese/Javanese homeless slave girls or some muscular tall and young guys. Please, don’t think that I would have preferred to be massaged by a 78 year old toothless grandma, but why not a 30 year old sexy girl dressed in a nurse uniform?
  • The choice of the music is terrible – Nepalese mini bells symphony. And this carried on throughout the entire massage. I saw the Buddha Bar CD sleeves – the Dalai Lama should sue them for using the word ‘Buddha’.
  • Having my head inserted in a too small hole that hurt me during the whole massage and left a ridiculous red circle on my face for the next two hours!
  • Having to look at those pieces of flowers in the bowl through the hole (never good to focus on the creation of the universe, the existence of God and all those disturbing thoughts that comes to mind when you see those crazy flowers).
  • Having to wear their ‘green fair trade paper underwear’ that even Brad Pitt would look ridiculous in.
  • The fact that I had to take a 30 minute shower and scratch all over my body until I was bleeding to take away the five liters of ‘body shop sponsorship oil’.
  • Losing my Blackberry because it fell into the water flower bowl as I tried to read my emails (through the hole) during the massage. My long arms were apparently not long enough to hold on the entire bed.
  • To hear the comments of the masseuses who were chatting softly with each other (in Indonesian, unfortunately I understand Indonesian) and it was something like this:

My masseuse: Who are you massaging?

The neighbour masseuse: An old Australian lady who is snoring.

The neighbour masseuse: And you?

My masseuse: A middle aged French guy who just dropped his Blackberry in the water bowl.

The neighbour masseuse: Is he an idiot or what?

My masseuse: I think so!

What I did like:

  • The fact that I will never go to a spa again.
  • That I will open a spa very soon as I had one hour to calculate expenses, especially the profits that I could generate from a Lazy Therapy Centre.
  • That I will revolutionise the spa bed by adding a bigger hole for the head with a special water pillow, two small arm holes, a mini TV screen with sport channel, a fresh beer tube that you insert in your mouth, a Paul Smith paper underwear (the one that can fit a middle aged body), some white spirit flacons for the shower, a smoking area, and a few hundred songs from the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and Manu Chao.

Conclusion:

After one hour in the hands of these young Javanese girls disguised as Balinese, I must say that the spa has been created by the westerners, is sponsored by the Body Shop and supported by MasterCard, Visa, Amex and all their friends! Honestly, I can understand that some people enjoy those boring times, they even call it, ‘quality time’, but I certainly didn’t get it as I am a grumpy French man. Then my last words will be, “Spa sucks.”

Photo by Travelwithbender

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Sebastien is a French antiques dealer living in Jogjakarta. To rant and rave at him, email sebastienlaurent@hotmail.com


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