The blawg takes a break from its usual frivolous pontification and writings on silly issues to bring you this article of great importance — Gaythri Raman’s five favourite spas in the world!

I am a spa freak — yes, I will readily admit it. I can be a scrooge at times, but not when it comes to the type of pampering only a luxurious, over-the-top, high-class spa can give me. When it comes to the ultimate spa experience, I am willing to splurge.

I travel a lot for work (and for pleasure too). I have been to spas around the world and treat myself to at least two sessions per month. I have been pampered from North America to Europe to Asia and throughout all these sessions, maintain a current list of my top five favourite spa experiences.

My friends constantly ask me for spa recommendations, and so I thought I’d share the love and tell you exactly where to go in search of the ultimate massage session — I don’t bother with those fancy scrubs and wraps; all I want is a good old-fashioned kneading. Us Asians can be proud of our spas, that’s for sure. The ones closer to home are the best in my book. Here’s a list of my personal favourites based on my visits in the past 24 months.

#1 — Spa Village at Gaya Island Resort, Sabah, Malaysia.

This is the best of the best of the best. It stands at #1 — unbeaten since my first and only visit, and it will probably stay there for a while! First of all, the resort commandeers the tiny island and every part of it is brilliantly positioned to make you feel like you are at one with the sun, sea, sand, and the woods. The spa is tucked away in a little corner, the architecture is gorgeous, and everything is on stilts.

I chose the “Urutan Pribumi” (Indigenous Massage) and paid RM355.00 (USD100.00). The therapist was a bona fide indigenous person, and I swear she was born with the gift to know exactly where you ache. She applied the right amount of pressure to my sore spots with precision. None of the 80-minutes was wasted on useless kneading. I enjoyed every moment of it.


Spa Hours: 9.00am to 9.00pm

Tel: +6018 939 1100

Email: [email protected]

Check out the Spa Menu before you book.

#2 — Chi, The Spa at Edsa Shangri-la Hotel, Manila, Philippines.

The hotel is located in the city and most business travelers stay here. It is an oasis within a bustling metropolis and the service there is excellent. You don’t notice how big the spa is from outside. You walk along a long corridor before entering the reception and you are then escorted through what feels like a maze of more corridors before you reach your room. You’ll get lost in the experience and you will gladly do so.

I remember trying a 60-minute regular massage during my first stay, and I immediately became a fan. I went back the next evening and tried the 90-minute “Chi Hot Stone Massage” for PHP5,800.00 (USD130.00) and was then an even bigger fan! The combination of hot stones and firm hands on your sore muscles is heavenly. It is worth every peso.


Spa Hours: 9.00am to 12 midnight

Tel: +632 633 8888

Email: [email protected]

Check out the spa menu before you book (but try the hot stone, seriously).

#3 — Banyan Tree Spa, Banyan Tree Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.

They call themselves the ‘spa hotel’ and that is definitely an accurate description. I don’t remember the hotel much. It is located away from Bangkok city and isn’t easily accessible by Skytrain. The rooftop bar offers a magnificent view and the spa experience is incredible. Even if you don’t stay there, you must visit — purely to be wowed by the massage and the view.

I took the “Balancing Massage” and paid THB4,700.00 (USD142.00) for 90 minutes. The therapist used her thumbs a lot and placed pressure on my lymph nodes. I was initially afraid that it would be uncomfortable but it was excellent. I prefer oil massages, so this wasn’t one of those typical Thai massages which bend your limbs and body. It was relaxing and invigorating at the same time. I loved it.


Spa Hours: 9.00am to 10.00pm

Tel: +66 2 679 1052

Email: [email protected]

The massage menu is fairly descriptive and you can figure out what you want from it.

#4 — Wynn Spa at The Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas, USA.

This is a relatively new hotel right on the The Strip. The hotel is modern and the interior simplistic compared with the over-the-top grandeur of many of the other hotels next to it. After a hard day of glamorous gaming, shopping, shows, circuses and cabarets, you have to treat yourself to a session at the spa.

The Wynn Spa was a delightful surprise to me. While the hotel itself was simple in its design, I felt like I was entering a gilded world at the Wynn Spa. There was gold and glitter and opulence, and I felt like a poor peasant entering the royal gates of forbidden luxury. The consultant on the phone was a master salesperson, describing their signature treatments with so much flair that I was sold before I even got there. Then, when I signed in, someone else came and weaved her magic and I added to my treatment!

I took the 80-minute “Custom Massage” for USD275.00 (I have no idea what they ended up customising for me — I was under a spell!) and also added the “Warm Oil Scalp Treatment” for an additional USD25.

It was an excellent session. The massage was invigorating and she did wonders for my aching legs and back from all that shopping. She was clearly skilled, and applied the perfect amount of pressure on my limbs. The scalp treatment was irrelevant though — I don’t remember it and could have done without it. Our Asian spas could learn from these guys in sales techniques. We don’t sell our services as well as they do.


Spa Hours: 7.00am to 8.00pm

Tel: + 1 702 770 3900


Check out the extensive spa menu — there is an interesting “Four Hands” massage you can try. Two therapists will work on you at the same time. I was tempted but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay USD600.00 for an 80-minute session!

#5 — Auriga Spa at Capella Hotel, Sentosa, Singapore.

The resort is designed like a sprawling colonial English mansion. It has lots of pillars and has a dignified aura to it, and my room was gorgeous. I like the vibe and the space — there was so much space to enjoy everything. I don’t remember being particularly impressed with the décor of the spa but what makes this establishment stand out is its service. Someone escorted me from the hotel lobby to the spa reception. Then, when I was done, someone escorted me directly to my room while holding a pleasant and interesting conversation with me the whole time. That is the extra bit that counts for me. I was impressed.

I chose the 90-minute Full Moon massage and paid SGD230.00 (USD184.00). It was thoroughly relaxing and I remember loving the scent of the oils she used on me (although for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was!).


Tel: + 65-65915023

Email: [email protected]

The spa menu is a bit confusing to me — they name their treatments after the lunar cycles and honestly, I don’t get it. Their consultants know their stuff though and are great at advising you on what you will enjoy most. Call them and talk to them.

So there, this is my list of top five favourite spas. I hope you enjoy your experience too!

I am an opinionated individual and I want to be inspired. I currently work for LexisNexis and travel frequently in my work, meeting people and going to places which help me put my life in perspective....

8 replies on “My Top Five Favourite Spas”

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