When a friend of mine invited me to have a free Balinese massage at Mandara Spa in Prince Hotel & Residence, Kuala Lumpur, I jumped at the chance without any hesitation. First of all, no woman in her right mind would turn down a free massage in a spa. Furthermore, with the exquisite service from Mandara Spa in Bintan Island still fresh in my mind, I couldn’t wait to be pampered again at its namesake in Prince Hotel, KL. Naturally, before I even set foot inside the spa, I already had very expectations of the place.
The spa, located on the 10th floor of Prince Hotel, is right next to the hotel pool area. The spa comprises two double Grand Suites, two double Villa Rooms, four single rooms, separate male and female relaxation lounges, reception area and waiting lounge, as well as the male and female changing areas complete with steam rooms. The spa’s entrance made a very good first impression on me.
My friend and I arrived ten minutes before the appointment, just as we’ve been instructed to. We took our seats in the reception/waiting lounge, sipping on our cold drinks while waiting for our turn. Two therapists then came to explain to us which scented oil will be used for the massage before finally leading us to the treatment room.
The treatment room, decorated with lots of wood and stone features, was dimly lit and soothing. It felt like light years away from KL. I took a peek out of the window through the wooden shutters and felt weird to be surrounded by steel and glass buildings, because I felt as though we somewhere in Bintan or Bali.
There were two beds (since my friend and I wanted to do the massage together), with a bathtub in one corner (probably for a milk bath or something) and two chairs with bowls(probably for soaking the feet). There was also a shower room and a toilet conveniently located inside.
However, as soon as the Balinese massage commenced, I immediately started to feel disappointed. I just couldn’t get myself to relax! The pressure of the massage was inconsistent and didn’t feel right — too weak in some places, too strong and painful in the wrong places. I mean, a massage can hurt in a certain way but in a nice kind of way that gets more soothing as time goes by. But the pain that I’m talking about here is the kind of pain that one gets from being rubbed the wrong way. Literally.
The masseuse also had none of the subtlety of her counterpart in Bintan Island. She was a far cry from her Indonesian counterpart who was so gentle that I could not even hear the sheets being lifted.
But then I reminded myself that it was a free massage and just kept my mouth shut, hoping that things would get better. They didn’t. Before I knew it, the massage was over. And I didn’t drift to sleep at all. I still had knots on my back and shoulders, and I felt sore from the way she pressed the middle portion of my back. I was sorely disappointed.
My friend, on the other hand, found the massage perfectly to her liking. She said she found it very relaxing.
So I decided to keep an open mind and try one of the spa’s facial treatments. I didn’t have a prior appointment but they accommodated my request because there happened to be a vacant slot.
I can’t remember anymore the name of the type of facial treatment that I had. All I remember is that it used all-natural ingredients, such as a sugar scrub, mandarin oil, etc, and was said to be suitable for all types of skin — dry, combination, normal, or acne-prone. Overall, it was nice and soothing, but it felt weird because she didn’t steam and/or extract my blackheads. The mandarin oil smelled amazing though, although I can’t remember the rest of the ingredients used because — surprise! — I somehow fell asleep in between the sugar scrub and the mandarin oil.
I left the Mandara Spa at Prince Hotel with mixed feelings that day. And even though the experience was not entirely unpleasant, I don’t think I’ll be going back there again even if I’m given another free treatment.