The Best Spas in Manila and Their Signature Treatments
The T&C editors try out the signature treatments offered by the city’s top spas.
Royal Hammam Treatment
CHI the Spa, EDSA Shangri-La
Relax… Having first experienced a Turkish bath at one of the oldest traditional hammams in Istanbul, I can properly declare that the Royal Hammam treatment at CHI the Spa at Shangri-La EDSA is a much more luxurious experience.
A visit to CHI is always a delight, especially when I have just a few hours of me time to spare amid a hectic work week. Once inside the sanctuary that is CHI, I quickly forget that we are in the
CHI has several private hammam treatment suites, each one with an Oriental bedroom, a large changing room and bath, a steam room, an outdoor patio and pool, a heated black marble-topped slab, and a tub. The royal treatment started off with a few minutes in the steam room to open up my pores and sweat off some toxins, followed by a slow soak in the pool laced with coconut milk and covered in rose petals.
With my skin steamed and softened, it was time to head to the hammam, where I lay down on the marble slab draped with linen. My attendant poured warm water over my body and proceeded to scrub me with a traditional Turkish
Why It’s Worth It: Then came a wonderfully fragrant wrap in milk and honey that gave my arms and legs a beautiful golden sheen. One last rinse doused with more pitchers of warm water. A second trip to the steam room, and then it was back to the quiet of the bedroom, for one more hour of bliss as the attendant coaxed whatever knotted muscles were left in my pampered body. I don’t remember much after that. —YVETTE FERNANDEZ
Chi, The Spa at Edsa Shangri-La, Manila is open daily from 9 a.m. to midnight. For reservations, please call 633.8888 Ext. 3553 or e-mail [email protected].
Philippine Hilot with Ventosa
The Peninsula Spa, Peninsula Manila
Relax… Tucked away in a little corner by the poolside of The Peninsula Manila is its Spa and Wellness Center. You could miss it if you aren’t paying attention and what a shame that would be.
I signed up for its Philippine Signature Massage and the next 90 minutes were bliss as I was treated to
That almost proved to be my downfall as I felt myself fighting off sleepiness— and I wanted to stay awake for what would come next. The banana leaves didn't stay hot for long so a few minutes later, Ruby began the Ventosa or cupping therapy. She placed lit candles in glass cups across my back and it was an unexpectedly pleasant sensation. It was my first time to try Ventosa, and I had heard a range of feedback about it, including it being too hot and too painful. Ruby told me most clients usually partook of the cupping therapy for only five minutes, to ensure there would be no marks, or even bruising for those with sensitive skin.
Why It’s Worth It: As I was in such as zen state, I told her to keep the cups on for 10 minutes since I figured I wouldn’t mind the marks for a few days. She must have magic hands (or my skin is not-so-sensitive) as I did not have a single mark after the session. While waiting for the cups to work their magic, Ruby turned to my feet and my hands so time passed most
While Ventosa has become fashionable recently, it is actually an ancient form of alternative
Don’t Miss Out: If you can escape for a day, start off with the Red Rice and Ginger Body Glow treatment. Instead of the usual sea salt scrub, this exfoliating treatment uses a special blend of the red highland rice—much kinder to your skin plus rich in vitamins and minerals—and ginger that can help restore your skin’s suppleness and glow. The 45-minute session costs P3,200. —ANETH NG-LIM
Peninsula Manila, Corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, 1226, Makati, 887.2888
Wellness Spa at Solaire Resort & Casino
Relax… The Bathing Ritual is best described as a sensory experience. There was the sound of bells that signified the start and end of the massage, the scent of the aromatherapy oils I was made to inhale, the sight of the romantic rose petal-filled milk bath. More than any of these, it was my sense of touch that worked overtime. After disrobing and laying on the treatment bed, I was scrubbed from head to toe with the coarseness of ground Barako coffee beans. It felt rough on the skin, but the payoff was wonderful. My skin was silky smooth again, which I discovered during the milk bath. I was given 15 minutes to soak in the bath and when my therapist returned, we were off for the hour-long
I chose the lavender essential oil for the massage, despite knowing that it had the tendency to put people to sleep. Luckily for me, I was able to stay awake and enjoy each of the 60 minutes that the therapist spent kneading away all the knots that had formed on my back and on my legs (as I had requested). Before I knew it, the bell had rung and my time was up.
Why It’s Worth It: The best part of it was that the special treatment did not start and end with the
Don’t Miss Out: The treatments during the Bathing Ritual are available a la carte. Other signature indulgences include the Urban Escape, a peppermint foot scrub and massage, and the Romantic Interlude, a foot spa, body scrub, milk bath, and body massage for two. –HANNAH LAZATIN
Solaire Resort and Casino, Aseana Avenue, Entertainment City, Tambo, Paranaque, 888.8888
Filipino Pride Hilot Secret
Le Spa, Sofitel Philippine Plaza
Relax… I always thought “
I tried the Filipino Pride Hilot Secret at Le Spa in Sofitel to experience the traditional
After a cup of ginger tea and a twenty-minute soak in a warm tub, the therapist arrived to begin the treatment. Warm oils were gently massaged into my skin, focusing on my back and legs (as I requested), and I tried to relax to the faint music and mild, dewy scent that filled the room. The experience was quick, pleasant, and relaxing, and a few minutes before the end of the session, I drifted off to sleep. The therapist took this as a good sign, and I did feel recharged after.
Why It’s Worth It: More than the actual experience, what I loved most about the treatment was its effect on my skin. I left the spa feeling
Don’t Miss Out: Together with my
Price: P3,000 – P4,000
Sofitel Philippine Plaza, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay, 551.5555
Purifying Facial and Eye Lift
Conrad Spa, Conrad Manila Hotel
Relax… The Conrad Spa stands apart from its competitors for its privacy, having only a handful of rooms and no common areas, save for the reception and waiting area. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they take the utmost care of your skin here. I sat with my would-be therapist before the session as she soaked my feet in a lukewarm foot bath and she presented scented oils that I could choose from. The selection of products used in every treatment comes from an all-natural British brand called Espa, which is easy on the skin.
To round it all up, I ended the treatment with a 30-minute eyelift that works best to target ageing around the eyes and to fight puffiness and dark circles.
Why It’s Worth It: I’m not quite sure how she found the time to squeeze in
Don’t Miss Out: For the month of February, the Conrad Spa is offering a couple’s package that will give them use of the spa’s biggest treatment room that’s equipped with its own sauna and a Jacuzzi that overlooks the bay. This comes with a bottle of wine and a cheese platter that may be enjoyed in the comforts of the private suite before having the couple’s massage. —HANNAH LAZATIN
Price: P2,800 – P4,700
Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard, Coral Way, Pasay, 833.9999
Dance of Waves
The Retreat Spa at Okada Manila
Relax... The first step inside The Retreat will already take you to another world—seemingly far from the bustle of the city, detached from the elaborate mall and casino enclosing it, and straight into a calm and beautiful oasis. True to its name, here is where you can spend a day at the spa and feel like you took a real and relaxing vacation.
The walk heading to the treatment room makes you feel like you’re in an expansive private haven, taking you from the long hallways and lounge to the spectacular pool before being led to your very own private suite. The treatment room is massive—it comes with a shower, a tub, closets, vanity desks, and sofas—and the plush beds are heated, with an option for watching movies or shows or browsing the internet while you get a
With such ornate and breathtaking surroundings comes an impressive pampering experience to match. I came here for something called the Dance of Waves. After a long, warm shower, the treatment began with a foot soak and foot scrub. The therapist adjusted the light to my liking and had
After drizzling massage oil over my skin, she began moving her forearm from my upper back to down to my leg in a flowing movement. Her long, firm strokes glided through my entire body, her forearms wonderfully tackling stubborn knots and softening every tense muscle. The movement was flowing and crisscrossing—which is perhaps why it’s called the Dance of Waves. She continued to massage my scalp, neck, and shoulders, which left me sighing in gratification.
Why It’s Worth It: The experience didn’t end when the
Don’t Miss Out: The Retreat has a barber shop, whose design is inspired by a gentleman's club, and an equally beautiful salon for ladies. —NICOLE LIMOS MORALES
Price: P5,000 for 90 minutes
3rd Floor, Pearl Wing, New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, Paranaque
Executive Recharge Treatment
Willow Stream Spa, Raffles Makati
Relax... Willow Stream spas are known around the world for their “authentic, energy-building spa treatments” and that’s exactly what I experienced with their signature treatment, the Executive Recharge. It pays to arrive for your appointment early as you have free reign to relax in the lockers which
I started by wasting no time and going straight to the sauna where I stayed until I was completely ready for the treatment. After, I found my masseuse waiting outside the lockers ready to lead me into my spa suite. The next 90 minutes were a sensory delight. While facing down, I found a
Why It’s Worth It: What really impressed me was how personalized the treatment was. Before we began, I had a quick sit down with the masseuse to discuss what I wanted to be after the treatment. She gave me a list of words to choose from which all sounded pleasing: relaxed, de-stressed, or refreshed. She then asked about my other preferences with regards to the pressure, points to focus on, and more.—PAOLO CHUA
1 Raffles Drive, Makati Ave, Makati; 555.9888
Aroma Wellness Massage
Spa at Kerry Sports Manila
Relax... The spacious massage suite, knowledgeable therapist, and wealth of oils available here summarize what I enjoy best about going to the spa. I came here for its most popular treatment, which is basically a luxurious aromatherapy massage.
Why It's Worth It: My masseuse began by drizzling Mandarin oil over my back; its aroma calming my mind as much as my nerves. She then began doing light, relaxing strokes on my back, torso, and legs, before realizing that the stubborn knots on my back and shoulders required a more intense probing.
This was when she decided to customize the strokes, pressure, and kneading to my needs—and the experience turned out even more satisfying as she employed techniques of the Therapeutic Remedial massage along with the aromatherapy. She drilled into my tightest muscles and knots but employed gentle strokes where needed, melting all tension.
I left reaffirmed that deep massages are indeed one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Don't Miss Out: Other signature massage treatments you can try include Deep Muscle therapy, Jet Lag Recovery massage, and Classic Philippine Hilot. —NICOLE LIMOS MORALES
Price: P2,700 for 60 minutes
Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig