Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ewww, creepy!

Happy Halloween, everybody! Speaking of creepy...I had a call last week from a male client asking about massage and prices for massages. He sounded normal at first, like any new client wanting to know about our massage therapy services.

So I explained all about the different kinds of massages that we offer as well as the Peak/Off-Peak pricing structure. At some point, he asks me what most people receive in terms of massage, so I tell him, "The most popular massages are our Relaxation and our Deep Tissue massages."

He asks, "And what is the difference between the two?"
I reply, "The Deep Tissue massage is $10 more in price because the massage therapist is exerting more effort and pressure in the massage."
He says, "So there's extra..."
I say, "Extra pressure, yes."
He says, "So is there extra..." At this point, I'm thinking, WHAT?
So I ask him, rather pointedly, "What do you mean by 'extra'?"
He says, "You know, extra..." Okay, now I'm PISSED. He's just wasted my time and all he wants is sensual massage. And even worse, I pride myself on being able to screen out these slimeballs and I didn't catch it until this point!!
So I say, rather rudely, "Sir, I don't think we are kind of place you are looking for."
He apologizes profusely, "I'm so sorry," but I don't hear any more because I've CLICKED - yes, I hung up on him.

Argh! So mad! Who ARE these sorry slobs anyway, and why would they call my spa, of all places? What about my place makes people think it would be THAT kind of establishment? Ewww!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge...

Now that I think about it, they could have been cleaning....I'm referring to the questionable day spa up the street. After all, my cleaning crew come in late at night from 9pm to midnight Tuesdays and it is entirely possible that that is what they were doing Sunday night, too.

So, for now, I reserve judgment.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Questionable "day spa" up the street...

Speaking of "ladies of the night," there is a certain establishment up the street (which shall remain nameless, but anyone who knows the address of my spa can easily imagine the one slightly north of here and on the opposite side of the street) that I would really question as to their legitimacy. Years ago, when my business partner and I were looking around for spas to buy and scouting out neighborhood places, we walked in and asked for a menu and a tour, and the front desk gave us the really icy shoulder. They didn't have menus, and no, they didn't give tours.

And later, after purchasing Pavia, we learned from several of our female clients that they experienced the same thing. They would walk in and be told that the spa only did "facials," but then their husbands would walk in and get the red carpet treatment. And most recently, a client of ours, Ms. D.S., was driving by their location on a Sunday night at midnight (she was coming back from a quilting group) and saw that they were still open.

D.S. asked me if I knew what could possibly be happening at midnight on a Sunday night at a legitimate day spa, and I shrugged and said I had no idea. So anyway, she called the police on them. Hee hee! I wonder if the police did anything about it...we shall see!

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's Massage Therapist, Not Masseuse, Okay???

Let's review: in order to perform massage, a person has to undertake some serious educational hours (varying between 300 and 1,100 hours, with most California schools clocking in around 730 hours of classroom training) to get their certification in body therapy. They have to register with the local police departments - in my town, they have to be fingerprinted, background-checked, and registered within a licensed massage establishment - and they have to know anatomy, some physiology, and when massage is contraindicated. So they deserve the title, "Massage Therapist," not "masseuse."

The term "masseuse" connotes images of untrained ladies working in unlicensed parlors that perform wamby-pamby body rubs and THEN SOME. Can you say, "happy endings?" Serious, professional spas do not employ masseuses, and it is an insult to call someone who has made it their life career to help others maintain their physical health through massage, a "masseuse." In my book, a "masseuse" is equivalent to a "lady of the night."

It's "Massage Therapist," not "masseuse!" Okay, time to get off my soapbox now. I'm done defending the rights of my employees and other highly trained spa therapists out there. Enough said.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jet lag strikes again.

Rats, I lay awake again last night tossing and turning until 5:30am. I never really did fall *quite* asleep, I don't think. This morning, must have been around sunrise, I woke up in a sweat, the aftermath of a vivid, terrible dream about being caught breaking into Harmonie Day Spa with a "friend" and then having said "friend" call the CBS evening news to come film me doing it. I was extremely thankful afterwards that it wasn't true.

I tried everything last night: warmed milk, studying my Holistic Structure & Function of the Body textbook, a sleep mask, but nothing seemed to help. Nope, nothing but frustration and teeth-grinding, especially since the hubby always seems to sleep so peacefully. I must confess, however, to leaving behind my Sleep roll-on aromatherapy in Taiwan like a dumbass; I bet that would have helped.

So, I was in a trying-to-be-pleasant mood when I came to work the front desk at the spa today. That was dashed fast, however, when one of my employees complained to me about having only one service on her calendar today, which meant that it wasn't "worth" it for her to drive all the way here to perform it. She means financially, of course. I thought to myself, "And how is your moving away to the farthest corner of East San Jose somehow the spa's fault?" But on the other hand, the part of me that is a softie does understand her situation.

We are just so slow this October...but that will change, I am confident. Fingers crossed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Jet lag, employees, and frogs...

Phew, made it back from Taiwan safely. Had a smooth flight and was planning to take all Thursday off to recuperate, but got called into the spa because two employees miscommunicated - each thought the other was going to work the front desk, and it ended up that neither of them did - and I had to fill in! Woo hoo. I hardly knew my name yesterday.

Then, this morning, I was supposed to be at the spa by 9:30am to cover for another employee of mine, but jet lag struck forcefully. I didn't sleep until 7:04am (at least, that was the last time I remember seeing on the clock), and needed to be up by 8:30am. Well, thankfully I have a strong inner TimeSense or SOMETHING, because I could almost feel someone pulling up on my hair and dragging me awake this morning. I swiveled around to look at the alarm clock, and it was 9:14am already! Holy cow dung! I slipped on pants and a shirt and high-tailed it to work, no make-up, no hair combing, no nothing. I barely remembered to brush my teeth...yikes, that would be clients away with morning breath...

And I got the lovely news that we have a little renegade frog loose in our spa. Our spa fronts a creek, and when the little ones hatch (as they are doing now), sometimes they invade us and show up during inopportune times. Like yesterday, for of my therapists saw a froggie visitor in the wet room while she was doing a salt glow on a client. Thankfully, the client was blissfully unaware!

OMG, I sincerely hope I do not see this frog myself, and that one of my staff can just pick it up and shepherd it back out to its own habitat without my knowing anything about it. I don't know if I have the self-control to not panic and scream bloody murder if I do happen to see its hind end in here...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Waaah, last day in Taipei!

My time here is drawing to a close, and I got to do everything that I wanted to do. I got to hang out with my grandmother and listen to her adorable little voice telling me stories about her youth and her walk across China during the 2nd World War. I got to see a Doctor of Chinese Medicine who took my pulse and was able to tell me that one of my ovaries wasn't functioning and send me home with some herbs that will hopefully help me get pregnant. (Fingers crossed). I got to experience the best spa ever - EVER - and found a lot of ideas to steal (hee hee). Finally, I got to visit my grandfather's memorial site today in northern Taiwan.

He is at rest in a very peaceful building filled with memorial urns, and it was a great comfort to see that his remains were so well cared for. It was a very peaceful place, with rows upon rows upon rows of shelves, each with a little urn "lockbox" and a loving message from the family. I thought I would tear up and cry, since I never really got to say a formal goodbye to my grandfather, but I didn't. I felt very happy, actually, and I whispered to him a little message in my heart: "Goodbye, Yeh Yeh (Grandpa in Chinese). I love you and miss you and will see you again soon."

We also ate at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant in town that was translated as "King Join," but it really isn't that great of a translation. Not that I have any better ideas. The food was first-rate, though.

We leave tomorrow evening on the 7:50pm flight. I really do feel I should be out in the living room holding onto my grandmother's soft little hands right now, but am working on payroll. The employees have to get paid, after all, and nothing in the world can stop that from happening! LOL. See you Stateside!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Absolute best spa experience of my entire life!

I have to admit, I didn't think that the most wonderful spa experience of my entire life would happen here in Taipei...but the place I went today, Orient Retreat, was absolutely, by FAR, the most awesomely relaxing, stimulating, invigorating, and rejuvenating place I've ever patronized. I was sooooo blown away.

EVERYTHING about them was note-perfect, from the herbal tea they serve you to their facilities to the products they use to the service itself. EVERYTHING. WAS. PERFECT. I am definitely going to be stealing some ideas, big-time. I chose to have the Healing Flower Remedy treatment, which combines Bach Flower Essences with essential oils, color therapy, and massage. A client care coordinator greeted me to help me determine my Flower Essences, first by choosing from a deck of Flower Essence cards, then by looking at a chart that corresponded to my aches and pains, then by choosing a color of the rainbow. When all was settled, we determined that I would need the Vine Flower Essence (they would have had no way of knowing this, but I knew that Vine essence is meant to help us accept others as they are, without trying to change them - i.e., dominance and inflexibility).

I was given a tour of the facilities, which included a spotlessly clean and visually appealing locker room, showers, sauna, steam room, and a relaxation area which included an "herb bar" that had the yummiest herbal tea I've ever tasted (had an aftertaste redolent of red dates, yum yum), crackers, fresh apples, and water. My therapist, "Melinda" (I put her name in quotes because I am sure she has a Chinese name), came to get me and then took me into a room that was softly lit with a purple light. Ding Ding Ding - I had picked purple, hadn't I?

The presentation was also thoughtful and detailed. On the bed was my very own tray with my own flower essence, herbal tea, and aromatherapy diffuser putting out a fabulous, heavenly Jasmine-and-Lemon scent into the air. She gave me a "shot" of Vine flower essence under my tongue, then had me sip the tea, then had me climb onto the table and remove my robe (she held up the blanket on the bed so I could do this in privacy). She then began the service, which called for applying the Bach flower essence to different "chakras" or acupressure meridians on the body, and then on top of that, a relaxing Swedish-style massage with essential oils. I got SO relaxed that I actually fell quite asleep, and that NEVER happens.

After I was turned over, she used a different set of essential oils for my face and decollete, and gave me an awesome scalp massage with a hairbrush - SO relaxing and good for you - and then a hot stone/cold stone massage on my face (I think this was an add-on service, though...). At the end, she sat me up and did some more cold stone work on my back to finish the service. She helped me slip on the robe, walked me back into the locker room facilities, and placed some delicious cookies and another carafe of herbal tea on the table for me. So basically, I was never once left alone in the room, and I was cared from beginning to end. Like I said, AMAZING.

I don't know how much of this would fly in the States, but I definitely know quality when I experience it (having gone to tens of spas and had hundreds of experiences at spas), and I am going to copy copy copy!! Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I know this has absolutely NOTHING to do with being a day spa owner, but I just have to gloat for a bit....STANFORD BEAT USC AT HOME TODAY!!!! I was following the scores from here in Taipei and screaming my oversized head off at the ESPN screen. 24-23, very close, but woo hoo - we'll take it!

The most arrogant, vainglorious, and puffed up team this century has finally been brought low, and by none other than my alma mater...I love it! It doesn't get any better than this. My husband told me that the look on Pete Carroll's face was absolutely priceless. He recorded the game for me so that when I get back Stateside, I can savor every single nerve-jangling minute of that richly deserved Trojan humiliation. USC is a great school, but the football hype is just completely overdone. And now it's being hailed as potentially the greatest upset EVER in college football - we were 41 point underdogs! Check out this article...I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo happy. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HA.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Much better...less ouchy massage.

I decided to try out one of Taiwan's day spas last was called "Jour de Ness," and is one of a large chain all across Taiwan, and even has 600 locations in China.

I had signed up for an 80 minute full-body massage, but I was on my period, so they decided to forgo doing that and only wanted to do my back for 60 minutes. As soon as I checked in, they handed me slippers to wear and a drink that tasted like sweet and sour plums, which was actually quite good. I had to fill in an intake form (which was a bit tough for me, since my Mandarin is not perfect and yet I have to pretend all the time that it is!).

Then, my service began by having me lock up my items and lie face down on a massage table. My only thought was that the table was extremely short...even at 5'4ish, my feet were touching the wall...that is very strange. There are plenty of people walking around here taller than me...what happens to them?

My massage therapist was extremely pleasant, she rubbed an oil containing menthol on my back, and also swung over an infrared lamp to "knit my bones back together" in my back. The massage was a lot more like acupressure, concentrating on certain meridians and "pressure points" - was actually quite painful in the sense that those parts are very sensitive. She told me, in one particularly sensitive spot, that that spot corresponded to the general health of my ovaries and my uterus, and that mine were "not optimally healthy." I told her, despite the pain, to press it some more - hee hee!

I was pretty pleased with the massage, except that at one point, my massage therapist got up in the middle of the massage to go into the hallway and talk to her younger sister. I thought that was a little strange, and not something we would countenance doing in the States. I asked if she had an emergency, and she said it was just to say goodbye.

After my massage, the management corraled me and tried to get me to buy a 15-service series. Apparently, yesterday being my inaugural visit to their company, I was charged the ridiculously cheap rate of 450NT, which is something like $15 USD. However, each and every time in the future that I wanted to go would cost 1500 NT (or about $50 USD). So they wanted to sell me a package of 15 for 11,300 NT...and they were quite assiduous about it and would not let up, despite the fact that I don't even live in the country and only return once every 2 years or so. They spent a lot of time trying to convince me that it would still be worth it!?!

Well, I have to give them kudos for trying. It is certainly one way to "wrap" the customer around your finger and lock them into your services, but I got the sense that they just wouldn't take no for an answer, and that the only reason they did was that I did not live locally. They even said, "Well, you can gift the services to your family who live here!" Haha, good marketing, I have to admit - pull them in too!

I don't know if the hard pushy sell is something that would work so well in the States, but this makes me think perhaps I should be marketing series more. Hmmm, food for thought.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Massaged = Pummeled????

Having been jetlagged to the utmost max last night, one of my brothers and I decided to get a massage to help us go to sleep. Our cousin suggested a place called "Teacher Deng" (well, that is the best I can do in terms of translation), and we cabbed there with our hopes up for a relaxing experience.

First off, you get your feet soaked in a basin in a row alongside several others. The water was red, and when I asked why, they told me it was essential oils. Pfah! Essential oils aren't RED. I asked them which ones, and they said "Bergamot" (which was complete B/S, because Bergamot is orangy-yellow, and doesn't leave a red color in water), and then they said "Rose," which is even worse, because that is actually clear. So pretty much, they put rose perfume oil in the water, which has no therapeutic effect whatsoever (don't mess with me! I'm the Queen of Aromatherapy!)

Next, we were led upstairs into a common room (which was fine, there were 4 in our party), and asked to change into pajama-like clothing. Then, a massage therapist came in and spread a thin sheet over us, and this was what they massaged us through, with GREAT force. We are talking: pummeling, bruising, etc. etc. They basically ran roughshod over us. I had too much pride to say, "That hurts," but my cousin in the corner was screeching, 'Please, not so hard, not so hard.'

After a while, as I was gritting my teeth from the pain, I heard my brother's massage therapist let out a long, low belch. NICE. Then, the phone in the room rang, and one of the massage therapists picked it up, and after that, a conversation ensued about which massage therapist was actually in the room. Then, all of them who were massaging us talked about where to go for a beer after work, accompanied with much laughter and jesting. We, the clients, were afterthoughts.

After the extracurricular activities were settled, my massage therapist proceeded to get the sniffles, and I could tell she was blowing her nose into her hands. It felt like she was wiping them off on my back, but I couldn't tell. I was thinking to myself, "OMG OMG OMG, thank goodness there is a sheet between us and I am wearing clothes that are not my own." And then she started massaging a sensitive part on my neck and I involuntarily brought my fingers in close to my chest and I could feel her snot rag under my shoulder. I nearly jumped off the table!

Thankfully I didn't have to do that, because after manipulating me around a few times and cracking a few spots in my spine, the massage was over and I was out of those clothes, back into my own, and flying down the hall to a bathroom so I could wash wash wash.

Wow, that was kind of terrible. Granted, it cost about $31 US, but that is still not SO cheap that you would be willing to undergo gaseous intestinal disturbances and explosions of mucus from your caregivers!

I will try another place when my body stops feeling so sore.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Made it to Taiwan safely!

Got in late-night 10/2 at 10pm after a rather uncomfortable plane ride, but at least I am here safely. I had every intention of going to the nearby park and participating in the morning T'ai Chi with the denizens here, but that did not happen...didn't sleep until 1am here but sat bolt upright in bed at 5:20am, with no energy whatsoever. Woo hoo! Jet lag! I have been rubbing my temples with the Travel Aid blend (Rosemary, Lemon, and Peppermint essential oils in jojoba oil), and it has seemed to help.

Okay, I am going to get a massage tonight to help me sleep. It's 800 NT here per massage (that translates to roughly $24 US)...seems rather inexpensive, except that in Shanghai we could get them at $5 per hour?!?!

I also need to check into a few spas here. My former esthetician, Christina, recommended a couple so I will need to go and check them out (after all, have to justify this trip as a write-off!).

Oh yes, that's a good perk of owning a spa...all your spa treatments can be "competitive research" (if performed at other spas) or "education/training" for your staff (if performed at your own spa). Pretty cool!

Ugh, it's 10:15am and I am feeling sleepy. Have to power through!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Leaving for Taiwan today...

but before I can go I have a mad rush of things to do. Send out the Pavia newsletter, back up and ship the Ebay items (to Australia, yuck! Means I have to stand in line at the post office), try to see a doctor (an "advice nurse" will call to talk to me over the phone - she hasn't done that yet), pick up a prescription (if there is one), get my tax information together for my accountant (YES - we filed an extension) and then haul my butt up to the airport by 2:40pm.

I better put on my cape. And call on my superpower ability to be in 3 places at once. And pack.