Last week, I suffered from a very painful back problem. I’m not really sure what it is or why I get it all the time but I have a feeling that the cold weather is the culprit. I’m an old lady I know and quite silly too because instead of going to a professional doctor who could possibly treat this for good – I went to get a massage. Twice.
I went to two spas here in Doha to relive the pain that I was suffering. The first one was Royal Thai Lady Spa in Al Waab, a spa I have never been to before but have always seen on my way home from Aspire every morning and the second was Angsana Spa in Wyndham Grand Regency, a very reputable spa brand with numerous international awards under its belt. Comparing the two I know isn’t very fair but trust me, I’ve got a very good reason to do it.
For this review, I’m going to focus on the treatments I had in two places which are both a 60-min massage. Thai massage at Royal Thai Lady Spa and Dreams massage at Angsana Spa.
Royal Thai Lady Spa in Al Waab
Angsana Spa in Wyndham Grand Regency Hotel
Royal Thai Lady Spa is in a villa along Al Waab Street, it’s quite hard to miss as it has a very distinct Thai-decorated entrance gate. Upon entering, the receptionist who, at the time was talking to someone on Skype/Facetime, hurriedly ended the call as soon as I walked in by waving goodbye to whoever she was talking to quite frantically. She asked me if I had an appointment and when I said yes, she looked for my name in a piece of paper where names of clients were scribbled with the corresponding times of their arrival. Once my name’s located, she asked me what kind of massage I’d like to have – aromatherapy or Thai massage. I chose Thai massage. Afterwards, payment was collected and I was asked to wait for my therapist in the receiving area.
Angsana Spa is located in the gorgeous Wyndham Grand Regency Doha. You will have to go through a maze though before you’re able to locate the spa but fret not as there are signs to lead you to the right place. When I arrived at the reception, a very unfriendly atmosphere welcomed me – two men were looking at me like I’m some kind of an intruder. They both looked angry/miserable so I just ignored them and focused on the smiling face of the Filipina receptionist and told her that I have already made a reservation. She asked me what kind of massage I’d like to have and referred me to the spa menu with so many choices. It was hard for me to decide as I wanted to do it all so I asked for her advice. She told me Dreams massage would be perfect for someone like me who prefers to have a soft-medium pressure.
There were no amenities, Royal Thai Lady Spa offers a straightforward service: a massage. They do offer refreshments though and some candies in a jar after your massage. 🙂
Free use of jacuzzi, steam room and sauna are included BUT all of these amenities are co-ed, men and women alike will be using it at the same time which for Qatar standards, was quite surprising. I have never encountered this before in the Middle East – I’ve been to spas in Dubai, Oman and Doha and all of them have separate areas for men and women. Even Royal Thai Lady Spa has another villa only for men.
I was looking forward to use their jacuzzi however, there were 4 men already there and I am definitely not going to say “Excuse me, can I join you guys?”.
I was advised though that I can actually access a private jacuzzi however I will have to pay extra QR300 to be able to use it for 30 mins. Uhmmm no thank you.
The Treatment Room:
After washing my feet, my masseuse led me to the second floor of the villa into a room divided into sections to have three or two (not sure) treatment rooms in it. A mattress was laid on the floor and a tiny lamp in a corner “sets the mood” of relaxation. The masseuse asked me how long I’ve had a back pain and when I said it’s been on for three days now she said “ok” with a determined face like she already knows what she will do.
The Treatment Room:
The treatment room was huge with its own toilet and shower inside it. A massage table in the center of the room looks very inviting and I almost went straight to it until my masseuse told me to sit on a chair first in one corner. She gave me a hot towel (probably to make up for the fact that they didn’t have a steam room) and asked me if I have any areas that I’d like her to focus on.
I was given a Thai massage by a Thai lady and if I’m going to be honest, I’d say that I can practically sue her for assault. She destroyed my back and even though I have mentioned to her several times to make the pressure lighter or to stop it, her response to me was NO!
I kid you not! I had tears in my eyes while my knees and toes were curled up into fetal position which I think is my body’s way of saying surrender! She was too strong and had full control of my body and in between almost crying and telling her to stop she kept saying: “I know it’s painful but believe me, you need this!” or at least something the same as I couldn’t understand what she’s saying since I was too focused on dealing with the pain.
There were times though when she was massaging my back that I felt pain but in a very good way. I think her hands have magnetic power and it automatically detects were she should put the pressure on my back. At some point, I just gave in and let her do whatever she needs to do to me since I can tell that she absolutely knows what she’s doing. Her back massage is worth all the pain.
Moving my head gives me a sharp pain on my back so when she sat me up, I knew that this was what she’s going to do to me so I immediately tried to stand up. She was quicker than me though and pushed me down with her whole weight on my shoulders and forced me to sit still. She then started to move my head slowly and while I was about to say NO she immediately told me “Just trust me.” She started moving my head slowly, front, back, left, right – she repeated it 5 times (yes, I was counting) and by the 3rd repetition my neck muscles felt lose and moving it wasn’t as painful as before.
It was the most painful massage experience I’ve ever had, if I was a spy and she was trying to get information from me – I think I would’ve given it to her right away. It was pure torture.
When I laid down on the massage table, my masseuse arranged the towels and pillows to make sure that I was comfortable. Palms was used with light pressure for this massage with oil. Much like lathering lotion on your body but with a little bit more pressure. It was very soothing and relaxing.
As soothing and as relaxing as it was, my masseuse wasn’t able to pinpoint the sore muscles on my back like the lady in Royal Thai Lady Spa did. She was basically just kneading through my back but not really focusing on the knots and tight muscles that I have. She also didn’t focus on my back as instructed before the treatment.
After The Treatment:
Although I was violated and assaulted during the massage, I felt like a huge amount of stress was lifted off from my shoulders. I felt so light as I walked out of the spa, sore but light. The back pain was still there though but my back and neck wasn’t as stiff as before. The saying “No pain, no gain” couldn’t be more apt.
After The Treatment:
I felt very relaxed and although I didn’t have the exact same feeling of lightness as I had after my massage with Royal Thai Lady Spa, it was still a pleasant feeling.
QR130 for 1-hour Thai massage.
QR500 for 1-hour dreams massage.
(I used a gift voucher though.)
Although I was assaulted and my comfort during the massage wasn’t given priority, I do believe they know what they’re doing. I realized that how my masseuse treated me is probably the same treatment I would’ve gotten if it was my own mother giving me a massage. I went there with a complaint of back pain which has been bothering me for 3 days and she knows how to deal with it and if that means hurting me, she would do it – so I’d feel better afterwards.
I’m definitely going back there for a no-frill massage. She advised me to have aromatherapy massage next time as I’m too much of a sissy to have a Thai massage from a real Thai lady.
For the price of QR500 per massage, I expected more from Angsana Spa. In fact, it’s not only about the price – it’s the brand that they carry which made my expectations higher. If I didn’t have the gift voucher then and was going to pay for the massage on my own – I probably would’ve walked out upon realizing that they do not have the amenities a normal spa (in the Middle East) would have – jacuzzi, sauna, steam room separate for men and women.
Yes the setting was nice and the treatment rooms were also nice but I went there for a massage and to be relaxed, not to be satisfied visually by the aesthetic beauty of the place. I’m 100% sure that I’m not going to pay that amount of money for a spa with no amenities as there are a lot of other places in the city with the same amount and complete amenities. But then, that’s just me.