Unusual beauty and wellness treatments to try in Singapore
From smearing bird poop on your face to having your fat frozen, we tried and tested five of the weirdest and bizarre beauty treatments
Now open: Uniqlo (Orchard Central)
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Yunomori Onsen and Spa
Yunomori Onsen and Spa is the first in South-East Asia to combine an authentic Japanese hot spring experience with traditional Thai massages. Which is great, as onsen baths themselves relieve muscular tension, improve blood circulation and skin health, or so its proponents claim. There are five (surprisingly high-tech) onsen baths offered at the separate male and female onsen areas here: soda, silk, bubble, jet and cold bath. Each pool is treated with hot spring minerals imported from the Land of the Rising Sun, and their temperatures are carefully monitored at all times. But we'd recommend you start with the CO2-filled soda bath – it's set at around 38.5 to 39.5°C – and work your way up. The entry price of $38 grants you all-day access to the onsen, steam rooms and sauna (guys, you're in luck – there are hot baths and a sauna that are exclusive to the male onsen area). Prior to entering, you're given fresh towels and a yukata of your choosing to lounge in between dips. You'll have to enjoy the onsen in your birthday suit, but if you're too shy, Yunomori offers black nylon disposable underwear. Think of it as a blurry filter – they're not completely opaque, but hey, it’s better than nothing. And be sure to shower before entering the onsen pools (with complimentary Yunomori spa products) and try to keep your hair clear of the onsen waters. So hold off on diving right in. Pick your desired package (see below for our recommendation) and receive an electronic tag. It's got your assigned locker number on it and works as a 'credit card' to use at the Yunomori café. The café whips up simple Japanese dishes such as soba sets ($10.80) that come with potato salad and – you guessed it – an onsen egg. There's also free flow hot ginger tea and cold hojicha tea all day. Treatment to try Opt for the package deal: in addition to the onsen, you can enjoy a 30-minute Thai foot massage or a 60-minute full-body one ($68-$118) by a skilled masseuse. You have to fill in a form before clambering on the table to indicate any areas of concern to focus on and the desired pressure. Bells and whistles such as a hot compress or aroma oil therapy ($196-$246) can also be added to your basic package as and when you please.
The 10,000-square-metre space houses a series of hot and cold facilities, including a Japanese-style onsen set on the edge of small jungle, a crystal steam room, gymnasium, yoga studio and Tangerine serving up healthy cuisine by chef Ian Kittichai. On top of soothing massages and stress-relief rituals, ESPA's staff include a naturopath trained to deliver useful advice on living and eating healthier, as well as perky gym trainers who conduct classes in their impressively kitted-out workout room. Patrons who purchase treatments worth more than $200 are welcome to use the various pools and exercise classes. ESPA's after-treatment facilities are also unrivalled. Thoughtful extras like the special spin dryer that whirls your swim suit dry, and the sleeping room with pods to take a nap in after your treatment – don't you hate abruptly navigating the bustle of public transportation after a massage? – are compelling arguments to go to ESPA and make a whole day of it. Treatment to try The Day Spa Retreat ($380/Mon-Thu, $450/Fri-Sun). Centred around themes 'Fit for Life', 'Weight Management', 'Intro to Detox' and 'De-stress', this package is a good primer to ESPA as a lifestyle destination, and includes a consultation with a lifestyle or fitness staff member and two treatments: one 60 minutes and another 45 minutes long (try the Indulgence Hammam Ritual, a Turkish bath ritual in Singapore’s first hammam steam facility). The package also includes a two-course meal at Tangerine, with a menu that recommends dishes based on the retreat you’ve enjoyed.
Previously Spa Botanica at The Sentosa Singapore, A Beaufort Hotel, this destination spa has been fêted and loved for its indoor and outdoor rejuvenation facilities. Rebranded in mid-2014, a whole host of new rejuvenating treatments grounded in French cosmetology practices are now in place, with the treatment menu sectioned into appetisers, mains and desserts to help patrons mix and match their indulgences.Treatment to try Starter selections, for example, feature quick essential body oil scrubs and facials ($100-$120/30-45min), and Mains consist of longer sessions filled with multi-step facials and body massages borrowing wisdom from India, Thailand and the Orient ($180-$240/60-90min). The spa’s beloved volcanic mud seating areas, waterfalls, pools and meditation labyrinths are still also in place, as are its mini-bungalow-like Couple Spa Suites ($80/30min).
Probably the closest to a public bath in Singapore, this independent spa complex is reminiscent of a Chinese hot springs resort. Upon entering, you’re directed to either the men’s or women’s side and given a locker – swimming trunks, robes and towels are provided, so there’s no need to bring anything. The locker rooms have a hot pool (plus a cold pool for the men – it supposedly improves circulation), sauna and showers. In the common areas, you can relax on comfy couches with personal TV screens, plus there’s an all-you-can eat buffet throughout the day, making it quite easy to spend a full day here (and well worth the basic $68 entry price). Treatment to try Gateway to Vitality (members $122/one hour, non-members $155/one hour). The spa’s standard deep-tissue massage uses Shiatsu-style techniques – you can choose to use oil for a smoother, more relaxing treatment, or non-oil for more direct pressure-point massage. The price includes free roam of the spa’s facilities and buffet.
Definitely one of the funkier spas we've checked out, the rainforest-inspired AWAY Spa, in W Singapore, oozes trendiness and elegance all at once. The massage rooms are bathed in a unique, soothing blue light, and each comes with its own private outdoor shower. Guests can also make use of the many facilities, such as the warm vitality pool in the decompression area (complete with a hydro back bench and jet features) and a fun, experiential shower called Aqua, which has options like Tropical Storm and Cold Mist – with various water settings and light effects to match. Choose from treatments like customised massages, the luminous crystal facial, a bust-reviving therapy to lift, firm and tone, a cleansing and exfoliating facial for men, and even a tension-easing massage for sports buffs. Treatment to try AWAY Body Treat ($380/two hours). Using products from UK-based company Ila-Spa, the treatment starts off with an exfoliating body scrub with Himalayan salt crystals and a body mud wrap, while the second part involves an invigorating tension-reducing massage. A special soundtrack by Ila is played throughout the session to complement the long, gentle movements of the masseuse.
Willow Stream Spa
One of the more serious spa spaces in a hotel here, the Willow Stream Spa is an amenity-rich sanctuary located in the centre of town. A total of 35 treatment rooms deliver treatments grounded in Eastern and Western spa philosophies, alongside an array of fitness facilities, sauna and steam rooms, swimming pools and even tennis courts – all are spread over three levels and 50,000 square feet of floor space. Another plus for Willow Stream are the innovative weekly classes like aqua aerobics and helipad yoga (conducted on Swissotel the Stamford’s rooftop and open to the public), which offer access to the spa’s facilities on the day of the class. Treatment to try Power of the Sea ($249/90 minutes). Designed to detoxify and nourish skin, this treatment harnesses the goodness of sea minerals in a wrap and a jet bath in sea salt. The finish of a marine firming creme leaves the skin feeling especially luscious.
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