Arman Shah gets off his home office chair to experience the traditional Thai massage and onsen therapy at Sabaai Sabaai in Wisma Atria.
Who said you had to fly to Phuket to get your Thai massage fix? Sabaai Sabaai has been offering traditional Thai massages in Singapore since 2009. And as a full-time Online Editor and part-time athlete (I boxed for the national team), my body was crying for a massage.
I was either seated all day in front of a laptop, or subjecting my body to extreme training sessions in preparation for an upcoming tournament. My legs were sore, my shoulders were aching, my upper back was tight, my lower back was tender, and my neck just felt funky.
So when the opportunity to experience the treatments at Sabaai Sabaai presented itself, I pounced on it without thinking twice.
Wisma Atria Boutique Spa
Sabaai Sabaai has two branches – one in Wisma Atria and the other at Boat Quay. I went to the one located on the third floor of Wisma Atria. If you’re as familiar with Singapore as most locals are, you’d know the mall is a short walk from Orchard MRT Station.
Unlike its sister outlet, the one at Wisma Atria is a full-fledged boutique spa. So on top of the wide selection of massages, it also offers the Hinoki Onsen Private Bath, steam room therapy, sunlighten infrared sauna, radio frequency slimming and organic facials.
Upon my arrival, I was kindly requested to fill up an online Health Declaration Form. This is pretty standard protocol for any professional spa establishment. So do remember to bring your mobile phone to access the form by scanning a provided QR code.
If you’re experiencing problems with your mobile data connection, do note that there’s free WiFi available at Sabaai Sabaai. Just ask the receptionist for the WiFi network and password and you’re good to go.
While waiting for my treatments to begin, I lounged at the waiting area where I was kept company by Michkhun, the UglyDoll slash Customer Service executive. Michkun’s silly face did add a nice touch of warmth and personality to the overall vibe of the place.
And speaking of warmth, I was served hot, aromatic ginger tea by the friendly receptionist Joyce while waiting. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t feeling particularly thirsty, but I shamelessly requested for a second glass of that ginger yumminess.
If you had been drinking or hydrating a lot before your spa appointment, do note that there is no washroom at Sabaai Sabaai. Before your therapeutic treatments begin, it’s advisable to visit the public toilet on the same floor within the mall.
Hinoki Onsen Private Bath
The first activity on my itinerary was to try the Hinoki Onsen Private Bath. As the name suggests, the usage of this bath is limited to one person (or two). This is great if you are shy or uncomfortable with onsen baths that are typically designed for groups.
After escorting me to my private room, Joyce broke down the step-by-step process to maximise the health benefits of the bath. There was also a diagram explaining the safety precautions I needed to take note of.
You’re given 30 minutes in the bath, and there’s a timer to make sure you keep track. After I was left on my own, I changed into the shorts that they provided me with – along with the fancy bathrobes – took a quick shower and carefully climbed into the bath.
The onsen water was milky in colour and velvety on the skin. It was very relaxing soaking in the high temperature water. It comes with plenty of benefits, including muscle ache and pain relief, stress reduction and improved blood circulation – basically things I needed!
The onsen water also contains minerals that get absorbed into your body. Coupled with the heat, these minerals accelerate your metabolism by increasing blood flow and improving the amount of oxygen in your blood. This ultimately helps the body detox.
If you’re feeling a little dehydrated at the end of the 30 minutes, there’s a complimentary packet of PUREWATER for you. I gulped it down appreciatively. I also moisturised my hands and arms with the fancy hand and body lotion by endota because hey, why not?
Thai Tradition Massage
After the onsen bath, it was time for the mostly highly-anticipated part of my Sabaai Sabaai experience – the 90-minute Thai Tradition Massage. I was escorted to a different room where my massage therapist Zu Er was waiting for me.
Traditional Thai massages are different from their counterparts in a number of ways. For one, it’s not necessary to be topless during a Thai massage, so I was fully-clothed in the provided attire. Thai massages are also traditionally done on a mat on the floor.
At Sabaai Sabaai, however, I had the luxury of a massage bed. I could also choose my preferred level of pressure – soft, medium or strong. I chose a level between medium and strong, and I was shocked at how a therapist as petite as Zu Er had crazy strong hands!
She applied rhythmic pressure using her herculean hands and forearms to my body’s meridian points. And if you’ve seen videos of a Thai masseuse folding and stretching the client out like roti prata, that’s exactly what I experienced. There were also some satisfying cracks thrown in the mix.
After all that’s been said and done, my experience at Sabaai Sabaai was a very positive one. The Hinoki Onsen Private Bath was pleasant, especially if you like moments of solitude while enjoying the medical benefits of the onsen water.
But to me, the real star was the Thai Tradition Massage. My body was not in a good shape after a particularly tough fight camp, and I could tell my therapist was really ironing out the kinks. The massage was the perfect balance of (good) pain and sleep-inducing, pure bliss.
It was sincerely one of the best massages I had ever experienced, and I highly recommend you opt for the 90-minute experience as opposed to the hour-long option because that will give the therapist more time to work her magic.
10 out of 10 would recommend it, so go book your massage NOW!
Review by: Arman Shah