A few years ago, Spa Ceylon joined the ranks of Siddhalepa and Janet, opening up an in-brand set of spas around Colombo. They're quite a bit more high-end than their predecessors though, offering a premium local brand in chic settings, and with incredibly appealing packaging. We've also noticed that they supply to a few premium hotels and airlines.
This time, we tried their branch on Ward Place, called WHITE. I assumed/hoped the name was just in reference to their decor, but unfortunately it was in reference to their lightening/ whitening/ brightening treatments. You can't blame an enterprising brand for capitalizing on a popular market (fairness), but it's a tad distasteful nonetheless.
Given the steady trickle of people coming in for sessions while I was there on a weekday, I assume they're doing quite well. Apart from their main fairness selection, they are a full service salon so you can expect a range of massages, scrubs, soaks etc.
I've always found the service at Spa Ceylon branches to be pretty effective. They're quick to answer, make appointments, and help you around their menu offerings. This time was no different, although I would have preferred a bit more enthusiasm and guidance once we actually turned up at the branch.
I just sort of milled about for 5 minutes at the reception until someone freed up to check my reservation, then waited another 10 minutes until the masseur himself came out to usher me in. Usually, spas welcome you with a little bit more process and aplomb, such as a form as to your preferences or allergies, a welcome drink, an explanation of what you're going in for.
I had asked for a 60 minute head, shoulders, and neck massage, which was done in a communal room with a series of reclining chairs around (the type usually used for pedicures or foot massages). I was wearing a dress, which they told me to keep on, and to just sit on the chair. It made for an unecessarily uncomfortable massage experience, as the masseur had to reach in, in between my back and the chair to actually make contact. It also meant I had to awkwardly lean forward in my chair, which did not help me relax at all.
Keeping my dress on was also extra awkward, as the oil used got all over my clothing, and the treatment involved the masseur essentially reaching into my dress to reach my shoulders/ back. I'm not sure why the massage wasn't conducted on a normal massage table with a bathrobe/ towel provided.
Apart from this incredibly strange and awkward logistical nightmare, the service itself was great. Our masseurs were both very responsive to individual needs, made sure the pressure was optimal, and generally made the best of an otherwise uncomfortable massage experience. They clearly were very experienced and we finished the 60 minutes generally pleased despite the ridiculous seating.
At the end of the massage, we were presented with some nice Spa Ceylon herbal tea and hot towels to wrap up the session.
The white theme is rampant throughout the premises, with stark minimalist decor and few strategic accents. It's not exactly soothing, but it adds to the chic vibe they're undoubtedly going for. The spa's lobby also doubles as a little store, so you can just come in to pick up your cosmetic needs or to purchase a cute gift basket or bag.
Inside their treatment areas, the ambience is a lot more welcoming and soothing. You can expect dim, soft lighting, funky Buddha Bar type music, and lovely wafting scents.
As the gleeful recipient of many a Spa Ceylon mini hamper, I can attest to the quality of the goods and the excellent packaging. In turn, I've often bought their stuff for foreign friends and family. Their mini hampers start at about Rs. 2500 or Rs. 3000 upwards, and include about 5 little bottles of the usual toiletries, in a little portable bag.
The treatment pricing is on par with pretty much all the hotel and top salons in Colombo, at about Rs. 7000 for a full body 90 minute massage. Our massage was about Rs. 3500 for 60 minutes, which would have been quite worth it if it was actually on a massage table. Given the number of outlets all over the city, the in-house expert local and foreign technicians, their great locations, and the relative ease of accessibility and booking, the pricing makes sense.
Overall, this isn't my favourite Spa Ceylon branch. Partially because the welcome service wasn't on par with the other branches, and partially because I'm personally opposed to the "whitening" industry as a whole. The seating for the massage was strange and not conducive to relaxation either, but the service of the masseurs themselves was impeccable. We'll review the brand new Galle Road Colpetty branch soon, and let you know what our experience was like there.