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Philippine Spa Industry: The Pampered Path

In the Philippines, as of end-2006, there were an estimated 87 spas operating in Metro Manila alone, a figure 74% higher since 2003. And the growth in the Philippines is not just limited to Metro Manila. So where is this headed?



Ricardo Antonio, A Hongkong-based self-described “frequent spa user,” visits “over two, three (health) facilities in a month, (availing of such services as) massages, facials, et cetera,” he says, adding that the visits are actually “made more frequent when I am home, in the Philippines, considering that compared to HK, the spa facilities (here) only charges from P550 (for regular services) to over P1,000 (for combined and specialty services), versus the overseas rates ranging from well over P1,500 just for regular services, easily going over P5,000 when availed from high-end spa facilities.”

The main drive of the visits, Antonio says, is the “getting of (at least some) relief from the strains (brought by life) that makes the spa experience one to be had, for sure. They help define bliss, and who wouldn’t want some of that?”

It is this, the fulfilment of the need of people to feel good, that is actually what’s driving the growth of the spa, and health and wellness industry.


According to the Global Spa Economy Report, done by the Stanford Research Institute and released at the Global Spa Summit in New York in the US at the end of May 2008, the global spa industry is estimated to be worth over $250 billion (approximate worth of $254.8 billion in 2007) – an amount including $60.3 billion in core spa industry revenues (such as capital investments, spa facilities, education and consulting, associations, and events), and $194 billion in global tourism, hospitality, and real estate “enabled” by the spa industry.

There are an estimated over 71,000 spa facilities worldwide, offering such services as facials, body treatments, salon services, water-based treatments, and health assessments – employing about 1.2 million people.

“The spa industry is growing at a breakneck pace, but its diversity and scope have always made it difficult to quantify its size and financial strength, as well as to harness the full power of its collaborative voice,” SpaFinder CEO Pete Ellis and chairman of the board for the Global Spa Summit, says in a prepared statement.

In the Philippines, as of end-2006, there were an estimated 87 spas operating in Metro Manila alone, a figure 74% higher since 2003; and with those offering spa services varying, as hotels and resorts jumped on the bandwagon, with 20% spas located in hotels and resorts, and 76% of spas stand-alone day spas. This according to Intelligent Spas (, which released the Spa Industry Profile Philippines 2003-2007 that also noted the growing size of spa facilities (averaging 609 square metres), with an average of 10.9 treatment rooms, making them the largest across the Asia-Pacific region.

The growth in the Philippines is not just limited to Metro Manila.

In the Queen City of the South, Cebu City, for example, Spa and Wellness Association of Cebu Inc. (Swac) president Johnie Lim earlier noted in Sun Star that their local health and wellness industry is expected to grow further this year, as more people seek out spa services. “More people have realized the benefits of going to a spa, even those in the lower middle income (bracket). The trend can be seen even among people who have never been to a spa before,” he says, all the while noting that even with the growth, “many small spas will close; those who will survive are those that have captured their own markets.”

Cebu City already has 160 spa centers, more than in Metro Manila, and up from only 90 in 2006.

“It’s becoming a part of the lifestyle of many Cebuanos. (With the growth), Cebu City is becoming wellness island,” Lim says.


The growth, admittedly tremendous, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
For one, especially when times are hard, people want to feel good – if not with the situation, then at least with themselves – and spa facilities can help make this happen.

“People go to a spa to relax, rejuvenate, restore, one or the other, or for all these reasons,” says Angie Castillo, manager of The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Manila, in “Blissed Out and Bullish” in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. “There are massages for those who want to get rid of muscle tightness and aches, and also to get some pampering and relaxation. Others come for the body treatments like scrubs and wraps to get rid of dead skin cells and acquire more nourished skin. For some people, the visit is for relaxing facials. But generally, the trip to the spa is for the purpose of looking good and feeling good.”

Secondly, spas, of course, actually help improve health. For example, “having a massage results in increased blood circulation, increased flexibility of muscles, detoxification of the body through the lymphatic system, decreased production of the stress hormone cortisol, and the release of endorphins, also known as the happiness hormones,” says Catherine Brillantes-Turvill, president of Nurture Spa, also in the same report.

Brillantes-Turvill’s other spa-related business, Spa Essentials – a spa supplies company that offers standard and customized product solutions, from a comprehensive range of the highest quality ingredients, products, and supplies to local and international quality-orientated spas and practitioners – even highlights how even the use of a simple spa component like oils can benefit spa goers.

And then, thirdly, there’s the socializing aspect of spa going – some facilities even have grouped services, such as spa parties, or sparties.

With the emergence of a growing number of facilities, there are now more options for customers or would-be customers to choose from – there are even service-providers with prices as low as P149 (e.g. for 30 minutes, from Big Apple Express Spa) to P250 per massage per hour (e.g. home-based, from Asian Massage). Multi-service facilities, such as Azgenda and another salon cum spa Index, offer cheaper services, such as foot spas from only P99.

The relatively lower prices of services in the Philippines help make the country competitive. According to the University of Asia and the Pacific, compared to local rates, visits to spas in Singapore ($81), Malaysia ($51), and Thailand ($48), also adding to its growth potential.

But for the growth to be sustained, much remains needed to be done.

Speaking at the fifth annual Australasian Spa (ASPA) Conference in Sydney, Australia, Grace Gawler, a renowned holistic wellness educator, was quoted as saying in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report by Rowena Burgos that to “achieve financial success, spa industry players should not only offer havens of relaxation to guests, but also take care of their personnel, as well.” “Without spa therapists, there would be no service, no profit, and indeed no business; yet despite working long hours, most of them are given little time for restoration, revitalization, and self-care,” Gawler says.

Going beyond training, Cebu City’s SWAC is calling for spa accreditation that will “ensure that spa and wellness centers (in Cebu City, at least) would follow the same standards,” Lim says.

There continue to be concerns on perspectives about spas, of course, as many still see it as a mainly elitist past time. But already, SAPI, among others, has been “trying to educate the public through media news stories (concerning the industry)” to remedy this, says Fleras.


In the 2008 Spa Industry Trend Watch, the International Spa Association (ISPA) notes how the “spa industry has become engrained into everyday culture, many spa trends have extended their stay and moved into full-blown tradition.”

“Savvy spa-goers are shaping the trends. Spa professionals want to create the best experience possible, so it’s a ‘buyers’ market’ for consumers who express their wants and needs,” ISPA president Lynne McNees was quoted as saying by Reuters. “The spa lifestyle is in fashion, though it’s also timeless. As a leading leisure industry, spas have the staying power similar to that of cruise lines, skiing and golf.”

For 2008 and beyond, ISPA expects for the industry to actually start offering health lessons (in the US, 51% of spas already offer educational programs and nutritional consultations, 40% offer healthy eating classes, 26% have educational offerings on obesity or weight gain issues, and 17% offer exercise programs for children and teens); change its markets (for example, aside from young professionals, globally, 34% of spas already offer teen packages, and 17% offer packages for children); and the greening of the industry (76% of spas in the US already apply “environmentally sustainable practices, so that the spa community’s commitment to the environment is not a passing phase,” ISPA states).

Back in HK, Antonio says coming home for him is something worth looking forward to because of the “opportunity to get some respite while (in the Philippines).” And topping his list of ways to get that respite is a visit to a spa – understandably, for as long as the likes of Antonio find some comfort in health and wellness facilities, then the industry should keep on heading forward through a pampered path, indeed.

Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.


Is there such a thing as a healthy holiday?

Well, your holiday is really what you make it, and if you are determined to make it unhealthy, then, of course, it will be. But the same goes in reverse too. That means you can have a healthy holiday if you choose to. Read on for some suggestions on how to do this.



Well, your holiday is really what you make it, and if you are determined to make it unhealthy, then, of course, it will be. But the same goes in reverse too. That means you can have a healthy holiday if you choose to. Read on for some suggestions on how to do this.


The first way to make your holiday healthy is to provide plenty of chances to relax. People relax in different ways. Some enjoy doing absolutely nothing. Others prefer low-level activities. If you are one of those people that can’t lie on a beach and sunbathe? You will understand! If that is the case, then maybe you could benefit from some active, relaxing activities.

Such as activities can include meditation, yoga or even visiting a spa. The combination of physical movement along with relaxing therapies can help those that have trouble chilling out do just that.




Another important factor of health is what we eat. But holidays can so often is an excuse for all of our healthy habits to go out of the window. In fact, you will find that most people allow themselves to eat whatever they like on holiday as a treat.

But this can make getting back into your normal routine very tiresome when you return home. It can also sabotage any health benefits and weight loss you were experiencing from your healthy diet.

But what can be done about this? Well, there are several options. First, you can choose to go self-catering. Yes, this does mean a little more work on your part. But by doing this, you can ensure that you are eating good quality healthy food every day. Or you could use a service that provides healthy meals, ready cooked for you, like this one.

The second option is to find accommodation that serves food that is more in line with a healthy diet. Some hotels and retreats may provide a wholesome menu, so it’s best to check before you book, if this is what you are looking for in you break.


Getting enough exercise when you are away can sometimes be an issue. A good way to prevent this is to ensure that the accommodation you have book has fitness facilities like a gym or swimming pool. Or can even get a temporary membership at a local gym and spend your holiday working out in a fitness center if you choose too.

Then, of course, there is running, or hiring a bicycle to get around. Which you will be able to do pretty much whether you choose to vacation. So bear this option in mind to stay active.


Our health is not solely based on our bodies, but on our minds as well. To this end, you need to make sure that there is enough mental stimulation on the holiday that you take, to be happy as well.

The level of this is entirely up to you. Some folks like to explore exotic new cities when away.  Going to museums and galleries and the like, which can provide a lot of mental stimulation. Others are happy with a good book and a deckchair on their balcony. All that matters is that you don’t get bored and restless which can have a negative affect our your wellbeing.

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Pearl Farm Beach Resort: Spelling luxury in Mindanao

Paying a visit to – arguably – the most high-end venue in southern Philippines, Pearl Farm Beach Resort, where bliss can be had for the taking.



Pearl Farm

Davao CityYou may not be the most fervent believer of traditional healing practices – for instance, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that special points in the body (usually at the extremities) correspond to other (usually more vital) parts of the body, so that (as an example) applying pressure at the space between the thumb and the pointer finger could relieve pail (headache, stomachache, and so on).

But after an activity-filled day (island-hopping, snorkeling, road-tripping and the likes) at the Island Garden City of Samal, no matter your way of believing (or seeing), every pressure given by the deft hands of the masseuse/s on the body delivers… relief. While lying on a cushioned white mat, facing Davao’s sea slowly get swallowed by darkness, such is the pleasure derived at the Pearl Farm Ylang Ylang Spa – Pearl Farm Beach Resort’s health and wellness center.

Not that any less ought to be expected, considering that the place’s offerings are (in a word) pricey. Heck, just about everything in this place is pricey.

But in this way, Davao’s Pearl Farm Beach Resort spells luxury in these parts of southern Philippines…


If your concept of “tropical paradise” is Station 1 of Boracay, NOT Stations 2 and 3, then Pearl Farm Beach Resort should satisfy.

Note that – even if it is being sold as in Davao – the resort is actually not in Davao City proper. Instead, it is located in a small island cum province across the strait, poetically called the Island Garden City of Samal. Going to the resort, therefore, takes from 30 minutes (of ferry ride) from the Sasa Wharf on Davao City’s ferry terminal at the Davao Waterfront Insular Hotel.

By the way, don’t expect to see gardens – there aren’t any; but the name is supposed to encapsulate the beauty that can be found in the island.

The Pearl Farm Beach Resort actually housed a farm for the south sea pearls (thus the name). In the 1990s, however, the owners converted it into the luxury resort that it is now.

It is popular to day guests who head to it to swim at its (somewhat small) swimming pools, or take a stroll around the vegetation in the 11-hectare complex, or take a dip at the white sand beach. This day trip is affordable – only costing approximately P2,500 per person (including a meal a boot).

It is when staying over for the night that the resort’s luxe image is highlighted.

There are actually various room types available, ranging from hilltop rooms to those in houses on stilts. If sleeping lulled by the sounds of singing crickets is what’s desired, the former is a must-consider. But for those who want to be pacified by the sound of the waves gently crushing against the rocks, then the latter is recommended.

Davao2As for the room rates? The Balay (a.k.a. hilltop) rooms cost from P8,550 per person (single occupancy); the same price charged for the beach-side (yet located far from the main receiving area) Samal House and Mandaya House. Prices fall (a little) from P6,700 per person for those considering sharing. The prices of the rooms in the houses on stilts start from approximately P9,700 per person per night (minimum of two persons).

These prices come with welcome drinks; one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner; complimentary use of swimming pool, beach area, mini gym, basketball court, badminton court, tennis court and game room; and roundtrip boat transfers.


As befits its luxury tag, Pearl Farm Beach Resort has various offerings that will suit various demands. There’s an Aqua Sports Center, where guests can rent out speed boats and outrigger boats for cruising; jet-skis; banana boat rides; kayaks, hobie cats; and snorkeling gear. It also has certified instructors for wind-surfing, water-skiing and scuba diving (the place has two sunken World War II Japanese vessels awaiting discovery). There are the aforementioned (not too big) outdoor swimming pools. There is a tennis/basketball/badminton court. There is a game room. There is a conference room for up to 70 pax. There is a souvenir shop (called Butik). And there is even the Mandaya Weaving Center, where Mandaya tribeswomen skillfully weave their traditional fabrics (called dagmay) and other ornamentation.

But if you’re just looking at spending the days lazy, sipping drinks while enjoying the breeze and getting lost while looking at the distance may be had at Parola Bar (that offers views of the distant Mt. Apo), Maranao Restaurant (offering Filipino and international cuisines, with seafood specialties), or Malipano Gazebo (in a nearby, yet separate island).


And it is actually taking it slowly that is what’s best done in Pearl Farm Beach Resort.

So that the stress-busting treatments at Pearl Farm’s Ylang Ylang Spa are worth considering.

The men’s “stress buster”, priced at P1,000, is a combo of Chinese, Swedish and deep tissue techniques. Hilot, priced at P1,250, gives the traditional Filipino massage a twist with the use of heated banana leaves and your choice of VCO, tanglad oil, or Ylang-ylang essential oil. The “Pearl Farm Royal Massage”, priced at P2,500, is a two-our session that makes use of special oil blends as mood therapy. And then there’s the warm stone massage, priced at P1,500, that makes use of (this should be quite obvious) hot stones as tools for the massaging.

For the not-that-adventurous, you can go “common”, by availing of the Swedish oil massage (P1,000), Shiatsu (P1,000), or the Ventosa (P1,625).

Other treatments include: body scrubs (from P1,250), foot treatment (from P875), facials (from P1,000), and hair treatments (from P1,000).

It was, in fact, while getting my feet massaged by the pool that I got to appreciate this place’s (let’s say enduring) appeal. Getting pampered, while taking in the sights and sounds – of the vast blue sea that seem to connect with the infinity pool; and of the insect sounds from the thick foliage enveloping the resort – is how I imagine being blissful to be. And this, truly, may be one of the best ways to achieve that while in these parts of the Philippines.

Pearl Farm Beach Resort is located at Kaputian, Island Garden City of Samal, Philippines. For more information, contact: (+6382) 2351234, (+6382) 2351235, or (+6382) 2351236.

Its Davao sales office is located at 3/F Abreeza Ayala Mall, J.P. Laurel Avenue, Davao City. For more information, call (+6382) 2850601 or (+6382) 2850876; or email

Its Manila office is located at Ground Floor ANFLOCOR Building, 411 Quirino Avenue corner NAIA Road, Tambo Parañaque City 1700. For more information, call (+632) 8552741 local 207 and 208, or (+632) 8547892; or email:,, or

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Beauty & Fashion

Pamper Nail Spa: Lavish experience

Jennifer Panaligan opened Pamper Your Feet Spa – more popularly knows as Pamper Nail Spa – on June 5, 2010, eyeing to “offer a lavish nail spa experience at a more affordable price.”



Jennifer Panaligan opened Pamper Your Feet Spa – more popularly knows as Pamper Nail Spa – on June 5, 2010. “I enjoy having weekly foot spa sessions in a small neighborhood parlor,” she recalled to Zest Magazine, “but I never really enjoyed the experience because of the noise and the service wasn’t really good.” She also noted that there were already several nail spas in BF Homes Paranaque (where she lived) at that time, “but I found them too expensive”; interestingly, despite the high price, there were a lot of people going to these places. “And so I thought of opening my own nail spa,” Panaligan said, as she eyed to “offer a lavish nail spa experience at a more affordable price.”


Pamper Your FeetPanaligan’s Pamper Nail Spa started offering basic services, including foot and hand spa and paraffin, and manicure and pedicure. Eventually, the list of services being offered grew to include waxing and threading, and more recently, gel polish application.

That it wasn’t easy particularly at the start is a given. “The hardest part was to convince people to try our nail spa (particularly since) there were several competitors in the area and most of them have well established names,” Panaligan said. “Luckily, with the help of marketing and promotions, we were able to penetrate the market and our customers started to recommend us to their friends and families.”

Panaligan added: “We have a lot of loyal customers now and our goal is to keep them satisfied. We still do promos and marketing every month to get new customers.”

To separate itself from the competition, Panaligan said that Pamper Nail Spa’s focus has always been the quality of what it offers.

“What really sets us apart from the rest is the quality of service we provide to our customers. We value each and every customer. We want them to enjoy their experience with us. We want them to keep coming back,” Panaligan said. This the spa company is able to offer because “we are very blessed to have well-trained nail technicians who value their work and only give the best services – they are our biggest assets.”

As part of the company’s growing strategy, Panaligan is now eyeing to “soon offer consultancy service to those who want to open their own nail spa”.

Pamper Nail Spa is located at 2/F Greenworld Plaza, 79 Presidents Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque. For more information, call (+63 2) 8818945, SMS or call (+63) 9278369553 or (+63) 9175484249, email, or visit

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