Private treatment area
When you’re feeling stressed, tired, overworked, sore all over, and yet unable to sleep properly at night, what’s the first thing you think of doing? In my case, the first thing I think of is going to a spa to get a massage. I usually de-stress by traveling, but that entails planning. But going to a spa is something I can do on a whim, anytime I feel like it, anytime I feel I badly need it, especially after a gruelling week.
One of my favorite pampering havens in Manila is Neo Day Spa in BGC, which I have been visiting way before I even started working in the area. I used to consider it my best kept secret—but now, I feel I must share this secret with you, because it’s just too good to not tell you about it. Neo sometimes has these special, seasonal treatments and packages (I once went there for treatments that involved champagne, strawberries, and chocolates around Valentine’s season). But most of the time, I go there for their Zen Bodywork, their signature full-body massage.
Waiting area by the reception
Recently, I went for something more special: their signature Zen Spa Package (P2,950, approximately 150 minutes), which includes my choice of a Zen Body Treatment (60-minute body scrub) followed by a 90-minute Zen Bodywork, that promises to heal the body, calm the mind, and renew the spirit. I was having a very busy week filled with deadlines, events all over the metro, and daily workouts, sometimes two in a day because some events involved exercise routines, and also because I’m trying to lose weight for my beach trip this weekend (tiis-ganda). Toward the end of that week, I could barely walk without wincing, much less climb stairs and do yoga, because my muscles were just so sore from the various exercises I was doing that week.
When I finally went to Neo, I knew I needed something more than a basic massage. Neo’s staff recommended the Zen Spa Package, and before I proceeded to do the treatment, they made me choose what body scrub and massage oil I wanted for my 2.5-hour treatment (make sure to allot at least three to four hours for your entire visit for this, so you can still shower, hit the sauna, have time to freshen up post-treatment, and for the waiting times in between). Below are the choices:
Top, from left: Fire, Water, Wood, Earth, and Metal massage oils. Bottom, from left: Wasabi, Young Rice, Black Sesame, Green Tea, and Ginger body scrubs.
Natural body scrubs. Enhanced with pure essential oils, the scrubs offer effective full body exfoliation and moisturization, while giving therapeutic benefits.
1. Ginger Body Scrub (MY CHOICE). Ginger has been widely used for healing purposes for centuries, as it penetrates skin to increase blood circulation while also relieving muscular aches and pains.
2. Green Tea Body Scrub. Green tea is rich in antioxidant properties as well as a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that can protect skin from damage.
3. Wasabi Body Polish. Wasabi is rich in anti-carcinogenic properties. This body polish renews skin through cellular repair while enhancing the elimination of toxins and reducing puffiness in skin.
4. Black Sesame Body Scrub. Black sesame gently removes dead skin cells while minimizing visible wrinkles, as it leaves the skin refreshed and luxuriously soft.
5. Young Rice Body Scrub. Made of fragrant ground jasmine rice mixed with a velvety cream, this treatment creates results using the conditioning, soothing, and softening properties of rice starch.
My picks: Metal massage oil and Ginger Body Scrub
1. Metal (MY CHOICE). With apricot and peppermint, this oil is good for muscle aches and also helps reduce inflammation.
2. Wood. With neroli and green tea, this uplifting and de-stressing oil is rich in antioxidants.
3. Water. With moringa and eucalyptus, this oil has healing and anti-inflammatory properties, and helps strengthen the immune system.
4. Earth. With jasmine and lavender, this oil is meant to soothe, calm, and relax you.
5. Fire. With cocoa butter and coconut, this oil moisturizes skin, as well as warms and relaxes the body.
Neo has cozy nooks and crannies where you can just sit back and relax.
My Zen Spa experience
After I’ve chosen my scrub and oil, the therapist led me to the ladies’ shower and locker area, where I left my belongings and changed into a bath robe. I came from the yoga studio, so I had already showered, but you can definitely shower there if you need to (I love the scent of their own ginger body wash!). What I did instead was hit the sauna for 10 to 15 minutes. The therapist recommended it as well, after I complained about my muscle aches as I chose my scrub and oil, because she believes the heat from the sauna will help soothe, warm up, and soften my tense muscles more in preparation for my treatment.
When I was all warmed up and rosy, I was led from the shower area to my private treatment room (I don’t think they have common treatment areas for full-body treatments, unlike other spas, which I think is great because I really would rather have privacy when I’m getting a massage). There were two spa beds, one covered in plastic, because that’s where I would get my body scrub.
Zen Body Treatment (P1,700 when done as a solo 60-minute treatment, complete with five-minute back massage)
It was hard to choose the natural body scrub to use for the Zen Body Treatment aspect of my spa package, because all of them smelled so good and all had benefits I wanted for my body. But because of my muscle aches and pains from all the working out I did that week, I went with the Ginger Body Scrub, which smelled so good! The scent lasted way after the treatment, and complemented the oil I chose for my massage. It was also warm on my skin the moment the therapist applied it all over my body with light strokes, and I felt the soothing effects on my tired legs almost immediately.
When my whole body is covered with the scrub, the therapist wrapped the plastic around me and let the treatment soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Then she asked me to rinse it off in the shower area inside the treatment room—no need to step out, another thing I appreciated.
Zen Bodywork (P1,650 when done as a solo 90-minute treatment or P2,150 for an approximately 120-minute treatment)
When I was all rinsed and luxuriously moisturised and smooth from the scrub, I lay face-down on the spa bed again for the 90-minute full-body massage. Zen Bodywork is one of three aromatherapy massages at Neo. This signature massage is an integration of the traditional concepts and techniques of acupressure with Western osteopathic and therapeutic massage. This therapy aims to free the flow of energy along the meridiens or body points, thereby releasing tension, balancing the body and mind, and normalizing physiological functions.
It’s not your usual Swedish massage, where the therapist just massages oil all over your body. This treatment had that, but it also started and ended with some major stretching and massage strokes done while the body is covered in a blanket. In both types of massages, the therapist really kneaded my tired muscles, especially on my legs and back, and I could feel the soreness dissipate as the warming and healing effects of the Metal massage oil I choice seeped into my skin. Its lovely scent, that did bring metal to mind, complemented so well with my Ginger Body Scrub, and the peppermint was so soothing and calming, I almost fell asleep during my treatment. But, I managed to keep some of my alertness, if only to pay attention to the treatment so I can tell you all about it.
And just as before the treatment started, I ended my Zen pampering session at Neo Day Spa with a warm cup of their mild and sweet ginger tea—the final touch to my spa-induced bliss. I was so ready to hit the sack after that.
Beverage bar at Neo’s reception area
Neo Day Spa is located at the Ground Floor of Net One Center, 26th Street Corner 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. You may call them at (02) 815-8233 to book your treatment.