I’ve been debating writing this post, which perhaps is a sign to myself that I shouldn’t, but, I agreed to. And the truth is, while the experience that I had was not to “my tastes”, there are plenty of people out there for whom it would be exactly what they want, and what they expected. So what the heck am I talking about? A spa. Yes, a spa.
You see, there’s a men’s spa here in town, fairly close to home, that I’ve heard mixed reviews about, though I never really asked why. I’m not really much of a spa person, you know? But when the owner of the Markus for Men Day Spa, Callao 1046, invited me to a 3 hour spa treatment session in exchange for a candid writeup of my thoughts, I agreed. I mean, I do like a good massage.
So, I showed up at the appointed time, only to find out that the place was closed up. A reception had just arrived and she told me that they didn’t open until an hour and a half after my scheduled appointment time. I contacted the owner, who apologized and said he didn’t realize that (hmmm???) and we rescheduled for another day. When I arrived, all was ready, my name (which no one seemed to be able to pronounce, or remember – and I’m talking about “Dan”, not my last name) on the appointment calendar and a masseur and others at the ready.
The lobby is sleek and clean, very modern. Not much to it as it’s really only a momentary stop on the way into the spa. The masseur took me in hand and showed me to the locker room, pointed out where the showers, steam room and sauna were, and started to walk away. I asked what he recommended, and he suggested ten minutes in the sauna followed by a ten minute steam, take a shower, and then we’d move on. I like saunas, I’m not a huge steam room fan, but, I followed directions. Other than an older man wandering into the steam room at one point and fondling himself a bit and then leaving when I ignored him, it was an uneventful 20 minutes followed by a rinse. A few more guys had arrived in the meantime in the locker room – there seemed to be a bit of parading about and more fondling, which began to feel a bit like this wasn’t just a spa, but perhaps a bit of a bathhouse sort of setting.
The receptionist popped in – by the way, if you’re a guy who’s uncomfortable with women wandering through while you’re in nothing but a towel or robe, this is not the space for you. Other than two masseurs it seemed all the employees were women, and they passed regularly through the locker room and showers – a little lack of privacy, for my tastes. Anyway, she told me to just have a seat for a few minutes and someone would come get me for my facial.
I’ve never had a facial. I don’t know that I ever will again. It wasn’t just the completely uninvolved woman doing it, who was more interested in bopping about to her tunes on her headphones, virtually never said a word to me, and just proceeded to brush, let sit, and then remove, one potion after another. No idea what she was doing. And some of the lotions or creams stung, burned, or just felt weird. About the only time she seemed to get involved was the individual pore cleaning – sort of like having someone else pop your zits. Not my thing. Really.
So, after around 40 minutes of that she took me back down to the locker room and turned me back over to the masseur. A reasonably attractive young man – not my type, then again, I’m not looking. The massage was, to be honest, not much more than a backrub. There was no real force, no real pressure, it seemed more designed as just a simple relaxation – I kept waiting for it to get more intense, but it didn’t happen. After about half an hour, he moved one of my hands over to the side of the massage table and began to grind his crotch against it. I moved my hand away, he moved it back. He started the grind again, I moved my hand away and looked at him – he said, “That’s all yours for just $150 extra.” I said, “No thanks, not interested.” He repeated the offer, I declined again, he walked to the door, turned back and said, “Then your massage is over,” and disappeared. I headed back to the locker room, rinsed off, got dressed, and headed to the lobby.
A manager was there, introduced himself and asked how I enjoyed things. I told him that it was a bit mixed. He asked something like, “Did you take advantage of all our services?” I said no, just what I was scheduled for. At that point the receptionist looked up, and blurted out, “He’s the journalist here to write a review of us.” Manager blanched. I left – just under two hours total time spent – so much for three hours – oh wait, maybe that’s my own fault – nah.
So, not my thing. Not even for the use of the sauna (wish my gym had one). But for those for whom that sort of bathhouse style adventure is in the cards, this is probably the spot. I hate to generalize from one experience and one masseur, but the general attitude and tone of things suggests to me that this is the norm, not the exception, and when I mentioned it to Henry, his response was to laugh and say, “Everyone knows that the employees there are just taxi boys and prostitutes, depending on whether you want a man or a woman.” I didn’t. Now I do. Your call.
Prices, by the way – basic massages run ar$447-789, depending on what type you want and for how long (and whether you want one or two masseurs/masseuses). Spa packages, that range from 3-7 hours, vary from a little under 1000 pesos to over 1500, and include a range of different treatments. They also offer plastic surgery (really?) and other options. As I said, your call.