Onsen – the Japanese term for hot spring; traditionally used as public thermal bathing places; said to be beneficial to health or have healing properties; highly popular as a tourism feature in Japan, where there are about 3,000 onsen facilities.
There’s this new hotel situated on the corner of Makati Avenue and Kalayaan Avenue that boasts of a first-of-its-kind spa facility named I’M Onsen Spa. It claims to be the largest urban spa in the country today, housed in six floors of the hotel. I very seldom get a massage as I don’t feel too comfortable being touched by strangers, but I was enticed by the introductory rate of P1,500 nett for a one-hour massage plus a lunch or dinner buffet. Isn’t that quite a steal?
Let me take you through my first onsen spa experience step by step: If you wish to avail yourself of any of I’M Onsen Spa‘s services (and it offers many different relaxation packages), the first thing you need to do is call for an appointment (the numbers to dial are 755-7877). Walk-ins are also accepted but you will not be guaranteed a time slot so better call ahead than be sorry. At my appointed time, I proceeded to the spa lobby to register and make my payment. The receptionist gave me a wrist tag and my locker key, and then I was ushered onto the second floor.
The second floor houses the wellness suites with the onsen, steam room, sauna, showers and lockers. Male and female facilities are in separate wings. It’s hard not to notice the hotel’s swimming pool located on the second floor. There’s also a very artsy Mermaid Bar by the pool area.
The pool is for the exclusive use of hotel guests but I just had to take a photo. What’s so fascinating about it, despite its small size, is that it has an acrylic bottom. Those in the pool can see the hotel entrance below through its clear, glass-like floor, while those entering or leaving the hotel can see the guests who are swimming above. Now going back to the spa…
This is just one part of the locker room because it’s really huge. Once I got to my locker, I took my yukata (a Japanese cotton kimono), slippers and towels and left all of my personal stuff inside the locker.
I then proceeded to the sauna and steam room, which are said to provide many therapeutic benefits. After that, I needed to rinse off my sweat in the shower before soaking in the onsen. Taking photos in the onsen is strictly prohibited as there might be people in it and the spa requires that one is completely naked when using the onsen, following the Japanese practice. I actually brought a swimsuit but it’s not allowed to wear anything in the onsen. 🙁 Thankfully, there was no one else using the onsen when it was my turn. I’m still the conservative type (ahem!) but I really wanted to get the full experience. Onsen water is believed to have healing powers due to its mineral composition such as sulfur, iron and metabolic acid. After a good soak in the onsen, do not rinse your body. Just pat yourself dry with a towel, wear the yukata and then proceed to the relaxing lounge/tea lounge on Mezzanine 2. While waiting for my massage therapist, I was served a cup of hot green tea, my favorite beverage. A few minutes later, my masseuse, Nerissa, fetched me and took me to the 3rd floor, where the spa treatment pods were located. I had a 60-minute signature massage and it was a good one. Nerissa was very nice and friendly. After the massage, and while still wearing my yukata, it was then time for my favorite part: LUNCH!
Up on the 4th floor is Bloom, the all-day buffet restaurant of the hotel serving international fare. At its helm is Chef King Fonacier and I must say kudos to him. Everything I tasted from the buffet was really good. This was where I won all of my money back!
Of course I started with a salad and then a bit of this and that. The maki and sushi were amazing!
I truly enjoyed my “me time” at I’M Onsen Spa. I always say that I like experiencing things instead of just buying stuff and this is one experience that I’m very happy about. I would surely recommend it to my friends. The special promotional rate of P1,500 is until March 31, 2017 only so catch it before it’s too late.