Lifestyle

PagePink Review: A Dip In Ikeda Spa's Onsen For A Taste Of Japan

I still remember my first time in a Japanese ‘onsen’ (hot spring), in a little resort town called Echigo Yuzawa. My ‘ryokan’ (Japanese style inn) had a private onsen for guests which comprised of an indoor and outdoor soak, and the experience was remarkably unforgettable. A sliding door connected the indoor onsen to a little backyard garden, beautifully dotted with Japanese bamboo and a pebbled path leading to a singular wooden tub into which hot spring water was piped. That night, it was snowing lightly, and chilly snowflakes fell into my uplifted, flushed face as I looked up into the starry sky.

That was one of the greatest highlights of my trip to Japan, and one that I’d been looking to relive again. Boy, was I ecstatic when I found out through PagePink, a Singaporean online beauty and wellness directory, that Ikeda Spa offers a private onsen soak in its Bukit Timah and Clarke Quay outlets. Through the newly launched ‘Gifts & Loots’ page, first-timers can get a special rate as a new customer, through to the e-vouchers and incredible discounts for beauty and wellness services providers around Singapore that you can gift to friends or use yourself.

The best part is that the generous folks at PagePink are also offering a 10% discount for Vulcan Post readers! All you have to do is to enter the coupon code ‘VP10%’ during checkout. Awesome news right? Now before you scurry off to book your appointment, read on for our personal review of Ikeda Spa’s services.

Image Credit: PagePink
Image Credit: PagePink

I was invited by PagePink to try out Ikeda Spa’s onsen soak at its Bukit Timah branch. Once you have received your voucher via email, all you have to do is to call the branch and book your appointment slot. You can choose to either print your voucher out, or present your email on your device during the registration process. Easy peasy. During the booking, you will be asked to select your choice of bath salts from eight available choices, some of which hail from iconic onsens throughout Japan, such as the Noboribetsu onsen (most popular hot spring in Hokkaido) and the Nogorigo onsen (located at 1800 metres in top of Mt.Mitaki). Spoilt for choice? Try narrowing it down to the therapeutic benefit you would prefer – such as for relaxation, for beauty, or for digestive relief.

I went for Noboribetsu, recommended by the staff for relaxation, exactly what I need to kickstart the new work week!

Image Credit: Gayle
Image Credit: Gayle
Being led down a dimly lit hallway to my changing room. Image Credit: Gayle
Being led down a dimly lit hallway to my changing room. (Image Credit: Gayle)
Changing robe laid out in the changing room. Image Credit: Gayle
Changing robe laid out in the changing room. (Image Credit: Gayle)

In the changing room, you will be provided with a robe, as well as a disposable underwear and shower cap. You will be able to store your belongings in one of the lockers provided, before being led to your onsen room.

The private onsen! Image Credit: Gayle
The private onsen, made milky with the addition of my selected bath salts! (Image Credit: Gayle)
Image Credit: Gayle
The washing area. (Image Credit: Gayle)

As it is in Japan, the onsen etiquette decrees that for hygiene purposes, one washes himself thoroughly before dipping in. A small cleaning area is hence provided next to the tub, along with toiletries and a stool for sitting down while you wash (aren’t the Japanese thoughtful?). As my session was slated for 30 minutes. the staff recommended that I wash off in the beginning, and after soaking for ten minutes, I could rinse again before returning to soak. An alarm would set off after 25 minutes to alert me to come up for my final rinse and change.

Soothing Japanese instrumental music was piped into the room while I relaxed in the onsen. At 42 degree celsius, the heat of the onsen took some getting used to, but when you finally immerse yourself fully, it’s quite a treat for sore and tired muscles after a long week at work. The cup of iced green tea provided at the edge of the bath also ensured that I stayed hydrated. Overhead, I heard the beginnings of a thunderstorm outside, and experienced a split-second moment of déjà vu. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine myself back in that beautiful outdoor onsen in Japan.

The effects of my relaxing soak was amplified by the lack of hard-sell tactics at the end of the session. While I sipped my tea, the staff offered to show me their full menu of services and welcomed me back to try their services again. Would I return? Certainly! In particular, I was intrigued by one of their signature treatments – the  Ganbanyoku Massage – which claims to alleviate aches and pains while being massaged on a Hakone volcanic rock bed. An additional perk is that the 60-minute massage is equivalent to running 15km, without your legs having to do all the work.

Go on and sample PagePink’s plethora of beauty services. From massages to gym sessions and hair cuts, the PagePink team has specially curated a list of premium beauty services so that busy working ladies like us could just surf their website to pick a pampering treat for ourselves. Sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask me.