One scene that will have you sighing in “I wish I were there right now” is likely a private Japanese onsen spa. You know, the ones where almost everything is beautifully made out of wood, with a hot tub steaming invitingly, and a gorgeous view of nature to enjoy while soaking?
While this exact experience from Japan isn’t something we can quite get in Malaysia yet, there’s a local business that’s spun its own take on onsen spas: HANAMI Wellness Centre.
Traditionally, an onsen is a Japanese hot spring that has a water temperature of 38°C to 43°C. Most of them are located near volcanic areas, which are rich in natural minerals.
It’s believed that soaking in onsen has numerous health and beauty benefits, including reducing skin irritation. This is backed by studies which have also noted an improvement in people who frequent onsen.
Different minerals are said to have different health effects too.
For example, sulphur-based onsen are good for skin conditions, such as dryness and eczema. While sodium bicarbonate and chlorine ones aid in wound healing and gastrointestinal disorders.
On the other hand, an onsen spa is a centre offering hot water baths that contain mineral salts. They’re typically paired with body massages or facial treatments for a full pampering treat.
There’s always a silver lining
Though HANAMI was only officially launched in January 2022, its founder (who wants to remain anonymous) had long been in the wellness industry before that.
The founder started a beauty brand called Lucretia Skincare nine years ago. Zutto Wellness, a supplement brand, followed shortly after.
As with most brands, the pandemic had a negative impact on her businesses. It was then that the founder got the idea for a spa centre, somewhere to fuse her ventures. Located in Puchong, HANAMI is the first onsen spa in Selangor.
The wellness centre’s interior features a minimalistic design, with wooden decor everywhere. It brings a feeling of relaxation to mind, or “zen”.
“The idea of starting HANAMI was to give the impression of minimal and wabi-sabi woody design, because we believe that apart from our services provided, a comfortable environment is the first impression that the customers will have in mind,” the brand’s marketing executive, Xuan, shared.
Dictionary time: The Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi combines natural inspirations and a neutral palette, with a nod to the beauty in the imperfection of daily life.
A newer way to de-stress
HANAMI currently has seven onsen rooms and seven massage rooms at the establishment. But they’re planning to increase the number to 15 massage rooms by July. This will allow them to accommodate the space for more clients at one go.
On a daily basis, HANAMI is able to serve a maximum of 40 customers. They’ve reported that weekend crowds are usually bigger, with many bookings happening in the beginning of the month.
This makes sense as Malaysian companies typically dispense employee salaries at the end of the month.
As for the baths, you get to choose one of four Japan-imported mineral bath salts for your onsen session.
They have Kirei (meaning “pretty” in Japanese) for beauty and skin nourishment, Anshin (meaning “peace of mind” in Japanese) for relaxing and calmness, Iyashi (meaning “soothing” in Japanese) for internal and external healing, and Genki (meaning “lively” in Japanese) for energy boosting.
But that’s not the brand’s main selling point.
HANAMI provides onsen experiences for couples. For the price of RM590, you and your partner can indulge in an onsen bath, a quantum body massage, and a facial treatment. According to their website, the whole session should last about two and a half hours.
“We emphasise more on couple packages, because most spa places only allow women,” Xuan shared.
You don’t have to worry about privacy as HANAMI offers individual onsen rooms. So, you can kick back your feet and relax together in peace.
A built-in countdown timer is on the wall too. Designed as unique art pieces, they serve the purpose of lighting up the room too.
As the timer progresses, the light, or “sun” also sets. You’ll know it’s time for both of you to head out when it’s completely gone down.
It’s not the only Malaysian onsen spa though
One of their competitors is Urban Retreat Onsen Spa, Malaysia’s first award-winning fusion Japanese spa. It offers onsen baths along with spa treatments that combine local massage styles.
While there’s no couple’s package like HANAMI’s available, Urban Retreat Onsen Spa in KL does provide a couple’s room upon request. Although, onsen baths are still carried out separately.
For the price of RM599 per pax, Urban Retreat Onsen Spa offers an onsen bath, a body scrub or wrap, as well as a body massage. According to their website, the whole session should last for four hours.
But a key advantage that HANAMI has over other onsen spas in Malaysia is their soaking pebble-stoned tubs.
Most of its competitors use wooden tubs, but HANAMI believes that its pebble-stoned tubs are able to better preserve the onsen temperature for a longer period.
Though just about a year old, HANAMI already has plans to do more. Xuan shared, “We haven’t [reached] breakeven yet, but we’re doing well and looking to expand soon.”
HANAMI is in the works of growing its space from a two-storey spa centre into a three-storey one. With more floors, there will be more rooms available for customers. In terms of outlet expansions, Xuan teased the possibility of another one coming soon.
But as of now, their focus is on reaching more people. “We’re hoping that in the near future, we can expand and make HANAMI available for all our customers from different cities and states,” she expressed.
- Learn more about HANAMI Wellness Centre here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: HANAMI Wellness Centre