Well, there goes half the fun of Thailand!

To start, let me share where the pictures I posted were taken.

The ice cream picture was taken at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. Seriously, it doesn’t get any classier than the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. More on that in the trip report, though Lufthansa probably offers my favorite first class product nowadays (given that I’m left disappointed by Singapore Airlines).

The Drugs Exchange picture was taken at the night market in Bangkok. I only had an evening in Bangkok so that was the extent of what I got to see this time around, though it’s always entertaining, I suppose. It’s funny to be approached by people with massage menus, only to be approached seconds later by someone with… “massage” menus. No thanks.

The most recent picture I posted was of the Westin Siray Bay in Phuket, Thailand. I’ll be posting a full trip report later, though I’ll share just a few thoughts now. First of all, you can’t beat Starwood Platinum status in Asia (for all the complaining I’ve done about Starwood). On a rate of $100USD per night I have a massive suite, free breakfast, free cocktail hour, free internet, etc. It’s an unbeatable value. And the resort really is beautiful, basically set on a big hill.

The service has been fairly lackluster by Thai standards, though here’s my real “issue” — half of the fun of going to Thailand is the cheap massages. Yes, I realize massages are still cheap on the street, but I was damn well shocked by the spa prices at the Westin.

I expect to pay a huge premium at a resort, but the spa prices here are higher than in much of the US. A 50-minute massage costs $107USD all-in (which is equivalent to a $128USD hour-long massage). Like I said, I’m not expecting a $5 massage, but I wouldn’t think a massage would run me more than $60-70USD/hour all-in. Over $2/minute for a massage at a mid-range hotel in Thailand? Seriously?

I wasn’t going to let that ruin my stay, so I still got a massage. Actually, I did one of the “packages.” I’m a numbers guy, though sometimes apply logic selectively. On a per hour basis it was much cheaper to do a 2.5 hour package, though of course I didn’t factor in the diminishing enjoyment.

But here’s the thing — the treatment wasn’t even that great. Don’t get me wrong, it was fine. But the spa doesn’t have any sort of an area to ease you in/out of treatments, so you literally sit in the heat until your treatment room is ready. Want tea? Better hurry up, cause you have to drink it while your junk is hanging out in a woman’s extra small bathrobe.

The package (no pun intended) included a facial. Not my favorite thing in the world, but they’re usually nice enough. The masseuse left the room for 15 minutes during the treatment while cream sat on my face. Fair enough, I realize it has to “work” (or whatever), but usually you get a scalp or shoulder massage while that happens.

Not meaning to nitpick too much, but when I’m paying $128/hour for a massage, I expect much more.

Despite that I’m having a great time and would recommend this property. I’m also looking forward to a change of scenery tomorrow.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Dammit Ben, one more post like this and I’m going to demand that you turn in your man-card…..

  2. As I mentioned in my own trip report at this hotel in February, service is a bit lucklaster at the Westin. I found that to be the case especially at the main/breakfast restaurant.

    I did some spa packages but *didn’t do them all at once*. I didn’t want 2.5 hours of spa in one go, they were perfectly happy to let me break up the treatments.

    I had also noted the odd spa setup, no place to wait but the spa bookings desk, you sit there before and you’re basically rushed away afterwards. That’s a real drawback.

    Hope you’re having a great trip!

  3. I felt the same way about the resort, Lucky — definitely worth the promotional rate, but if I were paying the $600/night that they “regularly” charge for those private villas (ha!), I would feel massively ripped off. (But then again, I felt slightly gypped paying around that for the St. Regis Princeville in Kauai too…) The biggest problem with this property is that the beach is uninviting, cold, full of stones, shallow, and generally swamp-like when the tide goes out — generally considered the worst on the entire the island. And the layout of the hotel — while nice to have the dramatic views — is quite uncomfortable and a bit annoying to get around with the buggies zipping about. The villas also have a lot of ant issues going on, which do not attest to high building standards.

    I was equally unimpressed with the Spa at the Westin Siray Bay — nothing that special, and not even a significant improvement from what you would find on the street elsewhere on the island, even with the facilities. The hair salon services were also mediocre — again, nothing that you couldn’t have found outside of the property. Usually spa and hair services are markedly improved from run-of-the-mill retail outlets, and though they charge 5-10x more, it’s kind of worth it for the sheer convenience of never leaving the resort (and leaving the resort from this place is expensive and frustrating!) Regardless, like you, after spending very little on the nightly rate (~$140/nt), I felt that I had to at least run up the bill at bit.

    Service standards at the property seemed really hit or miss depending on the person you interacted with – the people at the restaurants were attentive and very friendly, but my check-in was disorganized and took at least 30 minutes. After arriving from San Francisco via Zürich and Bangkok, it wasn’t appreciated.

    I’d recommend the property for a short stay, but really, I spent four days there and I felt that it was a bit too long. Two days would have sufficed to take full advantage of the property, and that’s already including a day in Koh Phi Phi (very easy to access from that side of the island).

    Hope you have someone to share it with!

    P.S. The Thai and Indian dishes on the room service menu (I believe it’s sourced from the main restaurant) were really good — other stuff, not so much.

  4. The Plat benefits relative to price in Asia, and especially Thailand, are fantastic and the reason I am so loyal to Starwood. While I have not stayed at the Westin Phuket, I absolutely love the Sheraton resorts in Pattaya and Hua Hin. And their spas are good.

  5. “half of the fun of going to Thailand is the cheap massages” That’s half the fun of Thailand? Sounds like you’re really experiencing the country from inside your hotel.

  6. Hi Lucky

    I tend to put all of the optional overpriced extras in hotels in with the minibar: I’m sure there are people who do pay $14 for a coke, but I never would 🙂

    Why would you pay those prices instead of going out, talking to some locals, and getting 30 hours of (probably more skilled) massage for the same price?

  7. Coins, You paid HOW MUCH for that rubdown?? I thought you were a smart kid? You wasted a lot of coin by spending $128.

  8. Coins, I’m not the Dan in #10, but I have to say:

    Coins, You paid HOW MUCH for that rubdown?? I thought you were a smart kid? You wasted a lot of coin by spending $128.

    And I gotta echo the guy in the first post: Keep this up and we will demand your man-card be returned.

  9. Turn in his man-card, give me break. He is clearly secure enough in his manhood that he is not worried about massages or facials removing it. Unlike some of the pathetic posters here!

  10. Well done man, keep it going. I also love to travel, especially to Southeast Asia, and my last trip was in Thailand. The city that I liked the most was Chiang Mai, especially I fell in love with landscapes around the city, it was just an amazing time-spending – to rent a bike at Cat Motors early in the morning, and then all day driving across the mountains…I wish I could come back there.

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