Friday, October 12, 2007
MANILA - SAGADA - BAGUIO - MANILA
"Exhale. . .you deserve a soothing mountain experience!"
NORTH HAVEN SPA
Woke up all groggy this morning after our late night out with my Baguio-based friend, S.
Despite my half-conscious state, i was thinking, "what to do during this free morning, before we head back to Manila after lunch?" Hmm . . . let me count the ways:
Boating at Burnham Park? Nah, done that before already.
Horseback riding at Wright Park? Ditto.
Buying Good Shepherd jam and walis in the market? Tempting, but no.
Walking through Session Road to take in the local vibe? Yeah, why not? And check out whether that cheapo, fleabag hotel named Hotel 45 that C. and i stayed in years ago still exists. . .maybe next time.
Check out the Mansion house? What for? I couldn't care less if it blew up.
SM Baguio? Heck, i didn't travel through storm and rain and wind, risking life and limb, all the way here just to go to a freaking SM mall!!
Go for a massage? BUT OF COURSE!
One hour later, i was standing outside North Haven Spa's porch, waiting for them to flip the "CLOSED" sign on their front door to "OPEN" (i'm serious! :D).
Located in a quiet, non-descript and rather run-down residential neighborhood, it can be rather inaccessible. Best option, i think, is to go there by taxi.
The two-storey brick house is nothing really to rave about, and i felt the interiors, while clean and inviting, were a bit too dark. I'm not sure if it's the lack of lighting, or their heavy curtains. . . i couldn't take a decent picture inside at all.
Thankfully, to my pleasant surprise, North Haven's spa menu proved to be quite extensive, ranging from massages to body treatments/scrubs to facials to complete pampering packages. My close friends know i'm such a sucker for exotic treatments with "natural" ingredients and what not, so i was obviously charmed by some of the more unique items on offer:
Gis-Gis-To (60 min) - traditional head massage of the Mountain Province. "Must try!", according to the blurb.
Tal-Talad-Tad (90 min) - indigenous Mountain Province body massage using gentle and soothing strokes.
Hilot with Ventosa (90 min) - traditional Filipino healing method, releasing built-up lactic acid in the body and thereby facilitating relaxation. It also makes use of circular glass vacuums that draws out toxins and excess cold energy from your body (aka. that phantom illness known as "lamig")
Dagdagay (60 min) - traditional foot massage of the Mountain Province, which uses "runo" sticks to stimulate the soles of the feet "to restore a sense of complete balance and harmony".
Baguio Strawberry Scrub (105 min) - uses fresh organic strawberries, resulting in improved skin tone and texture. (Yep, just add condensed milk, and you're all ready to be eaten)
Benguet Coffee Scrub (105 min) - uses ground coffee beans from the Mountain Province to cleanse the outer layer of the skin and improve circulation.
Cordillera Rice Scrub (105 min) - uses the thick red rice variety from the Mountain Province. It stimulates better circulation, cleanses the pores and removes dead skin cells. (No wonder C. couldn't find any red rice for sale in Sagada, it's all being used here!! Hahaha)
I had assumed that the above mentioned scrubs already incorporate a 60-min. massage, only for the staff to clarify that the entire 105 min. is for the scrub only. Talk about being thorough!
Various essential oil blends, etc. used by North Haven. No, that isn't mango jam.
Regretfully, i didn't have the luxury of that much time, so chose the Hilot with Ventosa instead. It was my first time to get a hilot massage, and i was quite curious what made it different from a Swedish or Shiatsu. My therapist vaguely mentioned that hilot focused more on long, downward strokes.
Not that it mattered much, anyway. Her touch was firm and powerful, and she hit all the right pressure points. Coupled with the Ventosa treatment, it greatly relieved the residual aches on my shoulders and upper back and legs from our Sumaging Cave adventure a few days ago.
Overall, i'd rate the massage 9 out of 10. And quite a great deal at PHP595.00 only.
This guy looked like he enjoyed his massage, too!
For me, one more good reason to visit the City of Pines! A return visit to North Haven is definitely in order!
(North Haven Spa is located at 21 Avelino St., Ferguson Road, Baguio City.
Tel. no. is 074 300-5022 or 0917 506-1349.
They do have a website at www.northhaven.multiply.com. Operating hours are 10AM to 10PM daily)