ASEAN Spa Services Standard – A guideline to level-up the place and service of ASEAN spa industry

(TITC) – The spa industry has enjoyed rapid growth and development over the past 20 years, often growing as much as 20% annually in some countries, and has become an industry that is the hallmark of the tourism industry of many ASEAN member states, despite having its roots firmly in traditional healing and health care practises, which have been handed down from generation to generation.

The development of ASEAN Spa Standard will establish a professional level of spa; place, service, people, products, equipment, management and environment, which will enable spa operators and spa clients to benefit from a collective approach to operational professionalism and client wellbeing, while still being respectful of cultural nuances.

Therefore, to be certified as a ASEAN Spa Services Standard, there are few major criteria and requirements needed to be fulfilled.

  1. The Place

1.1 Location

1.1.1 The spa shall be located in a place that is convenient, safe, and will not endanger an individual’s health.

1.1.2 In the case where the spa is located in the same building as another business enterprise, its boundaries shall be clearly delineated and other business’s activities shall not interfere with the provision of spa services.

1.1.3 Services Area – In the case that the spa provides several different kinds of services in the same location, the service areas shall be clearly separated and the space for each service shall be appropriate for the type of service being provided.

1.1.4 The spa shall conform to all local building or industry regulations.

1.2 Reception

1.2.1 The reception area shall be clearly separated from service area.

1.2.2 The reception area shall have sufficient seats for clients to use at peak periods.

1.3. Treatment Areas

Shall maintain an appropriate level of privacy for the client, but shall not be hidden or have doors which can be locked.

1.4. Cleanliness

All areas of the spa, both inside and outside and whether staff or guest areas, shall be kept hygienically clean and orderly at all times. 

1.5. Construction

The building shall be constructed of sturdy, durable materials and shall not be in an unhygienic or dilapidated state.

1.6. Wet Areas

In areas where water is used for the services, the floor should be made of a nonslippery, easy-to-clean material.

1.7. Safety

The spa shall have clearly marked signage, floor plans, emergency exits, emergency lighting, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms.                                                    

1.8. Lighting

The lighting should be appropriate in each area of the spa.

1.9. Ventilation

The spa area shall be well-ventilated.

1.10. Waste Management

The spa shall have a waste management system installed, with waste and used water managed in a responsible and sanitary manner.

1.11. Client Facilities

There shall be a sufficient number of clean and proper bathrooms, toilets, handwashing basins, and separate changing rooms, if provided, for men and women.

1.12. Decoration

The area shall be appropriately decorated in a way that does not cause offense or violate social customs, national culture and morals.

1.13. Music

The volume of music if played shall be of a comfortable audible level appropriate to the function of the service area.

1.14. Furniture

The professional furniture destined for client use shall be comfortable, practical and in good condition.

1.15. Accessibility

The establishment shall be accessible by senior citizens, and those with physical disabilities.

1.16. Back Office Areas

The establishment shall provide appropriate back of house areas to enable the professional deliverance of spa services. Such areas shall include but not be limited to: staff area, pantry, and management area.

2. The Service

2.1. Operating Hours

Spa services will only be provided during opening hours within the establishment and according to local business regulations.

2.2. Consultations

A consultation shall be conducted prior to spa treatment, by top management of the spa or the spa manager or trained industry professional. A consultation may be waived for repeating clients having the same treatment. Clients shall be informed of the treatments and techniques and agree to such techniques prior to the services. A post treatment consultation is also recommended.

2.3. Menu

A complete menu of services shall be clearly displayed in the spa. The menu shall include detailed pricing with any and all supplementary charges which may be chargeable, treatment duration, and spa cancellation policy.

2.4. Protocols

All treatments and services shall be performed in accordance with the companies approved standards of protocol.

2.5. New Protocols

Protocols for new services to be introduced to the establishment shall be designed and practiced to the required level of professionalism and in accordance with the documented protocol of the company. Top management shall give final approval before new treatments or services are performed on clients.

2.6. Spa Services

2.6.1 Massage – Massage services for relaxation of the body shall be provided. Additional massage services for body, face or feet which provide other benefits of well-being may also be provided. 2.6.2 Water applications – A spa shall provide a minimum of two water applications which provide benefits of well-being. Water applications are defined as applications of water, hot or cold, natural, mineral or thalasso in the form of: Baths – immersion of the whole body or part thereof into a herbal, aroma, mineral, peloid or chromotherapeutic solution which shall provide benefits other than cleansing. The bath or soak may include air or water jets. Floatation – standing body of water; chambers or tanks, in which the client floats for the purpose of rejuvenation. May or may not include sight and sound deprivation. Plunge Pools – standing body of water large enough to immerse the entire body. Soak – immersion of the whole body or part thereof into a herbal, aroma, mineral, peloid or chromotherapeutic solution Well-being Showers – natural flow or pressurised sprays and/or jets of water applied to the body for experiential or therapeutic purposes and which provide tangible benefits of well-being. Showers which are provided just for cleansing are not considered as a water application under this standard. Thermotherapy – Manual or mechanically applied heat and/ or cold, may be associated with traditional herbal product / treatment. Sauna – heated individual or shared chamber in which a client sits, lays or stands; for therapeutic purposes. Steam – individual or shared space filled with heated water vapors in which a client sits, lays or stands; for therapeutic purposes.

2.6.3 Scrubs and Wraps – application of natural resources e.g. herbs, foods, mineral or peloids for relaxation, beautification, detoxification or other well-being benefits may be provided.

2.6.4 Exercises – manual or mechanically performed movements which have a health supportive and promotional benefit.

2.6.5 Energy Treatments – the control or release of chi or energy flows of the body and mind which provide benefits of well-being. Such controls may be based on traditional acceptance and/or scientific validation.                           

2.6.6 Nutritional Programmes – ingestion of herbs or foods in solid, liquid or extracted form, raw or cooked, and which promote well-being.

2.6.7 Dietary Programmes – ingestion of herbs or foods in solid, liquid or extracted form, raw or cooked, which provide for weight management.

2.6.8 Traditional Massage or Traditional Treatments – Traditionally practised massage or treatments which may or may not be scientifically substantiated, but the belief of aboriginal or indigenous local populations support the health benefits of the treatment. Shall have been inherited from previous generations.

2.6.9 Beauty Treatments – any treatment that involves the application of product to the body or any part thereof, and which may or may not include massage techniques and which may or may not provide a tangible benefit of well-being, but are complementary to other services provided in the spa.

2.6.10 Other Treatments – any treatment which may be suitable for spa services and which may or may not be scientifically proven but which are culturally accepted to have benefits of well-being but are not categorised elsewhere under this standard.

2.7. Traditional and cultural services

Those traditional treatments listed below are for indictation, and have been identified as traditional treatments by the spa community in the respective ASEAN country. Whether listed here or not, all traditional and cultural services shall be afforded the same level of respect and shall not be significantly changed or altered for introduction or implementation to an establishment without prior consultation with aboriginal or indigenous populations from where they have originated, except where such changes or alterations are required for health and safety, or by law.

2.7.1 Traditional Treatments – Brunei Darussalam Traditional Treatments Lulut: This treatment is done in two-steps; mask and exfoliation. Fragrant fine rice flour mixed with rose water or lime juice is mixed into a paste to mask the whole body. Without rinsing the mask, the coarser rice scrub is then applied on to the body in a circular massage movement to scrub off the mask. This treatment ritual is done for brides to be in Brunei until today, and the ceremony, which will be attended by close relatives, is called berlulut. Lulut treatment will get rid of rough, dead skin cells on the body, making the bride’s skin smoother, fairer and looking more radiant. Mandi Berlangir: is a traditional ritual of bridal shower. A bath is prepared using the bark of langir wood mixed with warm water to shower bride to be. Langir wood when peeled and crushed will give out a pleasant aroma. The smell will then linger on our skin after shower. This is also practiced as a cleansing ritual for women after their monthly period. Mandi Daun – Daun (Malay Herbal Bath): A traditional bath with various herbal leaves which consist of daun ringanringan, daun kapas, daun lanjiwang, daun serimbangun, duan sambung, daun balik angina, daun pucuk kulimpapa, daun ribu-ribu dan serai wangi commonly used after 3, 7 or 44 days after giving birth. Herbal leaves are boiled in water, once cooled it is poured onto the body after a shower. The purpose of the herbal bath is to leave the body feeling refreshed and invigorated. NB: Scientific names of leaves are as follows: Daun ringanringan (leaves of Flemingia strobilifera); Daun kapas (leaves of Gossypium herbaceum); Daun serimbangun (leaves of Gendarussa vulgaris); Daun sambung (leaves of Blumea balsamifera); Daun balik angin (leaves of Leucosyke capitelata); Daun pucuk kulimpapa (young leaves of Vitex pinnata); Daun ribu-ribu (Leaves of Lygodium microphyllum); and Serai wangi (Cymbopogon nardus). Heat Therapy: For the past 200 years, Malays, including Bruneians, have been practicing the use of heat therapy to sweat out toxins to remove wind which cause aching in the body. Bertangas: This is usually done for brides to be. The bride will sit on a special stool with a hole in the middle. Her body will be covered by a piece of cloth. Local wood, dried flowers and herbs called ratus, are smoked on top of burning charcoal placed under the stool to heat up the body and to stain the skin with the aroma from ratus. This helps to rid the body of all unpleasant odors. This treatment is also practiced by mothers after giving birth. Bertajul: A form of body steaming by using the steam made of various herbal leaves mixed together in hot water. Used by both men and women to improve blood circulation, remove toxins, relive stress as well as increase immune system for the whole body. Bediang: is a heat therapy used by mothers during their confinement period. Mother will lay down near the heat to warm up their body in order to get rid of wind in the body. It also speeds up the shrinking process of the uterus to its normal size, as well as assist in weight loss by burning the fats found in the body Jamu: Jamu herbs are consumed to improved health and beauty. Marjum: It is made of honey and other local herbs in paste form, to be consumed by men and women to firm up and warm up the body. It is usually consumed by mothers during their confinement period to get their body back in shape. Hirup-Hirupan: is a tonic herbal coffee. A mixture of spices and herbs in powder form to be mixed with hot water, consumed by men and women to strengthen body immunity. Mostly consumed by mothers during confinement.

2.7.2 Traditional Treatments – Cambodia Chab Sor Shai: (A traditional Khmer massage) is a traditional Khmer way of therapeutic. A vigorous, firm massage for effective pain relief; the touch technique are deep and reasonable forceful in continuous, elastic and rhythmic. The strength is vary from gently to moderately and intense pressure. It is an effective way of healing of Khmer people to relief stress from their body which it was hand down from one generation to the next generation solidly. It is a whole body massage without oil, and the therapist always use the finger for kneading, chopping, pumping, onto the whole body of the clients. This massage focus on muscle and all reflexology point of the body which starts from the toe to the head of the clients. Khmer J’pong: J’pong using herbs it requires a bench and clay pot to boil the herbs and cover by the blanket. The best comfortable length of this treatment is around 15 minutes to 20 minutes. It’s an effective way for rejuvenation, and it can effectively promote and stimulate the blood stream and circulation of the human being’s body which is all the Khmer women always practice for rejuvenating their skin and rinsing out all the impurities things from their body, especially, help the new mother after giving birth. S’Ahm: A traditional Khmer herbal hot compress help to induces deep relaxation, relieves stress and fatigue, boosts both emotional and physical well-being, improves circulation of blood and lymph, increase energy flow and stimulates the internal organs and nerves. All the Khmer herbal ingredient such as lemongrass, green ginger, fragrant wooden and khmer white wine are used to package with the hygiene cloth and steamed before being applied to the clients either directly on the skin or through the clothes on spot of the whole body to improves circulation of blood and lymph, increase energy flow, stimulates the internal organs and nerves and reduce swell of a sprain. All Khmer people still keep practice this method since it’s considered as an effective healing way with low cost if they face the above problem in their everyday living. Khat Sbek: A traditional scrub that introduced by Cambodian people. It is a natural way of rejuvenating formula passed down by Khmer forefather within Angkor Empire to the next Khmer generation. Khmer herbal ingredients such as Green ginger, Tamarind, Pineapple, turmeric and pure honey are blended together to be the liquid, which all the Khmer women always use it to rub the dead skin cell away, and purify the body and leave the skin smooth, supple and hydrated. This traditional treatment is handed down from one generation to another generation and kept using until now; especially all Khmer women in the rural area always use it to cleansing their body for daily living in rejuvenation purpose. It is very popular for women after giving birth like the J’pong as well.

2.7.3 Traditional Treatments – Indonesia LULUR Javanese Lulur: The word “Lulur” means coating the skin and “mandi” means bath. The Mandi Lulur is a process of whole body exfoliation and polishing during bath. This method has been practiced in the palaces of Central Java since the 17th century. Javanese Lulur contain turmeric that give an effect of sanitizing the skin and yellowing the skin become a golden color. Since Javanese people have an origin of dark brown skin color so the love so much the yellowing effect from lulur and its becomea daily ritual beauty process to leave the skin soft, supple, and golden shining. The treatment could be continued with herbal bath or traditional Javanese Massage or Milk Bath. Balinese Boreh: A traditional Scrub that was and is introduced by BALIAN – Balinese Medicinal Man to Cure Fever, tiredness, influenza by applying Boreh on the body and wrap with Banana leaves. This warming traditional scrub, is made from roots, herbs and spices, rice, ginger, turmeric, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, star anise, and a bit of salt, this body exfoliating scrub will not only cleanse, but also increase the vitality of your body. Legend says that Balinese women are very hard working that they invented this wonderful treatment to balance their busy life while maintaining their natural beauty with the finest herbs on the land. This warming treatment helps blood circulation and relieve sore muscles. Black Borneo Lulur: Originated from the island of Borneo, this body exfoliating scrub will cleanse, nourish, moist, and keep your skin healthy and bright. The wonderful black rice, clove and rose petals in the ingredients will invigorate your senses and help you get back on your feet with refreshed body and mind. Indonesian Traditional Massage Balinese Massage: A unique treatment combining stretching, long strokes, skin rolling and palm, and thumb pressure techniques to relieve tension, improve blood flow, and ease stress and calm mind. Start from the back area of the body with palm press and along the spine then follow by apply Indonesian traditional massage oil. Javanese Massage: Digital pressure movement to all parts of the body, combined with deep strokes application, which relaxes the muscles, releasing stress and tension. Using special blended of Indonesian natural oil such as coconut oil blend with extract of Cannanga odorata or sandalwood or even vertivet. Herbal Treatments Herbal Bath and steam: Indonesian uniquely designed dried natural herbs blended , usually using 32 kind herbs from the seed, leave, roots, stem, wood, flower that dried before. Dried herbal should be boiled before using then strain water into the bath up and using for 15 minutes soaking. Or boiled the herbs at the kettle the extend to the steam box. It is extremely useful for invigorating, relaxing, and deodorizes. Herbal Compress: This is an ancient exotic method to compress and give stimulating/ undulating massage through a herbal compress on the entire face and body. As a completion for face and body Spa ritual journey. Traditional herbal compress for body to relax the muscle, relieve the tired & stiff muscle and improve the blood circulation, warm the body and suitable for fatigued body. Natural Treatments Milk Mask & Bath with Honey: This is one of the most popular treatments in Indonesia offered at the Spa. The richness of milk combined with pure honey gives your skin maximum moisture, rejuvenation, protect your skin and gives the best nourishment for the best result. The wonderful scent will also help as buffer to enhance maximum result from this mask. This product is highly recommended for after sun activities to give skin its balance back with calming & soothing effect. Jamu (formerly Djamu): is Indonesian traditional medicine, mainly of herbal medicine made from plants, roots, leaves, bark and fruit, but may also include animal products. In many large cities jamu herbal medicine is sold on the street by hawkers carry a refreshing drink, usually bitter but sweetened with honey. Herbal medicine is also produced in factories by large companies. Traditional Treatments – Malaysia Post-natal treatments: In Malay/Indigenous tradition, new mothers follow a strict 6 weeks confinement period using herbs, spices and oils to enable them to heal and adjust to the latest addition to the family. Postnatal treatments help new mothers strengthen and fortify their bodies, soothe and calms their inner spirit and most importantly help them recover in the shortest time possible. Bertungku: Bertungku with heated river stone and various fresh leaves (e.g. betel leaves, pandan, turmeric leaves, melastoma (Daun senduduk), Wild pepper leaves (Daun kaduk), Noni leaves or banana leaves). During confinement, the midwives may warm the new mother’s abdomen by applying a smooth, heated stone (bertungku). This is specifically reputed to “cleanse the womb” to prevent illness, speed the shrinking of the uterus and return a prepregnancy figure. Tangas: Tangas using herbs with astringent properties (requires a special single bench and earthen pot to boil the herbs) is traditionally used by young women at the end of their period to help reduce excessive white discharge, fungal infections and unpleasant odour. Used as part and parcel of postnatal treatment, the tangas is also believed to firm up vaginal muscles and reduce inflammations. Urutan Melayu (Traditional Malay/Indigenous Massage): Combines stretching, stepping, long kneading strokes and pressure applied to various part of the body. Traditionally done on the floor, the traditional Malay/Indigenous massage is a therapeutic massage from head to toe, normally carried out with the unique Malay/Indigenous massage oils that are painstakingly prepared by boiling palm oil with various herbs and spices with warming and detoxifying properties. Malay/Indigenous Herbal Bath: A traditional herbal bath with herbs rich in essential oils. Herbs normally used in the herbal bath are lemongrass, citronella, guava leaves, kaffir lime leaves and fruit.

2.7.5 Traditional Treatments – Philippines Hilot: is an eclectic mix of indigenous traditional massage techniques from seven major ethno-linguistic cultural areas of the Philippines bringing forth the best in each practice ensuring a joyful yet serene total body experience. A distinct feature is the use of strips of warm banana leaves applied to the different parts of the body at various stages of the massage treatment. It is a form of therapeutic massage or physical manipulation that touches the veins, arteries, bones and muscles. It is used to relieve pain, fever, sprains, immobility, arthritis, re-orientation of the uterus of the female, etc. Hilot practitioners, known as manghihilot employ various methods to diagnose illnesses and to cure them. Dagdagay: is an authentic Filipino indigenous foot massage using bamboo sticks. This deep tissue massage which was developed by the Igorots, a mountain tribe, to stimulate nerve endings of the feet. Bentosa, or cupping, came to the Philippines from both Spain and China, though the application is different. A coin is wrapped in gauze and placed on the specific pressure point (back, legs, etc.). A glass cup is prepared, and a match struck, allowing to die out inside the glass, which is then placed on the pressure point. The smoke and heat draw out the imbalancing toxins from the body. The procedure is repeated until the pain subsides. Tapal – Tuba-tuba (Jatropha gossypifolia) leaves are lathered with virgin coconut oil, heated by fire, then applied on the back to treat muscle pains.

2.7.6 Traditional Treatments – Thailand Nuad Rachasamnak (Royal style Massage, Royal Thai Massage): Traditionally performed for The Royal Court, by professional and knowledgeable persons having good demeanor, who maintain a straight face with eyes down cast. Therapist shall only use straightened arms in the manipulation of the body using hands, thumbs and fingertips only. Nuad Chalueysak (Folk style Massage, Thai Massage): Relies on the pressing of the body and does not require the same level of anatomical knowledge as for Nuad Rachasamnak, while respect is not an issue of the practise. Hands, fingers, forearms, elbows, knees and feet may be used to manipulate, stretch or flex the body. Thai Herbal Compress: Typically contain at least nine to ten herbs with antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory features, which are bound into a cloth and steamed before being applied to the client either directly on the skin or through the clothes. Regional massages and treatments

2.8.    Staffing Levels

The number of staff appropriate to and in keeping with the commonly accepted business practices shall be employed.

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