Bringing a Touch of Thai to Cayman

Park Place – to those in Cayman who do not frequent West Bay Road on a regular basis – seems to have sprung up overnight.

The new building, which includes retail units on the ground floor and apartments above, impressively occupies the space opposite Coconut Plaza, across from The Meridian beachside condo complex.

Taking up four of the retail units on Park Place’s ground floor is the spacious and airy Touch of Thai, Cayman’s newest salon and day spa, owned by Thai Orchid restaurant owner Suladda May.

Guests are immersed in the beauty of Thai culture before they even enter the spa, with kinnaree statues – an angel figurine that is half-swan, half-human and a popular character in ancient Thai stories – greeting guests the traditional Thai way, with hands together.

Inside is the hair salon with a nail room off to the left and a reception desk and hair stations directly inside the entrance.

‘We wanted the salon to be by the entrance so that it was quite lively when guests entered, rather than people feeling intimidated because it is so quiet,’ explained Touch of Thai manager Carly Jukes.

Following this reasoning, the spa is behind a curtained-off throughway to the right of the entrance. A walk through reveals dimly-lit, elegantly-decorated massage and beauty rooms, a relaxation room with reclining chairs and refreshments and – in keeping with the Thai theme – rooms dedicated to Thai massage, featuring lower and wider beds than regular massage tables, to enable the stretching and movement that a Thai massage entails.

The combination of oriental culture and western influences is a balance the spa was keen to get right, said Ms Jukes. ‘I call it Thai with an international twist,’ she said. ‘Obviously Suladda, the owner, is from Thailand and she was always impressed with the level of service she received when she went to spas back in Thailand. She wanted to bring that quality of service here.’

Indeed, massage therapists greet guests warmly, leading them into the relaxation area where, if they are to receive a Thai massage, they are seated in a chair at the end of the room with a basin of warm water at their feet. Once seated, the massage therapist removes the guest’s shoes and invites them to bathe their feet in the water.

‘The feet are very important in Thailand,’ explained Thai masseur Chuchoke Chaiwongtong. ‘It is very important before doing Thai massage to wash and massage the guest’s feet.’

Once slippers are placed onto the freshly-washed feet, the guest is led into the Thai massage room, where they are asked to lay on the bed for the massage. Thai scalp massage is invigorating while also relaxing, using a combination of circular movements with acupressure.

Thai massage has sometimes been referred to as the ‘lazy man’s yoga’, due to the amount of stretching involved, which is all done for the recipient by the therapist. A combination of acupressure techniques and stretching, the massage therapist will move the guest into a variety of positions that allow for deep stretching of the muscles, leaving the guest feeling deeply relaxed and more flexible.

‘It’s so important, stretching, particularly for people working in office jobs,’ explained Mr. Chaiwongtong.

For those who prefer Swedish and deep tissue massages, they are also available, along with hot and cool stone massages and pregnancy massages.

Other Thai delights are included on the massage therapy menu, however. A four-handed Thai massage is a must-try luxury, while lemongrass Thai foot reflexology and Thai aromatic massage combine the scents of the Orient with a relaxing spa treatment.

A variety of facial and body treatments are also available, along with a contouring and cellulite treatment and a ‘Sarai Slenderising Cocktail’ which is recommended in a series of three, and claims to help the guest gain a sleeker silhouette with an exfoliation, body steam and compression wrap. This is completed with a massage to detoxify the body’s lymphatic system.

Packages are also available, called Spa Journeys, which offer discounted prices for a collection of spa treatments. However, one thing that Touch of Thai prides itself on is its price point.

‘We have really reasonable prices. We looked at local spas and tried to price ourselves accordingly,’ said Ms Jukes. ‘We were at the Island Living Show recently and our booth was really popular; people were very surprised when they saw our prices.’

Believing it is the details that make the difference, Touch of Thai boasts such features as refreshments in a relaxation area, ensuring guests to do not feel rushed to leave after their treatment, and a separate room for applying acrylic or gel nails, which is self-ventilated and ensures the salon is not subject to the odours associated with the treatment.

With a hair stylist, Tori Prescott, on staff and another soon to join, the hair salon is also a necessary area of the spa to visit. One thing Touch of Thai was certain to get right were the washing stations, which feature a comfortable reclining chair not dissimilar to a bed, ensuring comfort during the hair-washing process.

Colour treatments, cuts, blow-outs and styling are all available through the hair salon. Ms Prescott has six years of experience styling hair and has travelled the world on cruise ships, now settling in Cayman. The hair products used at Touch of Thai are the IT&LY range, popular in Europe and Milan, Italy, where they originate from, but new to Cayman.

For the spa, the products are even more unique. Ms May designed the product lines herself. Suladda Skincare is a product for facial care while Touch of Thai provides products to care for the body. The ingredients are natural and the products are created in Canada and shipped to Cayman.

‘Many of the ingredients are organic,’ said Ms Jukes. ‘In Thailand it is very important to focus on natural ingredients rather than chemicals, and that is reflected in this skincare line.’

Ms May has fulfilled a dream by opening this spa. ‘I love massage and beauty,’ she said. ‘I travel to different spas around the world and enjoy it very much, so I knew I had to open my own.’

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