KNOTTED muscles, tight backs and stressful headaches. Modern lifestyles have brought us much ease of life with technology, but it has also added to our aches and pains. It is precisely this need that has fuelled the success for Thai Odyssey. What started 10 years ago in a 100 sq ft make-shift kiosk at the walkway of Centrepoint, Bandar Utama, with only four massage chairs, has since grown to be the biggest family massage centre in Malaysia. The Thai Massage, a skill focusing on loosening collected tension and re-angling the body of fatigue is therapeutic and almost remedial for city slickers who are constantly in stress and worry.
The story of Thai Odyssey starts out some 12 years ago when its founder and managing director Leon Chuah decided to holiday in Thailand as well as look around for business opportunities. “Over there, me and my friends experienced Thai massage for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it.” However, Chuah’s first brush with the rejuvenating therapy amounted to nothing. He was focused on running his event management business at that time and wasn’t sure about its’ true potential. He came back to Malaysia without any plans, albeit a lot happier and refreshed.
Shortly after that, Chuah was involved in organizing a Selangor state event called the Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle (IMTGT). “I brought in traders from Thailand and one of the Thai traders brought with him a team of six therapists to promote the Thai massage business. They set up a booth in the IMTGT event and I was blown away by the fantastic response they received. During the one-month event, people were queuing up to try the massage.”
Customers aside, the six therapists also enjoyed their stint in KL and didn’t want to leave when it was time for them to go back. They asked Chuah if they could stay for some work. Seeing the good business opportunity, Chuah immediately set to get them a space for a small business. He spoke to the Centrepoint management (where his office was located) and wrangled a small space at a corridor and started offering foot massage services. The demand was there and Chuah himself, who began going regularly saw a difference in his body. His back pain, an affliction that never left him since his younger days gradually went away. It was then that the idea of a real business began to solidify.
Of course family and friends were against his idea, chuckles Chuah as he recollects. “Well, it was common for people to associate massage with sex and unwholesome activities and my family felt the same way. But I was determined to do something different. I wanted to differentiate from what was offered in the market at that time.”