Experience a piece of Thai serenity at The Gateway@KLIA2

 

Ask business travelers whether they enjoy traveling and you will most likely get a shrug of tiredness as a response.  Ask vacationers if they like long layovers in airports and you will most likely see them shaking their heads disapprovingly.  No doubt about it, getting on and off planes, catching another flight, checking-in or waiting for luggages, waiting in transit lounges … if only they could be easier, it could have added more fun to traveling.

Indeed, heeding the call to cushion the effect of long wait and restlessness, or healing stretched muscles walking from one terminal to another, relieve therapy is just around the corner.  Step into Thai Odyssey at The Gateway@KLIA2, and instantly let loose those tensed muscles and soothe them back to their flexibility.

Situated on the first floor, you will not miss the award-winning brand, the most recognisable logo of Thai Odyssey.  As you are about to take the escalator to the check-in counters, you will pass the charm of our facade where its distinctive Thai decor exudes a sense of calmness and serenity.  Even when you exit the Express Rail Link gate, just look up, you will notice the shopfront that prominently displays all things Thai.  The two familiar figurines with the welcoming Wai gesture, with their palms pressed in front of their chests, as if you could already hear them say “Sawaddee ka!”.

Spreading out at 5,000 square feet of floor space, all you need to do is to open up your senses to be pampered in the serene environment.  There are 17 body-contoured reclined weaker chairs for foot massage therapy.  Three of the chairs are in a room exclusively for female customers who require total privacy.  For couples wanting a short break from traveling, there are couple rooms with two massage beds to let you enjoy the therapies without leaving each other’s sight.

For travelers who would like to freshen up with a shower, there are two shower rooms in each of the male and female toilet areas and they are available on a first-come-first-serve basis particularly for customers who select the Thai Aromatherapy Massage.  Giving you more time to enjoy the relaxing moment either alone or with a partner, there are aromatherapy rooms which are already equipped with shower facilities.

Taking care of your every need is one of our highest priority.  Even with your luggage, we have prepared a left-luggage service for travelers.  In total peace of mind, you will let go and let us indulge you with scents, sound and satiate your senses till you drift into deep relaxation.  Waking up, you are refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to go that extra mile…

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3 – What are the systems that Thai Odyssey implemented that successfully helped to  steer the business to the right path?

At Thai Odyssey, every customer gets their feet washed before going on to their massage. This is a very traditional Thai practice that customers love. “I have some customers say to me, they pay a little more here, but get someone to wash their feet,” quips Chuah.

To explain why they are serious in training their masseuses to set a standardized code of service, Chuah continues, “We ensure only good therapists come our way. Our requirements are that our masseuses come from well-known massage schools in Thailand and have four to six years of experience. After they have been recruited, they will go through another month of intensive training to learn Thai Odyssey’s Integrated Spa & Customers Service System (TOISCSS) before they begin work as a masseuse.”


They also train their front desk personnel to have impeccable customer service skills. Their masseuses do not speak much English, only their native languages. They do not make an effort to teach them English because it is part of the authentic Thai experience for customers as it comes as a whole Thai experience package.

Business wasn’t always smooth sailing though. After two years of operating, Chuah received a cruel shock when local authorities barged in to eight of his outlets on the same day, closed them down and locked up all his people. Chuah was accused of not having the right permits for his workers. At that time, each of his masseuse was carrying a working pass as issued by the immigration office. Chuah was informed that the working pass was only meant for a foreign professional. Chuah’s argument that it was issued to him by the immigration office fell on deaf ears. He was promptly locked up for five days.

“I didn’t sleep at all in those five days,” laughs Chuah. “I was even told that I would possibly be caned for my crime. Can you imagine what went through my mind? Thankfully I had good people who came to bail me out. After that, all my 50 workers were also released.”

Immediately upon his release, Chuah made his way to the immigration office to speak with the local authorities. Even though he faced lots of rejection, he did not give up. He continued to pursue the matter in order to get the authorities to create a column for him to fill in the names of his employees as spa therapists. Today, laws have been made to accommodate foreign workers and the immigration office issues working pass specifically for spa therapists. “Before that, there was no such form for this type of application. In a way, we initiated this,” smiles Chuah.

This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.

 

Related article:
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 1)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 2)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 3)

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2 – What are the things customers like about Thai Odyssey and get them to come back for more?

People love the polite and humble ways of the Thai culture everyone in Thai Odyssey practices. This is also duly imparted by Chuah who always emphasises the importance of providing good service and making customers happy. “We know that in any business, making money is important, but it has never been our main focus in our business development. Our vision is to create an environment for everyone to have a memorable experience, therefore, our concentration is on customers’ satisfaction and happiness. We find all ways to ensure that customers are happy when they are in our outlets and it has become the key to our continuous growth.” It was this loving culture that compelled customers to keep coming back. Business was brisk.

Chuah went on to open in Tropicana Golf and Country Club and then in Mid Valley and One Utama. Today, there are a total of 38 outlets all over Malaysia, one in Thailand and four in China. They are currently the largest Thai spa operator in Malaysia as certified by the Malaysia Book of Records. Other notable achievements are being awarded Best Family Spa and Best Consumer Choice at the Malaysia Spa & Wellness Awards, Women’s Weekly Quality Results & Services for Thai Foot Massage and being recognised as Excellent Customer Service Retailer by MRCA. They have received a total of 18 local and international awards.

While Thai Odyssey offers a full menu of services, their most popular massage remains the Thai Traditional massage, followed by the Thai Aromatherapy massage. “I am confident that our body massages are one of the best in town. We continuously find ways to make our massages more enjoyable for our customers.”


While Thai Odyssey is not expensive, there is a perception that they are. “Yes, I have customers who tell me this, but usually these are comments before they tried our massage services. After their first visits, many are impressed with the quality of services and the value they received that they keep coming back for more. We hold a certain standard. You won’t find a smelly pillow here, a lack of hygiene or an overly casual masseuse chatting away while working. We offer a truly relaxing experience and a dose of luxury and pampering for our customers.”


This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1 – What did Chuah do even after he received all the brickbats from family and friends after he told them about his idea of going into some massage business?

Using his close connections with shopping malls, Chuah then sent proposals to shopping malls on starting up Thai Odyssey. Unfortunately even his connections were unable to broker a leasing contract. All his proposals were rejected. It was simply unheard off at that time for a massage center to be located in a shopping mall,” says Chuah.


Unfazed, Chuah turned back to his outlet in Centrepoint. He decided to give it a bigger presence and moved the outlet to the second floor next to his office where there was bigger space. The first few months proved to be slow however as many people were not aware of the outlet.

“I noticed that 95% of customers were guys and all of them paid cash. Some of them didn’t even want a receipt, almost as if going for a massage was a dirty little secret. I had to do something about this perception. It seemed that people still viewed going for a massage as something seedy.

Chuah then ran a very attractive promotion for couples. The promotion proved to be a success and female customers started coming. In six months, the male and female ratio began to even out. Chuah’s clever strategy was working. After one year, the Centrepoint outlet was fully packed.


The event management business wasn’t doing very well that time and Chuah decided to focus on growing Thai Odyssey. It was time to really get his business going big now. “I liked this business as it is a business with human touch, literally.”

Back Chuah went to the shopping mall. This time, he invited the shopping mall management to come over to his outlet in Centrepoint to experience the massage. As he had something more tangible, the resistance lessened.

Jusco (now known as AEON) agreed to lease him a space in their Seremban 2 mall. The only vacant lot available was hidden space of 600 sq ft beside a public toilet. It was far from ideal and a tough decision to make. Still Chuah forged ahead and said yes to the space. His decision proved to be an excellent choice for business turned out fantastic. Surprisingly the hidden space did wonders for his business. “There were only two toilets in the mall and the toilet next to our outlet was the most used. Every shopper had to walk past our outlet and we did so well,” laughs Chuah. “This gave me more confidence that I had something very good to offer.”


Perhaps, what won the customers over were the good nature and sincerity of the therapists and everyone in the outlet including the front desk personnel, even the tea lady and the janitors. “Yes, there are many massage centres around, but in our business, everyone does it from the heart,” says Thai Odyssey executive director Anthony Thuan who is also Chuah’s business partner. “Our customers can sense that.”

This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.

Metrobiz: Page 22.

Metrobiz: Page 23.

TO BE CONTINUE…………

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 1)

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.”


TO BE CONTINUE…………

Thai Language


Do you speak Thai?
Do you find it particularly peaceful when you listen to a conversation in Thai? Does language make the person who use it sound more polite or is it the people who are inherently courteous and when the language is spoken, it projects graciousness?

You would have read or experienced it yourself that the Thais are always smiling, pleasant, humble and patient. They laugh easily, speak softly and they treat you as if you are always the guest-of-honor. The expression Mai Pen Rai, which loosely means “never mind”, characterizes that the Thai people general focus in life is to “enjoy life – never mind”. That may summarize why they are always seem to be in a state of bliss.

For a nation who is so proud of their heritage and the fact that they have never been ruled by any Western power, it is not surprising that Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej insisted on the preservation of their very own usage of the Thai language.

On July 29, 1962, more than fifty years ago, King Bhumibol visited Chulalongkorn University to join the academicians in a discussion on the ways Thai words are used. He emphasized on the importance of using the language in its proper context and pronunciation. He is concerned of the overuse of foreign words that has influenced its authenticity. Even if the younger generation is to introduce new words into a sentence structure, it would be beneficial to master the Thai language first.

To increase awareness of the King’s utmost concern, and to preserve their language, the government has proclaimed July 29 each year, since 1999, to be National Thai Language Day.

Leading to the day where all Thai people will be practicing the proper use of the language, let us join in the fun by learning a few phrases ourselves:

Hellosà-wàt-dee

How are you? – sà-baai dee rĕu?

I’m fine – If you are male, say “sà-baai dee króp”. If you are female, say “sà-baai dee

Please to meet youyin dee têe dâi róo jàk

Good morning or evening – If you are male, say “sà-wàt-dee kráp”. If you are female, say “sà-wàt-dee

How much is this? – raa-kaa tâo rài?

Thank youkòp kun

You will always be pleasantly treated when you are in someone’s house or in a foreign land when you appreciate someone’s culture where it leads you to respect their customs and practices as well. One of the world’s widely accepted gesture which transcends any language you speak anywhere in the world is to smile. Then, the best way to travel is to master a few good phrases when you are in a country and speak the words with a broadest smile.

Happy National Thai Language Day 2014.