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…………

3 Tips To Look For A Perfect Relaxation In The City

When you think of going for a short relaxation in the city, would you think of going to a spa? Or check yourself in for the ultimate pampering with a good massage? Whatever you choose to do for a refreshing therapy, be it a facial, a manicure or just having some detoxification moment in a hot sauna, the spa you choose must make you feel rejuvenated and reinvigorated when you leave.

Every time, people are telling us that a trip to a spa is like a mini-vacation. You check in, leave your things in the locker and your stress out of the door, then step in to a serene environment with soft soothing music. As you settle in with your massage attire and lying down getting ready for a massage therapy, you let your whole body, mind and spirit go into the most blissful tranquility.
For a fulfilling experience, there are some tips you can follow to choose the spa that will suit your needs:

Check the menu

Each establishment offers their very own signature therapies for their customers. Check the descriptions of the services offered and see if any of the therapy suit your needs. You may prefer essential oils but on that day, you may find that you just need a half body massage. After walking for hours, you may just want an hour of foot massage that include shoulder, neck and head massages. Understanding what you want will lead you to enjoy your trip to a spa even more.


Know about spa etiquette

Good spa practices are adhered to in many establishment whose main objective is to heighten your blissful experience. When you make an appointment, do check with the front desk what is the proper attire for certain massage treatment and whether there are clean robes or clothing provided. As everyone wants good services, be aware that spa therapists have other appointments, arriving on time is imperative for a relaxing time.



Make sure the spa is hygienically clean

Massage therapies, when performed in unsanitary conditions, could potentially spread germs and bacteria which will lead to infections. For this reason, it’s definitely a good idea to visit a spa or ask for a tour before starting your massage session. Keep an eye out for good sanitation practices, staff’s professional behavior and courtesy. A good spa will also have clean towels, bathrobes and sandals available for customers.

Going for a massage is a great way to unwind and recharge for another day of work. It is worthwhile to check out the conditions of the spa or massage outlet to ensure you will get the maximum comfort and enjoyment. Then, settle in for the ultimate pampering as you relax and feel safe.

3 Extra-Special Gift Ideas for Dad on Father’s Day


After celebrating Mother’s Day in May, are we looking forward to give our dads a treat too? Undoubtedly, this will be a special time we want to spend with the man of the house. Prepping ourselves for a fun weekend with our energetic dads, we will give him a surprise with some specially selected gifts. Maybe the best gift is to tell him a story, as he has told us for so many years. The story is about Father’s Day.

There are many versions about the origins of Father’s Day. One story dates back 4,000 years ago in Babylon where a young boy named Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a card that was made of clay. Elmesu wished his Babylonian father good health and longevity. There was no evidence to show what happened to Elmesu and his father, but the tradition to celebrate Father’s Day remained in several countries.

Another version which is closer to our time started in 1909. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd who lived in Spokane, Washington in America heard a Mother’s Day sermon by Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, when she was 27. Sonora thought to herself: if there is a day for Mothers, then there should be a day to celebrated Fathers’ contribution as well.

Sonora’s mother died during childbirth and her father raised the newborn with five other children with love and care. Inspired by Anna Jarvis’s struggle to promote Mother’s Day, Sonora worked her way up to get the endorsement for Father’s Day. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA supported her cause. President Woodrow Wilson approved the idea in 1916. It was not until five decades later, in 1966, that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.


As June approaches, we scratch our heads to ask: What will dad like? Thinking of all the activities dad has done over the past years, there may be the hiking, fishing or simply just lazing at home playing games, there must be something dad likes to have.

These are three simple extraordinary gifts for the coolest man:

A Cookbook
For dad who cooks your dinner and wipe the dipping sauce from your cutest (he said so!) chin, get him a full illustrated, colorful cookbook. This will give him better ideas to prepare more meals to enjoy at home.

A Gift Card
Man likes to be in control, so is dad. Make things simple, just get him a gift card. It can be for books, to download apps, music and games. It’s even a greater idea to get him a Thai Odyssey’s Gift Card for him to get a relaxing massage of his choice.

An Electronic Gadget
Get your e-savvy dad a new tablet, a new smart phone or a new health gadget. For your dad who reads a lot, get him a new e-book reader so that he can carry his whole library of books in his pocket when he travels.

 

 

 

3 Reasons to Drink Tea

 

Do you know that on any given day, there are over 158 million people in the US drink tea? In Britain, they consume over 165 million cups daily. This is a whopping figure. It makes drinking tea the second most consumed beverage in the world after water.

In some recent articles from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they showed that drinking tea is indeed can help us stay healthy. Amidst earlier studies about the antioxidants in tea which have adverse effects on human health, there are more empirical results to encourage us to look at tea as a good source of nutrition.

Let’a take a look at three reasons why tea is good for us after all:

Weight Loss
Yes, you heard it right! Cutting down your weight may be one big push for you to consider drinking tea. One study from the Journal shows that subjects who consumed green tea and caffeine lost an average of 2.9 pounds over 12 weeks, all while maintaining their normal diet.


Exercise Endurance

Tea can boost your interest in exercise and help you to be active. Scientists have found that the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract increase the body ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.


Fight Free Radicals

Although our body has the facilities to fight free radicals on its own, but we do look at tea to help us in our defense. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help to prevent some of the damage they cause such as cancer, heart disease and neurological degeneration. A 6-year study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.

In most spa environment, tea is offered before and after your massage for keeping your body hydrated. Some teas are specially blended with selected herbs for the desired effects. Usually, tea is served hot and after a relaxing massage, it helps the body to soothe soreness and calm the nerves, leading to a more restful state of mind.

Ask for a cup of tea before you begin your massage to warm your body for the passive exercise that is about to begin. When the massage is complete, take sips of tea slowly as you begin to feel more relaxed. Feel rejuvenated while you take the extra time to wind down.

Mother's Day

Come May, it will be the annual celebration for the one person we love the most – our mothers. It’s Mother’s Day.

In the UK, it is traditionally called Mothering Sunday. As it was started as a religious event, the celebration happened on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Its religious origins are believed to date back to Roman times when a festival was held in mid-March to honor Cybele, the mother goddess. Later, to continue the mother-themed celebration in Europe and Britain, the festival was held to honor the Virgin Mary and the ‘mother church’.

As Mother’s Day is now celebrated worldwide but on different dates, the person recognized as the Founder of Mother’s Day in US is Anna Jarvis. She is never married and had no kids, but her effort in working so hard to bestow honor on all mothers was indeed a great feat.

Anna Jarvis was inspired by her own mother Mrs Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis when she was a child. Anna grew up watching her mother worked tirelessly as activist and as a social worker. Mrs Jarvis constantly expressed her desire to honor all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to their contributions.


Anna, as a loving daughter, remembered her mother’s desire when her mother died in 1905. With the growing negligent of American adults towards their mothers, Anna showed her love of her mother by sending carnations in a church service in Grafton, West Virginia. With people observing her love for her mother, supporters began writing letters to people and lobbied for the official declaration of Mother’s Day. Anna’s hard work paid off. By 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union. On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

As Mother’s Day draws near, let us suggest 3 ways how to you can give your mother a day of relaxation and fun:

Give your mother a Spa-tacular massage and pampering day
Buy your mother a Thai Odyssey’s Gift Certificate and let her be taken care of and pampered by our expert therapists. Let her feel rejuvenated and reenergized with our signature Ultimate Thai Odyssey package.


Have a girl’s day out with mother

Take the whole day off and enjoy with your mother. Go crazy! Have loads of fun, color your toes and nails, get a pedicure and manicure, then gulp down some tea time snacks and lets go watch a movie.


Go on a family day cruise

Maybe your mother has dreamt of being on a Love Boat. Make her dream come true. Book her onto a day cruise and get her sailing into the blue yonder for a day while she enjoys all the facilities on board.

Go ahead, make her a Queen. Let her know she is the most loved person in the whole wide world.

Happy Mother’s Day 2014!


Bonus: Enhance Mother’s Day celebration with our 10th Anniversary Promotion!

4 After-Massage Tips To Maintain and Balance Your Body

You know when you need a break. When you are agitated just by someone’s breathing or when you drink your coffee and still find it tasteless. It’s time to take a while off to stretch or just walkabout then get back to work. Better off, leave your work for a day to clear your mind out of some cluttered emotions. Then find a place of relaxation where you are most at peace. While you relax your mind, you may feel that your tensed muscles need some workout too. When you don’t feel like sweating it out on a treadmill, why don’t you go for some passive exercise instead? Make a reservation right away with Thai Odyssey, pamper yourself with the ultimate spa package and let your body be kneaded, stretched and soothed for a rejuvenation session with a Thai Traditional Massage.

After a much-needed flex on your muscles, these are the 4 tips to help you maintain and balance your body:

1. Drink Lots of Water
Since massage promotes lymphatic movement, drinking water and keep yourself hydrated will help move toxins through the kidneys and out of your body. You may feel that you need to use the toilet more often, this is normal as your body is working towards cleansing. Therefore, re-hydration is the key to a healthy body, especially after a soothing massage.

 

2. Take A Hot Shower
A nice warm bath is very soothing after a massage. This is extremely relaxing because if you have any inflammation in the muscles due to stress or strenuous workout, the heat from the water will reduce the sore.

3. Rest
After a good massage, relax and don’t rush. If you can, make sure you have nowhere to go and nothing to do after your massage. Massage is not just work on the body; it is work on the mind too. Massage helps to de-stress and relax you. And a good rest will get your mind and body to rebalance and retune for the next productive day.


4. Eat lightly before and after a massage.

Avoid eating heavy meals before a massage, but don’t come on an empty stomach either. Eating fruits or seeds and nuts are good food choice before a massage. After a massage, try having a vegetarian meal, a warm bowl of vegetable soup or stir-fried vegetables with rice or noodles, these are light meals for easy digestion.

As we work to get things done, our body will need time to rest and rejuvenate. Make time for yourself, get a full body massage and your body will thank you.

Water Water Everywhere – It’s Songkran!

The Thailand water festival, or Songkran, is a New Year celebration in the country.  Customarily, Songkran is celebrated with the belief that, with water, it cleanses, purifies and signifies a fresh start to everything.  As with Asian traditions all over the world, before the beginning of a new lunar calendar, people celebrating the Lunar New Year festival are often advised to wash away their past or ‘bad’ chi by spring cleaning their houses.

Religiously, to start the day of Songkran, there will be bathing ritual for the Buddha images with scented water.  The ‘blessed water’ that was used to bathe the images is now used to pour onto someone’s palms, especially the elders’.  This is a way of paying respect and it is believed to bring good fortune.

Over the years, however, the pouring of water has become the throwing or splashing of water in the streets.  People from all over the world gather in Thailand for the carnival-gala good-natured fun.  Thais even walk with pails and water guns, some will stand beside the roads with a hose and shoot water at people passing by.  In fact, because Songkran is celebrated in April, the water splashing does not hurt at all as it is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, getting wet is refreshing after all.

The word Songkran, in Sanskrit, means the passage of the sun moving from one Zodiac sign to the next.  There are supposedly twelve Songkrans each year, but the most significant has to be the sun entering the first sign of the Zodiac, which is the sign of Aries, the Ram.  The date was originally set by astrological calculations, but it is now fixed on 13 April, and Songkran is celebrated officially as Thai New Year’s Day from 13 to 15 April every year.

Songkran celebrations are organized throughout Thailand while some cities take it a notch higher with activities and events that run for a week or more.  If you want to be in the centre of all the happenings, do book your accommodation and arrive a few days earlier at places like Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok.  These cities will be clogged up to full capacity in April.

3 ways to celebrate Thailand Water Festival with Fun!


1. Know that you will get wet – and drenched!  Have FUN and LAUGH anyway.

 


2. Waterproof your valuable electronic devices such as phones and cameras to keep them dry while you are being splashed.

 


3. Get a bucket, buy or get an empty bucket free.  If you like more fun, get a water gun – and start shooting back!

It’s all about getting wet and be merry.  When you are drenched, put on your biggest smile and make peace, just give a shout out: “Sah-wah-dee pee mai” (Happy New Year!) or “Suke Sahn Wahn Song Kran” (Happy Songkran Day!).

From all of us in Thai Odyssey, Suke Sahn Wahn Song Kran!