The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 6)

Continued from Part 5 – How does Thai Odyssey implement its winning formulas?

At Thai Odyssey, standards are kept high. They have a strict requirement on the front desk and staff are sent for training every three months to reinforce good practices. “We need our staff to be polite and gentle. If we get staff who are unable to comply with our culture, we are sorry then, but we are unable to work together,” explains Chuah.
When you walk into Thai Odyssey, it feels like Thailand. That is exactly how Chuah wants everyone to feel. Malaysia fades outside the door and the whole Thai culture takes over. So much so that Thai tourists have even commented to Chuah that it feels better than their own Thai massage centers.


The details are of great importance at Thai Odyssey. Everything from the bedsheets, the softness of the pillow and the lighting does not escape the eye of Chuah. In fact, he along with his partners were fully responsible for the interior design of the outlet. “I love design. I have also visited many resorts and spas to get ideas to create the outlook for Thai Odyssey. Also, thanks to our team of contractors who are with us from day one, we work together to finalise the designs too. Almost everything you see in our outlet comes from Thailand.”


Every Thai Odyssey outlet is identified by its romantic down lights and luxurious settings. Ornate Thai décor welcomes the customer along with the polite receptionist. Rooms are made for customers to sink into total relaxation. The scented rooms, fragrant beds, the willingness to serve and the smiling masseuses themselves. Everything has been made to bring the customer to a new state of well being.


In many developed countries, massage services are considered a professional business. Malaysia however, still carries the misconception of massage having a negative connotation. Thai Odyssey has persevered to provide genuine and skillful spa and massage therapies since its inception. Their hard work has paid off, for they have received much encouragement and support from Tourism Malaysia in the past two years. “We hope to change the public’s perception that a massage and spa experience can be wholesome and clean. All in all, we aspire to provide for the well-being of our fellow Malaysians.”

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 5)

Continued from Part 4 – What are Thai Odyssey’s winning formulas?

Today, massage is very much a part of lifestyle. While 50% of Chuah’s customers come to reap benefits from a stressed mind and body where; “Many customers find that the massage relieves migraines,” says Chuah, “especially with too much time spending in front of the computer and work, massage becomes a passive exercise for many people on-the-go.” The other 50% come in once a week, as part of their lifestyle, a place where people just come to enjoy, relax and rejuvenate.

It’s not just the people between thirties and sixties who enjoy a massage. Thai Odyssey’s outlet in JB sees consistent teenagers come in for a massage. In fact, business there is one of the best, especially over the weekends when Singaporeans come over. “We receive encouraging response in all our outlets; but in JB, during the weekends, customers are willing to queue up patiently for their turn. This itself is quite a surprise to me.”


“If someone were to ask me the key to my success, I would say it is my team.  A team who appreciates our company’s core values, not only the therapists but right down to our wonderful staff who serves tea and clean the outlet or office.  I am lucky that I have a very good team which also comprises of experts and professionals who know the spa industry, with their support and partnership, we have created a successful business. In fact, many workers who started with me 10 years ago are still with me today.  I love my staff and everyone I have the pleasure to work with,” says Chuah simply. “I visit every outlet to ensure I touch base with every one of my staff. We are like a big family and I organise events for everybody to get together. That builds on togetherness and helps make us strong.

With the encouragement I get from my staff, partners and family, it motivates me to want to serve more.  I would also like to express my gratitude to Tan Sri Danny Tan (Founder of Tropicana Golf & Country Resort) for his overwhelming assistance and generous support, who has helped and inspired me to think big and achieve greatness.

When we do CSR events, I do it differently. Besides donating money, I bring my staff to an old folks home, where we sing, dance and give shoulder massages to the elderly. We try to bring joy and companionship and in the same time, create camaraderie among ourselves.”

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 4) 

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…………

An Uplifting Experience in 30 Minutes Thai Odyssey @ Gateway KLIA2

What would you like to do while you wait for your flight?

Get a 30-minute foot massage or have a refreshing shower?

Now, at KLIA2, you can do both!
Flying could be a strain for many frequent airports commuter. Even leisure travelers may find it a pressure when there are so many things to do before and after a flight.

Stress in flying is common given the physical and psychological strain especially rushing to the airport through traffic, moving luggage around the departure and arrival halls. Even after checking in, or boarded the flight, due to lack of space, minimal movement, lack of sleep, oxygen and water, unsurprisingly, there are many people who sigh and wish for some reliefs.

In Thai Odyssey, we hear you. With ten years experience in the business of providing you with relaxation and rejuvenation since 2004, we want to continue to serve you with a serene environment and a tranquil atmosphere for everyone to calmly rest and breathe. In May, 2014, we took flight again with our 38th outlet in KLIA2, decorating it to accommodate everyone’s request and to fulfill a desire – a yearning for a quiet respite …

Thai Odyssey at Gateway KLIA2 is one of our largest spa and massage outlets, occupying over 5,000 sq ft of retail space. Retaining our usual Thai-inspired decor and soothing ambience, again, we bring you into a world of serenity, where heaven and earth interspersed among the chatters of the outside world. Step in and revisit an ancient calling for the harmonious consciousness of peace and stillness.

Enjoy an extension of our much talked-about exemplary services by our expert therapists with the supplementary in-house facilities that are only available at Thai Odyssey @ Gateway KLIA2;

1. There are 19 foot massage chairs and a team around 20 expert therapists. At any one time, 19 customers can have their 30-minute Thai Foot Massage for a body-mind-spirit relaxation;

2. If you have a longer time to relax, book a 60-minute Thai Aromatherapy Massage and use one of our 3 Aromatherapy Rooms;

3. Bathrooms are available for a refreshing shower; 3 for women and 3 for men, a total of 6 shower rooms;


4. Complimentary left luggage facility for our customers;

5. Sit back in an aromatic scented customers waiting area with soothing piped-in music and enjoy our specially blended herbal tea while you loosen up and wind down.

Thai Odyssey @ Gateway KLIA2 is the second largest outlet and it is designed with the space and facilities to cater to the needs of travelers. May it be your first time taking a flight or as frequent traveler, lounge in with us and let your senses take flight … to an uplifting experience!

What's Happening in Thai Odyssey…..

“What can we do to practice R.E.A.L.?”
“How can we add values to the lives of people we know?”
“What can we do to increase happiness?”

It was coming to the end of a fantastic year of 2013, and those were the questions we asked when we were figuring out what to do to close the year with a bang.  There were suggestions about going for a short trip, getting gifts for everyone and having a staff team building event.  As we were running out of ideas, someone stood up and said,

“Let’s sing for the kids.”

Immediately, we could feel that everyone in the conference room became more energetic.  Everyone was smiling and started sharing ideas.  At last, we decided to form a choir group and since it was the end of the year, we will all practice and dance to Christmas tunes.  All set and we were excited to perform.

This movement to increase joy and happiness at work was started when Thai Odyssey re-evaluated the company’s core values.   As we provide the best relaxing escapade for our customers, we realize that internally, we want to elevate the feelings of love and care amongst the staff too.  In line with this belief, we coined our core values with this acronym,
R.E.A.L – Responsibility, Efficiency, Appreciation and Love.

Our first few projects to ignite camaraderie were to perform songs and dance to the beautiful people at Rumah Victory Elderly Home and the kids at Pusat Penjagaan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Taman.

More than 70 staff from lower to upper management, including some therapists, took part in these charity events.  The most memorable was the singing together as we held hands and sang in unison to the spirit of Yuletide.

We chatted with grandpas and grandmas, and we clowned around with the kids.  We ended the evening with a dinner gathering at Silver Spoon in Publika where we celebrated everyone’s hard work and dedication to the charity projects.

As we settled into the night, feeling contented for bringing heaps of happiness and joy to the people around us, we felt a strong sense of achievement.  This is going to continue to inspire us to put love first in all the things we do.  And we look forward to more merry moments together as colleagues, as partners and as friends.