‘Waterleaf Salon & Wellness’ was the first spa that I tried in Goa. Later I have been to another three and as per my assessment, Waterleaf would rank at number two out of four. The one at the top is SNIP Salon & Spa in Panjim. Actually Waterleaf could be on top but due to an inherent problem with them and some other issues, I think it will never be. Let me state this inherent problem first. The location of Waterleaf is awkward. Its official address is: Xenia, Opp. Basket Ball Ground, Kadamba Depot Road, Alto-Porvorim, Bardez – Goa 403521 (Phone: 96890 56130). This area is outside of Panjim city, in Porvorim. If you are going from Panjim, you need to go beyond hotel Neo Majestic and then take a right turn from some spot on the road. You will be very lucky if you are able to see one of the directional signboards put up by Waterleaf on that route. Otherwise, it is difficult getting there at least for the first time. My cab driver knew the area but still he had to speak to the Waterleaf staff on the phone twice before he could locate the building. The fare charged by the cab driver was outrageous too, INR 500 (non-A.C.) for this distance from Old Old Patto Bridge in Panjim. But after doing everything, when you get there, the quality of the service in Waterleaf is not worth the price they charge. Lack of transparency and an over-smart way of dealing with the customer are other major drawbacks of this establishment.
The “45 Minutes or One Hour” Confusion
I will give details of the pricing of Waterleaf a little later but let me first describe their craftiness. This was going to be my first trip to a spa in Goa so I decided to call them ahead for information. Before I could say anything, the lady from Waterleaf asked me bluntly, ‘Do you have a coupon?’ I was taken aback, what coupon? Actually at that time they were having some promotion – cheaper massage service if you bought a coupon from some website. That would be nice for me if I could get a discount. So I told her I would see the coupon discount and call her back. At that point that lady told me that if I used a coupon, then the 60 minute massage would be actually only 45 minute massage and the rest 15 minutes would be for steam/shower, etc. Otherwise, if I paid the full price, there would be a full 60 minute massage and the steam/shower time would be extra. This was an unnecessary complication and in any case I was thinking about a 90 minute massage session because 60 minutes is actually too short for a full body massage.
Since she was pitching for a sale on the phone, she told me that if I picked a 90 minute treatment from the menu, she would give me a 25% discount on the standard price that would be equal to the coupon discount. There was no 90-minute deal on coupon so I took her offer. Later the therapist who gave me the massage told me that the 15 minutes of steam/shower were always included in the total service time of 60 or 90 minutes, so my 90 minute massage would actually be 75 minutes. Out of that 75 minutes, if you say no to a head massage then the actual body massage time gets knocked back to 60 minutes only. Imagine paying for 90 minutes of massage and getting only 60 minutes of service.
The Official Pricing
The official pricing of various services as per their menu is quite straight forward though. The range of services includes make-up, beauty treatments, hair styling, facials, body scrubs, and massages for both men and women. Cross gender massage is available.
Basic Thai Foot Massage (30/60 Mins) Rs. 600/1000
Traditional Thai Foot Massage (45/60 Mins) Rs. 1000/1200
Foot Reflexology (60/90 Mins) Rs. 1200/1500
Traditional Thai Massage (60/90 Mins) Rs. 2000/3000
Aromatherapy Massage (60/90 Mins) Rs. 2000/2800
Swedish Massage (60/90 Mins) Rs. 2200/3000
Deep Tissue Massage (60/90 Mins) Rs. 2200/3000
Balinese Massage (60/90 Mins) Rs. 2200/3000
Sports Massage (60/90 Mins) Rs. 2200/3000
Hot Stone Massage (90 Mins) Rs. 3600
Waterleaf Signature Massage (90 Mins) Rs. 3600
Signature Foot Massage (60 Mins) Rs. 1800
Waterleaf Signature Facial (90 Mins) Rs. 2200
There are some discounts on offer sometimes like on Mondays you get a 40% discount on body massage treatments. The official pricing on their website differs from what you will hear from their staff in person. They might tell you about different discounts for different hours of the day, more discount early in the day and less so later in the day. Calling ahead to make a reservation is good but even on telephone, you can ask for a better price than the one they initially offer. But a word of caution about prior appointments. I have read a review about Waterleaf on Tripadvisor where the customer did not get the service at the appointed time.
Quality of the Premises
Waterleaf have got a nice spa premises. There are separate rooms / halls for different types of services like hair, beauty services, and massage. There are private rooms for massage services with attached steam/shower chambers. The place is neat and clean.
Quality Of The Service
Here, by the quality of service I mean the quality of the massage. This is a make or break area when it comes to the success of a spa. A restaurant manager in Phnom Penh once told me that in every massage shop or spa, there are a couple of therapists who are really good while the others are average or bad. When a customer gets a good therapist by chance, he or she will say that the massage shop is very good. But a customer who got a bad therapist will will come out and say that the massage shop is not good. This is actually correct.
So when I say that the quality of the massage in Waterleaf is not so good, this is the reason why: By chance I got a therapist who did not seem to like the job that fate had landed her into. She would rather do something else like being a receptionist at the front desk of the spa. This lady from some State in North-East India appeared to be quite experienced and skilled but she did the massage like she was doing a favour to me. Her hand movements were just too restrained. The subsequent free steam session was good though. I was given a shower cap and told to sit inside the steam chamber as the therapist outside started the steam flow. The steam outlet was in the ceiling of the chamber and that is a good thing. After 10 minutes, she herself switched off the steam and knocked at the glass door to gesture that I could take my shower.
After I got dressed, I was told to wait in an adjoining room where I got a cup of some herbal tea. The therapist did not wait for a tip or my feedback and just vanished after keeping the tea on the table next to me. The entire premises was very quiet and it looked like they were not getting many customers in spite of the coupon discounts.
While going out I remembered that the lady at the reception had taken money from me (credit card) but had not given me a bill. When I asked her for the bill, she hesitated for a moment but eventually printed one and gave it to me. She did not allow me to take a picture even in the lobby.
Will I Go Back To Waterleaf
Actually no, because I do not like the location of the place and also because I do not know if any of their therapists will have a better attitude towards their profession than the one who did the massage for me. Yes, if a tourist is staying in Porvorim area and can find a discount coupon, then Waterleaf can be given a try.
My other massage reviews in Panjim Goa