Myanmore.com recently interviewed Thaya and Inya Day Spa owner Damian Lau. He reveals how he got started in Yangon, reveals how and why his spas are so popular and shares his secret for a quick fix for a tired body. You can read the full article at Myanmore.com, but it's reproduced below in full.
TELL US ABOUT DAMIAN
I’ve been here five years now. I moved here from Seattle when I got married. I was working for Yahoo. Both our families are in the jewellery business so that’s how we met. When we came here, we didn’t know what to do but I didn’t want to be in the jewellery business.
WERE THERE ANY SPAS AND MASSAGE PLACES THEN
There was nothing here. Mostly just hair salons. There were a few dark, damp massage places where the walls were paper thin and mouldy. The masseuses looked like they didn’t want to be there. They’d be watching TV or chit-chatting with one another.
WHAT INSPIRES AND DRIVES YOU
Business-wise, it’s the customer service. I’ve always been good with the clients. I see things through ‘til the end. I take all the bookings online or via emails so I interact with the customers all the time. I pushed internet marketing- Facebook, newsletters and Tripadvisor.
HOW HAS INTERNET MARKETING HELPED YOUR BUSINESS
Yangon has caught up a lot. I started getting involved with Tripadvisor only in January last year and from then on it got better and better. We earned Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence which was awesome. They’ve been the biggest boost. Beams
HOW DO YOU KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST
The market here is small so it’s pretty easy to keep up. Last year there were six new spas. Internationally, I usually go to spas in Thailand not just for the massage but to check out different things and compare standards. I can’t compete with the big resorts or the Banyan Trees but I think we’re of international standard. I doubted in the beginning but people tell us that we are on par. Beams even wider.
WHAT’S YOUR QUICK FIX FOR A TIRED BODY
If you’re active and you have sports injuries, come in for a hot stone massage to loosen up blood circulation. If you’re getting sick or have bronchitis, do not have a massage. It’s going to make it worse. For a body that’s run down and achy, have a foot massage.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON YOUR DOWNTIME
I have two pugs and a French bulldog. I brought them in from Thailand. Oh, and we’re having a baby girl in February so that’s keeping us busy. We’re naming her Myra. I’m excited. Nervous Laugh
TELL US ABOUT BOOST BAR
It came about because I like smoothies. In the States I always make my own. Last year, I wanted to do something healthier. Our first menu was green, leafy stuff. The locals didn’t like it. So we had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, carrots –something palatable for foreigners and locals. Bobar Juice – made of blueberries -is named after my dog. Mango juice is a big seller. We have peanut and banana juice too. The Americans love it. But the locals… won’t touch it!
WHATS YOUR BEAUTY REGIME
I use Thalgo, a French brand for facials. They use it a lot in the big spas in Dubai and Thailand. We’ve never had a complaint about this product especially for their toners and scrubs. My wife is very picky and she loves them. The products speak for themselves.
IT’S RARE COMING FROM A GUY TO SWEAR BY A PRODUCT
I’m a spa guy I have to swear by something! Guffaws.
We noticed that his skin is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. We are jealous.
Myanmar is quickly developing a reputation as a quality destination for affordable spa treatments.
Myanmar is opening up, politically, geographically and economically. Until recently, Myanmar was visited only by the more determined travelers. And having a massage in Yangon certainly wasn't on the cards. Now, thanks to easier access, improving tourist infrastructure and a different landscape to most other Asian countries, tourists are flocking to this former pariah state.
As tourism in Myanmar is increasing, so are the spa options. Let's look at a few.