The word “Sabai” means relaxation and comfort in the Thai language. The first location of Sabai Thai Spa was opened on the North Shore in 2005 but earlier this year, its second location opened in Coal Harbour (571 Cardeo Street). I was invited to try one of its spa services and I chose the “Nuad Pra Kob”, an ancient Thai Herbal Compress Massage because Sabai Thai is one of the few Thai spas in Canada which offer this ancient service.
An incredible treatment that uses many Thai herbs: plai, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric and cumin; all wrapped in an incredibly soothing, warm cotton compress. When the compress is steamed, and applied to the skin with a specific massage technique, the essential oils from the herbs are transferred to the lucky recipients skin. This unique combination of heat, herbs, aromatic scent, and massage help to reduce muscular tension, increases blood circulation, stimulate lymphatic drainage and ease a restless mind.
My first impression of Sabai Thai Spa noted its earthy, oriental decor. Stone floors, some Thai decor and several plants. While waiting for my room to be prepared, I sat on a wooden bench among some silky cushions and drank a cup of warm ginger tea made from a Thai powdered mix and available to purchase at the spa. Identical to other spas, my massage took place in a dimly lit room with calm music playing. As the Thai Herbal Compress massage started, I could almost compare it to a hot stone massage – but with a softer texture.
Basically, an assortment of healing herbs and spices are packed tightly into a mesh-y cotton knot and steamed to a hot temperature. The warm cotton compress is then pressed onto various pressure points over your body as a massage – your back, shoulders, neck, arms, legs, etc. The warmth from the cotton compress allows the healing properties of the herbs to reach deeper into your muscles, helping to reduce tension, increase blood circulation, and give you an overall relaxation.
After my massage, I was fortunate enough to meet Neata Auttapong, the Thai owner of Sabai Thai Spa, who was able to tell me more about “Nuad Pra Kob”. Neata explained to me that the Thai Herbal Compress massage originated thousands of years ago in farming culture. After a long day of working the fields, cotton wrapped herbs were used to soothe sore muscles. Nowadays, however, Neata wants to preserve this ancient technique, but use it as a relaxation technique – a beneficial treat, not necessarily as a method of easing pain. At $110 for the hour-long compress massage, it’s a bit pricy to do on a regular basis, but would be a great occasional treat for something that’s more cultural than your average hotel spa. Would be great if you lived in the Coal Harbour area too, as the spa is slightly out of the way from the downtown core.
In addition to an assortment of Thai massages, other services available at Sabai Thai Spa include body wraps and exfoliants, organic facials, hand and foot treatments and waxing.