updated 24 Dec 2010, 09:56
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Tue, Nov 02, 2010
The New Paper
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Obsessed? No, because I’m worth it
by Maureen Koh

SHE refuses to pay “anything more than $50” for a dress. But $150 for a 90-minute massage session? Nobig deal for Miss Crystal Liao.

It’s not excessive indulgence, insisted Miss Liao, a secretary in a shipping firm, who has signed up for several wellness and beauty packages.

Well, 13 to be exact – the most recent spa package boughton Thursday,two days after this interview.

Miss Liao’s packages are with...
-1 hair salon
-2 beauty salons for facial services
-3 manicure salons
-6 wellness spas, including 3 premier 
-1 dance studio

Apart from the $1,300 she paid for this 10-session massage therapy, Miss Liao admitted she has lost track of how much she has spent so far. She estimated the total value of “the current (12) packages is easily about  $10,000”.

Beauty and wellness spa operators have been getting a bad reputation with the recent closure of the Subtle Senses spa chain.

Subtle Senses, which opened in 2003, had taken over the operations of another operator – True Spa – in April after the latter closed.

When the takeover was announced, customers were upset that they had not been informed in advance. Several spas have closed abruptly over the last two years, leaving  customers with treatments they had paid for but cannot use.

They include Wellness Village and Simply Spa, which shut down last year, and Wax In The City, which shut down in April. But Miss Liao, 22, still feels it’s money well spent.

She has been fortunate that none of her packages is with spas that closed down.

She told The New Paper on Sunday: “Nothing can beat the head-to-toe pampering I get, which is the best way I can reward myself for working hard. “If you do the sums, it’s usually value for money since there are often perks offered for the packages.

Sometimes you can even shave off up to 20 per cent of the real value.”

It’s also a matter of personal preference. Miss Liao said: “Some of my friends like to buy diamonds while others go for the luxury, branded stuff, but I don’t fancy them.

“Besides, given my line of work, I’d hardly have the chance to wear or use the items.”

She said: “Other than giving my parents a monthly token sumof $300 each, I hardly spend on anything.” As she lives near her workplace, Miss Liao usually goes home for lunch.

Miss Liao, who described herself as “an introvert with few friends”, finds the sessions a good way of “getting out of home without having to socialise”. “It’s straight back home after work too, unless I go for the therapy or treatment sessions.”

Miss Liao paid $499 for her first beauty package of five sessions of facials. The neighbourhood salon offered her an additional session free.

That was three years ago, when she was still studying in a private commercial school.

Miss Liao said: “I find it’s a way to de-stress and rejuvenate, especially after a long day at work.”

Her sales manager mother, Mrs Celia Liao, however, feels that her daughter has “over-indulged”.

The 47-year-old said: “It’s fine to have one or two packages but I think Crystal has gone overboard.

“I always tell her that I’d rather she has a more ‘common’ or ‘normal’ hobby. You know, if she’d spent the money on (buying) diamonds, a branded bag or watch, that’s still a form of investment.”

The recent furore over sudden spa closures hasn’t deterred Miss Liao.

She is confident she won’t end up in this predicament because “I sign up only with those that have a chain of outlets all over the island, where I don’t have to be stuck with just one or two outlets to go to”.

But her mother is not convinced.

“Some of the spas that have closed also had a few outlets. But until she is burned, she’ll never learn,” Mrs Liao said.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

More stories:

Paranoid? No, the stress is not worth it

How to safeguard dealings with spas
Spas that go bust
Pressure selling in beauty sector still rampant

Therapy at home
Bookmark these ten ways to put the 'well' back in well-being
Not for eating


readers' comments
Know your limit. Don't cry for help and blame others when you face financial crisis.
Posted by bazookar on Sun, 7 Nov 2010 at 13:36 PM
It is obviously obsession but it is her money and who cares how she wants to spend it.
Posted by malinablu on Wed, 3 Nov 2010 at 11:08 AM

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