updated 21 Jul 2010, 02:57
    Powered by
user id password
Fri, Dec 11, 2009
The New Paper
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Spa owners vanish
by Zaihan Mohamed Yusof and Crystal Chan

THEY were a friendly couple, always ready with a smile.

Then, last month, they went all coy and couldn't be contacted.

These are the people behind the Wellness Village Spa with two outlets which suddenly stopped operations recently.

Hundreds of customers who had paid as much as $6,000 for advance packages were left in the lurch.

Some employees also claimed they were left high and dry.

However, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said its investigations showed the company had paid all outstanding salaries to its former employees.

The couple, Mr Christopher Tan Khee Howe, a Singaporean, and Madam Lia Meyrina, an Indonesian, shut down their spa business in November.

A former employee, who still works for an Indonesian restaurant that used to be owned by the couple, was surprised by the news.

The receptionist, who declined to be named, said: "Lia was a friendly boss. She had no airs and was not dressed like rich people. She made sure that our salaries were paid on time each month. So it's hard to accept the news."

She started working for the couple in 2008 when the restaurant was opened.

Madam Meyrina (right), 29, a Singapore permanent resident, was then in charge of running the restaurant.

She graduated with a degree in economics from an Indonesian university in 2002.

Her husband, Mr Tan, 39, seldom showed up at the restaurant, said the receptionist.

She added: "Lately, a few people have been asking about the couple. I told them that I didn't know as the restaurant was sold to a new owner (six months ago).

Owner 'nice guy'

Another former employee, who had worked as a trainer and therapist at Wellness Village in 2004 and 2005, said the couple were "strictly business".

He said Mr Tan was a nice guy and would settle any dispute at the spa.

The trainer, 39, a PR who did not want to be named, said: "There were occasions when therapists would accuse each other of stealing clients.

"Christopher would step in and settle the disputes professionally. His word was final. I thought he was a nice and sensible chap."

According to marriage records, Mr Tan had previously got married in 1995.

That marriage ended in divorce.

Sometime in 2005, after opening Wellness Village, Mr Tan met Madam Meyrina, who, is understood to be the daughter of a rich Indonesian businessman.
Mr Tan hired her, said the trainer.

He added: "Their relationship at work was professional."

She later became a shareholder of Wellness Village.

After his divorce, Mr Tan married Madam Meyrina in August this year. They have an infant son.

The couple held key appointments in their other businesses. But they gave up these appointments before their spa business closed down.

The trainer added: "Christopher drove a BMW luxury car and he seemed to be expanding his business."

After leaving in 2005, the trainer kept in touch with two therapists at Wellness Village.

He claimed he was sometimes paid late.

"We were supposed to be paid at the end of each month but payments stretched by about a week."

MOM said that while it had received feedback about late payment of salaries by Wellness Village, none of it was from former employees.

An MOM spokesman said its investigation revealed that the company "had paid up all outstanding salaries due to its former employees".

The New Paper tried calling Madam Meyrina at her condominium unit in Chinatown, but the number was no longer in use.

Last week, The New Paper waited outside the condominium for several hours, but there was no sign of Mr Tan or Madam Meyrina.

She is said to have returned to Indonesia while his whereabouts are unknown.


This article was first published in The New Paper



more: cheating, spa
readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.