Never underestimate the power of a small Asian woman.
While luxe treatments have their place, the no-nonsense spa traditions of the East can make the fuzzy-robe-and-herb-tea routine seem pretty tepid.
Demi Moore, Angela Bassett and Jimmy Kimmel are among those who were willing to face Pho-Siam’s cramped space on Hollywood Boulevard for an approach that owner Chao Suthae describes as “stretching combined with deep-tissue, Swedish and Lomi-Lomi (a Hawaiian massage technique).”
Translation? Small, strong women walk on clients’ backs, stretch their spines and knead relentlessly until the aches and pains go away.
“Don’t be fooled by a small girl,” says Suthae. “She’ll use her feet, elbows, everything to give our special massage. And everyone here has more than 3,000 hours of experience.”
And today, everyone at Pho-Siam has more space. The demand for Suthae’s Thai massage has taken it out of Hollywood and into a 20,000-square-foot facility in Echo Park.
At the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, located at the La Costa Resort outside San Diego, the intense
massages stem from 5,000-year-old traditions in Vedic bodywork. The Pizichilli massage, which includes four hands and a continuous stream of warm oil, creates a sensation that suggests the ancients knew what they were doing.
Says Chopra publicist Erika DeSimone, “It’s like having sex.”
3915 W. Olympic Blvd.
Lay of the land: Women-only spa features heated jade floors and herbal, mineral-water and cold-plunge pools; Oriental clay dry sauna; and charcoal-therapy room
Can’t-miss treatment: Pure Bliss ($100)
What it involves: After a soak in the pools, a technician provides a full-body Akasuri scrub (expect her to tsk-tsk if you haven’t exfoliated in a while), followed by citrus-jojoba bead body polish, total-body massage, chamomile mask and hair washing/conditioning.
Beverly Hot Springs International spa
308 N. Oxford St.
Lay of the land: Owned by the Korean Huh family, the spa has a cascading indoor waterfall, L.A.’s only naturally fed hot mineral pool, dry and steam saunas and treatment rooms
Can’t-miss treatment: Acupressure shiatsu massage ($120 weekday, $160 weekend)
What it involves: No-oil shiatsu deep-tissue massage with focus on pressure points, plus full use of all spa facilities
1525 Pizarro St.
Lay of the land: No-frills facility features treatment rooms with mattresses on the floor to enable Thai massage; couples’ rooms and group-party rooms
Can’t-miss treatment: Traditional Thai massage ($40)
What it involves: Head-to-toe massage with oils, incorporating deep-tissue, stretching and kneading; a therapist walks on your body and uses elbows, knuckles and feet in the massage process.
Chopra Center for wellbeing at the la costa resort
2013 Costa Del Mar Rd.
Lay of the land: Founded by doctors Deepak Chopra and David Simon, the serene Ayurvedic retreat is nestled in the lush La Costa golf resort.
Can’t-miss treatment: Pizichilli massage ($395)
What it involves: Over-the-top bliss as two therapists massage in tandem while meditating on your well being. Meanwhile, you repeat your own mantra as a continuous stream of warm, custom-blended herbal oils are kneaded into your body.