Retail review: Thann Sanctuary
Jason Y Ng
Founded in 2002, Thann is a Bangkok-based retailer of skincare products known for their natural ingredients and contemporary designs. It is Thailand’s response to America’s Body Shop and France’s L’Occitane. The brand has achieved international success and there are now Thann stores in over 22 countries worldwide, including Hong Kong.
In 2005, the first Thann Sanctuary opened at the high-end Gaysorn shopping centre in Bangkok. The spa, a logical extension to the group's skincare product line, offers a full range of massage therapies and facial treatments. Since then, Thann Sanctuary has been popping up all over Asia as well as in far flung locations like Monterrey, Mexico and St Petersburg, Russia
Two years ago, Thann Sanctuary announced its plan to open shop in Hong Kong. After months of delay due to hiccups with visa applications for some of its Thai therapists, the spa finally opened last December at World Commerce Centre, one of the office buildings on Canton Road. It shares the same floor with Kiehl’s beauty workshop and the Aveda day spa.
Spa-goers accustomed to the comfort and spaciousness of Thann Sanctuary's original Gaysorn location – with its soaring ceilings and mystic hallways that transport you to an “oasis of peace and tranquility” – will find the Hong Kong chapter disappointing. There are four treatment rooms and all of them are equally crammed, if not altogether claustrophobic.
Being in a typical Hong Kong office building, the spa shares public bathrooms with other tenants on the same floor. That means if you need to excuse yourself during a treatment, you will have to wrap your body in towels, grab the toilet key and scurry down the brightly-lit office corridor before somebody sees you. So much for peace and tranquility.
Although the premises leave something to be desired, the service at Thann Sanctuary Hong Kong is top-notched. All the therapists are shipped from Bangkok and have spent years working at other Thann spas. And unlike their counterparts at many of the local spas in Hong Kong, Thann therapists are formally trained, highly experienced and impossibly courteous. Those of us who appreciate Thai hospitality now have the peace of mind that the very thing that draws us back to Thailand time after time is only a short ferry ride away from work.
A 90-minute massage therapy at Thann Sanctuary costs HK$1,200 and an hour-long facial treatment ranges from $600 to $900. Frequent visitors may consider the $8,500 prepaid program that gives them $12,500 in spending money.
Because its treatments are not exactly cheap, Thann Sanctuary faces stiff competition from luxury hotel spas in Hong Kong such as the Four Seasons Spa and the Oriental Spa at the Landmark Mandarin. The latter has always been my favourite in the city. Opened in 2005, the Oriental Spa is a true urban oasis with all the amenities and space to pamper the weary soul. It costs a fraction more than Thann Sanctuary; but after a half-day of Turkish Hammam and Moroccan Rasul at the Oriental Spa, you will hardly remember the price difference.
As a side note, appointments at Thann Sanctuary are handled by its Hong Kong Chinese staff, all of whom have troubles pronouncing the company’s name. If you call and the operator responds: “Thank you for calling Town Century,” do not hang up. You have dialed the right number.
Thann Sanctuary, 1010-11, 10/F, World Commerce Centre, Harbour City , 11 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui