Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fish Spa at Club Balai Isabel

The first time I tried a "Fish Spa" was in Club Balai Isabel in Talisay, Batangas. Instead of a human attendant, it is the Garra Rufa that does the work of cleaning your feet of dead skin cells. These small fishes consume dead skin cells as their breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on what time guests try this spa. Literally, these small fishes are fed by the guests at Balai.

At the start of the session when the fishes began to slowly nibble at your feet, a mild ticklish sensation is felt. It becomes tolerable after a few seconds making this kind of spa a very enjoyable experience. After the session, you can really feel that your feet are cleansed and your stress relieved given the very soothing music in the background.

What happens in this spa is a good example of what is known as a "symbiotic relationship". The guests and the fishes both benefit from each other. While the guests get clean feet, the fishes' hunger is satisfied. This kind of relationship is truly an ideal one. It is different because it is between a human and a fish. I really cannot recall a situation where both get their desired benefit without actually consuming one another.

As I look at the fishes gnawing at my feet, I really cannot help wondering if they are also served at Balai Restaurant. It is easy to mistake them for that fish endemic to Taal Lake known as the "Tawilis". When we reached Balai, it was past noon and we took a late lunch. We ordered from the menu "Tawilis" which is strikingly similar to the "Garra Rufa". Some guests thought that a Garra Rufa is a young Tawilis. But of course, the Garra Rufa is definitely not served at the restaurant!

Guests are required to sanitize their feet before they are allowed to try the Fish Spa - a procedure meant to ensure the survival of the fishes. Guests should take a lot of care to make sure that the fishes are not harmed in any way during the spa. It is possible to crush the fishes by accidentally stepping on them while they are gently nibbling at your feet.

It just takes around thirty minutes for the fishes to do their job. After they have ridden your feet of dead skin cells, they would slowly move away towards other guests who have just recently dipped their feet into the pool. But, I think its best to try this Fish Spa in the morning when the fishes are still hungry for food. Once they had their full, these fishes would not be at the peak of their performance. They may get tired of continuously consuming the guests' dead skin cells and wait until their stomachs are empty.

The employee assigned at the Fish Spa in Balai was courteous enough in giving us instructions. In resorts like this, it is a necessity that employees are respectful especially to the guests. It is definitely a plus factor for every hotel and resorts to have good customer service, without which, expenses in public relations and advertisements would definitely go to waste.

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