Review: Saigon Star Health Club — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The Saigon Star Health Club is one of many hotel-based massage parlors operating in the capital city of Vietnam. As the name would suggest the club is situated inside of the well known Saigon Star Hotel located in District 3 of Ho Chi Minh City.
Customers enter the club which is advertised throughout the facilities by walking directly through the lobby and into the elevators located on the back wall. Inside the elevator they see a sign that tells them to head to the ninth floor. When the elevators open they are confronted with a small desk where attractive ladies arranges sessions.
While the front desk staff seems capable of speaking at least a little English they are probably more comfortable pointing to written down prices since that seems to be their preference when dealing with foreigners.
Three sets are available to customers at the Saigon Star Health Club. All allow for use of the facilities which involves sharing things like steam and locker rooms with numerous Asian businessmen and other customers. Customers can also ask to bypass use of the facilities and head straight to a private room where they can receive a massage from a good looking Vietnamese woman. Customers who know the staff numbers of their favorite women can request them. Others get whoever is next in line.
The private room massage session costs around the equivalent of $20 US dollars and is payable after the fact. Various currencies are accepted though the local dosh seems to be at least slightly preferred. Once a customer selects a set the front desk worker summons another worker who leads through the hallways into one of several small rooms.
The small rooms are equipped with coat hangers, tables and small massage tables. The ceilings are fitting with metal bars used when women walk on the backs of customers. There are also climate control devices and a door with a small window that passersby can look through if they want to put in some effort. Next to no one including the many attractive uniformed women walking back and forth through the halls seems interested in sneaking a peek though there may be exceptions.
After customers enter the room they are shown a small pair of silk shorts and a robe. They are expected to change into this gear before their masseuse arrives. It doesn’t take the masseuses to show up even on busy days as there is a large staff at the health club who appear to put in long hours in an attempt to make money.
As mentioned several times over the women on staff at the Saigon Star Health Club are all good looking. They tend to be women in their early twenties who have good figures, pretty faces and pale skin. They wear uniforms consisting of a tight white shirt and blue skirts with shorts built in to prevent hands or eyes from reaching their nether regions.
The women who work at the Saigon Star Club are mainly friendly though more than a few look as if they’d prefer to be in greener pastures. In the past some have ended up marrying well off business men from other countries. That may be a goal for some current employees too. Most probably just want to earn a living like everyone else though they surely must put up with some level of stress and more.
Some speak a little English but only a few are really fluent. All known enough English and hand communication to indicate to customers that they should lay face down on the massage table when their sessions begin.
The masseuses may be trained in massage but if so it rarely shows. Most simply slather baby oil onto customers and push it around. This does not create an uncomfortable feeling but it’s nothing like what the iron hands of professional back and body rubbers can do.
After putting in thirty to forty minutes of rubbing the masseuses typically instruct customers to flip over onto their backs. When things have gone as they should most of the women offer hand jobs to finish the sessions. Some will even put their hands up a customer’s shorts to help things along. Negotiations over tips sometimes come into play but customers who appear to be in the know are usually just given some oiled up hand service with the expectation that they know how much a normal tip for that kind of service should be.
Most women are happy with a tip of 400,000 to 500,000 VND ($18-23 USD) to give this sort of service though those who negotiate before performing may start with initial quotes as high as 700,000. The women who offer handies tend to be better at them then they are are regular massages and aren’t out to rip customers off. They offer a fair trade of oiled up hands for cash.
There was a time when oral service was almost as common as the hand finish but that seems to have all but passed. There may be one or two women on staff who would still offer to blow customers off in the right circumstances but it is not likely or a normal part of the proceedings. Besides violating core precepts of basic humanity anyone who pushed for such a thing when denied would almost certainly run into big problems.
Services may have changed due to crackdowns, policy adjustments or the firing of more willing women. I have no way to know the exact cause. It may all have something to do with a handful of strange looking male managers who wander around the facilities and peer into the windows of private rooms in the process. Even if the peeping managers are not the cause the women are definitely conscious of their presence.
In any event the vast majority of customers receive a rub down and hands on ending and leave happy. After that they are cleaned up with a hot towel while they spend the last few minutes of their sessions getting dressed and chatting with their masseuses. Before leaving their rooms they write down the tip they would like to give on a piece of paper provided that is provided to them for that purpose.
Once customers are dressed and ready to depart they head back to the front desk where they settle up their bill with the house and hand over whatever tip they indicated on the tip sheet. When bills are settled customers are free to head down the elevator and on to whatever their next destination may be.
The Saigon Star Health Club is a lot like many of the other massage centers located in mid-range hotels around town. Although it staffs attractive women it has slightly higher prices and lesser facilities of some of the competing establishments. I give it an average score of two-and-a-half stars.
Saigon Star Health Club. 204 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street 9th Floor, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Never closes. Website: http://saigonstarhotel.com.vn Map on website.