Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Article: Paradise Found

Paradise Found

As published in Metro Magazine’s February 2007 issue.

Imagine finding out that you've magically dropped that stubborn ten pounds, and been given three months paid leave to go lounge in a tropical island… with Johnny Depp. Multiply that giddiness by three and that should approximate the excitement I felt when I first laid eyes on what Marionnaud had to offer.

Inhabiting 900 square meters of space Marionnaud is home to over eighty different brands of luxury fragrances and beauty products. Most of these names are hard to come by outside of Europe, where Marionnaud is the largest beauty chain on the continent. Not two minutes into my goggling and I could see why.

Row upon row of product after product graced elegantly curving walls and brightly lit shelves. There were bottles of skin care treatments, boxes of make-up, and vials of perfume. It was enough to drive any self-confessed kikay girl mad.

Marionnaud redefines the retail therapy experience. This is the Disneyland of beauty products and the grown woman's version of a toy store. I dare you not to giggle and go "oooh" as you walk around checking out the merchandise.

As if this wasn't enough, the store allows its customers to interact with the products. Strolling through the store is an experience in itself. Products are arranged by need and not by brand. The two exceptions are the stand alone counters of MAC and Origins. An open plan for make-up and fragrances gives everybody easy access to whatever happens to catch their eye. Grab that tube of Skin Doctors lip plumper and try it on without the intimidating presence of a saleslady hovering around you like a nervous vulture. But if you do need some assistance, the staff that work the make-up counters are trained make-up artists and are always ready to lend a hand.

Shopping and sightseeing are fun activities but for the complete Marionnaud experience, give yourself over to their proffered spa treatments, waxing (yes, even the Brazilian, priced at P950) and by appointment only make-overs.

The signature massage (P850) blends traditional Filipino hilot with Swedish techniques. An hour long session of kneading knots and soothing muscles leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for more shopping.

Deluxe body treatments using luxury brands such as aroma and skin care specialist Decleor are available as well. The indulgent Facial and Head Massage (P800) uses Indian massage therapies and facial reflexology combined with exclusive Decleor products for an hour of pure bliss. Not only that, the therapy also boasts of anti-aging benefits!

There is a nail bar set in the store premises where you and girlfriend can sit down for some quality talk time.

Deluxe and Spa manicures range are P500 and P600 respectively and involve soaks, hand massages, and complete cuticle care. If you don't have a lot of time, you can ask for Express Hands (P180), a 40 minute affair that involves grooming, shaping, polishing and a 15-minute hand massage. Or if you really want to squeeze in some mini-pampering into your day, go for the 15 minute hand massage sans the nail polishing portion (P90).

What's good for your hands is most definitely good for your feet too. Behind closed doors just off the Nail Bar, two squishy comfortable chairs await you, a good friend and your tootsies. The spa manicure (P600) is 70 minutes of footbaths, stone scrubs, reflexology, a scalp massage and, of course, nail polish. As with the manicure, Marionnaud offers Express Feet (P230), 40 minutes of grooming, shaping, polish and a foot massage that makes your toes curl.

All the nail polish brands that Marrionaud carries are available for choosing. A favorite is Christina Fitzgerald, whose colors are named after her first customers. I walked out of the pedicure area wiggling my newly cleaned and groomed toes, coated in "Jessica", a shade of pink no one would dare to call shy.

Never had one store made me feel like such a girl. So much so that I almost forgot about Johnny Depp. Almost.

Marionnaud is located on the 2nd floor Main Mall of the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Customer service inquiries may be directed to (02)556-0422.

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