There are few individuals in the country who can speak of wellness as fluently, and passionately as Karen Villarica. Her renown comes mostly from her work as co-founder of the multi-awarded Mandala Spa in Boracay. Karen has also served as a consultant on several wellness projects, including Terazi Spa at Discovery Primea.
On one most her recent trip to Manila, we were able to speak with Karen about her philosophies, about Terazi, and the inspiration behind it all.
Discovery Primea: Mandala, which is synonymous to your name, was created at a particular time in your life when you were in pursuit of ‘fulfillment’. So there is a very personal connection there. In creating Terazi, you must have been in a very different phase in your life – what was the inspiration for Terazi?
Karen Villarica: When my business partner, Dieter (Schrottmann) and I created Mandala, it was more than ‘fulfillment’ – it was to create a journey that would give our guests a way to experience themselves through the nurturing and caring of our offerings, our staff and everything that came with it. That is still the inspiration for Terazi.
DP: You are known to have developed other spa concepts in the Philippines. How different is Terazi?
KV: While Terazi Spa is in the city, efforts were made to transport the guest to a different world all together, a world where meetings and deadlines would recede into the background. This was much easier to achieve in the past projects where the guests were already in vacation mode as these projects were located in resort islands.
DP: Why the reference to Turkey (the name and the hammam, being the Terazi’s unique element)?
KV: Hammam is a Turkish bath quite different from a regular steam bath as we know it. The modern-day hammam that I have been to in Turkey and Morocco come with a vigorous scrub. What inspired me was the exotic nature of the experience and the fact that it was not offered in the Philippines
DP: How would you describe the Terazi experience?
DP: Apart from the hammam, what are the star treatments of Terazi?
KV: We consider every offering a star treatment – each ingredient used in the treatments was carefully chosen, each technique carefully studied.
DP: Your ethos of “to be the sea, to embrace all that is” – how is this reflected in Terazi?
KV: All those who pass through the doors of Terazi Spa, guests and staff alike, are received with love. Who you are, where you come from or what you do does not affect how you are received.
DP: It is said that more luxury spas are turning back to nature, with a resurgence in naturally sourced and produced ingredients. How is Terazi embracing this trend?
KV: Our ingredients are purely sourced from plants, seas & the earth; the essential oils used are of very high quality. Fragrances and mineral oils have no place in Terazi Spa. In addition, our beverages are made from scratch.
DP: Is going to the spa still considered a luxury today or is it already ingrained in the Filipino lifestyle? How should spa treatments complement one’s lifestyle?
KV: Massages for specific ailments have been around for a long time and while strongly discouraged by the medical community, continues to be one of the treatments resorted to when one is not feeling well; as seen by the number of spas that have sprung up in the urban areas, it can be said that more and more people are aware of the benefits of a treatment. The traditional ‘hilot’ is still the treatment of choice for those living in rural areas.
DP: How do you envision the spa business to grow/develop in the coming years?
KV: It has always been my hope that as more awareness grows about the spa culture, spa owners look to the spa business as not only for making money and also as a way for their clients to receive the nurturing that we all long to have in our lives.
DP: You have dedicated a good part of your life pursuing healing/wellness. Why should an ordinary person be inspired to do the same?
KV: More and more we hear of people having serious illnesses and dying; it used to be that these were people we did not know. These days, we hear of friends, family members & relatives dying or having this illness or that. We would be so naive to think that it will not happen to us if we do not take charge of our health.