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THE WOW FACTOR
#05-05 Ngee Ann City Podium,
S$20 for usage of the Wow room
ONE would think that private rooms were prerequisites for high-end hair salons, especially those with a client list covering the Who's Who of the local society scene. However, 21-year-old hair salon Chez Vous has never boasted a private room till its revamp in 2014, because founders Riz Tan and Thomas Teo cherish the communal spirit of a salon - a meeting place for folk to catch up, chat and maybe share a little gossip while getting their hair done.
"Also, we felt that all of our guests are equally important," adds Mr Teo, who is also the chief salon director of Chez Vous.
However, over the years, some of Chez Vous's loyal customers began to fall ill or experience issues with mobility as they aged. "When that happened, these customers preferred to stay at home and shy away from public places, which we felt was not healthy for their mental or emotional well-being," says Mr Teo.
"This was why we created a 'wow' room deliberately designed to be upbeat to cheer up these customers and encourage them to step out, communicate with others and live life; while maintaining their much-needed privacy for activities such as the cutting of wigs. They obviously do not need to pay a premium for the use of the room."
Decked out with a lightbulb-lit mirror and a multi-coloured light installation, the room resembles a hip new private club rather than a tucked-away private salon. Which is perhaps why even younger working professionals are requesting to book the room to unwind after a long day at the office, or pamper themselves after a gruelling day at work.
"We were a little surprised because we thought that only rich socialites or businesswomen would book the room, but in fact we once had a king who visited our salon and chose to sit at the 'common' area like everyone else."
LET YOUR HAIR DOWN
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore, Level 3
Treatments in a private room start from S$318
"VIP room" is hardly the right nomenclature for J's Salon's private abode. Located at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, the 5,500 square foot salon's luxe suites are more like mini-apartments for hosting private soirees than alcoves for getting a trim without having to put up with the white noise emitted by blow dryers or incessant chatter of customers and stylists. A sofa lounge area fits up to 20 guests, while a smaller garden-themed room comfortably houses six.
"There is a trend for private rooms and more customers are requesting for VIP spaces," says June Ng, director of J's Salon. "We also accommodate those who wish to hold bachelorette or birthday parties and even gatherings with friends at our premises."
Already a haunt for the well-groomed upper echelons of society, the private rooms at J's Salon also cater to customers who enjoy the company of their husbands or kids while at the salon. The faux turf-covered garden room was designed to help calm the senses and allow busy clients to truly relax and get away from the rigours of city life. Cushy, reclining armchairs and a calming view of the riverfront also lull even the most impatient of spouses to sleep in a matter of minutes.
"Our other private space is situated at a lounge area where customers can enjoy our signature date tea after having their hair diagnosis done," explains Ms Ng. "Our customers come from all walks of life who wish to have a relaxing and pampering treatment."
SIPS AND SNIPS
#B1-33 Capitol Piazza
Complimentary use of private room with a minimum expenditure of S$500
EVERYONE is a VIP when they step into Branche, a Japanese salon located in Capitol Piazza. Featuring three workstations - gorgeous cubicles, really, with mosaic-covered partitions, and haircuts all performed in commodious private havens.
However, if mere 1m-tall screens aren't enough to block out the conversations of neighbouring customers, high-rollers can book out the salon's fully private VIP room for the ultimate pampering experience. The piece de resistance of the space is the Yume Swing chair, a plush, ergonomically designed lounger by old-school maker of beauty, spa and barber chairs Takara Belmont. It actually transforms from a styling station to a wash point without clients having to get up from their seat. "It is an oasis for the modern individual where one can get away from the hustle and bustle of city life without actually leaving the city," says Kenta Kuribayashi, director of Branche Group Singapore.
"Especially with the world 'shrinking' as it is, people will look for opportunities to get away, even temporarily."
The salon also uses towels made in the Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku, which are exceptionally soft, lightweight and highly absorbent due to the soft water in the region. Perfect for also soaking up a small spill if you've had one flute of bubbly too many -- as customers are served complimentary champagne, matcha latte, Japanese fruit teas that contain edible leaves and fruit, and decaf java made from coffee beans hand-roasted with brown rice and sugar cane.
"We serve an exclusive selection of refreshments that can only be found here," adds Mr Kuribayashi. "Providing such touches that cannot be found anywhere else will discern us from the crowd. Even after leaving our salon, the flavours will linger on."
43 Keong Saik Road
Tel 6221-4585; 87 East Coast Road
Tel 6225-9706. No additional charge for use of the private room
MEANING "den" in Italian, another Japanese hair salon Covo is a find for those who value privacy while getting their hair done. Floor-to-ceiling glass partitions interspersed with wood panels provide every customer with some degree of personal space at this Singaporean offshoot of a Tokyo salon at two locations here.
"Our salon concept is 'private space with semi-private rooms' at all our outlets," explains founder Emi Waddington. "They aren't only for VIPs since all our seats are surrounded by partitions so you don't have to face other customers. We like all our customers to feel special."
Its branch on Keong Saik Road also includes a private room, which is usually requested by parents who want to take their children to the salon. Ms Waddington stresses, however, that the room isn't a swanky VIP space, but a utilitarian area for customers to relax in.
"I make use of the room because I have a small child and I can park my stroller next to me without getting in the way of other customers," says Yuko, a Japanese blogger based in Singapore, who has a two-year-old daughter.
"The seat is hidden away from other customers so I feel more comfortable, even with my child with me."
It is recommended to book the private space on a weekday as salon staff are usually busier on weekends, but Ms Waddington adds that each partitioned work station is also very spacious.
"Everyone gets the VIP treatment at our salon because we don't have any assistants at Covo, only experienced Japanese stylists who will personally serve each customer," adds Ms Waddington.
"From welcoming you at the door to washing your hair with carbonated spring water, before cutting, colouring, treating or styling, and even accepting payment at the end of your visit!"