Dec 21, 2020
FOR MANY ASIANS, PRE- AND POSTPARTUM CARE – by way of extended bedrest attended by hired confinement nannies, and a steady supply of herbal body wraps and tonifying food – rank way up there with their child eventually growing up to be a doctor or a lawyer. A single misstep and the mother may be doomed to suffer premature lifelong aches and pains or, worse, grow old long before her time – an unfortunate fate commonly observed, say smug Asian matrons, in Caucasian mothers.
“It’s because they get up and start moving about immediately after giving birth!” my mother used to remark with great disapproval. “The body must rest. It has been through so much trauma!”
In Taiwan, South Korea and China, mothers commonly spend a few weeks post-delivery in confinement centers, which tend to be clinical facilities with equally clinical, detached service. Which is why the newly launched Kai Suites in Singapore is causing expectant mothers to sit up from their breathing exercises and pay attention.
Billed as a new benchmark in holistic, specialized and, most importantly, licensed pre-and postpartum care, Kai is a first-of-its-kind luxury maternity spa retreat. Its m.o. combines Asian cultural practices and traditions with modern science. This translates into 18 capacious rooms styled in Japanese-lite décor and 600-thread count Egyptian cotton linen, alongside nurseries, yoga studio, an aesthetics clinic, spa and salon.
“Mothers staying with us,” says general manager Kevin Khoo, “receive expert care from formally trained nurses with at least 10 years of experience in maternity wards at various private hospitals in pre- and postnatal care. They provide 24 hours of personalized care to mothers and their newborns.”
What does he mean by this? The kitchen delivers a bespoke menu based on traditional Chinese medicine principles of healing, detox, restoration and nourishment, and which is adjusted after weekly TCM consultations. Interestingly, aluminium cookware and plastic containers are avoided for their chemicals, which can either react with acidic ingredients or affect (potentially already haywire) maternal hormones.
Even more unusually, the dishes – think steamed snapper nori rolls with tomato consommé glaze; sautéed frog legs and young ginger; and pork trotters braised with vinegar and free range eggs – are workshopped with the chefs at a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants including Singapore’s Labyrinth and Bangkok’s Le Du.
The spa could also be a destination in its own right, having curated a selection top-notch body and facial treatments perfect for this moms market. Highlights here include Indonesian jamu massages that reduce fluid retention and fat deposits, traditional Bengkung belly wraps that tighten slack abdominal muscles, and breast lactation massages, alongside hair-loss treatments and hi-tech machines that tighten pelvic floor muscles and vaginal walls.
Needless to say, all this luxurious pampering doesn’t come cheap. Rates start at S$21,800 for a 28-day program (14 of which can be spent at home), while the full in-residence program clocks in at an introductory rate of S$25,000.
And yet. If the number of bookings and enquiries since Kai opened in late November is any indication, Kai is all set to be a smash hit – an irony not lost on anyone, especially since the name is a Chinese reference to triumph and child-birthing, which is regarded as “one of the most victorious moments in a woman’s life,” as Khoo reminds me. “That said, a mother goes through many physical and emotional changes post-delivery, while learning to care for her newborn. Postpartum care is important for the mother to receive proper rest and nutrition to ensure healing and recovery, and to prevent potential long-term mental and physical side effects and ailments.”
My own mother couldn’t have said it better.
All photos courtesy of Kai Suites