For Covid-compliant unwinding, head over to a spa to treat your year-end fatigue

Illustration. (Getty Images)
Illustration. (Getty Images)
  • Korai Spa and Placecol Spa are two Johannesburg beauty treatment centers that have had to adapt their offerings amid the pandemic.
  • In an optimistic move, Korai, in fact, opened its doors for the very first time in 2020 and has since managed to draw in a loyal client base that trusts their sanitary standards.
  • Afika Jadezweni paid both of these spas a visit for different contact treatments and found the standard of each satisfactory, but with just one small concern about robes and slip slops. 

How lucky are we that the onslaught of our year-end fatigue coincides with payday this month? 

What that means is that perhaps we can pay someone else to handle a portion of our self-care routines. And if it's a massage, facial, or a mani-pedi combo you're daydreaming about during your Teams meetings, then I have two spas for you to consider.

But how safe are they? Shall we compare the ways...

Well, beauty salons, nail bars, and tattoo parlours were able to resume business when lockdown restrictions were gradually eased in various parts of the world. 

Spas, massage studios, and physical therapy businesses were finally able to open for the first time in four months as part of the relaxation of lockdown restrictions. 

READ MORE: It may be Level 1, but you still need to be cautious - What to know for your next hair salon visit 

However, all businesses that provide cosmetic services that require physical touch (so all of them) are still required to meet coronavirus guidelines, and treatments that involve work directly in front of the face are generally not encouraged.

In England, government guidelines stated that face waxing, eyelash treatments, makeup application, and facials should not be provided to clients due to the greater risk of Covid transmission. 

The same held true in South Africa... until Level 1. 

You may or may not remember an article about virtual facials during Level 2, where I had a virtual consultation with Optiphi - a professional skincare brand. 

In this article, I wrote;

"... [during] this period of cosmetic stagnancy, some skincare brands innovated aspects of their business models and manoeuvred through new digital strategies. Optiphi not only increased their social media presence, but also launched an online store, as well as a professional treatment kit that consumers can use to do their own professional facials at home.

"The uniqueness of this is that an appointment with the Optiphi salon or therapist is still booked, where qualified therapists virtually assist each consumer through the at-home professional treatment procedure." 

READ MORE: Face time | Virtual facials are the latest beauty innovation in a time of Covid 

In another innovative, yet rather optimistic move, a new women-owned beauty space opened its doors in Morningside, Johannesburg in 2020. Yes, Korai Spa launched for the very first time amid a pandemic. 

Korai Spa

Korai caters to all hair types and all genders. As a result the owners reveal that when you walk into their space, they want you to leave everything else behind and just focus on you.

"Let’s walk you through! In the way the space has been divided, we've taken into consideration for the nail area to be positioned as the hangout space, while keeping the hair salon section within that fun space. The beauty rooms are hidden behind the main area, intended to keep a tranquil feeling to a busy space.

"For the barber shop, we have included a men’s beauty room and a mani and pedi station for the gentlemen who would like to have their privacy within the salon," they say. 

And this month, I had the pleasure of paying this luxury spa a visit for two lunchtime treatments - a pedicure and eyebrow threading. Between the smooth cappuccino and my first glimpse into the rich housewife lifestyle, I can't tell you which tasted sweeter.

Bliss on a Thursday afternoon... while sitting in a chair that massaged me.  

Because being 20-something living in the digital age has programmed me to say whatever pops up like anew tab in my mind, I expressed this to the co-owner, Shabnam, who chuckled at my housewife aspirations as she told me she was, in fact, a housewife before she finally decided to open her own business. 

covid safe beauty spas

Even more fascinating is that Shabnam opened Korai with her daughter-in-law, Sally. 

The mother-in-law and daughter duo both have extensive experience in the beauty industry. Shabnam (mother-in-law) comes from a hair styling background, having also run her own salon for 20 years. To supplement this, Sally boasts eight years of expertise in skin and beauty therapies.

So it had to be asked...

The combination of a mother and daughter-in-law has long been framed as a stereotypically "problematic" one. How did you two navigate working with family?

Firstly, family love is what brought us together, and love is a strong and important thing to maintain. No matter our differences, we overcome them through mutual love and respect. Everyone has their differences, through respecting them, we have learnt to compromise and come to mutual agreements and understanding in order to create and maintain a successful business.  

And so the conversation moved on to more serious matters of the business:

Why did you opt for such an extensive and comprehensive offering? And how has this been impacted by Covid?

We wanted to offer our clientele a full-rounded service with head-to-toe treatments in one place. We believe that remaining in one salon is more comfortable for the client rather than traveling to various places for different treatments. It has certainly been convenient for clients during these times.

Covid has been a bit of a challenge, especially for a new place where such close contact between people is necessary, therefore rough patches were inevitable. We continue taking precautions within our space, team, and clients and are thankfully operating successfully.  

What has surviving Covid taught you or validated within you as business professionals with a 360-degree offering, especially within the beauty space?

Any place for beauty is quite intimate, as therapists [need] direct touch contact with the clients so we always keep our sanitising standards high and monitored. We hope to keep surviving Covid as it is the most challenging thing in the beauty service industry at the moment. We thank our clients for trusting us with our level of hygiene and cleanliness. 


READ MORE: As an industry dependent on human touch, how has beauty adapted to changes forced by Covid-19?

Placecol Spa 

For a 'best of both worlds' kind of self-care spree, after your taste of affordable luxury at Korai Spa in upmarket Morningside, head over to leafy Randburg for a cozier experience.  

In a home-turned-spa, Placecol Spa offers a different treatment in each room. In the lounge, you get your nails and toes done, in the bedroom you get massaged, and another bedroom is where you change into your robe. 

Placecol, which is part of the Imbalie Beauty Group, also made some innovations during lockdown. With Level 1 in full swing and strict Covid-19 health and safety compliance in all Placecol, Dream Nails and Perfect 10 salons, they created two new results-oriented treatments as a much-needed treat to uplift our bodies after the stressful effects of lockdown and working from home.

The two treatments are the Vitamin and Mineral Smoothie facial, and the Anti-inflammatory and De-stress Massage. These will both cost you R350 each.

In this intimate space, measures against too much intimacy have been put in place. Covid screens abbreviate contact between clients and nail techs at the nail bar as well as at the reception.  

covid safe beauty spas

However, I was only booked for a massage at Placecol Spa, so screens can only do so much in that case. By means of reassurance, I'll say that the massage therapist kept her mask on at all times and paper towels are placed on the bed opening where you place your face.

During my visit, I was informed that their bookings are, however, limited in order to control the stream of people coming in.


I did not experience any coronavirus symptoms 10 - 14 days after my visit to each spa, and my beauty therapists at both Korai and Placecol kept their masks on throughout each service.

So how Covid-safe did I feel and where could each spa improve on Covid protocols?


- Consider Covid screens for a few of their treatments where possible 

- Be stricter about regular hand sanitising 


- I guess I mostly wanted reassurance that the slip slops you're given when you change into your robe are single use, and that said robes are washed after each single wear per client.  

Visit Korai for... 

Their full Korai Signature Pedi. This consists of a jelly soak, exfoliation, and a massage - I considered kissing my own feet afterwards.  

This will cost you R490 with a gel overlay or R390 with polish.

covid safe beauty spas

Visit Placecol Spa for... 

The Anti-inflammatory and De-stress Massage with Moringa, Hemp, and Lemongrass oils. This treatment not only tackles sore, tired muscles and relieves pain/inflammation, but also focuses on reducing stress levels.

It should definitely curb that year-end fatigue even if just for a week.

All images writer's own.

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