Snakes, golf balls and beer - the ultimate extreme spa

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) -- People with a fear of snakes look away now. These pythons are being used for a massage.

A popular spa in the Indonesian capital is offering this extreme treatment during the Year of the Snake - but it's not for the squeamish.

The Snake Spa is a combination of traditional body massage and the physical sensation of having several pythons on top of the customer's body.

The movement of the pythons against the human's body is believed to trigger an adrenaline rush that has a positive impact on the human metabolism.

Entrepreneur Erma Mayasari has been a spa enthusiast for over a year. Erma has tried the snake spa twice.

She says after initial reservations she enjoys the sensation of the pythons rubbing their scales against her skin.

"I wanted to do something new and challenging, so I tried out the snake massage here. At first I was afraid and sweating, but afterwards I felt good and relaxed."

These pythons are about two years old and they are usually fed before the 30 minute spa session.

To ensure costumer's safety, two staff members are always on standby inside the treatment room to monitor the behaviour of the non-poisonous snakes.

Spa manager Paulus Abraham says he believes the spa is catching the attention of both local and foreign customers.

He hopes treatment will promote people's health through unconventional methods.

"The snakes can get people's adrenaline going. People will have a sense of fear because snakes are often identified as wild animals. In addition, people can also feel a unique sensation from a snake massage, that is quite different from what a therapist can do."

The snake spa costs 47 US dollars, quite expensive for Indonesia where a traditional massage usually costs just around $10 US dollars.

Another popular treatment on offer is the Golf Ball Spa.

The masseuse uses warmed golf balls to massage customers, especially down the spine and on the neck.

Golf balls are chosen because their small size enables them to hit the right nerve points on the body. The golf ball spa is $30 US dollars for a 60 minute session.

Having opened in 2009, this spa has marketed the concept of spa entertainment for its customers.

One of its most talked-about packages is the Beer Spa.

The treatment uses local beer for foot massage as well as for a massage session in a bathtub.

One of beer's main ingredients is yeast, which is believed to help regenerate skin cells and refresh the human body.

The beer spa costs $47 US dollars, and it is particularly popular among some female customers.

Spa manager Paulus Abraham says the uncommon treatments have made this spa a surprise hit.

"We have seen a great potential in the niche market for spas that cater to those spa enthusiasts looking for a unique experience and an unusual sensation."

According to the spa, they have over 100 customers per day on weekends.

But as a growing number of health establishments in the capital begins to offer sensational packages to entice customers, some health experts warn about the safety of these practices.

Neurologist Tomi Hardjatno, who also specialises in acupuncture, argues that there is often no credible scientific base behind these extreme spa methods.

He says while the unusual treatment packages may have some positive impacts for customers, they may also have hidden negative impacts that people are unaware of.

"Some spas have the intention to improve their customers' health by offering unusual physical stimulations using snakes and other things. However, these methods are not guaranteed to produce their desired effect."

But whether there are real health benefits of a massage with pythons or not, Erma is certainly enjoying her Snake Spa.