Exposed: Mangwanani Spa, A Disappointing Experience

Mangwanani Spa

At a point in my life the only thing I needed was one long pamper/spa day. The gods of sanity most probably saw this as I was gifted with a Moonlight Night Spa from Mangwanani Spa which included a full hotstone body massage, an indian head masage and a foot & leg massage. Sounds like heaven right? or so I thought.

Just to be clear – I thought long and hard if I should exploit the situation, as from what I can see, most Mangwanani Spa’s around South Africa, and the in house branch at the Palazzo Hotel, seem rather exlusive and on point, however River Valley Branch was anything but. Seeing as the person who gifted me with this package forked our R5000 plus, is saw it as my duty and my right as a consumer to inform others.


5 Hours of Pampering? WTF is your Problem Liza?

All seems fair and well, but it started with the fact that we were clearly warned to meet the bus on time at the Palazzo Hotel (You can read more about this Amazing Hotel here).

Being the “socially acceptable humans” as others would expect, we were 15min early. However, there were people who only arrived an hour later than the agreed upon time, and as threatend, the bus never actually left without them. Which seems a little kak to complain about, but after sitting in a bus for an hour – and arriving back at the hotel at 2am in the morning, it seems valid. Besides, this is only where it started.

Problem 1: Modern Day Slavery

I cannot speak up about this situation a lot, due to sworn secresy (Mangwanani can check who assisted us so not a word of what these ladies said would be exposed here) towards the ladies that did our treatments – but bitch you better believe that I can and will write about the kak that I saw.

The ladies, about 50+ employees were over-worked and tired. Somewhere on a Facebook review I saw someone complaining about the fact that the employees were sleeping. I shit you not. These women were so tired, as they were giving treatments to client they were sleeping.

I felt so kak, because most of them were busy with the 16th hour of the day, and someone “serving” me in the conditions they were in, just did not feel right. When we were herded like cattle (read more a little later) for one of our treatments, I spotted about 4 workers ACTUALLY sleeping. The one therapist rested her elbows on the clients head and slept – the client was in such a bliss he did not even notice. At the given time, myself, my friend and some of the other therapist were laughing so hard, however I quickly came to my senses.

I investigted this just a little more – and truth be told, the salary of the women are soooooo bad. I actually saw bank statements, minimum wage? ag please. The goverment mos only fights for other industries. The ladies do not even get paid at a minimum rate, so overtime rate were obviously non-existant. Working for around 350-384 hour per month and only getting paid +- R3000 (little less) a month is BULLSHIT and pure modern day slavery.

Number 1 rule was broken

The number one rule of a spa? Hygiene. Ek gril sommer wanneer ek daaran dink.

It was so bad, to such an extent, that it ended with myself and my friend having a rash all over our bodies.

The dust was everywhere, the towels on the massage beds felt sticky and had this perculiar smell, glasses were stained and it was pretty much just siff.

I felt like a Cow

Yeah – top point of Consumerism. It was clear. Zero fucks were given by whoever manages this place, in terms of client satisfaction. This was CLEARLY just about money, and “in-my-face stealing”.

When we received our Head massages, Myself and about 35 other clients along with 35 other employees were crammed into those “steel, craddle” thingys. It was litterally the same construction as a “kraal” (the place where animals sleep in, mostly horses)

The situation looked like that of a high volume production factory. I could not even take this seriously as it was men and women mixed, and my robe constantly falling off, exposing my naked upper body and I just had to cover up as much as I could. Regardless of that – Either way, I could not have taken it seriously, myself and the friend were actually craking so much jokes on the facts, and how all off the other clients were actually closing there eyes and falling asleep. HOW THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THIS IS OK?????

As reported, most clients actually do confront the ladies on the slavery, hygiene, and unacceptable circumstances. The others? They choose to ignore it. You cannot possibly have a functioning mind and think that this is ok.

I know what you are thinking!

Why are these ladies still working here?

if you thought the hours, salary and working conditions were shocking then you are about to get MIND-BLOWN.

The reason these ladies don’t leave to work at other salons – which they are completely qualified and skilled for (BEST massage of my life) is because after they receive training, Mangwanani with-holds the certificates from them. That’s right.

They get them out of the slums, train them, and in-slave them. These women have no other option. They are soooooo skilled in giving massages, my friend (who has attended 100’s of spa’s around the world, clearly stated that this was the best and most professional, on-point, treatment to date) and I can agree.

Edit: Dear Ilona – In response to your comment

Originally I wasn’t going to approve your comment, but I thought why – not. First and foremost, you seem to be more concerned with me as a person as with the spa, should this not be the case then it is most likely your subjective views of the spa and towards me upon which you formulated your comment. You are completely entitled to defend the spa, if your morals are not affected by modern day slavery then so be it, however attacking me on a personal level – you shall not dare.

Saying “how could I feel exposed after I posted after pics off my operation” but the lady constantly pulling down my gown with 20 other men in the siff room made me feel exposed?????

Firstly please do not decide on emotions that I can or cannot feel and please don’t question them either if you have not had such an experience. Secondly, because I have sex, it makes it ok for me to get raped? NO, off course not. See sweety, the difference is free-will and consent. So just because I posted these photos’ 2 years ago it make it ok for me to get my gown dragged off where 20 other strange men are present? It’s women like you that fuck things up for feminism. I hope you still stay around because honey a Post is soon to come of my entire Breast Augmentation series, so more booby pic, seeing as you stalk it so much.

Secondly the fluffy gowns and products? Hahahahahahah, please. The gowns were hard and scratchy, and reeked of god know what. Products I bought at the little shop they had there. The only reason I did not go on about the hygiene was because that was not the fucking problem. The problem is that these women are being exploited working 16 Hours a day and earning a salary of R2600.

as you can see I am not the only one with this problem – please see the screenshots of recent clients experiencing the same issues.



Your concern on the price? Please send me your email address and I will send you the Invoice as I am not willing to expose my Dad’s information for the sake of your peace of mind.

No – we were actually informed the opposite, btw please explain how you receive a massage met “jou-vol costume” swimsuit. I think the hot-stones of the full body massage received 10 minutes after would have burned a hole in that material.


To the rest of my readers please accept my apologies as the edit drifts away from the essence of the post, but to defend myself and my brand I will not tolerate attacks like this, nor will I tolerate slavery. You can clearly see from reviews that I just screen shot from the Mangwanani Facebook page that other clients endured the same experience.

Sadly – the Department of Labour has visited the premises before, however this was on a Monday, not to mention, the staff would have been to scared to talk as they were petrified when they communicated with us, and paranoid of other employees, who are scared to loose there jobs, to hear. I have lodged complaints with the department of Labour. Furthermore I did not lodge these complaints with the spa as a simple “sorry” and gift voucher is not going to change my mind at what is happening there.

AGAIN this not a brand problem but Branch Problem. The details may seem crazy but that JUST the very reason I am exposing it because it is so absurd and intolerable.

I have no doubt that this is only a “branch” problem and not Mangwanani as a whole. But people get your shit together.

Have you ever been to Mangwanani? In particular River Valley Branch? What was your experience?


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  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 11:38 am

    I am deeply saddened by this review. Did you contact Mangwanai Management to discuss your issues/concerns ? I have visited the River Valley branch a few times and have never experience any of the claims that you have made.

    Where did your friend book and pay R5000, the most expensive Premier moonlight spa package is R1799.00 per person and includes a luxurious gown and mangwanani products. I would have to assume that this was not the package that your friend bought as you do not make any mention of this.

    When I have visited the spa I have always been requested to bring my swimming costume to wear under my gown? It is evident that you did not have this by your statement that your gown kept slipping off your shoulder and you felt exposed. How exposed did you feel when you feel comfortable to post full frontal picture on your Instagram after you had your breast surgery?

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I approved this comment as I want people to see how sad your life actually is, as you don’t even address the issue at hand, you only attack me on a personal level due to your subjective opinion towards me and the spa. I will edit the post where I will address your Q’s

  • Reply
    Nicole Jansen van Vuuren
    November 16, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    We had a very good experience at the Cape Winelands branch, everything was very enjoyable! I did however feel very sorry for those poor women doing the treatments, being in the beauty industry myself! Having to do massages all day is physically and emotionally draining and becomes quite tedious! Not too mention the toll it takes on your hand and wrists! It comes to no shock to me that they get paid shitty salaries because this is one industry that doesn’t pay well at all!

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Yes, the payment and hours are so bad. It is very disturbing that no one has ever seemed to voice up more on this. 16 hours a day is horrendous, and that payment as well, seeing as most of them are single parents. I just feel very sad.

      As I mentioned at the end, this seems to be a branch problem, as the Mangwanani at the Palazzo Hotel and the on inside Monte Casino are very clean and hygienic.

  • Reply
    Susan Zell van der Merwe
    November 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Good afternoon, After reading the entire article + 2 comments, I would like to add my comment as well.

    Liza, I am horrified that this happened to you and I feel mortified that so much money were spent and the service were more than lacking. With that said, you have a blog and reach out to the public and do forgive me because I feel like I am in for a good ‘ole stoning, But the public has so many different personalities and I feel that you did ask at the end of your article that if anyone has been to Mangwanani or that particular branch that they should let you know how they experienced it. Ilona did just that. My question to you is, what did you mean when you replied to Ilona ‘how sad her life is’ and ‘subjective opinion towards me and the spa’.

    I will admit that the comment about being exposed and picture on instagram RE: post breast surgery from Ilona was not in line, but I see where she is coming from as I have also seen that picture on Instagram and what is written in your post now and what the public have seen is contradicting each other, considering you have had a few booby fall out nipple moments on Snapchat as well in the past. Correct me if I am wrong, that you are only shy in person and on social media you consider it to be A-OK.

    Liza, if that is the way you reach out to your readers then you are really a different person to the one I have been following since the Barbie days and then you have lost my vote. I get so upset when people of influence use their voice and contradict themselves all the time. And seeing how you just shunned a reader for some honest questions, I really am disappointed. There are always more than one way to do things, I mean you could have just emailed the lady personally and told her she is out of line according to you and why and shunned your reader in private rather that doing it publically.

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      A reader? she is another blogger who is trolling me and my blog for the second time now. I updated the post, please have a read.

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Hi Susan, She is not a reader, she is another blogger and this is the second time she has been trolling my posts. Please read the edit. Susan you don’t even follow me on Snapchat. I take it Ilonna put you up to this?

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve never been to the above spa… But firstly, if you going to be a blogger.. Go and read a few books so that you can improve your language and grammar.
    Secondly I’ve been to the best and worst spa’s in my surround area and even the worst would never allow what you are claiming. I read as far as point 1 because, honestly your claims seem far fetched… Like a patron would be in bliss while a massus was sleeping on them…
    I have no idea what you have against the spa. Maybe they didn’t give you that forth glass of champagne… But after reading your blog.. I will still go to the spa

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Claire – I updated the post with shots of recent reviews, and as you can see, I am not the only one who went through this. The department of Labour has been there before. I felt as a blogger it is my responsibility to inform where there are problems. Just read the edit.

    • Reply
      Siobhan Hughes
      November 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Claire

      I hate to have to add in my two cents here. I read this entire post, and while I certainly disagreed with some of the comments made, and some of the bad-language used, I didn’t feel the need to make a comment. I am a bit of a grammar-Nazi myself, and hate poor language and grammar.

      However, if you feel the need to make remarks on someone’s language and grammar skills, possibly apply them to your own comment first. It completely undermines your point.


  • Reply
    Susan Zell van der Merwe
    November 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    I would suggest contacting the branch in question, lodge your concerns in writing and add their reply to this post to expose the ‘matter at hand’ in full. Maybe then everyone will take it more seriously and focus on the real problem you are having with them instead of a full frontal picture.

    Nobody put me up to this as I am my own person with my own views and opinions and I may not follow you on snapchat, but I do know another person that does that has shown me some of your snaps before. Unfortunately I do not have snapchat.

    Maybe do a little more homework and edit your posts properly before posting in a blind rage because you feel you are being trolled. There were more than one grammar mistake in your edit alone. I agree with Claire.

    My question then is, you say it is a fellow blogger, I have never heard of Ilona’s blog and if you have a blogging issue with another rather sort it out in private than air dirty laundry on the net. I have read so many times in SA on blogs comments that the bloggers are being nasty to each other. Why and for what reason? So unnecessary. This has now totally drifted off from the real issue and for what, a little bitchiness with a dash of ego.

    I have had my say. Hope we can all learn something from this.

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Exactly – unheard off. I have never been bitchy and I do refrain from that. However it bugs me that for the last year you see tweets from bloggers, readers and consumers acknowledging there irritation towards bloggers not being authentic. You give it to them – and they loose there minds. Most people cannot handle the truth. Would you want to pay and be caught in a situation like that, due to recommendation from the blogger. Life is the good and the bad, and I will voice both.

      As with the bitchiness – it was the last thing that I wanted to resort to however, I will not allow someone to start bashing my brand of 2 day’s after all the work and thought that went into it.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Liza, I am commenting here not to attack you but to clarify some things and share my experiences as well. On the topic on Mangwanani. I have been to the River Valley branch on more than 10 occasions. I have never received greater service at the hundreds of spas I have visited. I do not think you are lying about the exhaustion of the ladies because there are so many bookings there everyday. Whilst I cannot discredit the reviews, I think there is always two sides to every story. Like their are positive and negative reviews of beauty products, the same goes for experiences. If you had a bad experience at the River Valley branch, it’s not right to discredit the brand or branch as a whole. I’m sure there were many other people that attended the same night as you and you don’t see them complaining. There is a reason the spa has won awards year in year out and continues to thrive in a starving economy. People save their bonuses just to go back to Mangwanani to unwind again. If your claims are true I’m sure they would have been out of business by now.
    As for the contradiction about being exposed. I had not seen your breast pics until your post update here but I have to disagree. I was also asked to wear a costume underneath my gown which they only pull down to your shoulders when getting the head and neck massage. The hot stone massage and body scrub is done in seclusion so it is impossible you were around anyone else in the room besides the partner you went with.
    Lastly, I have been a blogger for more than 2 years now. I have been following you for a year. I have always read your posts but never comment so you can call me a stalker if you’d like. I love to read fellow bloggers posts and that should never discredit me being called a reader or a troll. There is nothing wrong if a blogger comments on your posts because at the end of the day, every second person is doing it now so you are shunning half of the community that supports you.
    Since everything has been said and there’s no turning back, I hope you can resolve this with Mangwanani before they decide to take legal action. It’s one thing to discuss your experience which every one is entitled to whether you say it was the worst spa in the world or the food was bad or whatever. But to attack the brand on working conditions, salary and mention slavery without any material proof, is defamation of character and a serious offence.
    Good luck and I hope one day you see everyone that commented here just wants the best for you even though it doesn’t always come across. None of us are Internet Trolls or cyber bullies etc. You know because we’d be throwing hate on all your pages and posts and this is not the case.
    Just take a step back and try to see where we are coming from. All the best! Nisa

    • Reply
      November 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Yes, as stated. All is said and done. I am a frequent reader of your blog likewise. However I was blocked by Illona since december of last year. When she was uncomfortable with something in one of my posts, I even went as far as to change my entire post. During the year of being blocked, no interaction on any Social Media pages and then all of a sudden popping up here with such a comment is a little disturbing. You are right in the sense that I cannot discredit her as a reader just because she blogs, however being blocked for almost a year how does that make her a reader. Nevertheless, a reader is still a reader. It is the Brand that received these rewards and as I said, it is a branch problem. I saw the salary slips and took this up with other employees as well. Most of them confirmed what is going on and so did the salary slips.
      Obviously one bad spa is not going to affect the entire branch so no, they won’t close doors.
      The people did not seem very happy and no, we were really not in a secluded room during the head and neck massage. I will try to find someone who was there the same night as we were just to confirm this. I might need a little time but I will get back with it.

      In terms of legal action, so be it. As I stated the blog post is about what those women endure and how they are treated. 90% were not happy at all.

      Those who commented want the best for me? Then why take it publicly? Why not make contact privately as did before? Then it is not my interests concerned but rather about actually just to stir, especially if I have not heard from you in more then a year, with no interaction on anything I have ever posted. How can you be a reader if you blocked my blog.

      My constitutional right is by no way limited to hygiene, food and whatsoever. Defamation does not require material evidence. Please read up on south African case law applicable, and common law principles. However please read up before making such presumptions.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for this blog post. I am a romantic, I like to spoil my wife every now and then, and she loves spa treatments.
    The world is not perfect, sometimes bad service happens. However, after carefully reading through this and through the feedback by other people, I am never going to send my wife there. And neither will her friends nor their friends.
    Bad hygiene is a serious romance killer. Imagine my wife coming home after a spa treatment, not relaxed and refreshed, but with a rash! LOL! I am laughing, but it is no joke. Mix that with overworked and underpaid staff. Bleggh.

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