How did you spend your long weekend? I was one of those who crossed the woodland causeway (linking Singapore-Malaysia) on the first weekend after a five-fold hike in cross-border toll fee. The S$13 (previously S$2.30) was considered a worthy trade-off as the cross-over took about 30-40 mins vs 2-3hrs previously.
The additional cost was also quickly offset with cheaper food, purchases and salon services in Johor Bahru. For instance, my manicure session at Nail.it salon (Holiday Plaza Tower) gave me enough savings to more than offset the fee hike.
Nail.it was not my first option. I ended up having my nails done there because Jewel Nails Couture (at Bukit Indah) was closed on that day and Summer Nails (at Holiday Plaza) required a waiting time of 1 hour which I could not afford.
For those who have not been to Holiday Plaza, it’s an old and run-down mall that offers four key products/services:
- Hair Services
- Nail Services
- Phone & tablet accessories
- Pirated movie DVDs and computer software
Other miscellaneous services include massage, facial and tattoo.
What’s Good about Nail.it?
1. Large Salon
Nail.it is one of the largest nail parlors in Holiday Plaza. I could only recall seeing one other salon that might be of the same size. The spacious waiting area and nice interior décor made it a good place for those who came with companion(s), e.g. husband.
2. Offers Free Wifi
You or your waiting companion can surf net and while the time away.
3. Got the Basics Right ***
This is probably the most important criterion. Unlike Nails Room at Sutera Mall, Nail.it did a good job in removing my cuticles. It was a pain-free experience too.
The outcome was glossy and evenly-painted nails, which I was really happy with.
4. Very Cheap **
This is cheap even when compared with its peers from other malls.
Basic gel manicure costs RM63 (S$25 or USD20), and my designed nail costs RM5 each. At another JB nail parlor which I have reviewed, basic gel manicure costs 20% more at RM75, and designed nails was RM8 per nail.
The above nail design costs me RM88 in total, which comprises:
- Soak-off (of previous gel polish): RM15
- Basic Gel Manicure: RM63 (allow up to 2 different colors)
- Designed nail (price varies with design): RM5 per nail (x 2)
5. More Designs to Choose from **
Nail.it salon offers a wide range of nail designs, from simple 2D artwork to elaborate designs with 3D add-ons.
What if you did not do your homework and need inspirations on what designs to go for? Fret not, as Nail.it has enough specialized nail-artwork magazines and sample artworks for you to refer to. This is a vast cry from my experience at Nails Room (Sutera Mall).
Personally, I could not take 3D designs as I have itchy fingers (or OCD) and would touch the add-ons non-stop until I scratched them all off. I’m also more inclined towards 2D solid colors for its simplicity and more sophisticated look.
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Though I did not do any 3D design, I did steal a glance at my neigbor’s 3D artwork. It was done up quite nicely.
What’s Bad about Nail.it?
1. Less Comfortable
If you are not doing pedicure, you may not get to sit on the comfortable armchair.
I was directed to a fully-occupied long table where 4-5 other customers sat along (in a normal plastic chair), with each being just less than an arm length away. On the other side of the table sat 4-5 nail technicians. So all in all, there were about 10 people using the shared table.
I found it quite awkward having to discuss my design requirements as the others were able to hear the entire conversation without even trying.
2. Took Longer Time
I spent 30 minutes waiting for a slot, and 1.5hours for the simple manicure job to be done. As mentioned, I did not go for complicated 3D artwork. Even my 2D artwork was done on only one nail per hand. The design couldn’t have been simpler enough – 3 horizontal lines.
The technician had earlier told me the job would not take more than an hour. So maybe, the staff needs to better manage customers’ expectation since ‘tourist’ may have certain itineraries planned out.
3. Didn’t soak my Fingers in Water **
This bothered me a lot! My hand did not touch water during the entire session.
Normally, we would have our hands soak in water before cuticle removal. We’ll also have water to wipe off the powdery nail particles after filing. Both were not done. Imagine all the nail powder on your hands that were massaged through when a hand lotion was applied at the end of the session. Yucks!
The first thing I did after leaving the salon was to visit the washroom and washed my hands.
4. Unsure of Pricing
Throughout the 1.5hrs stay, I heard their staff openly checked pricing with one another at least 8 to 10 times. I’m not sure if they are new or are not empowered with pricing knowledge, but it just got a little strange when they seemed to be enquiring pricing information even on basic services.
In my case, I was quoted different price by two different staff based on the same artwork. I did not complain because the one who charged me later quoted a lower price.
5. Nail technician Squatting on a Stool
This doesn’t really bother me, but I thought it’s an interesting point to raise.
One technician was squatting on her stool while providing manicure services. Maybe this was more comfortable for her, and such a position would allow her to do a better nail job. However, it was a little amusing as the portrayed image didn’t go quite well with the sweet, modern and chic interior décor.
6. Location **
This point applies to all nail salons in Holiday Plaza Tower. As compared with other malls such as Sutera Mall or Bukit Indah, parking is a lot more expensive here. It costs me RM8 (for 2-3 hours stay) while other places are either free or cost only RM1 for unlimited stay.
Secondly, this is a place that has very little things for your waiting companion(s) to do to kill time. Unlike the larger malls, there are almost no brandname shops here. Ok, if personal store is considered one, then maybe Holiday Plaza has one or two better-known shops. That’s probably why you see male customers waiting inside the parlor.
Even though it has more cons than pros, it is a place that I wouldn’t mind visiting again. I’ve marked the important criteria with ***. For instance, “Getting the basics right”, “Being cheap” and having “More Designs to choose from” get a higher weightage in importance than some of the cons mentioned above.
It doesn’t bother me as much if the staff was unsure of pricing or if the technician was in a perpetual squatting-on-stool position. Give it a try if you happen to be there, and let me know how you find the service. Rating: 4/5
Address of Nail.it Manicure Salon: Holiday Plaza Tower, Level 3 F-120
Post-Update (5 Nov 2014)
After a month, the gel polish starts to chip a little. It is still looking nice otherwise, and should be able to last another 2 more weeks (if you can live with the unpolished new-grown nails).