You'd have to be void of all 5 senses to miss the California Wows in Bangkok; with their bright neon lights and blaring techno music, any newcomer could mistaken them for clubs.
When you first walk into a Cawow, you're treated like the proverbial kingly customer that you are; you will be complimented, you will be engaged, and your "handler", whoever is put in charge of you, will lavish you with loads of attention and answer your every question.
The reason for this is quite simple. This act of flattery has nothing to do with customer service. It is because, like loads of things in Bangkok, you're going to have to negotiate your membership fees. I'm not encouraging anyone to come here, so let me cut to the chase; they're giving lifetime memberships for 10,000 baht, and access to all the Cawows. No matter what price you're quoted, be it 12,000 baht a year, 25,000 baht a year with renewal at 99 baht per year, DO NOT accept anything except 10,000 baht for lifetime. Trust me, the place is not worth more. And you can also forget about after sale service. They really, really don't care.
You'll be promised all sorts of things; I was told that I could have a gym bag and 2 hours of private training. I never got that gym bag, and I was persistent in asking for it. Instead, I was given a t-shirt which was not only quite ugly, but the wrong size as well.
As for the "private training", I chose Kickfit. The trainer was 15 minutes late, and then worked out with me for 10 minutes after taking another 10 to slowly wrap my hands. The rest of the time was spend trying to negotiate additional fees to pay the private trainer for future private lessons. I dared not ask to do the other hour that remained.
Now, back to the membership. You're pobably wondering how this place could maintain its facilities if they give a fairly cheap price for a lifetime membership, and the answer is: they don't. The towels smell like a sweaty gym bag, the machines do not get wiped down, and they use the same yoga mats for the whole day. A short while ago they introduced a half-hearted attempt to clean the machines by leaving towelettes and a spray bottle, but those have since disappeared. The ducts that hang just a few feet over your head are so full of dust that I thought they had been painted gray.
Now for the locker rooms. In addition to very rarely being washed, if ever, the floors are full of dirt and I even spotted a cochroach or two. The counters are filthy, and the showers... just don't touch the walls or you'll slide on the slime that has accumulated over time. They put wooden panels in the showers, and they absolutely stink. They smell like someone has done their business in them. Also, you'll want to be careful as your shower, in order to avoid the nest of insects that have made the corner their new home.
Also, you'll definitely need your stinky towels. How else will you cover yourself in a rush when they casually allow male staff to enter the women's locker room? The woman handing out the towels at the entrance has made quite a habit of having her male friend sit beside her while she's working. She also gets very annoyed when you can't understand her when she announces that a male is coming into the locker room.
Still unconvinced? Head there today for your tour, and heed my advice. Watch that sunny facial expression change when you request your flat 10,000 baht rate. And most importantly, really pay attention during your tour. You'll see what I mean.
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