Here is a saying of which I like to live by:
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."
The Story of Leelawadee Thai Spa
When Leelawadee Thai Spa founder and owner Apple Butsud came to South Africa on holiday from Thailand more than 12 years ago, she never imagined she would leave behind her home country and her successful little transport and logistics business in Bangkok to open Cape Town’s first and original Thai massage spa.
While in the Mother City, Apple attended Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year celebrations, with the city’s Thai community. Here she met Nirun Kongthong, owner and founder of, at that time, the city’s only genuine Thai restaurant, Yindee’s, in Camp Street. They soon fell in love, and Nirun eventually convinced Apple to marry him and stay in South Africa. The best, she says, is she and Nirun were then blessed with a beautiful son, Pocharapon.
Experiencing first-hand Apple’s skills as a masseuse, and recognising the opportunity for her to build her own successful business in her adopted home, Nirun, with his experience of building a successful business of more than 15 years’ standing in Cape Town, encouraged Apple to start the massage spa she chose to name Leelawadee, in 2005.
Leelawadee has developed and changed over the years, says Apple, and she has been encouraged to see masseurs who came to work at Leelawadee grow and go on to start their own spas in and around Cape Town, as the unique benefits of Thai massage have become more widely appreciated in South Africa. 'But I am the original, and still the best!' she says confidently. 'I have a lovely clientele and many good friends from this business, and have learnt a lot; I have had good fortune.'