These places employ either International students or backpackers, give them a short training course, and then pay them a fee for each massage they give. Unfortunately, this means few of them are particularly experienced or even good and so the quality of the massage is really pot luck. In one place the lady giving me a massage was actually a qualified physiotherapist from India and was working there because her qualification wasn't recognised in Australia. Other places I had massage from people who just randomly prod at my body seeming to hope for the best.
Mo Zhi Massage, found in various locations around the Brisbane inner suburbs, is a good example of this. The prices are generally low and there are plenty of deals and discounts. You also get your own private room. However the quality of the massage varies greatly.
Here there is still an element of chance. They usually charge a little bit more than the basic massage places and employ qualified massage therapists. However they might also use other poorly trained massage therapists as well. To get the best massage always ask for a qualified massage therapist to treat you especially if you are asking for something like Thai massage, which can be a little dangerous if the massage therapist doesn't know what they are doing.
The are two examples that I know of in the city, they are Aria Natural Therapy which is run by qualified massage therapists and Thai Tantric Massage uses some qualified and some unqualified massage therapists.
Thai Massage from a qualified Thai Massage Therapist
Spa Treatment Massage
Prices usually start around $120 an hour.
Here you get the full treatment and you pay a much higher price. Once again always make sure your massage therapist is fully qualified especially if you are paying that much for a massage as from experience some places like to charge the customer as much as possible and pay their staff as little as possible.
The day spa that has come most highly recommended to me, though I haven't been there myself is Stephanies Spa Retreat at Sofitel Brisbane. Prices start around $150 an hour, but if you want real quality you have to pay more. However no matter how much you pay you have to always check to make sure you are getting an experienced massage therapist.
One thing you can look at to make sure you find a qualified Massage Therapist is the Natural Therapy Pages. This is an amazing site where you can choose which style of massage and the location you would prefer and it gives you a list of practitioners. Basically anyone who can offer you health fund rebates will be someone who has completed a Diploma of Remedial Massage, has association membership, has first aid training and has continued education in the Massage industry. They are the ones most likely to provide a good, safe massage. Be aware of anyone who does not get you to fill out a health form and get you to sign a consent before beginning your treatment.
Walked past all these 'massage' places, always wondering why would anyone pay $60 an hour when these joints advertise in the papers hiring just anyone with a pulse (probably paid $10 an hour) who have absolutely not a clue about massage ?!
Perfect Potion is a beautiful little aromatherapy store that also have treatment rooms. The massages are spa qualifity without the pricetag! The girls are qaulified massage therapists or beauty therapist as they also offer facials. A must do in brisbane!