Norms for Education & Staffing

April 10th, 2014

 Spa Mantra discusses with industry leaders the fundamentals required for a therapist to be employed at an integrated wellness center.

Today, many individuals opt for curative treatments services at recognized wellness centers and institutes that prove better and long lasting results as opposed to only an a short spa service. With the advent of such remedial demands from the wellbeing segment; trained, skilled and/or licensed staff is the sector’s biggest need of the hour. The quickest way out for holistic centers/institutes is to appoint and staff spa therapists and cross-train them. Therapists are acquainted with the anatomy of the body, however, there is still more ground left uncovered.

Industry experts and leaders Dr. Jayachandran Thampi, Director of Operations at Traya Wellness Center and Ajit Patel, Owner, Sanda Wellbeing confer in length the various rudiments of educational facilities & curriculum and staffing for a holistic center.

Scope for therapists

“In the recent times, the world has seen a huge increase in the demand for spa therapists all over the world. As Ayurveda and other holistic sciences are gaining more and more popularity,  the demand for the therapists has been on the rise. As everyone in the industry is looking for excellence and accreditation, the requirement for trained, certified therapists becomes a must and hence the rise in demand for such programs/courses,” explains Patel.

On the other hand Dr. Thampi explains the advantages of a therapist choosing this career path. One could work and progress in this career as well as administration assistants and even in many cases as managers (administration).

Basic Criteria

Dr. Thampi and Patel believe that basic schooling + 2 is always preferable / mandatory in many institutes. Language proficiency with reading / writing capability is a must and minimal knowledge of English and Science is necessary. Patel also states, “…there is no job requirement or experience required for the enrollment in private training institutes.” Dr. Thampi says, “many treatment centers use staff of such caliber as assistants to the practitioners, since doctors lead the actual treatments most of the time.”

Knowledge of the therapists before being appointed Thampi throws some light on the syllabus delivered at an institute that helps therapists acquire a job at an integrated wellness center. Studies of human body (like anatomy, physiology, relevant disease conditions) are fundamental for certification. Besides all treatment techniques (Western and Indian including Ayurveda) must be part of the skill set knowledge. Product knowledge, preparation of specific herbal mixes, etc are also part of this requirement. Knowledge in Yoga/ exercise, etc always help to distinguish and excel.

“Most institutes also train therapists in practical aspects. Various kinds of treatments, preparation of basic requirements for the treatments, preparation of the treatment rooms, post and pre treatment procedures are taught to the students. Practical knowledge of every treatment is essential for the therapist so that when they come into practice they can be confident enough to do the treatment,” Patel articulates.

On the Education Front

Renowned Institutes supporting learning

Numerous wellness institutes today dedicate syllabi for countless practices and/ or therapies. “Learning of holistic wellness can be in two ways—as Ayurvedic Doctors or as Spa therapists. For training of Ayurvedic Doctors there are Ayurvedic Medical Colleges which run full fledged Ayurvedic Medical Degree Courses and are accredited or recognized by the CCIM & AYUSH departments in the Government of India,” explains Patel. He further says, “As for training of spa therapists, both the Ayurvedic Medical colleges as well as renowned Ayurvedic Spas conduct the required coursed which are generally accredited to the Local Health Department or to the CCIM & AYUSH departments in the Government of India. Some of the institutes get accredited to the International Spa Accreditation Boards as well.”

“Many centers do offer courses in Ayurvedic nursing. In addition there are central government promoted certifications (like BSS – a vocational training program run through affiliated centers) is also available. In addition most of the institutes (treatment centers) have their own training curriculum as well to refine the basic knowledge and skill set. Experience is a major factor in skill development.” Dr. Thampi avers. Website of BSS (Bharat Sevak Samaj) gives details of many centers issuing their certifications. (

Indian Institutes

Dr. Thampi and Patel mutually agree that there are many Government and Private institutes and training centers across various states in the country. Dr. Thampi says that there are many institutes issuing BSS Certificates and centers conducting therapist training programs on various levels. One of the most esteemed ones is the ‘Ananda Spa institute’ while many recognized centers in Kerala offer specific Ayurvedic nursing courses too.

Studying abroad?

India, Thailand, China, USA (especially California), Australia, Germany and many European countries have specific courses aimed at promoting therapist training programs.

Advanced Courses

It is said that there are two kinds of spa therapists at present in the industry; one – a group who’ve learnt therapies traditionally from their family members and the other group are those who have learnt it through training institutes. “Spa therapists who have learnt it traditionally can always go to an institute and get a certification so that their expertise is recognized. The certified therapist syllabi (which is generally a diploma/certificate course), can go deeper into fields of spa management and become spa managers which also an upcoming post within the segment,” Patel adds. 

The Wellness Spectrum

April 10th, 2014

The scope of offerings in an integrated wellness centre is vast – from anti-ageing services to weight loss to managing lifestyle diseases

The concept of wellness has captured popular imagination, with Gen Y especially taking it to heart. Wellness has been defined as ‘an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.’ The dimensions of wellness, as defined by a popular wellness website, include ‘mental, physical, spiritual, social, occupational and environmental health conditions; with wellness being the result of personal initiative, seeking a more optimal, holistic and balanced state of health and well-being across multiple dimensions.’

Since wellness is a multi-dimensional concept, it cannot be offered within the confines of just a gym or a spa or a clinic. What wellness-seeking consumers are seeking are 360° solutions, in the form of integrated wellness centres that will address their needs on the physical, mental and spiritual levels. Owing to such increasing demand, setting up such a centre makes incredible business sense. Not only are young urban Indians, but global wellness travelers are making a beeline for such centres, which have a vast scope. Here are some things that can be addressed within an integrated wellness centre framework.



The most basic yet most popular function an integrated wellness centre can provide is that of rest and relaxation. A spa within the centre, offering relaxing massages, serves this purpose. Soft to medium pressure massages, which are based on Aromatherapy, and reflexology offer ample rejuvenation and help clients relax. Coupled with beautiful interiors and soothing music, an R & R experience can be amplified.



For clients looking to make an enduring and positive change in their lives, healthy eating habits are instrumental. Nutrition counseling and personalized diet plans play an extremely important role in an integrated wellness setting. Ayurveda diets, Juice Diets, Juice Diets, Master Cleanses and a variety of other diets could be prescribed to clients, based on their wellness goals. Nutrition coaches and dieticians plan meals and closely monitor what the client eats and drinks during the course of stay. Long-term diet plans could also be offered to sustain healthy bodies.



Terribly busy and unhealthy lives have yuppies checking into spas looking to de-stress and detox. However, day spas are limited in what they can offer. A destination spa or an integrated wellness centre is more suited for longer detox and cleanse programs, which may range from 3 to 14 days. Detox could be offered through massages, diets, colonic cleanses, Hydrotherapy, Naturopathy and a variety of other techniques.



One important service an integrated wellness centre can offer is complete body analysis, which is otherwise available only in a hospital setting. Body assessment in terms of weight, cholesterol, fat, BMI, blood pressure, heart health, metabolism can all be done using special instruments, based on which treatment protocols can be decided. The market is full of high-tech body composition analyzing machines and one of these can be installed at an integrated wellness centre.



For a lot of clients, fitness goals are synonymous with weight loss. An integrated wellness centre can help clients lose weight and contour bodies in a lot of ways. Apart from exercise regimes and diet plans, one can offer cellulite-busting scrubs and wraps at the spa or machine-aided weight loss using laser, sauna, vibration, non-surgical liposuction and even hypnosis!



With the number of self-aware and self-empowered women rising, the anti-ageing industry is bigger than ever. For this discerning client set, it is important that an integrated wellness centre offers a host of anti-ageing treatment options. Facial treatment protocols using high-tech skin brands, Botox, lasers, and other methods may be offered to firm and polish skin, fill wrinkles and lift the face.



Along with physical appearance, physical fitness is of great importance to wellness clients. A gymnasium with top-of-the- line equipment is desirable for cardio and weight-training programs. It is desirable to have both mechanical and automatic gear to suit the needs of clients. Incorporating a pool also helps in broadening the scope of exercises with facilities like water aerobics. Additionally, offering outdoor activities like trekking, hiking, gardening, etc., as also Pilates, Zumba and Aerobics can make your fitness ‘menu’ look comprehensive.



Not only preventive care and longevity, but an integrated wellness centre should aim to offer healing. Lifestyle diseases like diabetes, insomnia and chronic stress can be controlled to a great extent using a number of therapies – of course, under the guidance of a registered physician. Other diseases like obesity, minor bone and joint problems, chronic fatigue, cholesterol and blood pressure issues, back and neck aches, etc. can be eased at an integrated wellness centre.



More and more ‘wellness’ properties around the world are recognizing the importance of sleep in a person’s well being. Some hotels are offering exhaustive pillow menus, biorhythmic lighting and even sleep consultants to help their clients sleep better. An integrated wellness centre could adopt similar practices and add breathing techniques and aromatherapy to their repertoire for sleep management programs.



For integrated wellness centres offering hypnotherapy, addiction management is also an option. Provided the addiction is not too serious, one can help clients get rid of habits like smoking, drinking, and even overeating using hypnotherapy. A qualified hypnotherapist can make a valuable addition to the wellness quotient of clients.



The scope of an integrated wellness centre can be wider still by incorporating alternate healing practices. A lot of wellness destinations around the world are offering Reiki to supplement their programs. Still more techniques like Chakra Healing, Crystal Healing, Pranic Healing, Music Therapy, etc. can be offered at such a centre.



Yoga and meditation are two more features that ought to be part of an integrated wellness centre. While Yoga offers a gentler way to physical fitness, meditation aids fitness of the mind. Coupled with Ayurvedic therapies like Panchakarma, Yoga and meditation are excellent and holistic methods for achieving total wellness.



Finally, a qualified psychologist at an integrated wellness centre would make the circle of wellness complete. Mental and emotional wellbeing are just as important as the spiritual and physical aspects. With an option for counseling, clients truly have a chance at complete wellness at an integrated wellness centre.



8 Wellness Wonders of the World

April 10th, 2014

Spa Mantra globe trots to find the most effective and innovative holistic destinations of modern age.

It is tough to bridge the gap or to blend in ancient science with modern-age technology in a spa or a wellness center to promote mental and physical care. Why? Because it calls upon every aspect or element that needs to be incepted, conceptualized and managed to bring it to life; from its ambiance to its structure (building, landscape, etc.), and from its trained manpower (spa therapists) to licensed medical staff (doctors, nurses and assistants) and of course dining and accommodations also top the list. Only a handful of wellness set ups crack the code and manage to blend both worlds, accurately. We list some of these fantastic holistic destinations, their facilities and services in this visual feature.


California Health & Longevity Institute, USA


Located within the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California Health & Longevity Institute is a luxury oasis, tucked away from the bustle of Los Angeles. The complex covers more than 20 pristine acres, with cascading waterfalls and lush gardens, along with extensive on-site meeting and conference facilities.

California Health & Longevity Institute® (CHLI®) is a pioneering, world class facility and leader in sciencebased lifestyle rejuvenation. By implementing the practice of Kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of achieving sustainable change through small realistic steps, their experts follow a 360-degree approach to health and wellness.

At CHLI, this philosophy incorporates every area of life that impacts health including: Medical, Nutrition, Fitness, Life Balance and Spa. This institute boasts of being the only place with offering a seamless integration of evidence-based medicine with qualified experts and programs designed to improve health and wellness for individuals and organizations. An on-site medical clinic fuses the latest breakthroughs in Western preventivecare medicine with complementary and alternative Eastern medical techniques, and houses a complete imaging suite, dermatology center and a medical laboratory.

Facilities: 270 guest rooms and suites at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, 16,000-squarefeet fitness center, lap pool, sauna and The Spa at Four Seasons

Treatments & Programs:  medical capabilities, fitness sessions and workshops, spa treatments from The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, healthy-cooking demonstrations and classes, interactive workshops on stress management and other topics 

Contact: 2 Dole Dr, Westlake Village, CA 91362, United States. Tel+1 818-575-1114,



Chiva Som International Health Resort, Thailand


Touted as a ‘Haven of Life’, Chiva-Som comfortably sits on the Gulf of Thailand creating the most perfect ambience to detox and revitalize oneself. Chiva-Som is about learning to live, making one notice, enjoy and appreciate every moment, and in so doing, creating a personal path to health and wellness. Nestled within seven acres of lush tropical gardens, the beachfront health resort represents tranquility at its best with luxurious accommodation comprising 58 stylish rooms; Thai Pavilions offer traditional charm and Ocean View rooms and suites provide spectacular views of the Gulf of Thailand.

In 15 years of its success, the wellness destination spa is known to every travel and leisure magazine and has won various awards for its excellent offerings and services. Apart from fitness and spa treatments, Chiva-Som also provides a selection of options based on holistic diagnostic services, ranging from medical and complementary medical services, through detoxification to homeopathy, fertility, nutrition and personalised supplementation.


Area: 10,000 sq. mt.

Facilities: 58 stylish luxurious rooms, 72 Chiva-Som Spa treatment rooms, Niranlanda Medi-Spa, lounges and restaurants that also serves spa cuisine meals, library, pools and Chiva-Som Boutique.

Treatments & Therapies: Extensive range of over 150 treatments, fitness with Tai Chi, Pilates and personal training classes, heal the mind and body through yogic technologies, holistic health therapies and medical services, physiotherapy and medi spa services for advanced body, hair and beauty treatments.

Contact: 73/4 Petchkasem Road Hua Hin / Cha-am, 77110, Thailand. Tel: +66 32 536 536, website:



Golden Rock Retreat Bali, Indonesia


Located at a quiet spot on the island’s northeast coast, The Golden Rock Retreat is known as an innovative detox and healing center. Recently the Golden Rock was titled one of Bali’s best detox retreats. Here they believe that one cannot simply detox the body and ignore the mind. As the body begins to cleanse, negative energies that may be blocked and stored in the body are released at a mental and emotional level. This gives one a great opportunity to process and let go of years of accumulated stress and negative mental patterns.

Guests are encouraged to take personal responsibility in their healing process and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the retreat. Golden Rock’s programmes take into account that every individual has their own needs and each detox experience is different for everyone. Hence it is mandatory for the resort’s Health Manager to guide individuals through the process and discuss their own individual needs during their stay.

Among the various treatments and therapies offered here the most unique ones are Bio Magnetic Resonance, Ozone therapy and Infra Red Sauna treatment. Guests can opt from four, seven and 10 day cleanse programs, and one can choose to stay longer than the program too.


Facilities: Four beach-front bungalows, a larger two bedroom villa; for a maximum of 4 guests two bedroom, two bathroom headland villa is ideal; four beach-front villas can sleep a maximum of two people. The other facilities are a yoga sala and a dining area

Treatments & Therapies: A wide range of therapeutic treatments include infra-red sauna treatments, massage, nutrition consultations and supplements along with ozone and oxygen therapy, massages and yoga & Chi Gung.

Contact: The Golden Rock Retreat, Aas, Bunutan, Abang 80852, Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: + 62.828.9700.8592,Website:



Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand


Kamalaya, an award-winning Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa resort rests around a monks’ cave that once served Buddhist priests as a place of meditation and spiritual retreat. Besides being located at a picturesque beachfront what reallylures tourists from around the globe are its holistic wellness programs for the body, mind and spirit. The tranquil place gets its name from ancient symbols for growth and unfolding of the human spirit which is Lotus (Kamal) and Realm (Alaya).

Dynamic duo John & Karina Stewart are founders of this holistic wellbeing destination and it is their vision, passion and the desire to serve, Kamalaya stands tall today. Its holistic approach to wellness includes integral Wellness Programs that are essentially about promoting wellness on multiple levels for body, of mind and spirit. The programs are specifically split into nine segments namely –healthy lifestyle, detox, stress & burn out, emotional balance, Wellness à la carte, Yoga, Longevity, Asian Alchemy and Awakening & Meditation.

Accomodations ranging from luxurious rooms to plush villas are offered to its guests. In the recent past, Kamalaya has bagged some of the world’s most coveted titles and awards from spa and resort organisations and leading magazines from around the world.


Facilities: 2 types of rooms, 6 types of villas. Dining areas include Soma Restaurant, Amrita Café, and the Alchemy Tea Lounge; extensive Wellness facilities include Shakti Fitness Centre, the herbal steam cavern, plunge pools, Elixir Bar, Yoga Pavilion and Yoga Sala; Two swimming pools – lap and leisure ones;

Programs: Kamalaya specializes in various programs like Detox, Stress & Burn out, Optimal Fitness, Sleep Enhancement, Holistic activities, Emotional balance, and Wellness à la carte, Yoga, Longevity, Asian Alchemy and Awakening & Meditation.

Contact: 102/9 Moo 3, Laem Set Road, Na-Muang, Surat Thani 84140, Thailand. Tel:+66 77 429 800, website:



SOUKYA International Holistic Health Centre, Bengaluru


Soukya in Bangalore is situated on 30 acres of organic farms, filled with aromatic medicinal plants with the tranquil and unpolluted freshness in the air. It is also home to over 75 species of birds and exotic butterflies, and other farm animals like rabbits, turkeys, ducks and guinea fowls, bringing one so close to nature that one can connect with their inner self.
Soukya was conceived by Dr. Issac Mathai and assisted by his wife, Suja Issac, who reside within the property and are personally involved in the daily operation of running it. At Soukya one’s natural balance is restored with the integration of diverse traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Homeopathy and complementary therapies like Yoga, Acupuncture, Hydrotherapy, Mud therapy, etc. from around the world, which is not exclusive of Allopathy or Western medicine and modern medical advancements. The focus is on health promotion, early intervention, and the treatment of illnesses.


Facilities: 25 deluxe rooms comprising of a Presidential Suite, a Royal Suite and deluxe rooms. Recreational facilities include a swimming pool and a shuttle court, snooker, table tennis and board games. Spa includes aTurkish Rassoul, Hydrotherapy, Vichy Shower, Circular Jet.

Treatments & Therapies: Medical services to treat conditions like Arthritis, Cervical Spondylosis, Lower back pain, Joint pains, Cardiac problems, Hypertension, Diabetes, Respitatory ailments, Liver conditions, De-Addiction, Weight Management (hormone related), Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Wellness Programmes: Weight Management (due to lifestyle), Antiageing, Rejuvenation – Detoxification, Stress Management, Speciality treatments and Life Management Programmes to improve quality of life and transform people.

Contact: SOUKYA International Holistic Health Centre, Soukya Road, Samethanahalli, Whitefield, Bengaluru – 560 067, India Tel: +91-80-28017000-8. Website:



The Beach House, Goa, India


The secluded shore of Sernabatim Beach, South Goa, is home to a wellness boutique- The Beach House. The wellness house guests enjoy the picturesque ambiance and the benefits of innovative all-inclusive programs. The Beach House provides the unique opportunity for total rejuvenation. Sanda Retreats, an international brand known for customized programs/retreats brought this wellness set up to Goa for its discerning fans and guests.

The retreat house has learned the knick-knacks of the wellness world and hence presents to its guests a combination of ancient traditions with cutting edge technology. The Beach House proffers a mixture of medical and holistic therapies providing all the means necessary for complete body and mind rejuvenation.

Of all its tactfully crafted programs the Senior Citizen Program is one of the retreats highlights, where the detox program is tailored with emphasis on elements which are beneficial for a more relaxed lifestyle. Another unique program, ideal for airline crew and frequent business travellers, is the Fly Fittest retreat for those who are always on the move.


Facilities: 9 chic & cozy two-level deluxe suites, and the Beach House with three spacious bedrooms is given for larger families

Programs: Celebrating Life (senior citizens), Monsoon Cleanse, Fly Fittest, Total Body Rebalancing, Ayurvedic Indian Detox Retreat, Weight Management, Juice Fasting Detox, Rejuvenate and Revitalize, Yoga & Spa and Toga Foundation Course.

Treatments: – Ayurveda Abhyangam, Massages like total body massage, Aromatherapy, Lymphatic, Sports and Balinese.

Contact:The Beach House, Goa Sernabatim Beach, Goa 403709, India. Tel: +91 832 6697733. Website: www.



The Farm at San Benito, Philippines


Apart from the fantastic ambience, The Farm at San Benito aces in offering luxurious services and stay. From soothing retreats to state-of-the art facilities, the wellness santuary is touted as being one of Asia’s Most Romantic Resorts. Among the various calming retreats here at The Farm, the Cleanse! Wellness Holiday (retreat) is honoured with 29 pretigious international awards. The Wellness Holiday promotes organic food and drink, the healing power of touch, the wonder of modern science and the need for some good, old-fashioned sweat.

The holistic spot boasts of its tranquil Healing Sanctuary Spa where guests can unwind and relax. The Farm also has a well-equipped gyms or yoga pavilions. Unlike conventional destination spas the resort also offers integrated medical services delivered and monitored by four licensed doctors who have embarked on self-directed international studies on their respective fields of interest after their post-graduate medical studies.


Facilities: 7 types of accommodations from suites to villas. Two restaurants –RAW! & ALIVE! A Healing Sanctuary, Integrated wellness services and golf

Programs: For longer stays one can choose from three programs namely- Wellness Holiday, Detox Cleanse, Specialised healing retreats, one can opt for a day’s visit too.

Treatments: At the Spa- signature treatments, Fillipino body treatments, scrubs, wraps, nails & hair sanctuary and facials. While intergrated medical services includes acupunture, reiki, art therapy, biorhythm Analysis, etc.

Contact: 119 Barangay Tipakan, 4217 Lipa City, Batangas, Philippines. Tel: +63 2 884 8074. Website:



TRIA Integrative Medical Institute


TRIA’s concept is an understanding of Integrative Medicine as the link between conventional medicine and evidence based Complementary and Alternative medicine (CAM). Integrative medicine refers to the practice of incorporating alternative medical therapies into conventional or Western medical regimens and the simultaneous use of conventional and alternative medical treatments by medical practitioners.

The journey at Tria would begin with an Integrated Medical consultation. A thorough case history is with lab tests conducted only when necessary. From here the client is advised of a correct path of action to take to guide them towards their goal in wellness.

An example of case study at Tria would be a client who presents with chronic lower back pain, intermittent headaches, food allergies, stress, difficulties losing weight, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), weak hair and nails, anxiety, sadness and frequent illnesses.

The client would consult with an integrated wellness doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, acupuncturist and psychologist as part of the treatment.


Facilities: A spa with 50 treatment rooms, fitness facilities including a fully equipped Techno Gym, 3 studios, and a 20 m swimming pool, compounding pharmacy and 36 consultation rooms for doctors and complementary alternative medicine (C.A.M) therapies; Hydrotherapy baths, Vichy showers, Foot massage rooms, Private Thai massage rooms, Gym with techno gym equipment, Pilate’s studio

Treatments & Therapies: Segregated into four broad categories like Healthcare Services, Skin & Beauty, Medical Spa & Bodywork and Movement. Life coaching, Stress management, Kinesiology and IV Therapies too are undertaken here.

Contact: TRIA Integrative Medicine Institute, 998 Road Rimklongsamsen , Bangkapi, Bangkok 10310. Tel: +66 (0) 2660 2600, Website:


The Sound of Music

April 8th, 2014

This quote certainly rings true in the spa industry where music is an integral part of the entire experience. Music therapy is an alternative form of relaxation used to maintain health and well-being and has been used as a healing force for centuries. It is believed that ancient Egyptian temples used music for the healing of diseases of the mind.

Therapies & More
Music helps the mind to relax, soothes the environment, and helps create the perfect spa experience. Music rapidly sets the mood, along with the other elements of touch, smell, taste and vision. Music used in various spa therapies are tranquil nature sounds, pianos, violins, mantras, chants, flutes and other gentle musical instruments.

“Music therapy types are based on what the requirement is like for behavioral – emotional support, psychological disorder, insomnia, meditation and general relaxation and rejuvenation. In a spa, the music selected normally is that which can relax the client. Since music helps us to connect with our inner self, it reduces the stress from the body and mind. Music compatibility is something very personal and hence best spa music is something that can be personalized as per self-requirement,” opines Dr. Deepika Dalvi, Spa Manager at In Balance Spa, Novotel Goa Shrem Resort.

As per the recent trend, spas are familiarizing their customers to music massage therapies. Music massage therapy is a choreographed massage to specific music. Techniques used are loosely based on holistic massage, but are adapted to work in rhythm with and flow to the music. “However, music as a medium itself helps enhance relaxation depending on the way that you choose to relax or unwind – be it by way of opting for a soothing massage in the backdrop of tranquil ambient music, Zen music for Yoga, or rigorous fast track beats during workouts on various fitness machines or through aerobics or dance based workout sessions like Zumba,” says Dr. Prithivi Norton, Manager Club Olympus Spa & Fitness at Hyatt Regency Delhi.

Music plays a very important role in creating an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. This is one of the reasons that music has become an essential part of a spa experience. “It makes the experience of massages and facials more luxurious and calming. Music played in spas differs depending on the therapies and treatments. Some spas also have guided meditation with the help of music. Another genre of music used in spas is connected to Asanas (Yoga) and emphasizes on breathing and meditation,” says Manish Jaswal, Director of Spa, JW Marriott Bengaluru. Spa music is calming and promotes a relaxation response. “The kind of music played in Spas is mostly instrumental, classical, nature sounds. Basically everything that will relax the mind and soothe it and maybe oldies also,” says Sandeep Arora, General Manager, Ranbanka Palace.

All spas aim to create an ambience of peace and serenity, of holistic well being, where people can come and de-stress and let go of their various worries and tensions, at least for some time and pamper themselves. “The music needs to complement this ambience. Thereby, the music played in spas is usually slow, relaxing music that lulls the mind and body into a state of tranquility. The purpose of spa music is to help the therapist stay focused on his/her work, helps guests relax reduces heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, boosts immunity, lifts the mind and alleviates depression and reduces pain,” says Samir Banerjee, General Manager, Angsana Oasis Spa & Resort.

Music Matters
Music is an age-old part of Ayurveda, the holistic science, which promotes a happy and healthy lifestyle. From time immemorial, music has been a part of Indian culture. It is believed that for healing with music, it is necessary to vibrate the cells of the body, for it is through these vibrations that the diseased person’s consciousness can be changed effectively to promote health. The right kind of music helps one to relax and refresh. Each Raga of Indian Music is associated with a definite mood or sentiment that nature arouses in human beings. Usually the kind of music played in a spa depends on the treatment chosen. Typically, for Indian Ayurvedic treatments and massages, Indian classical instrumental music is most preferred. “Again, based on the time the treatment is taken, the raga may change; adds to the experience of spa. In general kinds of music could be vocal, instrumental, sound resonance, sounds of nature like water, sound of wave, binaural beats, chirping of birds and animal sounds,” says Dalvi. The kind of music played around spa spaces is a distinct spa-themed music, with each genre of music lending individual elements that separate one from the other. “For instance, Asian spas play music which contains the usage of wooden instruments; Caribbean spas have more incidences of steel drums whilst Polynesian spas are known for their prevalent usage of water-based nature sounds, like waterfalls, babbling brooks and crashing waves,” says Amar Tiwari – Spa Manager, Grand Hyatt Mumbai.

Healing Sounds
While the sound of instrument is very personal, various instruments are used for healing like Gongs, Tibetan bowls, crystal bowls, tuning forks, resonating bell, wind chimes, various types of drums and most important hand claps, snapping fingers are also said to heal. Jiva – Taj’s award-winning spas has specific dedicated music played under the label Jiva Music. The human body is dominated by the three Doshas – Kaph, Pitta and Vata. The reaction of these three elements differs with the seasons. Hence, it is said that performing or listening to a raga at the proper allotted time can affect the health of human beings. For the Mangal Snan, The Ceremonial Auspicious Bath at the Jiva Spa at Ushakiran Palace, Gwalior the live serenade comprises light low soulful vocal rendition as per the Raga based on the actual time of the treatment and season with the backdrop of Tamboura or Tanpura. Opine Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana, Owners, The Sound Space; a music therapy organization based in Mumbai, “Most musical instruments can be used for healing. Both western and Indian instruments are used in healing and therapy all over the world. Different instruments have different effects on the body and mind. For instance, string instruments are used for relaxation and wind instruments are used to enhance positivity and also to rejuvenate the mind and body.”

Music as a form of therapy can be very beneficial along with the other therapies used in the spa. A spa is the ideal set up for relaxation and rejuvenation. The correct use of music will only further enhance the spa experience. “Sound Therapy is a form of vibrational medicine that helps to balance all aspects of your being – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Clinical trials show that sound can help with depression and anxieties, stress, Insomnia, Chronic pain, hearing difficulties, High blood pressure, recovery from operation and many more,” explains Tiwari.

Instrumentally Speaking
The kind of music and the musical instrument used for healing purposes depends on the health concern that is being addressed. “Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life, by using music experiences such as free improvisation, singing, and listening to, discussing and moving to music to achieve treatment goals,” opines Sweta Tyagi, Spa Manager, Club Prana Hyatt Regency Kolkata. The music therapy is applied on various theoretical backgrounds of a patient such as psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic approaches.

“General music therapies used in spas are for stress related conditions, neurological disorders, heart disease, stroke rehabilitation and for general well-being. Sitar, Santoor, Veena, Jal tarang, Loha tarang, flute and Nadaswaram are the major musical instruments used for healing,” says Dr. Ratheesh Kumar, Spa Manager – Sereno Spa, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. When you enter a Spa enclosure, all five senses are engaged at different points in a pleasant and harmonized manner.

“The mélange of tranquil ambiance, burning essence, soothing music with synchronized use of fingers over the body becomes the ideal escape that one yearns as a brief interlude in today’s existence of time constraint. The final sense of taste is completed by health based drink that is provided after the treatment to let you relax in solitude,” says a spokesperson from Club Prana Fitness Center and Spa, Hyatt Regency Mumbai. Spa music is changing for the better and it is a win-win for the customer.

A Château of Wellbeing

April 8th, 2014

In a city like Mumbai where automobiles horns, noisy crowds and constantly buzzing mobile phones has become the vain state of today’s day & age finding a wellness santuary is far-fetched. However, over the last couple of months the winds have changed at the western suburb with the opening of a gigantic bungalow that features an array of health spaces, services and facilities.
Nestled at a quite lane of Versova in Andheri, Mumbai is an outstanding abode of wellbeing called the Inch by Inch – The Body Temple. Sprawling over 20 000 sq. feet of lavish space, the wellness center is known to the crème-de-la-crème of the vicinity for all its feel good reasons it houses, one of it being the only Thai Privilege Spa in the country. The Thai spa is the wellness centers major highlights spread across a tranquil 7000 sq. feet; it is impeccable in its authentic services and ambiance.

A Befitting Concept
Founder and a fitness enthusiast, Shital Nahar Agarwal pledged to make a difference by promoting a healthy approach to an urbanite’s lifestyle with the launch of her exceptional wellness venture. The wellbeing brand’s first branch was started about a decade ago at a posh alley in Marine Drive and then followed many others of its kind around the city, the latest being The Body Temple in Versova, Mumbai.
“I’ve always been passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and fitness has always been a very important part of it. I had seen my share of gyms and wasn’t really satisfied with the overall standard and level prevalent then hence this was an expected step taken to start a wellbeing venture… I believe if your passion becomes your work then it’s not work,” explains Shital. Inch by Inch gets its name from its trademark visible differences in ‘inches’ and not in ‘cm’.

A Spa-cial Model
Exuding panache and style, the Thai Privilege Spa (TPS) is given the best space in the cottage. The spa sits on the ground level of the superbly laid out building making it an easy access for spa clients. The concept of the spa is very clear in its approach, says Shital, “A balanced life has become extremely valuable in a city-ite’s lifestyle. One of the many aspects of a healthy life is relaxation and having a powerful mind.”
The spa not only radiates the true Thai milieu but also abides by the Thai Spa Privilege philosophy of bringing the body relaxation and empowering the mind.

Designing the Thai Experience
Unlike a lot of spas in the city that assure its client’s authentic services delivered in an incarnated Thai environment, Inch by Inch – The Body Temple claims the spa here is one of the most genuine ones in town since they have fostered the Thai Spa Privilege philosophy to the core.

Décor: The 7000 sq. feet humangous is designed with utmost precision divulging from the Thai concept and influences. Shital alongwith her husband Sunil Agarwal and a few insights from the spa brand brought the Asian-Thai theme alive. The idea was to bring the entire Thailand experience to its guests not only through its services but its ambiance as well. Hence the décor fuses contemporary style with ancient Thai accents. The spa also features a signature South-East Asian styled dome.

Colour: The spa has a soothing feel to it the moment you walk in; this has to be attributed to its perfectly blended warm colour scheme of golds, creams, browns and slight red accents. However, the colour gold reigns at this spa simply because it has a significant place in Thai culture. Therefore the colour scheme was worked around the hue.
Furniture & Artifacts: To create a Thai spa within the city wasn’t a difficult task for Shital and Sachin since they took the most legit way out by handpicking and sourcing the spas furniture and design elements entirely from Thailand after oodles of research and consideration.
Music: TPS boasts about their original music CD that culminates soothing Thai and Asian instrumental music that resonates throughout the spa.

Spa-ces: Constant effort from the management and staff ensures the spa is spotless all the time. The gigantic spa houses a total of 12 rooms, of which two are couple suites with facilities for a steam and Jacuzzi. Most of the rooms are equipped with a steam and shower area. A few rooms are called ‘Thaisala’ that equips two low mattresses for traditional Thai massages. It also houses five luxurious foot massage stations opposite a three foot bath area. The spa makes space for a separate mens and ladies restrooms that also accomodates steam and shower areas.
A menu fit for a King! The menu has eight packages and countless rejuvenating Thai treatments and therapies. Some of its most popular treatments which is one of TSP’s Signature treatments like the Oriental Foot Reflexology where all 63 nerve points on the feet are systematically worked on to re-establish energy flow and body’s state of equilibrium. The spa also hosts a one-of-a-kind Kids Massage Therapy for children less than 12 years of age. The massage benefits healthy neurological, social and emotional development. The spa has many takers for The Butterfly Massage -a couple’s treatment. It is one of the most pampering treatments that nurtures and revives the body and heightens all senses.
Staff Training & Management: As per the Thai Previlge standard the staff have been trained by certified trainers and therapists from Thailand. The therapists go through a rigorous training period and have to master over 30 massages before they deal with customers. Each therapist undergoes an interview where their knowledge of pressure points and various techniques are tested. Kalsang Dorjee heads the spa along with two managers and four therapists look after the smooth running of the wellness space.

Besides the Spa: Level one of the cottage accomodates a 1200 sq. feet state-of-the-art gymnasium and an adjacent 1200 sq. feet of outdoor space for functional training. The level also makes space for an outdoor kid’s activity or power yoga area. The basement has various sections like a room for kick-boxing, zumba classes; a group studio and TRX room; a space for indoor cycling and a salon named Revive. An in-house café named Barrio is stationed right at the facade of the cottage that serves hot healthy baked snacks and fresh fruit juices. The cottage also has a small swimming pool with a little sit out right next to the café.

The Verdict
Inch-by-Inch – The Body Temple is a true stance of wellbeing in every aspect. Mumbai surely, needed a full-fledged wellness house that could be enjoyed by the matured & evolved and the young & feisty too. Kudos to Shital and Sachin for bring healthy back into being!

Name of the Wellness Center: Inch by Inch-The Body Temple
Area: 20, 000 sq. feet
Number of rooms at the spa: 12
Spa Timings: Tuesday to Sunday
7am to 9pm
Spa Manager: Kalsang Dorjee heads the spa, he worked earlier at Dharmsala in Himachal and has over five years of experience in the field. He’s a graduate and has been trained in European therapy from Ananda Spa for the duration of 1 year. Kalsang has also worked at many four and five star properties around the country
Number of therapists: 14
Pre- treatment drink: Cold, sweet Roselle Tea (Dry flower from Thailand) to quinch your thirst.
Post-treatment snack: Half-boiled green beans is served with hot green tea and honey
Products used: Authentic oils and scrubs from the house of Thai Spa Privelge, Thailand.
Gymnasium Head: Shane D’souza, Master Trainer
Address: J P Road, Off Yari Road, Next to D-Mart, Versova, Andheri (W), Mumbai-61. Tel – 26365555 / 26341973 / 1974.

Holistic Heaven

April 8th, 2014

Situated in one of the most upscale areas of the city, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, is a favourite with local and global guests. It’s easy to see why this huge property appeals to so many – especially those inclined towards wellness. Within its expansive walls, Westin strives to make guest experience not only memorable but also wholesome.

Westin for Wellness
Of all Starwood brands, Westin embodies wellness and has a number of features that underline this. Westin prides itself on the Six Pillars of Wellness, which comprise ‘Eat Well, Work Well, Sleep Well, Move Well, Feel Well and Play Well’. All Westin properties execute these six wellness dimensions with offerings like the Heavenly BedTM, SuperFoodsTM, Westin WorkoutTM, Gear Lending Program, RUNWestin and of course, The Heavenly SpaTM.

All these trademarked concepts ensure that a guest experiences wellness from the inside out. The Heavenly Bed is a cult favourite with 10 luxurious layers that ensures perfect sleep, while the SuperFoods program serves super nutritious cuisine. Every element of the SuperFoods is in itself smart and full of flavor, which contains unparalleled, age obliterating concentrations of nutrients, low impact calories and synergistic powers. With the Westin Workouts, Gear Lending and RUNWestin programs, the hotel chain lays a special emphasis on its guests’ fitness.

Enter heaven
Along with sleep, fitness and nutrition, rejuvenation is also another important offering at the Westin properties. All weary minds and bodies turn to The Heavenly Spa, to feel renewed and recharged. The spa works on the triple concepts on ‘Uplifting, Serenity and Sensory experience’, making sure its guests experience every treatment on those three levels.

The Heavenly Spa opened its doors in December 2009, along with the hotel’s opening. It is spread over 5000 sq. ft. of lavish space with subtly decorated interiors. The warm color palette and classy design is the work of Singapore-based interior designer James Park Associates and Architect Design Cell. Situated on the ground level, the spa has six treatment rooms in all – 4 single rooms, 1 couple suite and 1 Thai massage room. The rooms have evocative names like Enrich, Elevate, Evolve, Emerge, Embrace and Escape. They have attached steam and shower facilities and there are separate wet areas for men and women too. In addition, there is a relaxation room called Sanctuary, and a consultation room, where the spa manager, Dr. Darshana Sawale, helps guests choose the right treatment. A trained Ayurveda physician, Sawale’s guidance is indispensible, especially in the case of Ayurvedic treatments.

Beyond-the-body treatments
Apart from Ayurvedic treatments, the spa also offers a host of Western treatments. The spa menu has recently undergone a complete makeover, under the personal supervision of Jeremy Mc Carthy, Global Spa Director for Westin. The makeover is a result of the spa tying up with Aromatherapy Associates, who will now be supplying a luxurious range of products to the establishment. The new menu features 5 signature treatments, four of which are brand new. The fifth is The Heavenly Signature Massage, which has been retained, as it is a cult classic, featuring a heated bed.

Mc Carthy, an experienced spa professional and a qualified psychologist, has designed each treatment protocol with underlying psychological principles which enrich a treatment experience.

The guest is first welcomed with an Apple & Cinnamon elixir – both SuperFoods ingredients – making for a refreshing start. After a consultation, a guest is led to the treatment room, where he or she is asked to choose from among three stones imprinted with a positive word like Love, Gratitude or Hope. This is called the 3-Stone Ritual, which helps set the mood and emotion for the duration of the treatment. The chosen stone is then placed in the bowl under the face cradle, so it reinforces the emotion throughout the treatment.

The Heavenly Spa also follows another beautiful concept called ‘The Burden Basket’, whereby the designated therapist states that they are leaving behind all their emotional burdens before commencing the treatment. This is done symbolically, with the therapist placing a few pebbles in the basket and then hanging the basket outside the door as a ‘Session in progress’ sign. Mc Carthy believes that a therapist ought to proffer treatment with a ‘clean slate’; because negative emotions and vibes may transfer from the therapist to the guest.

Other special touches include the guests being given some dark chocolate – a SuperFood – after the treatment and the unique hooded bathrobes for guests who want just that much more privacy.

Before a treatment begins, the guest is given a hot towel wipe on his or her feet, instead of a foot ritual. A gentle ring on a Tibetan Bowl announces the start of the treatment, while filling the air with positive vibrations. I surrendered myself to the expert therapist and let her ease away my fatigue and niggling pains.

On the shelves
All treatments rendered at the Heavenly Spa are effective not just because of the technique but also the products. Premium brands like Pevonia are used for facials, while Pevonia, Oligodermie and Phytomer are used for scrubs. Oils are sourced from popular local brand, Kelkar Foods, which supplies to all leading spas in India.

In retail, the spa stocks products like bathing bars, face washes, body washes, face gels and lip balms by Rustic Art, an organic products’ brand based in Satara, Maharashtra. They also sell diffusers by Passion Indulge. These are fast selling items because they are reasonably priced.

Fitness first
The therapy did wonders for my gym sore muscles, and the fitness freak in me got curious about the spa’s fitness facilities. As mentioned above, the Westin hotels accord fitness a lot of importance with a number of programs and facilities like the gym and pool. The gym is large with an array of cardio and weight equipment.

The open air pool on the second floor of the hotel is also popular with the guests as are the squash courts. In fact, the squash courts at the Westin are among the few in the city and are hence almost always booked. One of the courts is for guests to use, while the other is used for training.

Other fitness activities offered in the spa/hotel include Yoga, Aerobics, Zumba and dance. Dr. Sawale, the spa manger, who is also a certified Yoga trainer, holds complementary and paid Yoga sessions for guests at the separate Yoga room in the hotel. The spa also plans to add Bollywood dance classes in association with a Pune-based dance academy soon, thereby widening the scope of fitness activities at the spa.

Staff and training
The Heavenly Spa takes its therapists as seriously as its therapies. The spa employs a team of 7 therapists (all female), 3 gym instructors, and 1 pool attendant, along with a spa manager and an assistant spa manager. The housekeeping is done by the hotel’s housekeeping team.
The basic recruitment criteria for therapists are a spa therapist certificate course and at least two years of experience. Spa manager, Dr. Sawale also tests them on massage skills and prefers to get references of past record from their previous employers.

Training and refresher sessions are periodically held by brands, updating the skills of therapists. Many such sessions are recorded to be shown to new joinees later. This ensures that all therapists are at par will their skill sets.

To heaven and back
I could vouch for the expertise of the therapists by the experience I had at the Heavenly Spa. Lying on the treatment bed of the beautiful couple therapy room, soaking in the luxury and ambient music, inhaling the scent of the Westin Signature White Tea and Aloe essential oil, I felt all my worries melt away, and I wondered when I would get to make this trip to heaven again.

Fact File

Name of the Spa: The Heavenly Spa at Westin, Pune, Koregaon Park
Address/Contact: 36/3-B, Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhawa Road, Ghorpadi, Access Rd, Koregaon Park Annexe, Mundhwa, Pune, Maharashtra, Ph: 020-6721 0000
Global spa director: Jeremy McCarthy
Spa manager: Dr. Darshana Sawale
Spa area: 5000 sq. ft.
Spa team: 12 (including therapists, gym instructors and pool attendant)
Spa facilities: 6 treatment rooms, including one couple room and a Thai massage room, attached steam and shower facilities, separate changing rooms and wet areas for men and women, Indo-Western treatments
Spa timings: 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
Tariff: Rs 1700 to Rs 13500 plus Taxes

Brightness Boosting Serum

April 8th, 2014

L’Occitane brings to you its Brightening Essence Serum for the face, under the Immortelle range of products. The new brightening essence formula is infused with Corsican Immortelle and Bellis Perennis that have brightness and radiance boosting actions. The serum sinks into the skin with its fresh light texture and reduces the appearances of all types of dark spots giving more luminous even-toned complexion.
Available at all L’Occitane stores

Kairali launches new Spa Institutes

April 7th, 2014

Kairali Ayurveda Group plans to set up four spa training institutes in India in Delhi, Kerala and the North-Eastern states. Out of these the first one will be at Delhi, which will be up and running by the third quarter of the year. The Kerala Ayurvedic brand plans to impart training on Ayurvedic spa therapies and Yoga to at least 500 students, a much bigger aim than their current batch-size at the Ayurveda Healing Village’s training courses.

Tano Capital invests in Indian brand for overseas expansion

April 7th, 2014

Indian wellness company, Sanghvi Brands has received an investment of  Rs 62 crore ($10 million) from private equity firm Tano Capital. The Pune-based company operates a number of international wellness brands in India and will be using the funding to expand overseas. This is the first time that the company has raised outside funding since its establishment in 2010. Sanghvi Brands operates wellness brand like Spa L’Occitane in India and has rights to develop chains under brands like Holyfield Gyms, Warren Tricomi Salons, etc.

Free Visas for Maldivian medical tourists

April 7th, 2014

India, in a dramatic reversal of last year’s move of increasing visa restrictions, is now offering free 90-day visas to Maldivian nationals. The tourists could be travelling for purely medical reasons or even for medical healing or rejuvenation through holistic therapies like Ayurveda. Apart from the Maldives, only two other countries – Nepal and Bhutan are provided free visas. India registered just over 40,000 Maldivian arrivals last year.