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Discover the Mughal Grandeur
ITC Marathas newly-renovated Kaya Kalp Spa transports the jaded modern day traveller into a contemporary Mughal paradise.

The ITC Maratha Mumbai, host to high profile celebrities, business visitors and international travelers is strategically located close to the international airport. In keeping with ITC’s tradition of drawing from local history and culture when building its hotels, The Maratha is inspired by the Maratha Dynasty and colonial heritage of Mumbai.

While the rugged and imposing stone exterior, reminiscent of the Maratha warrior king Shivaji’s forts is softened by graceful neo-classical arches introduced by the British, the hotel’s distinctive dome is Indo-Sarsenic in character. However, it is when you step into the hotel that you experience the beautiful royal interiors inspired by Mumbai’s architectural heritage – a fusion of Maharashtrian, Portugese and Victorian influences. Embellished with silver chandeliers, paintings, wooden horse statues and gorgeous Paithani silks in a very contemporary setting, the legacy of this region comes to life.
The hotel now has a serene sanctuary to offer its guests, the newly renovated Kaya Kalp Spa which I am there to see.

The Unique Concept
The Kaya Kalp is ITC’s very own spa brand. In Sanskrit it means ‘rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul’. The luxurious wellness centre offers traditional ancient Indian therapies along with specialised western treatments in an ‘East meets West’ philosophy. The concept of Kaya Kalp began a few years ago when ITC Hotels wanted to create its own brand of spas within their luxury collection hotels. The flagship spa was launched at ITC Mughal Agra as ‘Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa’ and the brand building process started from there.

“The Kaya Kalp Spa is a very well recognised brand, and Kaya Kalp Agra has won many awards,” says Philippe Charraudeau, Vice President (Western Region) & General Manager – ITC Maratha. Kaya Kalp Spas are deeply rooted in Indian wellness philosophies and enable a complete regeneration of the senses. Inspired by the Pomegranate, the royal fruit of the Mughal era brought to India by Mughal Emperor Babur, the fruit is the leitmotif for the spa. Known for its antioxidant and medicinal properties, good for health as well as for the external applications, the fruit is used not just in decoration but also for treatments in the Spa.

The Royal Design
The stunning entrance of the Kaya Kalp rolls out its signature ruby red and white design on the white terrazzo flooring with an inlay of red engineered stone inspired by the pomegranate. This dramatic design plays out on the spa reception wall, as well as in the beautiful circular foyer in the spa which leads out to the various treatment rooms. True to the original design elements, beautiful stone jali (lattice) work lines the walls, and the pomegranates designed in silver leaf adorns them. Designers M/S P49 Design & Associates of Bangkok have indeed recreated a luxurious royal paradise with mother of pearl tables, inlay and convex mirror work on feature walls, the beautiful pendant lamps which set the mood, all inspired by the opulence of the Mughal dynasty.

The Kaya Kalp Spa
The newly-renovated Kaya Kalp Spa occupies almost half a floor offering health, fitness and beauty facilities to its guests with a sprawling outdoor pool, a gym and the spa. The renovation took six to seven months, during which time spa and gym services were made available to guests from a different area.

“We needed to uplift our existing spa which was here from a long time and bring it up to Agra standards to fit the brand name,” Philippe Charraudeau tells me. The idea was to bring it at par with other Kaya Kalp Spas, and to increase the size as Charraudeau feels that people are more focused on health today, and when they go to a spa, they want to relax and enjoy the treatments.

The Spa now occupies a spacious 9000 sq.ft., with nine treatment rooms – five singles, one superior couple’s suite, one standard couple’s suite, one Ayurvedic suite, and one Thai treatment suite. Three relaxation areas, men’s and ladies’ changing rooms, and wet areas with steam, sauna and Jacuzzi complete the offering. A luxurious roof-top pool surrounded by greenery is an oasis for relaxation, while the gym has top-of-line equipment for fitness enthusiasts.
The Spa Reception leads to the Beauty Salon on one side and the Spa on the other. Guests can choose their treatments here assisted by Spa Manager, Mia Munshi, who heads the spa operations. She was the spa manager of the Kaya Kalp at ITC Gardenia and Windsor in Bangalore prior to taking up this assignment few months ago.

While the outside guests are free to use the salon facilities, the Spa is for house guests only. “On a trial basis, we are selectively allowing a limited number of outside guests to use the spa during its non-peak hours so that it doesn’t interfere with our guests. We don’t want to deprive them of these facilities,” says Charraudeau. He aims to effectively utilise the free hours in the spa, but will not consider opening up the pool or gym area. “It’s not large enough” he explains.

Defying typical spa colours, the rich red of the fruit has been alternated with a soothing white throughout the spa, be it on marble, wood or fabric. The pomegranate theme echoes throughout the spa HCG Diet and each of the nine treatment rooms have incorporated the fruit in different designs, patterns and materials. Each room is equipped for its specific function, be it Ayurveda, Thai or western treatments. But the most luxurious of all is the superior couple’s suite which features a contoured soaking tub; parallel treatment beds for simultaneous therapy, private showers and a relaxation sofa, all equipped to pamper the guests.

So what makes the spa a Kaya Kalp Spa? “Everything!” says Mia Munshi. “The aroma you smell as soon as you enter; the design on the floor, walls and ceiling; our signature treatments…”

Spa Treatments
Offering the best of the East therapies and Western treatments, Kaya Kalp guests are spoilt for choice. The Spa offers two exclusive Spa Journeys, one inspired by the Pomegranate and the second, inspired by Ayurveda, both offering the guest deep relaxation and wellbeing. Ayurvedic rituals and treatments are offered in the most authentic way possible, with the dharadhoni bed carved out of a single neem tree being used for certain kinds of massage.

According to Munshi, ITC uses local indigenous products wherever possible, with the Pomegranate used in scrubs (along with brown sugar) and oils. India’s famous basmati rice is also used for scrubs, while the wraps are made of Himalayan clay or other revitalizing muds. Similarly authentic Ayurvedic or aromatherapy oils are custom made exclusively for ITC. “Using natural products and ingredients is our focus, with ITC’s commitment to be green,” Munshi tells me.
All spa treatments are delivered by specialized therapists, well trained in the different modalities. Each spa treatment begins with a foot wash, a ritual steeped in the Indian culture which helps the therapist welcome the guest and ensure that the energies are positive. “The comfort of our guest is of ultimate importance; we want to look after them like a baby,” exhorts Charraudeau who feels that therapists should have a very gentle and caring attitude.

Training
“People are very important and one can go wrong at the recruitment stage itself” says Philippe Charraudeau. ITC follows a stringent recruitment policy, where the applicant undergoes a trade test as per his specialization, followed by up to five rounds of interviews. “We have a strike rate of only 6%,” he says.
Once selected, the candidate undergoes an induction which tells them about the company culture, the dos and don’ts, the Kaya Kalp brand and the philosophy behind it. They are then put on the job with a shadow for one month. Even trained staff has to undergo induction and the training is given in Hindi and English. The staff is also taught soft skills. Munshi tells me that the key point during the training is recognising sexual harassment, and the therapist is free to walk out mid-treatment and report to her.
Future Plans
So what are the future plans for Kaya Kalp, I ask Charraudeau. “We are very proud to have renovated this beautiful spa here. We have a great team working, and I know the Spa will do very well. I am convinced we can become a benchmark very soon.”

“We have a new product (the spa), new Spa Manager and a total management change at my level too. We have started some new initiatives for Kaya Kalp with opening it selectively to outsiders during its non-peak hours.” The hotel now offers an option to book a spa treatment at a special price on the room reservation confirmation. “This will get people to book in advance, which is good!” he says.

Judging from the feedback, guests are obviously very happy with the renovated Kaya Kalp Spa. Next on the anvil is a new Kaya Kalp Spa at the ITC Grand Central, which is again a revamp of their existing spa. “The Kaya Kalp Spa is ITC’s own brand, well recognised and awarded; it is an integral part of the design in the luxury segment. People love it and are very complimentary. It is very well received. As we grow, we will enhance the brand, make it more sophisticated, prettier in terms of decor. I see a great future for it.”

Fact File

Name of the Spa: Kaya Kalp, the Spa, ITC Maratha
Address: ITC Maratha,Sahar Andheri (E), Mumbai 400 099, Maharashtra, India
Tel: (91) (22) 28303030
Email: reservations.itcmaratha@itchotels.in
Website: www.itchotels.in
General Manager: Mr. Philippe Charraudeau, VP (West) & General Manager, ITC Maratha
Spa Manager: Mia Munshi, Spa Manager, ITC Maratha
Spa Architect: M/S P49 Design & Associates, Bangkok
Spa Area: 10,000 Sq. feet
Spa Team (No. Of Staff): 27
Max. no. of Treatments in a Day: 60
Spa Facilities: 5 individual treatment rooms, 1 superior couple’s suite, 1 standard couple’s suite, 1 Ayurvedic suite, 1 Thai treatment suite, Wet areas, Steam, Sauna, Jacuzzi, swimming pool, gymnasium, 3 relaxation areas, Yoga & Meditation (1 day prior appointment specifically for Yoga & Meditation)
Treatment Prices (Range): On an average Rs 2,500 – Rs 10,000

About ITC Hotels

ITC Hotels is a name synonymous with Indian Hospitality with the traditional Namaste as its symbol. This gesture of welcome is a core value of ITC Hotels and intrinsic to every facet of service provided at ITC Hotels. Today, ITC has 10 luxury collection hotels and 10 Sheraton and WelcomeHotels.

Writer | Sandhya Chipalkatti  

 

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