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Siddh for the senses
India’s first spa based on the indigenous Siddha system of medicine, the Siddh Spa at the Hyatt Regency, Chennai sets a new benchmark in the industry.

As one of the world’s leading hotel chains, Hyatt has created many a landmark in the hospitality industry. Among its many brands, the Hyatt Regency is hailed as one of the best business hotel chains. The Hyatt Regency, Chennai, in particular, has been awarded the Best International Hotel Marketing in the World 2012 Award by International Hotel Awards in the UK. Naturally, I was thrilled at the opportunity to review the spa at such a popular property. It would be my first trip to Chennai and my first spa experience, based on Siddha medicine.
Chennai calling
The capital of Tamil Nadu is a pleasant 29˚C (yes, that’s Chennai weather for you) when I arrive at the Chennai International Airport. I am treated to Hyatt’s famous hospitality right from the start when a chauffeured SUV drives me to the hotel. In the almost hour-long journey, I take in the sights and sounds of the metro. While Chennai has all the trappings of a big city like malls and flyovers and huge commercial complexes, its skyline still looks a little uncluttered, and life still a little unhurried.
High on Hyatt
Situated in Anna Salai, the hotel is situated close to Chennai’s IT corridor and the Chennai Trade Centre. This ensures that the hotel gets a steady stream of visitors and is choc-a-bloc on many days with conferences and meets being held there. With 327 rooms, 24-hour open business centre, conference and meeting rooms, the Hyatt Regency is the perfect choice for the business traveller – where he can work… and play.
The Hyatt Regency offers plenty for leisure hours too, with its food, art, and wellness choices. The hotel houses some of the city’s finest restaurants – Spice Haat for delectable Indian food, Stix for authentic Chinese and Foccacia for a truly Italian dining experience. Apart from these, there is Biscotti, a gourmet deli, 365 AS, a lounge bar and a Lobby Lounge, which is perfect for business lunches.
Art is a big point of focus at the Hyatt Regency. Curated by Rajeev Sethi, the hotel has the single largest collection of contemporary art works based on a single theme – bees. Big and small pieces of art lay installed all over the hotel, not just beautifying the space but also informing and motivating guests about all aspects of bees and bee keeping.
Fitness and wellness are given equal importance at the hotel, and the Hyatt Regency is equipped with all that is necessary and desirable for the health goals of a frequent business traveller.
The science of Siddha
The Siddha medicine is a form of south Indian Tamil traditional medicine and part of the trio Indian medicines – Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. Siddha meaning ‘perfect’ aims to tap into the primordial wisdom of traditional Tamil Nadu and is believed to rejuvenate dysfunctional internal systems to promote natural wellness and rebalance the ideal ratio of Vatham, Pitham and Kapam (much like the Ayurvedic principles of Vata, Pitta and Kapha).
Siddha is nearly 10,000 years old medical system followed by the Tamil people, both in India and abroad. The system is believed to be developed by the 18 siddhas in the south called Siddhar. They are the ancient supernatural spiritual saints of India and the Siddha system is believed to be handed over to the Siddhar by the Hindu God – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.
The Siddha-Spa connection: Siddha being popular in Tamil Nadu was one of the primary reasons for Hyatt Regency to set up a spa based exclusively on Siddha principles. Besides, there was a question of exclusivity. There are many Ayurveda spas in India. In fact, the only thing Indian about the spa culture seems to be based on Ayurveda. “We wanted something different. So, a Siddha-based spa menu was designed by our first spa manager, Dr. Anand, in consultation with Dr. Sanjay Khanzode, our Director of Spa at the Grand Hyatt Bali and also member of our Council of Experts. Thus, Siddha Spa was born,” explains Vishal Sapra, Director of Rooms.
Siddh Spa
Within the generous 796 sq. ft. of area on level 1 of the Hyatt Regency is ensconced the Siddh Spa, which opened in October, 2012. The calming environs of the spa, like the rest of the hotel, have been created by architects at ID Studio. However, the interiors have been done in-house. This is probably the reason why the spa lacks a central theme, which is in vogue in all contemporary spas. But the spa is warm and inviting, making you want to step right in for a session of pampering, or two. The setting is very modern, and I find myself constantly comparing it to an Ayurveda-based spa.
On arrival, I am ushered in for a foot ritual and herbal tea is served to me. After I’ve winded down, I am introduced to my therapist, who leads me to a cozy treatment room. There are six such treatment rooms in the spa, one of which is meant for couples. Three out of six rooms have attached steam and shower facilities. These apart, there are separate changing, locker and wet areas for men and women. The wet area comprises Jacuzzis, sauna, steam and shower chambers and a lap pool (4 foot deep, 20 mts length and 10mts breadth).
Once inside the treatment room, I am enveloped in the soothing sensations of music and fragrance. Therapies are subscribed according to the nature or current disposition of the client, although the client assessment isn’t as extensive as in a genuine Ayurveda. The spa manager isn’t a certified Siddha medicine practitioner, as opposed to a trained Ayurvedic doctor found in Ayurveda-based spas. After a brief chat, I am ready for a Pottanam Signature Therapy.
In the tradition of Siddha medicine, every plant or herb has its own therapeutic benefit. A poultice, which is a herbal mixture wrapped in cloth to treat skin, is applied during the massage. In the pottanam signature therapy, hot herbal poultices (also known as thavara pottanam), are bundled with herbs and plants best suited to your type (vatham, pitham or kapham). Before the pottanam is applied, oils and deep tissue techniques are used to increase the body’s reception to the poultices, which are then tapped and rubbed over the body with gentle pressure, providing deep heat relief to muscles and connective tissues. Treatment improves blood circulation, detoxifies the body by increasing lymphatic circulation, and removes muscle tension.
The Pottanam Signature is a very sought-after therapy. “Other popular therapies include massages under the Siddha Touch category called Nidra and Urja,” Sapra tells me. These are relaxation and deep tissue massages and are available for 60 and 90-min durations.
The hour-long therapy was followed by a steam and a shower, which left me feeling utterly refreshed. I was also treated to a 60-min June Jacobs Signature Facial, which is designed to suit all skin types. The facial maximizes the skin’s ability to generate new skin cells, enhance moisture retention, and counter the signs of environmental damage with powerful enzymes, skin hydrators and anti-oxidants.
Apart from the massages and facials, the Siddha Spa also offers spa programmes, scrubs, wraps, Yoga and meditation on the menu. The eclectic menu reflects the modern twist given to an ancient system of medicine, offering the best of both worlds.
Staff @ Siddha
The spa currently has seven therapists in all – six female and one male, while the fitness centre has four expert fitness trainers. Experienced therapists as well as freshers are recruited and there is a mandatory 2-month initial in-house training soon after joining. Refresher programs are conducted every 6 months, so that the therapists are in tune with the latest massage techniques and products in the market.
The present spa manager at the Siddha Spa is Dr. Jojy Abraham, who took over the reins from Dr. Anand in February 2013. With 12 years of experience with renowned spa properties, Dr. Jojy will be supervising all activities related to the spa. He will anticipate, identify and ensure fulfillment of guest needs in the best way possible, developing spa marketing strategies by studying the market, ensure costs are controlled as per budget figures, manage inventory effectively and assisting the team in their growth.
Whether it is with their courteous hospitality, their world-class facilities or their concept spa, the Hyatt Regency, Chennai, lives up to the expectations of even the most exacting guest. A session or two at the Siddha Spa, in particular, makes for a memorable experience, as one soaks in the heritage of Southern India through the spa treatments based on ancient Siddha medicine. This place is certainly bookmarked in my head for when Chennai beckons again.

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