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So Spa, So Good
The So Spa at Sofitel, Mumbai brings a brand of elegant French sophistication with its flagship property in India

As India’s commercial capital, Mumbai has some of the best brands and hotels, each bringing to the table the best and classiest of services. However, with the advent of Sofitel, the city has had its first real flavor of luxurious French hospitality. With over 120 hotels across the world, the Sofitel chain of hotels is reputed for its world class facilities. In Mumbai, the Sofitel was launched in March 2012 in the up-market BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex) area, which is home to some of the largest corporations in the country. Since opening, the hotel has catered to the city’s elite and upper tier of business travellers. The hotel seeks to offer the best in class services and amenities for a 360̊̊̊̊̊̊° hospitality experience. Notable among those amenities are the stunning So Spa and the gym called So Fit. I was eager to sample the famed French experience when the opportunity came my way.

Fashionable by design

The French are known for all things beautiful, given their strong sense of aesthetic. It reflects in their fashion, their food and their architecture. Design is a very significant aspect of the Sofitel experience and each one of their properties has exquisite, sometimes even ostentatious, design elements. Enter the hotel lobby and you’ll see what I mean. A gargantuan chandelier (almost two floors high!) hangs from the ceiling, letting you know that you’ve entered a premium space.

The hotel, including the So Spa, has been designed by Isabelle Miaja of the Singapore-based Miaja Design Group. Isabelle, with her French origins and sensibilities, gives to the hotel a distinctively elegant identity. The interior design theme is ‘gold and diamonds’ – a shared passion of the French and Indian – and one sees a liberal use of these elements throughout the property.

I am ushered to the third floor of the hotel, which houses the So Spa and the pool and I notice the beautiful gold accents all over the place. However, my eyes are arrested by the stunning centrepiece in the spa reception. Spa manager, Manoj Chauhan, tells me that the installation made of glass globes strung on metal wires is called ‘Golden Drops of Luxury’. “It is inspired by rain and the feelings of well-being associated with it. The string of delicate glass globes are like drops of rain, only golden and luxurious. It rains luxury at the So Spa,” says Chauhan proudly of the installation.  

The other notable piece of art is a wrought iron ‘Tree of Life’ on one of the walls of the reception area. It signifies the rejuvenating and body-renewing experiences the spa has to offer its clients. The interiors of the spa are bright and pleasant with controlled lighting. The angular placements, tilt-glass style and use of gleaming gold remind one of the designer’s fervor towards gold and diamonds. Spread over 6000 sq. ft., the So Spa is not just a treat to the body, but also to the eyes.

Treating us nice

Like any other international spa, the So Spa offers a host of body and face treatments, but what makes them truly unique is that their spa menu is based on the principles of gastronomy! “In fact,” Chauhan elaborates, “the whole So Hotel concept in inspired by France’s famous culinary traditions. Our spa menu has treatments categorized as ‘Starters’, ‘Main Course’ and ‘Desserts’, whereby, the Starters are short treatments spanning 30 minutes or less, the Main Course are the 60-90 minute treatments and the Desserts are short finishing treatments. The Signature Treatments are part of the La Ca Carte section and there are more options still in under ‘Menu Suggestions’! Additionally, we have Ayurveda treatments on our menu, given how popular they are with some patrons.”

The products used for these treatments are from Cinq Mondes and Gemology, two premium French beauty brands. These have been brought to India for the first time by So Spa. Chauhan explains, “Gemology was chosen for So Spa not pokies games just for its uber luxuriousness but also to drive home the theme of diamonds we have for the spa. Watch out for our signature facial treatment called Le Diamataire, for which we use Gemology products. Our other signature treatments are So Exhilarating Body Massage and So Rejuvenating Facial.”

These luxuriously refreshing treatments are rendered in the expansive spa, which has six treatment rooms. Of these, one is a couple therapy room and five are single treatment rooms. Ayurveda treatments are offered in one of the single rooms, and it has the special provision for a single person Jacuzzi. All other rooms have attached showers, but curiously no steam facilities. In fact, the wet area with a steam and is on the fourth floor, next to the gym, thereby offering guests no choice for a steam/sauna session pre or post treatment.

Level up

The fourth floor houses an 1800 sq. ft. gymnasium called So Fit, a trademarked Sofitel brand, like the So Spa. In fact, there are strict guidelines for what makes a So Spa or a So Fit. “Any spa with less than four treatment rooms cannot be a So Spa and no gym with Technogym equipment can be a So Fit,” explains Chauhan. Some other spa brands that operate in Sofitel properties include Thalasso and L’Occitane. 

In fact, the So Fit gym at Sofitel, BKC is the only gymnasium in India with Kinesis – an advanced piece of equipment by Technogym which allows multiple users to do upto 200 kinds of exercises with computer aided programs. The So Fit gym is very popular with the house guests as it is from other members, given its high tech equipment and qualified trainers.

Along with the wet area, the wellness space spans 6000 sq. ft. on the fourth floor, thereby offering guests all manner of wellness and fitness amenities.

In able hands

The busy spa sees guests from not just the hotel but also from outside. Chauhan asserts that they get 60% house guests while 40% are non-hotel guest patrons. This kind of crowd is serviced by a 21-member team under Chauhan. Chauhan himself has over 10 years of industry experience, having started out as a therapist and moved up the professional ladder. Under him there is a retinue of seven all-female spa therapists, two receptionists, five gym instructors, three pool instructors and some attendants.

The spa employs experienced therapists to ensure that So Spa’s international standards are maintained. New recruits train under older ones initially, and then are leveled up with the others during the refresher courses that take place every 6-8 months. The basic academic qualification needed for therapists is HSC with at least three years of spa experience at a luxury hotel. Preference is given to those with CIBTAC and CIDESCO certifications.

All therapists are trained by their corporate trainer based in France for the Signature Treatments – So Exhilarating Body Massage and So Rejuvenating Facial.

 So amazing

The So Spa sets a glorious example in design and treatment menu for other luxury spaces by being truly different. Unabashed in the show of opulence and unafraid of taking creative liberties with their mix & match menu, So Spa will give a client a lot of things to remember them by.

 

SPA STATISTICS

Name of spa: So Spa at the Sofitel Hotel

Address/ Contact: Sofitel Mumbai BKC, C-57, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai – 400051; Tel: +91 22 6117 5000 fax: +91 22 6117 5001, Fax: +91 22 6117 5000 e-mail: h645[email protected], Web: www.sofitel.com

Spa manager: Manoj Chauhan

Spa area: 6 treatment rooms – 6000 sq. ft.

Spa team: 21 (including gym & pool instructors and attendants)

Spa facilities: 6 treatment rooms, including 1 couple room with Jacuzzi, attached shower chambers, a single Jacuzzi tub in one of the single rooms

Spa timings: 09 am to 11 pm

Tariff: INR 1800 onwards

Membership plans: Prepaid, time bound packages

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