The wellness and spa industry in India blends age-old therapeutic treatments of yore, having its roots in Ayurveda, along with super-luxury ambience of modern-day spa resorts. The concept of luxury spa holidays is catching up, amongst foreign tourists and local residents alike, leading to the growth of day spas as well. Although destination resort spas make up of nearly 50% of the rejuvenation and spa market in India, day spas account for the other half, and are growing rapidly to reach a larger consumer base.
The general movement toward wellness has opened many new doors for the skin care and spa industry. Based on the country’s ancient, long-standing traditions of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, spiritual and healing practices, spas in India are the perfect setting to provide wellness to clients. According to a report on Spas and the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities, “The tradition of the spa industry as a place for healing, renewal, relaxation and ‘feeling well’ positions it as one of the most logical sectors to take advantage of and lead the wellness movement.”
Indian Spas race for growth
India is generating approximately $600 million annually through the spa industry alone. According to Shahnaz Husain, India’s most visible entrepreneur in the beauty care space, “With over 700 spas predicted to open doors by 2017 and an extended global spa economy estimated at $255 billion, India will continue to be a hot spot for medical tourists who seek travel services that incorporate diverse wellness packages, including those that couple medical procedures with spa indulgences, ayurvedic treatments or cultural immersion experience”.
The demand for spa vacations is definitely on the rise and most hotels and spa brands are now seriously looking at making the spa experience exclusive since that could be the single most factor that brings in guests. According to Karan Anand, Head Relationships, Cox & Kings, “There has been a surge in the number of discerning travellers who take our Xperiential Holiday packages, asking us to specially incorporate different spa experiences. Most of our customers prefer destinations like Rishikesh, Sattal, Coorg, Vythiri, Jaipur and Ooty for a spa vacation.”
The booming industry is attracting branded spa operators as well. According to Red Door, an American spa major, “The rate at which the hospitality industry, especially five-star hotels is growing, and the increasing demand for tourism, thousands of years of culture of well-being (Ayurveda), right demographics and a younger population (highly educated and affluent) are significant drivers for our entering India”.
While the state of Kerala in southern India has for long been the preferred destination for those wanting to not just rejuvenate and relax but also find a cure to their body aches and pains through healing therapies, other parts of India are fast emerging as excellent spa destinations. Nestled against the backdrop of the mighty Himalayan mountain ranges or on the shores of sacred rivers, these new spas offer a mix of traditional Indian and new age therapies. A general trend is to experience a spa facility or enrol for spa therapies while on vacation to a well-known tourist destination. World Travel Magazine lists some of the popular spas in this genre.
Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village Health Resort, Palakkad, Kerala
Kerala’s equable climate, abundance of forests that house a wealth of herbs and medicinal plants and thousands of years of Ayurveda history gives it the tag of being the most curative and restorative destination. Kerala is actually the mother of all spa destinations in India. Every street in the state has an Ayurveda massage centre. Each hotel offers traditional Kerala massages. Properties like the Aveda Kumarakom, which is perfectly poised on the famous backwaters is in fact designed to relax and rejuvenate soul, body and mind. Located in god’s own country in the city of Palakkad, the Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village Health Resort is an abode of bliss and serenity, surrounded by lush greenery and abundance of natural beauty. This spa is the epitome of natural rejuvenation and uses ingredients you won’t find anywhere else, retrieved from the abundant surrounding forests. A stay here ensures long-term benefits, as Kairali’s Ayurveda treatments cleanse, heal and educate.
Ananda Spa, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is hailed as the land of the Gods. With many religious trails in the state, it draws devotees from across the world. Located at a height of 8,250 feet in the majestic Himalayan range, this luxury resort offers a range of remedies for various body disorders, combining with traditional oil baths, massages and therapies recommended by Ayurveda doctors.
Ananda has emerged as a top favourite with its residential yoga, meditation and spa treatments, wooing foreign clients who book themselves and fly in specially to experience the Ananda brand of peace, tranquillity and healing. The spa is situated in the beautiful settings of the foothills of the Himalayas and next to the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.
Built majestically on the Maharaja’s palace estate, with Sal forests in the vicinity and the majestic Ganga flowing by, the Ananda Spa offers a mix of spirituality, relaxation and sheer ecstasy. Some of the popular treatments are the Wild Rose Salt Scrub, Abhyanga, the Indian ayurvedic oil massage therapy, Yoga Nidra, Ananda fusion of Thai, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Deep Tissue, Tibetan and Swedish massage techniques. There is a daily schedule of yoga, meditation, pranayama, vedanta and fitness sessions. Long walks and mini treks to nearby mountains and hillside locations form an integral part of the stay here.
Kaya Kalp Royal Spa, Agra
The Taj Mahal in Agra is at the very top of interests of all tourists coming into India. Some of the hotels in the city have evolved their services over the decades, making a stretch to offer exclusive spa facilities, gourmet cuisines and top of the line luxuries, the temptation to stay and experience relaxation with royalty as a backdrop is tempting to say the least. The Kaya Kalp Royal Spa resort, spread over 99,000 sq feet of pristine space, is one of the largest luxury spas in India, capturing the eyes of visitors with its majestic splendour and offerings. Some of the spa’s signature massages are designed to bring back your inner glow. Its magnificent water bodies are scattered all around and fountains and rain water sprays add to the ambience. Courtyards of greenery embrace vibrant blue skies creating a mesmerizing effect.
Wildflower Hall, Shimla
Set in one of the quaintest of hill stations that still has a strong British flavour, Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall offers holistic Ayurveda treatments based on age-old therapies, as well as oriental and western offerings. The Spa pavilion overlooks the cedar and pine forests, with each private spa enclosure ensuring privacy and personalised attention. Luxurious spa programmes come with body scrubs, head massages and Himalayan cedar baths. In addition, there are revitalising beauty enhancement massages that use geranium cream, citrus honey and Himalayan spice wraps. Then there is the dry herb invigorating massage, marma therapy, Chakra head and shoulder massage, and aromatherapy face massage to bring energy and lift spirits. Yoga and meditation along with a heated swimming pool, outdoor jacuzzi and long leisurely walks in the cedar forest trails will put you in a zen state of mind. For those interested in exploring the outdoors, there are options for river rafting, mountain biking, billiards, archery, ice skating and also jam making since the area is abundantly enriched with apple orchards.
Amatrra Spa, New Delhi
A part of the Mayar group, Amatrra has emerged as one of Delhi’s exclusive spa destinations. It has an impressive clientele of diplomats, senior politicians and is often visited by international dignitaries. The spa combines fitness with wellness and accordingly customises programmes for guests based on the time they have and the areas they wish to cover. From detoxification of the body by removing toxins through the lymphatic drainage to improving blood circulation, they provide detailed consultations by trained doctors before creating a package for you. Medicated oils are used which consists of various herbs, each having its own odour and colour. The treatment is carried out by different ways of massage and results in bringing a glow to the face and the skin fully nurtured. Since the spa is located in the capital city of India, there is a lot that you can experience, from walking on heritage trails, to shopping in the many bazaars and emporiums to experiencing Mughal architecture, gardens and monuments.
Clients are advised to do their homework before signing up for any centre or spa and preferably go for those which have an accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Health care providers (NABH).