Dec 18, 2009

L'Occitane's Limited Edition range for X'mas 2010

Gorgeous creams and lotions; perfect gift for your loved ones this season

L'Occitane, a leading brand in natural beauty care offers a Limited Edition range of delicious scents for the festive season 2010. The products are especially formulated with natural essentials oils that aren't harsh on sensitive skin types.
The Christmas Limited Edition collections include Candied Rose, Sweet Cherry and Shea Vanilla, all bursting with fabulous fragrances.
The products are available at leading L'Occitane stores in India


Candied fruit, in Provence, has been, for many years, the ultimate delicacy at festive celebrations. Some of the most desirable flowers can also tempt the taste buds and are prepared using traditional methods. Roses are coated in a syrup that crystallizes over time and turns every petal into a mouth-watering delicate delight. No wonder, the products by L'Occitane aren't harsh on the skin.

Candied Rose Body Cream (Rs 2,300 for 200 ml)
Enriched with the goodness of naturally perfumed roses and almond oil, this body cream moisturizes and perfumes the skin. The light texture is rapidly absorbed and leaves behind an iridescent sheen to subtly illuminate the skin.

Candied Rose Bath Powder (Rs 1,380 for 250 gms)
This non-foaming bath powder colors and perfumes the bath water to delight the senses. The floral scent of sugar-coated rose petals, on the other hand, are gentle on the skin. You just need to pour a spoonful of this incredible bath powder (approximately 20gm for 200 litre) into your bath water, stir and enjoy a luxurious bath.

Candied Rose Scented candle (Rs 1,800 for 200 gms)
This scented candle diffuses a subtle scent of sugar-coated rose petals, to fill the home with a delicious and delicate aroma. Approximately 30 hours of fragrance. It's what you need on the bathroom shelf while you enjoy that gorgeous, gorgeous bath.

Candied Rose Hand Cream (Rs495 for 30 ml)
Enriched with shea butter, this hand cream nourishes and perfumes hands. Thanks to their small, portable size, these products can be slipped into a bag and make the perfect travel companions!


L’OCCITANE invites you to discover a truly delectable combination: the soft and subtle scent of shea nuts coated with smooth vanilla. This mouth-watering temptation is so deliciously appealing that even men will find it hard to resist.

Shea Vanilla Body Cream (Rs 2,300 200 ml)
Formulated with a high concentration of shea butter (15 per cent, to be precise) and enriched with vanilla from Madagascar, this body cream nourishes, protects and perfumes the skin with a delicious scent. Its smooth, silky, non-greasy texture is rapidly absorbed, for supple and moisturized skin.


Imagine a handful of juicy cherries coated with candied sugar. Imagine fruity, zesty scents of sweet cherries. That's what you'll get if you pick up L'Occtane's new festive range of this Limited Edition collection

Sweet Cherry Scented Candle (Rs 1,800 for 200 gms)
The Sweet Cherry candle diffuses the soft, zesty scent of a juicy fruit to create a warm atmosphere to fill your home/bathroom.

Sweet Cherry Shower Gel (Rs 450 for 750 ml)
Enriched with special cherry extracts, the shower gel gently cleanses and delicately perfumes skin.

Winter packages at Aura

Aura, the spa at The Park, is offering special winter spa packages for the festive season. Here are the details:

Aloe-Spice Scrub Aloe Vera, also called Ghritakumari is considered a "magical" ingredient in Ayurveda. At Aura, the therapists gently massage you with a blend of exotic spices and aloe vera to increase blood circulation and relieve you from body aches and fatigue. Duration: 45 minutes; Price: Rs 2,000

Vanilla and Cream Massage It's time to rehydrate your skin this festive season with a vanilla-cream massage. A variety of techniques like skin rolling, kneading, acupressure and long soothing stokes are performed in a rhythmic manner to effectively distribute the nutrients. The treatment promises to enhance energy flow, freshness and add a healthy glow on your face. Duration: 90 minutes; Price: Rs 3,500

Grapevine facial Grapes are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and linoleic acid; all of these boast of anti-ageing properties. The grapevine facial at Aura nourishes, revives and rejuvenates the skin and is especially recommended in the season when the harsh winter breeze tends to dry the skin. What I find particularly cute is that the facial is followed by a glass of -- what else -- a glass of fresh grape juice! The magical spell of the facial, not surprisingly, continues to linger. Duration: 60 minutes; Price: Rs 1,800

Nov 24, 2009

Guy Kremer Eye Catchers & Thai Spa, Mumbai

Guy Kremer Eye Catchers & Thai Spa introduces Fish Spa Exfoliation Therapy for your feet, an extremely popular therapy across the world and a new craze catching on in a big way in India.
The Thai Spa brings to Mumbai a natural foot exfoliation therapy by Nature’s Doctor Fish. Garra Rufa or Doctor Fish as they are called are brought all the way from the hot springs of Turkey where their unique dietary habits were discovered to smoothen human skin to a healthy glow. Lounge with your feet in the fish spa while the Doctor fish nibble away the scaly dead skin on your feet to give you clean, healthy and smooth feet. It also allows newer skin to regenerate leaving your feet completely massaged. Not just this it also promotes blood circulation, lightens minor scars, eases psoriasis and minor eczema and releases stress and tension giving an enjoyable and relaxing feeling.
At Guy Kremer Eye Catchers & Thai Spa water is changed daily. Temperature is controlled at approximately 30 degree C (86 degree F) and pH level is maintained at neutral. It also prevents liquid waste of oxygen.

You can book your appointment at Eyecatchers & The Thai Spa , High Street, Phoenix, Mumbai. 022 30404528/29/ 30.

Nov 3, 2009

Review: Harnn Heritage Spa

My colleague Neha Bhatt had visited the Harnn Heritage Spa in New Delhi recently and written about it too. The article was published in Business Standard Newspaper. She's allowed SPAlendor to use the piece. Thanks so much Neha.

Harnn Heritage Spa, a Thai chain, recently opened for business in India. With its quiet, tasteful wooden interiors, this outlet includes a cafe and is in the rather empty MGF Metropolitan Mall at Saket, New Delhi.

Now, what spa pampering can I pick for a hot summer day? That information is not available on their website, which is still under construction. Over the phone, while making a reservation, the receptionist, a Thai gentlemen, suggested I walk in 10 minutes before the appointment to skim through the menu and zero in on my preference.

At the designated time, over a cup of complimentary herbal tea, I filled out a spa consultation form to specify my massage requirements. The 13-odd treatments listed on the menu include body massages, foot therapies and facials. Their signature treatment, the Jasmine Therapy (Rs 4,500 for 150 minutes), offers all three treatments. The other treatments at Harnn require 45 to 90 minutes. If you prefer an oil massage, you can pick from a range of aromas — rosemary, citrus, lavender and so on. I chose a balm therapy, the Thai Heritage Massage (Rs 1,650) — with medium to firm pressure. Among the other treatments, the facials seemed expensive at Rs 2,250, while the flowery body scrubs seemed slightly more moderate at Rs 2,000. (All prices exclusive of taxes.)

After a quick foot soak, my masseur, Manipuri incidentally, led me to a spacious treatment room, which was again done up quite elegantly and stocked with a range of Harnn beauty products. The masseur quizzed me with a series of questions before the massage. Did I like the music? Yes. Was the room temperature all right? Yes. Did I need to visit the restroom before we started? No, but thanks for asking. Sixty minutes later, I silently declared the massage to have passed my test, with flying colours, I might add. The stretching techniques and pressure from fingers, elbow, knees and feet perfectly worked the black pepper herbal balm into the skin. Post-massage, I was offered another cup of herbal tea and a plate of melon along with a feedback form, which got full marks for the polite staff. The cafe next door, in partnership with restaurateur Ritu Dalmia, offers a menu where beverages are priced at Rs 100 upwards, and short eats from Rs 300. So, even if you are not up for an over-indulgent afternoon at the spa, stop at this snug little cafe and take a peek into the Harnn boutique.

Score: 8/10. For an expensive but pleasing experience

Picture courtesy: Harnn India

Oct 26, 2009

Cleansing it just right

This story was published in Business Standard Newspaper on Sunday

After bingeing on sweets, drinks and greasy food, a detox spa is what you need.

You’ve binged on all the booze, gorged on sweets, lined the stomach with greasy but gratifying Diwali meals. Now, you’re lethargic and dreary, too. Right? Well, what you need is a detox programme, after all those nights of playing teen-patti with kebabs, chips and pakoras by your side. It’s reassuring, all right, but unhealthy eating and late-night rounds of card parties will leave you tired, especially once the festivities are over and you need to rejuvenate yourself quickly to get back to the grind of daily stress and duties.

While it’s absolutely essential to eat right (a good idea is to go on a healthy fruit diet for a week), what I’d personally recommend is spa treatments to leave you relaxed and completely recharged.

A quick-fix weekend break at Ananda, a leading premium spa property, for instance, could be the perfect choice for the post-Diwali detox session. While the property is breathtakingly beautiful, the treatments at Ananda don’t disappoint either. As a post-Diwali fix, Ananda has a host of Ayurvedic treatments which, coupled with yoga and healthy food, aim at complete detoxification of the body. The signature treatments, perfect for post-Diwali detox, include wild rose salt glow (with rose oil and Dead Sea-salt cleansing scrub) and a 45-minute Indian body mask (dry exfoliation with therapeutic clay application for 45 minutes).

If a marathon detox session is what you need, then head to Goa’s Park Hyatt to experience the Samudra Ritual, a three-and-a-half-hour-long treatment that promises to leave you feeling revived from head to toe. The treatment combines hydrotherapy, dry scrubs and algae wraps with rigorous massages using creams that come packed with sea mineral scrubs. The cost: Rs 9,500.

If time is a constraint, we recommend Sole2Sole, a foot reflexology service started by Mallica Singh in Delhi’s Uday Park area. It makes sense to go in for a rejuvenating foot reflexogy treatment, especially because all the hectic Diwali activities have a direct impact on your feet.

Natasha Shah of The Nature Co adds,“Celebrations are bound to take a toll on the body, so it’s important to pamper oneself.” Shah says that a spa-at-home is also an option, what with the availability of quality products, soothing music and candles to create a soft glow. The Nature Co has introduced a special “white pepper cleansing milk”, with antiseptic and purifying qualities, that penetrates the skin to remove impurities. The company’s special range in the “detox” category includes cleansing milk creams, rose hydrating facial mist, corn-based exfoliating face packs and special aroma oils (rosemary-sage-thyme, for example) that promise to treat dull skin.

My personal suggestion, despite all the products you can purchase at stores, would be to get detox treatments done by experts. Thanks to mobile spa vans, you can get masseurs to come to your doorstep. They’ll recreate the magic of a spa in your humble room and transform it radically into a dreamy, wondrous place. Try Tattva, a mobile spa van which has introduced festive specials, including chocolate scrubs, foot spa treatment, facials, traditional Swedish back rubs and much more.

Like Tattva, The Park’s Aura Spa has introduced special spa treatments that are perfect for post-party souls. Our pick: Soothing Pumpkin, a treatment which comes packed with the goodness of beta-carotene, anti-oxidants and vitamins A and C, as well as zinc and alpha-hydroxyl acids. Blended with sesame seeds, the treatment helps sagging skin (something that happens when you consume too much alcohol) and hydrates the skin layers. Available at Rs 2,000 for one hour.

But the ultimate high in a spa experience would be the signature treatments that Aman offers. For an oil-free experience, try Saleekha, a special 90-minute Thai massage which aims at gentle yoga stretches while also using pressure points to energise tired muscles. At Rs 7,000, it’s the perfect recipe for a soothing tomorrow. The best part at Aman is that you can simply surrender yourself to the expert who, after studying your skin type and other details, will suggest a therapy for you. And if time’s a constraint, you could try Shiro, a simple head massage and wrap treatment where the therapist massages rosemary and hibiscus oils into the scalp. At Rs 1,500, it’s your answer to the hangover that you may have experienced after a night of drinking.

Amatrra offers special detox packages for the festive season, in which therapeutic massages are designed to remove toxins. Radisson Espace has designed special therapies, including a lime and pink ginger body scrub, for example, that help in fighting pimples, skin infections and eruptions. Who said you can’t gorge on sweets, then?

Oct 20, 2009

Oct 10, 2009

Festive specials at Indian spa resorts

Celebrations just got a little more enthralling at the Kenilworth Beach Resort and Spa, Goa. This year, add a special touch to your Diwali celebrations, with a leisurely getaway to this amazing beach resort and spa getaway in Goa. The festive package at this five-star beach resort, for a three-night, four-day stay (October 16, 2009 to November 10, 2009, is Rs 30,000 for a ‘sea view’ room, Rs 27,000 for a ‘standard deluxe’ room and Rs 25,000 for a ‘garden view’ room (per couple).
The costs for single occupancy starts at Rs 21,000 and goes up to Rs 23,000 and Rs 26,000 (‘sea view’ room) respectively. For children between the age group of 10-12 years to be accommodated in the same room, the additional charges cost Rs 2,400-3,000.
Apart from gorging on cashews and port wine, you can also indulge in some sightseeing to the churches, temples and some nearby spice plantation areas. For water lovers there’s the 17,500 sq ft pool and you can use the pool and the Jacuzzi. There’s also free entry to R.E.D, the hotel’s discotheque.
The prices include buffet meals (three breakfasts, three lunches and three dinners, to be precise and children will be entitled to free ice cream coupons too.
It goes without saying that you’ll be also pampered with some irresistible spa therapies at the resort. Do indulge and share your experiences by writing a guest blog for us at SPAlendor. You can mail me on and I’ll definitely include your write-up on the blog. Send us pictures too.
The Kenilworth Beach Resort
Utorda, Salcete
Tel: 91 0832 6698888

Aura, The Park: New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam
Three new treatments from the house of Aura, Park’s very trendy spa centre have been introduced for the festive season. These rejuvenating and relaxing offers at Aura will ensure that you detox well after endless rounds of eating and binging and late night parties.
Sweets Moments – One complete hour of bliss is what you will be promised when sugarcane extracts will be used to knead your tired muscles. The “lactic acid crystals” from the sugarcane ensures in restoring the natural elasticity in the body.
Duration: One hour; price: Rs 2,150+taxes

Soothing Pumpkin – Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene and contains anti-oxidant vitamins A and C, as well as zinc and alpha-hydroxyl-acids. These properties blended with the power of sesame seeds help to reduce signs of ageing and hydrate the skin layers.
Duration: One hour; price: Rs 2,000+taxes

Kesar Kulfi - This beauty treatment is a blend of fragrant saffron (kesar) and nourishing almonds. Kesar is best known for its power of reducing facial lines. The face is gently cleansed with milk and then polished with a concoction of jaggery and semolina powder.
Duration: 1.15 hours; price: Rs 1,850+taxes

Samudra Ritual with Exotic Sea Minerals at The Park Hyatt, Goa: This has to be the season’s best offering. The Park Hyatt, Goa, is bringing together the magic of yoga and ayurveda and exotic sea minerals in a wonderfully sublime therapy called the Samudra Ritual. The three-hour luxurious and rejuvenating spa ritual with uplifting properties of natural sea based ingredients, starts with micronized marine algae body wrap, followed by marma massage and a detox facial.
The treatment begins with a steam in the private hydrotherapy room attached to the spa suite where an aromatic steam bath is prepared to optimize your experience with the therapist and the therapy. Beginning with specially blended aromatic oils that will be burning on your arrival and a private plunge pool with warm water smeared with floral extracts, the purifying welcome ritual of soaking the feet in water filled with rose petals also includes an exfoliating rock salt cleaning treatment.
The therapy commences in aesthetically-designed suites complete with soft lighting, comfy beds and aromas of oils and candles. After a “marine algae wrap”, used to dry brush the body, the warm marine mineral mix is then gently smeared over and cocooned around the body to generate heat and induce detoxification.
What follows is a traditional Marma massage, a combination of energy point stimulation and gentle strokes designed to stimulate the natural cleansing processes in the body and improve the mind-body balance. The grand finale includes a revitalizing “marine facial” where sea minerals are used to hydrate and enrich the face. This replenishing treatment helps to combat the signs of premature ageing by restoring the natural balance of the skin. Additionally, there’s an ancient herbal concoction where one could conclude with a mineral bath salt soak or saffron infused milk bath soak in their private plunge pool. A cup of organic tea in the tranquil tea lounge that follows the treatment is the best way to say a quiet thank-you for the rich experience.
Duration: 3.5 hours; Rs 9,000+tax

Festive special

With the festive season upon us, leading cosmetic brands have announced some of their new range of products. From “eco-friendly” creams and lotions, to special limited edition range of cosmetics, to even diamond extracts which have been incorporated for anti-ageing creams, the options in the world of cosmetics is immense. What’s more, brands like Estee Lauder is also customizing some of its range with a special machine that can engrave the name of your loved ones.

Going natural
This year, unguents from the house of The Body Shop shift increasingly towards eco-friendly ingredients. One of my personal favourites is the Shea range of body lotions though I also love the peppermint foot soak range that’s come out especially for the festive season. The brand has also taken a major lead with the gift packaging that is made from recycled materials like renewable bamboo, water hyacinth leaves, palm leaves and other naturally derived materials. Price: Rs 1,500 +

Mineral worthy
Apart from customizing the products for the festive season with their special engraving machine, Estee Lauder recently announced two new products especially created for the Indian woman. Both, the Nutritious Vita-Mineral Loose Powder (SPF 15) and Nutritious Vita-Mineral Liquid (SPF 10) are packed with the goodness of pomegranate, which comes packed with numerous skin boosting nutrients and potent antioxidants including vitamin C and vitamin E as well as iron and potassium to provide a burst of radiance to the skin for a healthy glow. Dermatologist tested, fragrance-free, non-acnegenic, and oil-absorbing, the products are available at the Estee Lauder outlets all over the country. Price: Rs 1,950 each

Limited edition, please
Renowned brand Vichy Laboratories has announced its limited edition for the festive season. What’s more, these products will have up to 40 per cent reduction in prices from the brand’s anti-ageing, anti-imperfection and hydrating care range. From creams and lotions specifically created for sensitive skins, the limited range also includes anti-wrinkle and soothing care solutions for the dry skin. A good idea would be to also check out their special trial packets that come in very trendy gift packaging options. Price: Rs 990+

Diamond for the face
A leading name in skincare, Oriflame’s products are made from natural ingredients and for the festive season, it has, for the Asian region introduced the Diamond Cellular anti-ageing cream. Even as researchers study and debate the goodness of anti-ageing creams, claiming that these can be very harmful in the long run, Oriflame’s new offering boasts of “genuine diamond powder making the skin look visibly younger”. The liniment, according to experts at Oriflame, actually prolongs cell longevity, slowing down the skin ageing process to help keep your skin looking forever young. The diamond powder is said to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by 67 per cent, while brightening the complexion by 76 per cent. Rs 2190

Much like the queen
If budget is a constraint and you’d still like a high-end brand in your bag this season, don’t give Forest Essential’s Rani Padmawati lip balm a miss. Anyway, with the winter setting in, this will be a must for the season. Packed with natural ingredients, these creamy buttery lip balms are made with royal jelly, shea butter, organic beeswax, fruit butter, aloe, jojoba oil and vitamin E. So nourish your lips with this offering from Forest Essentials. Price: Rs 475

Sep 21, 2009

Special discount for SPAlendor readers from

Endless Summer by Ocean Dream is available at Price: Rs 4,250.
10 per cent discount will be given to readers of SPAlendor. Make sure you give the code SPA09 while buying the product online.

I have some great news for SPAlendor readers.
Secret Cache, a renowned couture swimwear brand based in New York, which is now supplying some trendy and very wearable beachwear for young women in India, is offering a 10 per cent discount for SPAlendor readers.
I've personally enjoyed going through the website (you can order your swimwear from here) and what I find best about the products here are, they're not just sexy, they're very, very smart and extremely trendy.
So, do check out the website and once you do start filling up your online cart, remember to use the code SPA09. There are no shipping charges levied for products that you decide to buy. Remember the code is SPA09. has been with you since April 09. Since it's our first festive season together, here's a little gift from me to you. Do enjoy the discount and keep on visiting and reading the blog. I promise, I'll try my best to bring forth other festive discounts to you as well.

PS: A big shout out to Shruti and Tushar, promoters of Secret Cache who fulfilled the promise and kept their word. Thank you, thank you, thank you

Sep 19, 2009

Spa institutes in India

My friend Hoihnu Hauzel has very graciously allowed me to use this piece on spas for readers of SPAlendor. The story is actually on spa centres of repute which offer training in therapies. I enjoyed going through it and I'm sure you'll love it too.

Sep 18, 2009

Free yoga and meditation camp at Select Citywalk

I'm really tempted to attend this one. Select Citywalk is barely 10 minutes away from where I stay and for a change, I don't mind waking up early and experiencing this event for myself. Any of you who are interested, try and make it.
My husband and I enjoy coming to this mall in south Delhi. It's so well spread out, it's got ample space, great ambience and that really amazing vibe. However, considering that the meditation and yoga camp will be from 5.30-7.30 am, shopaholics would have to wait before stores actually open to serve them.
Our suggestion: Don't give this a miss. Enjoy that morning hour or two with yourself. Waking up early lets you experience some of the most joyous moments. So, go ahead, savour some more moments, rejuvenate yourselves and remember, it's the only time of the day when you really get to be with yourself.

Click to enlarge

Sep 17, 2009

Estée Lauder's Signature Services

Estée Lauder has just begun its unique range of signature services. I particularly love the idea of the "personalising" the products (read on for more details). This festive season, a signature service from a premium brand like Estée Lauder would be the ideal gift.

Estée Lauder's Signature Services

Take time out to pamper yourself today with the exclusive new menu of complimentary Estée Lauder Signature Services. Available at Estée Lauder freestanding stores at UB City in Bangalore and Select Citywalk, Delhi, this vast menu of services is fast, foolproof and free – simply visit an Estée Lauder store today and let us grant you your every beauty wish.

Beautiful Skin Solutions Have a skin concern? Visit Estée Lauder for a seasonal skin check up and personalized skincare solution that will leave you with the skin you have always wanted.

Your Shade, Your Finish, Your Match Did you know 8/10 women are wearing the wrong foundation? The exclusive iMatch™ System will find your exact foundation match, perfectly suited to your skin tone, skin colour and skin type. Furthermore, the company will give you a 10-day supply of your perfect shade absolutely free.

iMatch™ Color How do you want to look today? Classic, romantic or something in between – discover the iMatch™ expert color advice to make any look your own.

Two Minute Touch-Ups Give the experts at Estée Lauder two minutes and they’ll give you a fresh new look for eyes, lips and cheeks; the perfect pick-me-up to get you on your way.

Signature Scent What does your fragrance say about you? Light and breezy? Warm and sultry? Let the experts discover your signature scent with this easy two minute guide.

Exclusive to Estée Lauder is the company’s unique engraving machine that allows you to personalise a selection chic, golden powder compacts, lip-gloss and lipstick case with a monogram or a short message. Perfect for gift-giving or to keep for yourself.

Visit your nearest Estée Lauder counter today and let the experts there treat you with an extensive menu of Signature Services to meet your every beauty need. They’re fast, they’re fail proof and they’re free.

Sep 10, 2009

So stoned: Hot stone therapy session review

At Vidya Tikari Studio, besides other therapies, hot stone massage treatment is a big draw

Towards the middle of my hot stone therapy session, I find myself struggling to stay awake. My therapist has deftly cleaned my feet and massaged them in a rhythmic motion and allowed me to rest and enjoy the process of what is called hot stone massage therapy.
It’s only the beginning and I’m already comfortably – and happily -- numb at Vidya Tikari’s studio in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar while Nancy, my therapist, begins to scrub and clean my feet. It starts bang on time and lasts for almost two hours and all this while I’m enjoying the comfort and luxury of a therapy which dates back to centuries and involves the use of basalt, a black volcanic rock that is supposed to absorb and retain heat well.
If you’re getting a complete body massage done through hot stone therapy, the stones – after a traditional Swedish massage – are placed on the “chakra” points of the body. However, I opted for hot stone therapy for my feet and found myself instantly relieved of stress when Nancy started applying pressure on certain points with the stones on my soles. This she does after she has cleaned my feet thoroughly, applied a sugar peel to “scrub away the dead skin” and then slathered and rubbed my legs with an orange-flavoured body lotion – strangely called “body wax” – from one of the very reputed brands called Oligospa. That helps. The stones, it is believed, should not come in contact with any regular cream for fear of losing their properties. No wonder then that, it’s critical to ensure that the creams used for massaging are of supreme quality.
While the main aim of the therapy is to allow the tense muscles to loosen up, the massage – though referred to as “hot stone” therapy – actually revels in the philosophy of the yin and yang. This essentially means that the “hot” therapy session includes a segment where stones dipped in cold water too are applied before ending on a “warm” note. Put simply, after a round of session with hot stones, the therapist uses a cold rub and completes the session alternating it – towards the end – with another warm massage with stones. Note: Usually therapists will not apply hot stones (they are soaked in water that is at a temperature of 120°-130° F) directly on your body. They will warm their own hands and then gently massage your body before proceeding to rub the stones directly on the body. “Your body cannot take the temperature change suddenly,” explains Nancy while applying pressure on my soles with the warm stones.
Experts suggest that those with high blood pressure and also with extremely sensitive skins should avoid hot stone therapy. If, however, you like the massage but not the high temperature at which its set, request — at the outset — to have the therapy done at a temperature that’s convenient for you.
Personally speaking, I love the heat that is generated on the soles of the feet and on the legs once the therapist starts massaging them in rhythm with the stones. I feel like I’m diving in and out of a hot spring water stream and easing all the tension away. The stones that glide in a to-and-fro motion set forth a tidy tempo that’s so critical in massages.
The grand finale includes a foot-pack powder that’s mixed generously in rose water and applied on the feet which, in turn, is encased for 15 minutes in a cling wrap! It felt a little weird initially - she even puts little stones in between my toes - but after Nancy unwrapped it, I felt a surge of freshness and coolness.
Would I recommend it? Yes. In fact, at Vidya Tikari Studio, between 11.00 am-3.00 pm, you’ll be given a 40 per cent discount too. It takes time to undergo this therapy so make sure you’re in no rush.

Price: Rs 1,000 (including taxes)
Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Where: Vidya Tikari Studio, New Delhi
Contact: 011-416-30940/416-35074

Sep 7, 2009

Shreyas: Boutique Yoga Retreat

I suppose a spa blog – especially one that’s written from India -- should mention Shreyas, a retreat tucked away in the green environs of Bangalore. It describes itself as a “boutique yoga retreat”, one that also regularly hosts special yoga programmes and the upcoming ones will be in December-January 2010.
Besides yoga, there are spa treatments on offer too. These include western, oriental as well as ayurvedic therapies. Do give, in particular, the invigorating coffee scrub and the stimulating coffee mask a try. The coffee scrub, in fact, aims at banishing cellulite and has aromatic coffee beans ixed with rice powder, oatmeal and rose water. Not only does it exfoliate gently, it also softens and tightens the skin. The coffee mask, on the other hand, will make you feel like you’ve entered a cafeteria that’s bursting with flavours of freshly ground coffee beans! This massage is a concoction of freshly ground coffee powder, fresh aloevera gel and Fuller’s earth and helps in cleansing and tightening the skin. The caffeine stimulates the circulatory system and rejuvenates the body. Lastly, a deeply moisturizing and relaxing cocoa butter massage kneads away any aches and stresses. Yum!
You can log on to for details on the tariff, upcoming programmes and other queries.
PS: It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Barista’s and Café Coffee Day’s of the world to demarcate a small area in their cafés for coffee treatments.
Picture courtesy: Shreyas

Aug 27, 2009

It's SPArty time

Picture courtesy: Vidya Tikari

There is a new trend in the India spa industry: SPArties. While my main piece on SPArties will appear in Business Standard Newspaper on Saturday (in the paper's Weekend section), I thought of drawing up a list of companies that are offering services of organising parties (with spa therapies and massages as the central theme) in the comfort of your own home. Check them out

ASAP (Any Surprise, Any Place)
This company is run by a very wonderful person whose name is Ruchi Chopra. I'd met her almost a year ago and was completely stumped by how she tranformed a simple idea into a viable career option. She started some years ago with an initial investment of Rs 50,000, most of which was put into the website. By 2007, she had made a profit of Rs 15 lakh. Anyway, Ruchi is one person you can approach and she can definitely ensure that your next party is a big hit. If spa-theme is what you want, give her an advance notice of five days and who knows, maybe your next party just might be a winner. It’s a Delhi-based company but because she claims that her network is strong, she can organize parties and even send personalized gifts.
Dial: 9810888498

Tattva Spa, New Delhi/NCR
It’s a mobile spa exclusively for women, one where specialized massage therapists transform – in 15 minutes flat – your humble room into a Zen-like space, complete with aromatic candles, music, flowers, even lamps and other interesting visual placements and lighting. What the company also offers is “Tattva nectar”, complementary refreshing drinks before the Tattva treatments. I received a detailed press note explaining that Tattva Sparsa – for an intimate group looking forward to premium and luxurious services and Tattva Rejuve –for bigger groups and kitty parties -- are packages which are fast becoming a hit with clients. The charges are on a per service basis (Rs 2,000-2,500 per service, per person) for Tattva Sparsa. Tattva Rejuve is charged on a per hour basis (enjoy as many services for as many number of people). Depending on the number of people and the specific services required, the billing ranges upwards of Rs 3,500 per hour for the Rejuve package. Tattva also designs special SPArty invite for clients.
From full body massages including aromatherapy, hot stone, chocolate wraps and scrubs, to back and head massage, manicure, pedicure and floral foot spa, Tattva has promised to give me an experiential service for readers of SPAlendor. So, there will be a review on Tattva home services shortly.
Dial: 011-64994126, 9999835852

Bangalore Mobile Services, Bangalore
This was started in January 2008 by Rubina Guleria in Bangalore. “I was tired of fighting the traffic for spa services and my “maalishwali” wasn’t really up to the mark. I wanted the comfort of my home while also getting an expert service for therapies,” she says for reasons of launching her spa service. Gradually, it extended to clients requesting her to organize SPArties too. When I spoke to her, she was busy organizing an Arabic-theme SPAarty for her client. For corporate honchos and houses, she also organizes “spa camps” too.
Dial: +91 98449 74761 (call anytime from 08:00 hours GMT to 21:00 hours GMT)

Vidya Tikari Studio, New Delhi
Well-known beautician Vidya Tikari converted her salon into a spa zone for her personal party. Soon she was getting offers to “rent” her salon for spa parties. Give her an advance notice and she’ll ensure you and your friends don’t get disappointed with what she ends up offering. The best-seller here is hot stone therapy that her trained staff does a swell job of it I’m told. (Note: I’ve been invited to review this therapy and will write on it sometime next week for sure).
Dial: + 91 9971426867

Antara-On-Wheels, Mumbai
Touted as Mumbai’s first mobile spa, Antara-on-wheels promises to deliver the luxuries of a day spa in the comforts of offices or homes. The therapists will come to you and even transport everything required to relax you, your employees and guests. The company has a special spa party package and can be included in dinner parties, bridal showers, baby showers, mommies night-in, girls’ time-out and birthday parties. The therapies include neck and shoulder massages, mud masks, hand and foot reflexology and back massages too.
Contact: The Club, 197 D.N Nagar, Andheri (West), Mumbai
Dial: 022 66919082

Sacred Origins, Mumbai
Another luxury mobile spa, the therapist from Sacred Origins places a floral and scented candle display along with a tray of essential oils resting on a bed of flowers. A portable music system pipes in to create the mood. And there’s even herbal tea and dry fruits on offer after the therapy. Sacred Origins’ massages range from pure aromatherapy (Rs 2,000) to the La Stone massage (Rs 3,500). The spa also offers body polishes and body wraps (Rs 1,600) and facials like the oxygen facial (Rs 4,000). You can call in its therapists and host a spa party too.

Aug 24, 2009

Vedic Village: get well soon

Writing has been sporadic and will continue being so till next week. One, I've been caught up with too many things, including regular office work, theatre workshop, home management -- or lack of it -- and much else.
But what can one write when one of the premium spa properties in India is set ablaze by a furious mob. Yes, we are talking about Vedic Village, that amazing property tucked away 40 minutes away from central Kolkata. A resort which offers luxurious packages and therapies and is also home to many celebs and well-known personalities from different walks of life, Vedic Village had plans firmly in place for the upcoming Durga Puja. The Pujo Package for a deluxe room, for instance, is supposed to start from Rs 25,000 (two nights) and includes, besides other offers, also a spa treatment for a couple (Abhyangam or deep tissue massage/relaxing orange oil massage/vitalising back therapy and floral oil massage).
Considering the level of destruction caused due to the fire -- it didn't help that the property used a lot of thatch for its design aesthetics -- has been immense, one wonders if the packages on offer will still continue to remain for visitors.
Here's wishing the resort speedy recovery.

Aug 8, 2009

Ayurvedic products by Iraya

Inspired by Ayurveda, Iraya, a three-year-old brand unveiled its new range of products for the Indian market recently. The beauty and wellness brand from Sadatan Pure Ayurveda, Iraya reaches out with its range of “natural” beauty products. Natural is the key word here especially because the brand’s range comprises of products that believe in nature’s own healing process, bestowing complete wellness and lasting beauty from within. Needless to say, none of the products have synthetic colorant or fragrance.
Appreciated — and used — by spa professionals and wellness patrons, Iraya products are present at over 50 spas in India and overseas destinations. This includes spas like Sereno Spa at Park Hyatt, Goa, Quan Spa at JW Marriott, Mumbai, Blu Spa at Marriott Hotel Goa, Club Prana Spa at The Hyatt Regency (Mumbai and Kolkata) and The Spa at Shangri-la, New Delhi, to name a few.

Kumkumadi Balm
Prescribed in Ayurveda as a “miraculous elixir’ for the skin, this balm is a concoction of pure saffron and 10 precious Ayurvedic herbs that lighten and brighten the complexion. It evens skin tone, clears blemishes, minimizes fine lines and surface imperfections and helps improve skin texture and complexion. Excellent for dry skin.
Rs 475 (50 gms)

Orange & Green Tea Scrub
With extracts of green tea, orange, walnut shells (yes, that’s right) and almonds, this face scrub gently removes dead skin cells, improves skin texture and tones up the skin. Regular use will aid in a luminous complexion and a healthy glow. Other ingredients in the scrub include bael fruit (amazing!), aloe vera (trusted), apricots, almonds and grapefruit seed extracts. Who knows, maybe it’s delicious to taste too ;)
Rs 195 (50 gms)

After Shave Gel With Tea Tree
With extracts of tea tree, wild grass and aloe vera, this soothing gel calms irritated skin and wonderfully moisturizes while also reducing any inflammation. An excellent unisex product, it can be used as an after-shave soother to soften and heal the skin as naturally as possible.
Rs 195 (150ml)

Oatmeal Soap
A wholesome, mildly-exfoliating soap that leaves skin soft, smooth and fresh. With the calming aroma of oatmeal and the goodness of cold-pressed oils, step into the shower armed with this soap to de-stress at the end of a long day. Containing oat flakes, coconut oil, rice bran oil, vanilla, olive oil, vegetable glycerine and aqua, this could be you next pick.
Rs 115 (100gm)

Triphala Face Tonic
Iraya’s signature Triphala face tonic balances the metabolic mechanism and opens up the channels of the skin with its cleansing action. Triphala helps to enhance the skin's natural resistance to free radical damage. The nutrition that your face gets with the face tonic includes amla, sandalwood, vetiver oil, vegetable glycerine, natural “grain” alcohol besides essential oils of neroli, ylang ylang and Indian rose.
Rs 225 (150ml)

Orders can also be placed online at
Picture courtesy: Iraya

Jul 29, 2009

Review: Swedish massage at Mystic Salon & Spa, Delhi

If the road – it’s a lane actually -- leading to Mystic Salon & Spa is a disaster, the therapy, which lasts for the next one hour, is just the divine intervention that’s needed. It’s a place that doesn’t disappoint. It’s a spa centre that ensures you a very polite staff, a gorgeous ambience and a luxurious setting in the midst of a maddening, bustling lane. It helps that the windows are close to 80 per cent — if not more — soundproof, it certainly helps that the rooms are plush, complete with a very Zen-like feel and immediately inviting. In short, it’s clean, rich without being overtly opulent and very, very inviting.
Having gone there just a few days ago, I found myself gazing at the vast menu of therapies that the spa offers. I took another 30 minutes to make up my mind; wondering if I should opt for Ayurveda, Thai massages or just stick to reflexology. The centre also offers other regular salon services, by the way.
I decided on the traditional Swedish massage, a heady therapy, which, according to one of the staff members at Mystic, was the best. Decision made, I was then led to the first floor of the spa where, after getting served a cool bottle of mineral water, I was staring at one of the most beautiful rooms of the space. A special mention about the interiors of the place: It was large and spacious with spectacular wooden flooring that broke into little pebble-stone islands. There were faux palm trees, a bamboo plant (to further add to that Zen-like tranquility), Jacuzzi area with luxurious Grohe fittings, a therapy bed on which – unfortunately — a wilted carnation greeted me.
Anyway, Maria, my therapist, got down to the business of kneeding different points which, in my case especially, are inflicted with stress knots. What she used was orange-flavoured oil, which had extracts of – what else – orange and what I suspected, even a hint of pepper. This feels warm on your body and is especially suited for those who are prone to dry skin. Actually, I was impressed that Maria, looking at my skin, could immediately tell it was dry. However, I do wish spa therapists – in different centres, and not just Mystic – specifically ask clients if they’re at all allergic to certain oils.
The massage felt blissful but my only concern was the Maria’s hands, though deft and soothing, were very soft on the massage. No, it felt right but considering the bundle of knots and draining energy filled inside the body, a good, firm massage was really what I’d needed. She slid and grasped and twisted and turned – gently, very gently – different parts of my body that one almost felt the rhythm in her hands. Working her way from head-to-toe, which is the main aim of this therapy, Maria tackled the neck, arms, shoulders, legs and feet and the soles of my feet, back with unequivocal ease. I even muttered, “Bless you” a dozen times, I think.
Smelling like one large, humungous orange, Maria, with her gentle smile, rounded off the 45-minute therapy with a head massage. “It’s complete,” she said finally while I struggled to rise from the most blissful stupor. In 45 minutes of surrendering myself for the massage, I’d journeyed into luxury and a state of calm, all at once. A quick shower and change and a steaming cup of frothy cappuccino with no one, just silence and a room where a faint fragrance of the orange essential oil filled the air, I was geared to face the madness of the outside world all over again.

45-minute Swedish massage treatment. Price: Rs 2,800

Jul 18, 2009

Ri Kynjai Resort, Shillong

For all the rot — and I put that gently — that’s going on in my personal and professional life, it was nice to smile at the thought of running away to a spa resort for, if not 30 days, at least the weekend. Working Saturdays, preoccupation at home and much more has meant very little “me” time in terms of trying out new therapies. It’s also meant little time to write on SPAlendor.
Though it isn’t likely that I’ll take a vacation anytime soon (I could opt for Westin, Sohna), I thought it’s the right time to talk about Ri Kynjai, this beautiful resort that is tucked away in the Khasi hills. The resort is 20 kms away from Shillong and when I read about it (I think it was in LivingEtc, a design and interiors magazine), I simply knew that I should pass on the information to SPAlendor readers.
Ri Kynjai, the resort’s website will tell you, translates from Khasi as “land of serene environs”. While the architecture is inspired and derived from the original Khasi thatch huts, the resort, spread over 45 acres and one that weaves three architectural styles into a harmonious whole, combines convenience and luxury together.
To get to the resort, you’ll find yourself meandering through groves of majestic pine trees, lush paddy fields, small organic tea and vegetable gardens and find accommodation in the very distinctive hybrid cottages, most of them overlooking the waters of Umiam Lake.
I was particularly fascinated with this nugget of information: Ri Kynjai has a tie-up with the Shillong Golf Course — for guests who prefer to play — which is the second oldest in Asia.
Moving on to their therapies (I’m sorry, I don’t have the prices for any of them) I love the fact that the resort engages in traditional Khasi curative massages. The two main therapies are said to have been derived from ancient massages, developed by the Khasi tribes who firmly believe that these therapies are a “gift of god”.
Khem Tynrai (traditional khasi curative massage) is elaborate and it seeks to streamline and disentangle the circulatory system of the body that may have been knotted due to mild injuries, stress and myriad of other factors. It also removes residual joints and body aches. This massage aims at natural detoxification and is followed by the traditional Khasi bath which is essentially hot water fomentation and water massage.
The therapy starts with a vigorous massage using “Umwai” or Khasi herbal oil mixed in either mustard or olive oil.
Time 60 minutes
* Masseurs here suggest that guests should engage in three sessions to experience the therapeutic benefits of the massage

The other massage is Khem Jah Thait and deals with the general toning of muscles and enhancing circulation with olive or pure sesame oil. The technique here is different in the sense it is a specialized pressure point massage unique to this region.
Time 60 minutes
• Room tariff (inclusive of breakfast) for a vernacular Hybrid cottage:
Rs 8,000
• Superior room: Rs 5,000

• Cost excludes government tax of 20%

Contact: Ri Kynjai Resort, Umniuh Khwan
U.C.C Road Ri Bhoi, Meghalaya
mobile: + 9862056192/47471
Picture courtesy Ri Kynjai

Jun 23, 2009

TT Footcare: Review

Shiivaz Spa in Mumbai also offers Shiatsu therapy

On Saturday night when I hit the sack, I experienced a throbbing ache in my knees. Though lying down in bed — after a silent prayer — should basically elevate one from all the stress, I felt just the opposite. Having had a long, tiring day at work, I thought that taking a nice shower, drinking a warm glass of milk (added to which was a pinch of turmeric), cuddling my pet dog Foxie, and hugging my husband later, would mean the end of all problems. But I suddenly experienced every tired limb crying out and despite all the comfort that one needs to sleep like a baby, I found myself struggling really hard.
It’s a reason why I took out this gift voucher from the bedside table that hubby dearest had given me nearly three weeks ago. It offered twin treatments of Shiatsu and foot reflexology: just what I needed. What followed was a trip to TT Footcare, a neighbourhood place that offers treatment for feet including the ones I’ve mentioned above besides regular pedicure too (Rs 400). I’ve always wondered how the place exists in the otherwise chaotic market which envelopes it from all sides. The market is always crowded, always buzzing and if there’s anything that exists there in perfect rhythm it is chaos.
It was, therefore, a pleasure to enter the premises of TT Footcare where suddenly one felt transported to another world altogether. First, away from the maddening din, this place was calm and quiet. There was soft, lilting music in the background (I think it was a typical combination of the Japanese harp and flute) and one knew that music therapy was already at work to soothe clients. I loved the silence, I loved the hush-hush conversations when my therapist ushered me to a room while asking her colleague to make sure that everything was in order for the therapy session. I also enjoyed my outing with a huge, leather La-Z-Boy chair, one in which I sank and curled and simply buried myself, surrendering myself to the therapist who was readying me for the sitting. What came into a small room, complete with wooden flooring, were two huge brass vessels and in one of these the therapist soaked my very tired and dull feet. But sadly, there were no rose petals floating in the brass vessels (mostly, that’s how sessions usually start in various spas). The therapist used good ol’ Dettol to clean my feet and knees after which I lay back to enjoy the session.
While her hands were deft, moving in rhythmic directions, teasing all the nasty knots in the soles of my feet, the massage with sesame oil seemed so uplifting that it made me feel instantly at ease. I could almost hear my feet thanking the masseur with every massage stroke. And even though she pressed my feet too firmly, one couldn’t complain. After all, there were nasty knots that were finally forced to disappear. If one was to write down notes on the best experiences in life, I’d certainly rate it high on my list. Ah, to close your eyes in a dimly lit, cosy room with music playing gently in the background while a therapist works skillfully to free all those aching knots in your feet, is stuff of paradise. Though I promised myself to make more notes, ask more questions, I simply sank into the plush chair and caught a blissfully lazy snooze for close to 20 minutes.
No wonder, I was reluctant to move to the first floor of the treatment centre for my 45 minutes of Shiatsu.
“Why can’t you do it here?”
“The mattress only on the first floor miss.”
Now, the first floor’s ceiling was excruciatingly low and had wooden beams jutting out and running from one end of the tiny room to another. I wish the entire session had taken place in just one room, without much movement, trudging from the ground floor to the first especially when a grand massage chair was there too.
The Shiatsu session — a Japanese therapy — where experts apply pressures on different points of the body was relaxing but somehow didn’t have the same effect as the foot reflexology session. This massage sans oils, however, is particularly good for those who don’t like the idea of undressing before therapists. So, while you’re fully clad the masseur applies firm pressures on different parts of your body. While I liked the fact that my therapist expertly massaged my shoulder region, on the whole Shiatsu didn’t work wonders for me.
What made it worse: a very nasty thud on the top of my head right after the therapy got over. I was in a trance after the massage and forgot — while the therapist didn’t warn me — of the wooden beam that lay dangerously low.

Price: (I'm not too sure about the price since I received a gift voucher but I think it's around Rs 1,100)

What we loved
* The ambience was perfect in that it was quiet and peaceful once I stepped inside the spa centre.
* The LazyBoy is the best throne that man ever made
* The foot reflexology is awesome and for 30 minutes it really was a fantastic experience

What flopped
* The therapists at TT Footcare should ask clients which oils they prefer before the therapy starts. A friend of mine, for example, is allergic to sesame oil that was used for my foot reflexology session.
* What struck me later was the fact that TT Footcare didn’t take care to request clients to fill them in with details on oils, what they could be allergic to, whether lady clients who opted for Shiatsu had a problem lying on their stomach. Were clients suffering from other ailments?
* Though it can never be helped, the idea of shifting from one room to another for various therapies gets thumbs down from me.
* A lone orchid on the pristine white sheet, a brass vessel filled with rose petals where you bury your feet, a whiff of camphor in the distance; these are just some elements that make spa treatments more loving, more personal and more indulgent. TT Footcare doesn’t have much of all this. It should.

TT Footcare
Phone: 011 40514562 , 011 40514561
Address: 9, PVR Saket Complex, Ground Floor, Saket, Delhi- 110017
Landmark: Near PVR Cinema

Jun 18, 2009

Aroma Thai Foot Spa, Mumbai

AromaThai Foot Spa offers treatments for Fathers Day. Using the healing art of reflexology, Aroma Thai Foot Spa is a place where one can pamper ignored feet, relax and de-stress.
For more information on prices and treatments, contact AromaThai Foot Spa, Bandra (W), Mumbai.
AromaThai Foot Spa, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai (022-23536600/01)
AromaThai Foot Spa, Inorbit Mall, Malad, Mumbai.

Jun 5, 2009

More on Aura: Packages for men

Though most packages that you read about in SPAlendor are unisex, it's nice to have some treatments dedicated to men. And while this really may look like "Aura plug" what with blogs on the same chain in quick succession, it's certainly not so.
Anyway, enjoy reading about these packages and let me know through the blog if at all you experience them.

Golden Shower Also called Lazy Man's Yoga, this traditional
massage from Thailand is performed on a special floor mat. The therapist uses different techniques to stretch the body muscles into various yoga positions in order to release stress and energy blocks, while also increasing the flexibility of the muscles.
Duration: 60 minutes; price: Rs 2,500

Hibiscus A massage inspired from Hawaii, this treatment is
performed using the hands, palms and elbows in rhythmic movements. The oil blends are customized to suit the guest's mood and are massaged onto the skin in order to ease and loosen muscles, reduce tension, anxiety, fear and negativity, leaving the guest feeling relaxed and refreshed. A soothing cup of Hibiscus Tea adds on to the entire experience.
Duration: 60 minutes; price: Rs 2,500

Back Rest This back treatment uses acupressure, which is applied on
both sides of the spine, the lower back and towards the shoulders and neck. The guest chooses the oil best suited to his mood from a custom-made range, which is then massaged onto the skin to relieve and relax the body muscles.
Duration: 30 minutes; price: Rs 1,200

Revitalize This is a full body massage that relieves sore muscles,
aching joints and calms frazzled nerves. An invigorating blend of essential oils on the shoulders, back and feet.
Duration: 60 minutes; price: Rs 2,000

Bodywork A unique treatment that uses bodywork based on long, slow,
T’ai chi-like strokes to awaken senses and instil awareness.
Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes; price: Rs 3,500

Jun 3, 2009

Summer packages from Aura, Park hotel's luxury day spa's

Experts at Aura, the luxury day spa at The Park, have devised the perfect way to beat the heat. They've announced new packages to battle the season's horrific heat, dust and grime. So sweat no more and simply check out these amazing treatments available at The Park in New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Visakhapatnam

Vanilla Essence
It is a gentle massage with a concoction of freshly crushed vanilla beans along with an in-house chocolate-coconut cream. Choco powder, believe experts, is rich in cocoa that helps blood circulation by increasing oxygen supply to the cells. It also helps in removing toxins apart from firming and toning up the skin. Vanilla, on the other hand, is anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac (hmmm!) and is known for its anti-depressant qualities too. What’s more, coconut Cream, rich in Lauric acid, protects one from harmful sunrays. It is known for its healing, tissue repairing and anti scarring properties. I would agree on that; in fact, eczema patients are often advised to rub good ol’ coconut oil on the affected area since it reduces itching and heals the area too.
Duration: one hour; price: Rs 2,350 (excluding taxes)

Mango Mélange
The active ingredients of mango will nurture your skin and the much needed antioxidants of yoghurt will take care of the damage caused by the harmful sun rays. Mango boasts of having a high content of antioxidants and is rich in its hydrating properties while also being rich in vitamin C that helps in relieving clogged pores. Yoghurt being a good natural sunscreen improves complexion and with its cooling and calming properties, makes the skin soft and supple and is a good anti-skin irritant.
Remember to use fresh yoghurt else your face might burst into boils. Also, while mixing yoghurt with Fullers Earth and applying on the face is a good idea, make sure not to let it dry completely especially if you are prone to having a dry complexion.
Duration: one hour, 15 minutes; price: Rs 1,750 (excluding taxes)

Photo courtesy: Aura: The Park, Kolkata

May 29, 2009

Quick lessons in spa etiquette

Last year, on a trip to Sri Lanka, we took a leisurely tour of a lush green spice garden. With the aroma of spices wafting generously in the air, our host and his colleague decided to give us a complimentary massage. Now that was really kind of them but right in the middle of just a thick green cover, on a rickety old bench, a massage just didn’t seem right. I backed out, opting for a neck massage instead while my companion got some blood flowing in his arms, back and neck. I didn’t mind taking in the pleasures of the ambience, the sound of birds and leaves rustling leisurely in acres and acres of land while sipping on some wonderful spice tea with a drop of vanilla essence.
And then the phone rang. Just when everything was going right, the mobile rang and a pop song by INXS disturbed everything. It was blasphemous and I was disgusted that I hadn’t remembered to keep it on a silent mode. The host, who had been courteous with us till then, glowered while my companion cursed. And that was my first lesson in spa manners, especially when someone with me was enjoying his massage so thoroughly.
If you’re the sort of person who insists on mixing business calls with the pleasures of a great spa experience, read on. And if you thought there’s no term like “spa etiquette,” definitely read this piece closely. Rule number one, put your phone either on silent or switched off mode but don’t even think of taking or making any calls.
And this should happen before or after you’ve arrived at the spa. You should take it for granted that you have to be there at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment and not 30 minutes later. Well-known beautician Ambika Pillai, for instance, used to (I’m sure she still does) pass a complete list to clients who booked her for their makeup schedule. I don’t recall exactly but the gist of it all was this: “Wax your legs and arms, bleach your face and get a good facial at least three days before your scheduled appointment with us. Arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled time.”
One might argue that makeup is a different story and spa treatment another. Unfortunately, no, it isn’t that different. Remember how hairstylists often insist on a good hair wash on the day of a haircut session? The same rule applies here. Ladies, wax your legs before heading for that dream spa session. Let the aromatic oils flow and breathe directly into the skin and not shine on unwanted hair. Men, you’re lucky but it wouldn’t hurt to scrub your feet, right? A lot of spas will advice you not to wear deodorants. That’s because they’d rather let you enjoy the natural oils that they apply generously. But that doesn’t mean you carry that body odour with you. Instead take a shower just before you’re headed towards your destination and dab a hint of talcum powder if you really sweat.
While spa treatment options are aplenty, you need to figure out, well in advance, what suits your skin type. So quit squealing the minute a gentle staff member starts giving you a scrub with sea salt that you suddenly realise you’re allergic to. Most spas have dermatologists who advice you on what treatment can work for you.
The reason why one presumes you’ll head to a spa is for an unforgettable, relaxing experience. And to put that simply, it may require you to shed some clothes. Most people know this thumb rule but in case you’re uncomfortable and would still like to enjoy yourself, choose treatments appropriately. At Ayush Ayurvedic Centre, where I’d been recently, the receptionist narrated an episode of a lady who, after walking into a massage room, immediately rushed out to complain that her masseur asked her to remove clothes. Be clear about these things so that you aren’t running away from the centre but walking out confidently after a relaxing experience.
Some spas allow a couple to experience a massage in the same room. Now this is obviously very convenient but please don’t even dream about yapping incessantly while your masseur requests you to remain quiet. That’s a given even if you’re alone in the room. And please don’t bother about requesting your music at the spa, especially if your favourites include Eminem. There’s another kind of music which most spas don’t allow; children wailing and howling, “Mummmmy.” You cannot reach with your children and their nanny in tow to a spa. And you definitely cannot complain if the receptionist politely asks either you, or your children, or all of you to leave.
Have fun at the spa.
• A spa isn’t a call centre where you’ll shout into your mobile phone
• Children can have fun at an amusement park. Spa’s anything but that
• Clothes are usually shed for spa treatments. No one’s playing dirty here
• Quit shouting at the top of your voice here. There are others at the spa too. Even if your masseur needs to be told something, be firm but polite.
• You know what treatment can suit you best. If you’re prone to skin allergic make sure you speak with your doc well in advance
• Sure you’re paying a lot of money to have someone else pamper you. But scrubbing your feet and getting rid of body odour and unwanted hair wouldn’t really hurt, would it?
• Don’t insist on loud music and latest chartbusters. A spa isn’t your regular discotheque.

Picture courtesy Kanatal Spa

May 22, 2009

Quick announcement

Spa launch
Mumbai's launching Guy Kremer Eyecatchers and Thai Spa in Mumbai on May 25, 2009 at Skyzone, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
Watch this space for more updates on the brand.

May 18, 2009

An Eden in the foothills: Guest blog by Jai Arjun Singh

Please welcome SPAlendor's first guest blogger. Since charity has to begin at home, my husband dearest (Jabberwock in blogosphere) has very graciously agreed to contribute this post. He had written it for Outlook Traveller's Wellness series and I was mad at him when he'd gone to Ananda all by himself. We weren't married then but I'm hoping to visit Ananda sometime in the near future. BTW, has announced a new summer package for Ananda. At Rs 13,628 (inclusive of all applicable hotel taxes), per person, you can get a room for three days, with inclusions of meals (daily morning tea, breakfast and dinner). Apart from this, you also get scheduled yoga, meditation, Pranayama and Vedanta classes and hydrotherapy facilities including the use of jacuzzi, steam, sauna, plunge pool and Hydro foot bath too. Log on: log on for other details.

Having given you readers some news on deals, please read and enjoy Jai's piece.
It's 7 in the morning when I reach the gates of Ananda – in the Himalayas. It's been a nearly hour-long drive up from Rishikesh and I didn't get much sleep the previous night, but everything about the environment is instantly invigorating – starting with the efficiency of the staff and their non-intrusive politeness. After checking in at the front desk, I'm taken (by a quaint, battery-operated cart) down a long road that leads to the spa area and the accommodation quarters. Peacocks dart across the path, to the left is Ananda's seven-hole golf course and for some reason I can't stop thinking of William Wordsworth taking long, placid walks through the verdure of the Lake District.

As it happens, walking is one of the things I avowedly do during my two-day stay at Ananda, but there are plenty of other options.

In my room, after a long and stimulating shower, I change into the special white kurta-pyjama provided for guests to wear on the premises. These aren't mandatory but they are so comfortable and so apposite to the general serenity of the surroundings that nearly everyone opts for them over their regular wear (unless, of course, you're planning to work out in the gym).

As part of the spa orientation, I'm shown around the hydrotherapy division of the men's spa. In the centre is a little footbath divided into four quarters, with round pebbles of different shapes and sizes at the bottom, and the water temperature in each quarter varying subtly. Walking in the pool in a 360-degree arc is recommended since it helps moderate your body temperature and stimulates the pressure points on the soles of your feet. "This exercise is a form of self-therapy," I'm told. "You become aware of the pressure points and the way the pebbles are acting on them." Incidentally, the stones have been collected from the Ganga bed.

To be honest, this isn't the most comfortable of exercises, so I'm perfectly happy to slip into my pampered city-slicker avatar and try the other facilities – namely the sauna, the Jacuzzi and the steam room – and follow it up with a quick dip in the open-air pool just beyond. A brief shower is required between any two activities (you can't, for instance, move directly from the sauna into the Jacuzzi) and the upshot is that in just two hours I've come into contact with more water (in different forms) than I usually do over a week of normal living. It probably helps soften me up for the main course.

The two-hour spa treatment lined up for me in the afternoon is preceded by a dose of traditional hospitality, Ananda-style. As I immerse my feet in rose-water, the lady masseuse performs an elaborate aarti, complete with a small plate, a diya and kusum. To poor nihilistic me, this is like a scene out of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, but what follows certainly isn't: a 45-minute full body scrub done with natural sea salt infused with pure rose essential oil. The idea, I'm told, is to exfoliate my skin – "to remove the dead skin cells" – and it seems to have worked. After an intense 10-minute-long shower to wash all the granules off, I find my skin is smoother than I've ever known it to be: "like a ripe fruit", as the masseuse puts it.

The scrub is followed by a long and relaxing Swedish massage, which involves the manipulation of the superficial layers of the muscles against the bone. Since such massages involve much tweaking and pinching of muscles, I'm asked beforehand if I have any "sensitive spots" that need to be treated with care. My calves tend to be stiff and cramp-prone, I tell my therapist, so she's extra careful with them.

It's late evening by the time I'm done, and darkness has descended on Ananda. It has an unanticipated effect on me: being a lover of greenery, I had figured that the place must necessarily look its best during the day. But it turns out to be just as beautiful, in a different way, in the dark. The key buildings – the accommodation quarters, the spa and the palace in the far distance – are lit up, not ostentatiously but with tasteful restraint; a dim light falls on the pathway where people, clad in their white kurta-pyjamas, are taking long walks; staff members, waiting for their car drive down to Rishikesh (where some of them stay), are whispering quietly to each other. There's a wonderful sense of quietude everywhere, and tired though I am, it's almost a pity to have to return to my room. The spirit yearns for a long night walk, but the carefully kneaded flesh protests.

After a very relaxed night's sleep and a refreshing ginger-lemon morning drink, I head straight for the gymnasium to attend a session called "Full Moon Stretches" – a series of Thai exercises – wherein an instructor twists my limbs into numerous outlandish positions until I can't feel them anymore. It's fun, but it is a one-off session after all, so I decide to do something more productive while I'm at it: 20 minutes each on the cross-trainer and the treadmill, followed by a series of abdomen exercises – all with the Beatles's Abbey Road playing in the background, and John Lennon singling eerily resonant lines such as "He got feet down below his knee". After which, it's back to the wet spa…and the swimming pool.

Come noon it's time for my second treatment, this time an Ayurveda one: a synchronized massage called the Abhyanga followed by the famed Shirodhara treatment where a regular flow of warm herbal oil is poured on the forehead.

A personal aside here: I'm not the sort of person who relaxes easily during his waking hours; my mind is always ticking over with something or the other. But the two hours spent during this treatment are the most soothing I've experienced outside of actual sleep. The massage – with hot oil being rubbed into my skin by two pairs of hands simultaneously – is wonderful, gentler and more soothing than the Swedish massage the previous day. But it's overshadowed by the Shirodhara treatment, during which I enter a sublime phase where I'm incapable of thinking about anything other than the soothing effect of the oil pouring onto my forehead. No worrying about train tickets, about packing luggage and getting back to Delhi on time; I exist purely in the moment, drifting in and out of consciousness. It's a fitting way to end the trip.

When you're leaving a place you've become attached to, there's often a moment of epiphany, a moment that brings the experience and everything it stood for in clear focus. For me, that time comes as I prepare to check out. Practically the last thing I do before leaving the room is to doff the white kurta-pyjama (I've delayed this till the last possible moment) and put on my regular clothes. What were, just two days ago, my most comfortable T-shirt and jeans now feel like a suit of armour. It's like I'm being expelled from a modern garden of Eden.

Contact details
Address: The Palace Estate, Narendra Nagar, Tehri-Garhwal, Uttaranchal-249175, India
Tel: 91-1378-227500
Fax: 91-1378-227550/227555
STD code: 01378

Caution: A medical questionnaire has to be filled prior to all spa treatments. The spa consultant must be notified if a guest suffers from any physical ailments, or is pregnant.


Ayurvedic therapies

Abhyanga (synchronized full body massage performed by two therapists, with herbal oils): Rs 3,500 (duration 60 minutes)

Udwarthana (a deep, dry massage using herbal powders to stimulate hair follicles and tissue. Helps in slimming): Rs 2,100 (45 minutes)

Shirodhara (lukewarm herbal oil poured in a continuous stream on the forehead. Relieves stress and improves memory): Rs 4,400 (60 minutes)

Massage therapies

Aromatherapy massage (full-body aromatic energy therapy): Rs 4,300 (90 minutes)

Swedish massage (helps in loosening and soothing tight muscles and increases blood circulation): Rs 3,600 (90 minutes)

Thai massage (combines assisted Yoga postures, gentle rocking and rhythmic compressions with targeted pressure point massage): Rs 4,800 (120 minutes)


Hydro jet body blitz (a high-pressure shower blitz directed at the body to activate circulation): Rs 2,500 (60 minutes)

Ananda body therapies

Wild rose salt glow (exfoliation with vigorous rose oil and dead sea salt cleansing scrub): Rs 1,800 (45 minutes)

Ancient Indian body mask (dry exfoliation with therapeutic clay application): Rs 2,300 (45 minutes)

Aroma cocoon (after each part of the body has been massaged, fresh rose petals are dropped onto the skin and the body is wrapped in a heated blanket, followed by a head and scalp pressure point massage): Rs 2,900 (90 minutes)

Picture courtesy: Ananda

May 14, 2009

Sampling Dal Moradabadi at Ignis, New Delhi

While this isn’t a food blog, we’ll make a concession and still write about a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed at Ignis, which is a multi-cuisine restaurant in Delhi’s Connaught Place (or Rajiv Chowk) area. It’s above the good ol’ Volga restaurant and, according to a friend, offers the most spectacular view of the market area especially at night time. That the restaurant faces the Central Park only makes the view better.
Ignis still awaits its liquor license but since my husband and I are not too high on the booze quotient, it made for a good choice. Though I was tempted to try mushroom cappuccino (a soup), we settled on what my husband called “nouveau Indian” food. My eyes did veer towards some interesting salmon dishes, a promising starter of chicken and olive parcels and what have you. But what we ordered finally was also an extension of the scrumptious fare offered at Ignis. And though we went totally desi in our order, opting for olive and parmesan naan (one of my favourite Indian breads) along with regular butter naans, we took thick tomato gravy with fenugreek chicken fare and a simple daal. In fact, I loved the way we got our Dal Moradabadi. It reminded me of how the delectable Khowsuey is served at The Kitchen, another favourite haunt at New Delhi’s Khan Market. (Address: 75, Khan Market, New Delhi. Contact: 011 - 41757960/1)

Since we’re a wellness blog, I knew instantly that this is one dish that will make it to SPAlendor. It’s a good idea to replicate the serving style at home too. What we ate was a simple arhar dal served with seven accompaniments including roasted garlic, freshly chopped coriander leaves, amchoor (dried mango powder), ginger juliennes, squeezed juice of half a lemon, a tangy coriander chutney and a dry red chilli.
It’s something we could do at home too. Cook a pan of lentils with salt to taste (salt should never be added after dishes are prepared, it should be added during the process of cooking) and let everyone add their desired flavor. While I’m not too fond of intensifying my dals with too many flavours (unless it’s very badly cooked and bland) it was a nice feeling to keep adding the accompaniments that we got at Ignis.
So, then, bon appétit!

Where: Ignis, B Block, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, Above Volga restaurant, New Delhi
How much: Meal for two (without starters or drinks) with just the main course: Rs 826including taxes

May 13, 2009

Shiivaz Spa: menu for summer 2009

Mumbai's Shiivaz Spa recently sent its summer 2009 spa menu. Do take a look and take your pick. Don't miss the interesting body wraps and scrubs.
Location: Shiiva’z Spa, Mohammedbhai Mansion, Kemps Corner, Cumballa Hill Hospital Lane, Mumbai – 400 036

Shiiva’z spiritual body treatment [90 mins] Rs 4,500 plus taxes
Soothing sandalwood, turmeric scrub in cold milk is followed by a traditional Indian de stress massage, this rhythmic and artistic technique help open blocked energy channel and relaxes the body.

Shiiva’z detox body treatment [90 mins] Rs 4, 500 plus taxes
A gentle scrubbing mixture of sea salt, ginger powder, lemon, juice, thoroughly blended with relaxing lavender, aromatic sandalwood and strengthening sweet almond oils to eliminate accumulated toxins, and soothe the deeper layers of your body. Followed by firm massage of intermittent pressure techniques to compress and stretch muscle tissues and naturally detoxify the body

Shiiva’z rejuvenation body treatment [90 mins] Rs 4,500 plus taxes
A nourishing and moisturizing paste of cinnamon and powered rice blended in honey and milk to rejuvenate and reverse sun damaged skin, followed by a gentle ‘kalari’ and Indian massage technique specially designed to stimulate new healing energies in the body.

Shiiva’z annalepam [50 mins] Rs 3,300 plus taxes
This ancient therapy starts with a light Kerala massage followed by a specially prepared scrub of toning medicinal rise, milk and healing herbal power for strained muscles and nerves.

Shiva’z sharer [50mins] Rs 3,300 plus taxes
A unique treatment designed, from a combination of the best healing and rejuvenating massage strokes of the Tibetan Himalayan , Javanese, ancient thalassic and traditional Indian ‘champi’ to balance energy flow and repairing damaged tissues whilst completely relaxing stiff muscles.

Shiiva’z Ananda [50 mins] Rs 3,300 plus taxes
A treatment where the therapist uses his forearms in the ancient Polynesian method, and create increased pressure on the back to loosen stiff muscles, finished with gentle soothing Garhwali massage strokes leaving you feeling re energized.
Shiiva’z sushumna [50 mins] Rs 3,300 plus taxes
A unique balancing massage from the left foot finishing on the right foot, in the direction the ancient Indians used for clearing blocked channel of energy in the physical and emotional body

Lomi Lomi [50 mins ] Rs 3,000 plus taxes
This ancient Polynesian style massage restores balance to the body, mind and soul, with flowing movements across the entire body, healing on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

Signature body scrub Rs. 2,000 plus taxes

Tropical fruit body scrub [50mins ]
The perfect blend from nature’s beauty….a pineapple, honeydew, grapes and banana scrub. The bromeliad in pineapples, a protein enzyme, helps remove the dead skin and dirt off your body, honeydew’s mild astringent soothes and hydrates dry skin, anti-oxidant rich grapes, protect you from the harmful UV rays and the banana’s essential nutrients keep the skin soft and smooth.

Brown sugar body scrub [50 mins]
A warm and gentle exfoliating treatment of brown sugar, white oats, honey, aloe vera gel, lemon juice and almond oil, which easily sloughs off dead skin cells, leaving it feeling smooth and luscious.

Herbal body polish [50 mins]
An aromatic exfoliating treatment power, clove, turmeric, ginger, power, white clay, lemongrass oil and warm milk, leaves your body feeling as smooth as silk.

Bali lulur [50 mins]
This highly medicinal scrub energizes the system, alleviating fatigue. An excellent skin enlivening and nourishing scrub of sea salt, black pepper powder, almond power, holy basil oil, and black pepper essential oil, it gently warms the body on cool, winter days.

Coconut and ginger shred [50 mins]
This very gentle and aromatic scrub of coconut flakes, finely, grated fresh ginger and olive oil, leaves the skin clean smooth and vitalized.

Classic coffee scrub [50 mins]
This stimulating scrub of ground aromatic coffee beans, cooling camphor, cinnamon powder, cinnamon powder, grated carrot and rice flour leaves your skin soft, clear and smooth.

Sugar scrub [50 mins]
This very popular spa treatment of sugar and spice, almond oil, lemon juice, and jasmine oil, removes dead cells and leaves your skin soft and radiant.

Lemon salt glow [50 mins]
Sea salt, almond oil, sweet almond oil mixed with finely grated lemon zest, brings a healthy glow to dull, dry skin.

Body wraps [Rs 2,000 plus taxes]

Aloe and cucumber soother [50 mins]
A soothing combination of cucumber and aloe vera, both strong hydrating elements, makes this a suitable wrap for dry and sun burnt skin. It helps to encourage new cell growth, soothe skin irritation and moisture to thirsty skin.

Sensitive skin cucumber masks [50 mins.]
This chilled cucumber, brewers yeast, ground oatmeal, honey and yogurt mask is a perfect soothe for sensitive skin.

Luscious orange warp [50 mins.]
This freshly prepared wrap of vitamin rice dried orange peel, olive oil, honey, and almond powder; build collagens to smoothen fine lines, another one of nature’s elixir to beautiful, healthy, soft skin.

Indian spice wraps [50 mins.]
Ancient Uptan, a purifying and healing treatment of almond powder, oatmeal powder, sandalwood oil, ginger oil, cinnamon oil, and patchouli oil, cleans and rejuvenates the skin.

May 12, 2009

Spa break at Kerala: women only

Spa vacation at Punnamada resort

I absolutely adore Sumitra Senapati. A former journalist, she chucked her job to do something more enriching, more fulfilling. Since travelling was -- and continues to be -- her passion, Sengupta started a travel club. No, not just another travel club but one created especially for women.
I first spoke to her for a story that was published in Business Standard Newspaper and needless to say, since then I've been getting regular updates on Women on Wanderlust
The club has just announced its new vacation schedule (most of them have already been sold out) and I thought it was necessary to mention WOW's spa break in Kerala. Here are the details

Spa & Monsoon Break in God’s Own Country for 3 nights & 4 days
6th June to 9th June
Day 1: Cochin Airport/Punnamada Resort (6th June Saturday)
· Make your own travel arrangements till Cochin by train or flight
· Pick up from Cochin airport and proceed Punnamada Resorts
· Welcome drinks on arrival.
· Check in at Punnamada Resort by lunch time.
· At leisure after lunch to pamper yourself with a body massage and facial/pedicure/manicure.
· Follow it up with a swim in the pool or try out one of the indoor games available at the resort.
· Build up your appetite as you see a demonstration of some exotic specialties of Kerela.
· Cultural program of one of the best known classical dance forms, “Kathakali”.
· Dinner and Over night stay in the Punnamada Resort

Day 2: House Boat (7th June Sunday)
· After Breakfast in resort try your hand at paddle boat & canoe.
· We proceed to House Boat at 12.noon. Check into AC House Boat.
· Lunch in House Boat.
· Fishing while on House Boat.
Dinner and overnight stay in House Boat.

Day 3: House Boat /Turtle Beach Resort (8th June Monday)
· Breakfast in the House Boat. Disembark
· Thereafter proceed to Turtle beach resort on Marari beach to enjoy the monsoon sights and sounds by the sea.
· Lunch
· Today is the day to relax and just let the day go by as we sit on the patio and chat or take long walk on the beach..
· Dinner & Overnight stay at the Turtle Beach Resort.

Day 4: Turtle Beach Resort/Sightseeing/Railway Station or Airport (9th June Tuesday)
· After breakfast we checkout and proceed to Cochin for local sight seeing- Jews street, Synagogue, Dutch castle, Chinese fishing net and much more before taking flight/ train home.

A/c Accommodation on twin share basis.
Sightseeing and surface transfers by Ac coach Cochin to Cochin.
Meals as per itinerary
Treatment & Massage mentioned in the itinerary
House Boat Stay in AC comfort
Cultural Programme and activities mentioned in the itinerary.
All Applicable Taxes.

· Laundry/Medicines/Doctor/Telephone
· Travel arrangements till Cochin and from Cochin
· Soft Drinks/Mineral water Meals/tea/coffee/drinks other than stated
· Tips & any other thing not mentioned in the itinerary.

Package details
Cost per person on twin sharing basis Rs.19, 500/
Single Occupancy Rs.7, 000/- extra.
EARLY BIRD OFFER: Pay the full amount by 15th May and get Rs 2,000 off!!!!
To reserve your place, courier Rs 7,500 and your signed WRF that is attached. Please note that all balance payments should come in by 31st May, 2009.
Please see payment options below:
· Send us an at par Cheque at the below address or
· Simply deposit the money in Axis Bank in your area .Account no. 296010200002684 (Axis Bank) or
· An online transfer with bank details given below :
Mayur Vihar, LSC, Phase 2, ND 91
Current ac no: 296010200002684.
IFS Code: UTIB 0000296
· If you want to pay in cash, this is possible in Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore.
Sumitra Senapaty
D 703 Anandlok CGHS, Mayur Vihar, Phase 1
New Delhi 91