Apr 30, 2009

Rejuve - The Spa at The Lalit Group of Hotels

Rejuve - The Spa, The Lalit’s signature brand is present at InterContinental The Lalit, Goa, InterContinental The Lalit, Mumbai, The Lalit Grand Palace, Srinagar, The Lalit Ashok, Bangalore, and The Lalit New Delhihttp://www.thelalit.com/. Rejuve spas will also be available at properties of the group that are still under development. These include Bekal (Kerela), Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Noida, Amritsar and Dehradun. And, and, Rejuve spas at Thailand and Dubai are also in the fray. At its Udaipur property, The Lalit Laxmi Vilas Palace, the spa is all set to re-open shortly.
Besides the regular salon services, what the brand also offers are yoga, a “patented” (you heard that right) color healing technique for body, mind and soul rejuvenation besides regular aroma, Ayurveda, herbal and natural therapies. Offered at Rejuve spas are pure essence of herbs and essential oils with healing colours and crystals for balancing the body’s energy centres (chakras). These are patented treatments that combine full body exfoliation, body massages and nourishing facials, while also using colours and crystals to clear stagnant energy.
Listed below are two signature treatments (a host of others are available too) that are offered at Rejuve

  • Rejuve Aroma: Mandarin experience

Enhanced by vibrant Carnelian crystal to release stress, toxins and fatigue, this particular aroma treatment lasts for two hours, 25 minutes, and includes a shower, tamarind and cane sugar scrub, followed by a deep tissue massage and a gorgeous facial. Just in case you’re still recuperating from the amazing experience, the therapist also gives you that much needed “me-time” with Rejuve Signature tea for company. At Rs 4,500 ($90), this could be a good way to survive the summer.

  • Also recommended strongly is Rejuve’s color therapy where Pam Mehra, a well-known “New Age therapist” personally gives you her signature colour therapy. These are systematic and balancing treatments, developed by her for holistic relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind, body and soul and aim at opening and thereby balancing the chakras too. While “The Emotional” therapy uses red and pink color crystals, rose and chamomile aroma oils along with soothing music, the ambience, complete with flickering light of the candles, helps in relaxing and balancing emotions, thereby opening the first chakra of the body. Then there’s also "The Peace" color therapy which uses shades of blue crystals, lavender and sandalwood aroma oils to help bring peace and harmony to the mind while also opening the fifth chakra of the body. The therapy takes 40 minutes (for each therapy) and costs Rs 2,000 ($40).
    Watch out for this space. In the next few posts, we’ll bring Pam Mehra to talk to us about color therapy and how it works for our body.
    Till then, listen to your breath and relax.
  • $1=Rs 50
  • Picture courtesy: the Lalit

Apr 22, 2009

FICCI E&Y 2009 report on the Indian wellness industry

The Great Indian Tourism story isn’t exciting in 2009. The economic slowdown, the terror attacks have hit the tourism industry big time and that’s a reason why Incredible!ndia www.incredibleindia.org, as part of its new initiative has announced special tie-ups and packages with wellness centres.Interestingly, the Indian tourism ministry is in the process of finalizing a scheme wherein a tourist visiting India for medical treatments will be offered additional treatments free of cost. Of course, the logistics will still need to be worked out but the tourism ministry is set to offer a healing touch. How? For instance, a person coming for a bypass surgery from abroad will be offered a complementary skin treatment package or an Ayurvedic therapy, for that matter. Since November 2008 (immediately after the terror attacks in Mumbai) the tourism — particularly the hospitality — sector is grappling with negative numbers of tourists. No wonder, the sector is now banking on medical tourism while also offering valuable add-ons. While the ministry is already in advance discussions with major hospitals like Apollo, Moolchand, Fortis and Wockhardt to offer patients complementary treatments, a clearer picture should come out soon. “Roping spa centre operators into the scheme for tourism India is a very conscious decision,” confirms a spokesperson.

That wellness is high on the radar of Indian tourism is evident from the success that the Indian wellness services market has witnessed. According to the latest study by FICCI and Ernst & Young, the wellness industry — currently estimated at Rs 110 billion — will continue to remain buoyant and has the potential to sustain at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 30-35 per cent for the next five years. The FICCI-E&Y report, Wellness: Exploring the Untapped Potential, has classified the wellness industry into seven core segments within different products and services such as allopathy, alternative therapies, beauty, counselling, fitness/slimming, nutrition and rejuvenation. Of these, rejuvenation services such as spas, alternative therapies, ayurveda treatments and beauty services are expected to show growth rates as high as 30 per cent. At the same time, fitness comprising gyms and slimming centers are expected to grow by more than 25 per cent. Nutrition products, including dietary supplements, health food and drinks have shown a growth rate of 8-10 per cent, whereas allopathy as a segment was not classified due to its traditional linkage to healthcare. According to the report, the increasing level of activity is arising from the entry of several providers such as organised Indian and international players; expansion by existing companies to new product categories and regions; strategic alliances across the value chain, interest by private equity investors and also players in allied industries like hotels and real estate entering the wellness segments. The report also points to a trend of players moving towards offering a ‘one-stop-solution’ for all wellness-based needs by adding more products and services across various segments in wellness. In terms of payback and gestation periods, products such as health foods and drinks, dietary supplements and alternative medicines require greater investments, normally exceeding Rs 25 crore or more, says the report, with paybacks ranging from 3-6 years. At the same time, services such as ayurveda treatment, alternative treatment centers, salons etc require much lower investment and also have lower paybacks of upto three years.
* Picture courtesy: Aura

Apr 18, 2009

Summer packages at Soukya, Bangalore

The Indian tourism ministry, on its website http://visitindia2009.incredibleindia.org/ has begun advertising a lovely spa centre from Bangalore. Called SOUKYA Indian Holistic Health Centre, http://www.soukya.com/ it has announced its 2009 wellness packages for tourists.
A Basic Ayurvedic Rejuvenation programme for 21 days, complete with accommodation, food (vegetarian cuisine which also includes fresh, organic herbal drinks), daily consultations and dietary advice, treatments, yoga programmes implemented twice every day, along with complimentary use of recreational and swimming pool facilities, costs Rs 15,812 per day.
Other programmes at the Soukya centre include Shareera (Body) treatment that concentrates on weight loss using Naturopathic hydrotherapy, Yoga and Diet Simple Ayurvedic package. (Rs.19,057 per day for a 14-day treatment) There’s also SUNDAR (Beauty) treatment that spread over 15 days this treatment offers over 66 different therapies that include natural Ayurvedic products which are anti-ageing. Additionally, guests are also given mud and herbal packs. (Rs 19,942 per day).
The most expensive treatment is Shakthi (power) treatment that’s designed to rejuvenate and soothe and calm the nerves through specially designed Ayurvedic revitalising treatments besides mud packs, reflexology and even acupressure. This is ideal for corporates and foreign tourists who obviously don’t have much time on their hands. Spread over just seven days (the minimum time you have to spend at Soukya, the programme offers as many as 42 treatments for a price of Rs 27,022 per day.

Actually, for those of you planning to travel to south India, where a plethora of spa treatments are available anyway (*beware of touts and unclean places that pass off as spa centres) it would be a good idea to make Bangalore your base, try out Soukya treatments and then proceed to different destinations. Better still, round off your India holiday with a trip to Soukya and the luxurious treatments that it offers.

*Soukya package rates (excluding taxes) valid from April 1, 2009 till September 30, 2009.
* Meals served are primarily vegetarian. Low fat, low salt and very little spice.
* No smoking and alcohol allowed on the property
* Select treatments cannot be done on women when they have their menstural cycle
* Cash, cheques, debit and credit cards (Visa, Master and American Express) accepted

Apr 13, 2009

Green tea spa treatments

I was speaking to a friend about spalendor.blogspot.com and she was kind enough to tell me about this very unique spa in the heart of Kurseong. Nestled in the midst of tea gardens in north East India, it’s a wellness resort which specializes in — what else — tea massages besides other therapies. My friend, who has experienced a green tea facial here (60 minutes, Rs 400) swears by it, claims that the perfect ambience and the trained therapists with their amazing skill make a trip to this resort a truly memorable one. Called the Cochrane Place, the resort offers yoga and pranayama sessions, Ayurvedic treatments, in addition to what they call, Himalayan Spa.
Cochrane Place is on the outskirts of the main town and is essentially a restored British colonial home. One of the best things about engaging in spa sessions here is the fact that you’re gently teased by the aroma of Darjeeling tea, gardens of which surround the entire property. Not surprising then that many guests opt for tea spa treatments here. While the green tea facial is there, there’s also an ayurvedic “leaf-bag massage” especially created to relieve body aches and pains (Rs 750 for 45 minutes; Rs 800 for 60 minutes).
Do give their website http://www.imperialchai.com/ a look to find out other details. While at it, I also suggest you take a look at one of the tickers which advertise an interesting site called calcuttawalks.com. Cochrane Place has just announced some of its new packages and maybe you’d like to give this place a try this summer.

Incidentally, Delhi's Galaxy Hotel (pitched as India's first lifestyle hotel complete with five-star services, spa and shopping centre) does a unique body wrap with green tea extracts that are mixed with multani mitti (Fullers earth) and sandalwood powder which makes the skin feel younger and lighter. Green tea is said to have anti-oxidant properties which detoxify the skin. This treatment is available for Rs 950 and lasts for a luxuriating 45 minutes.
Happy spa holidaying, then.

* picture courtesy: Cochrane Place

Apr 9, 2009

Meeting hairstylist Kim Robinson

When I met Kim Robinson, a celebrated hairstylist who has dressed the likes of Jackie Chan, Kate Moss and many, many other celebrities, I was stunned by how charming he looked and behaved. He's set shop in The Aman that only recently launched in New Delhi.
Kim's interview was published in Business Standard Newspaper. http://www.business-standard.com/india/

Introducing luxury hairdressing
Kim Robinson has styled the manes of celebrities ranging from Kate Moss to “big names” in India who fly down to Hong Kong for a haircut! Now, he is in India, finds Abhilasha Ojha

What brings you to India?

We are opening our salon at The Aman New Delhi. I’m really excited about the entire venture. I have been attached with Aman Resorts in Beijing and have a salon in Singapore too but it’s good to be in India, especially because a lot of my Indian clients wanted me here.

So, you have styled Indians?

I cannot reveal names but many Indians especially fly down to Beijing or Hong Kong or even to Singapore to get their hair styled by me. These are people who are big names in India.
Why don’t you reveal some names to us? (Laughs) No, I can’t do that. But watch out for a limited edition book that we’ll bring out by the end of 2009 on Indian beauties whose tresses have been styled by me. We had bought out a similar book, 30 Years of Orient Beauty, talking about some of the very popular artistes, models and actresses in south-east Asia who have, over the years, been styled by me.

You’re perhaps the only hairstylist in the world who specialises in what’s called a dry cut. Is that right?

Yes, not many in the business cut hair without wetting it. My concept of cutting hair is to treat it like a garment. You cannot wet a garment before wearing it. Spraying water on the hair just before cutting it flattens it completely, dissuading both the client and the stylist to know how a hairstyle might look in the long run. So I cut hair dry and then, say a week later, I ask the client to come back so I can see if I’ve done a clean job. It’s similar to how people do garment fittings.

Wow, that’s taking a haircut very seriously.
(Interrupts) It’s never just a haircut. What we want to introduce in India is luxury hairdressing. We’ve got spa treatments for hair, we’re using the best products and believe it or not, I’m constantly developing techniques not just to cut hair but also to maintain it in the long run.
Photo courtesy: Kim Robinson

HARNN comes to India

HARNN, an Asian inspired Brand, uses natural botanical extracts and combined with knowledge derived from the traditional herbal medicines, the company creates exotic products that help restore and maintain the natural balance for the mind and body, while also fighting the harsh urban environment and pollutants.
The brand has been very well received in 63 locations spread over 20 countries including Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Singapore, Taiwan and Finland, to name a few, and will now launch in India at a spacious flagship store at the DLF MGF Mall in Saket, New Delhi, on April, 17, 2009.
The design is inspired by a "traditional Chinese medicine cabinet" and the boutique resembles a traditional Chinese drug store. Divided into three main areas, the flagship store will have a HARNN Retail boutique that will offer a full range of HARNN’s skincare and aromatherapy collections including jasmine, lavender floral, Oriental herbs, Water lily and special home spa collections too. Also on the offer will be collections like essence of the East and the Himalaya magnolia collection.
The second area is the HARNN Heritage Spa that will offer luxurious, traditional Thai treatments especially administered by trained Thai therapists.
Also in the flagship store will be HARNN Heritage Café, run by the well-known chef Ritu Dalmia that will serve fresh, healthy and zestful dishes with a delicate, harmonious blend of contrasting flavors and hints of the Orient.
* According to PR notes that I’ve received, HARNN claims to utilize “rice bran oil” as its core ingredient, which is extracted from a unique strain of rice – Oryza Sativa which contains three natural vitamin-Es, in the form of Tocopherol, Toctrienol and Oryzanol that claim to provide natural moisturisers, anti-oxidants and sun protection to the bodies.In addition, HARNN has also managed to secure patents for the HARNN soap formulation (with rice bran oil) as well as the unique HARNN Soap design, which makes the brand the only company in the world to offer these unique natural products.

* Picture courtesy: HARNN

Apr 8, 2009

Leisure Hotels announces its Good Friday weekend packages at The Naini Retreat

Leisure Hotels has just announced its Good Friday weekend packages. At Naini Retreat — originially the residence of the Maharaja of Pilibhit — a hotel nestled in the midst of verdant valleys and the gorgeous Himalayas, you’ll be beckoning wellness. The hotel has a spa facility too but the special weekend package doesn’t include any treatment.
The hotel one kilometer from the mall and its location is its biggest asset. It is situated on the picturesque Ayarpatta Slopes overlooking the Naini Lake and provides a breathtaking view of the entire hill station. The hotel also boasts of sophisticated bedrooms, an intimate dining room overlooking the valley, a well-equipped fitness centre and a conference hall too. The hotel is designed in such a manner that all areas offer a wonderful view of the Himalayas. There are 37 luxurious rooms with wooden flooring with all amenities.
One can also experience trekking in the mountains, a golfing date at the regal 100-year old Raj Bhawan Golf Course, a special cultural evening featuring performances by traditional Kumaoni artists, relaxation at the in-house spa, boating or sailing in yachts, horse riding and cable car riding. Forget all that, we recommend a long, leisurely walk along shaded roads. It’s surely going to bring to closer to what they call nirvana.

: Nearest airport is at Pantnagar.
Road: It is 311 kms from Delhi and takes 6 hours to reach. Route via Delhi: Delhi-Hapur-Gajraula-Moradabad-Rampur-Rudrapur-Haldwani-Kathgodam-Nainital
Rail: Delhi-Kathgodam by Kathgodam Express. The train departs from Old Delhi Railway Station at 22:45 hrs and arrives at Kathgodam at 07:15 hrs. The Naini Retreat is another 35 kms (1 hour approximately) by road.
* Picture courtesy: Naini Retreat

Apr 6, 2009

The hot spa therapies for Indian summer 2009

Tamarind Polish: Tamarind mixed with oatmeal, milk and honey for an exotic body polish at Aura, The Park Hotels, across the country. Price: Rs 2,000 for 35 minutes. Log on http://www.theparkhotels.com/ for further information

Caviar Facials: For men, at Tamaya, the spa at Jaypee Hotels. Price: Rs 6,000. Basically, the treatment uses caviar extract creams and other related products from Pivonia, a brand with which the group has partnered with. Pivonia has top-of-the-line spa products that do not contain any artificial colors or fragrances, lanolin or mineral oil. Every product is alcohol and papa (Para amino benzoic acid) free.

Vinotherapy: Massaging and scrubbing the body with crushed grapes but not before drenching clients in a pool of wine. Available at Myrah in Mumbai: Rs 8,000. Contact: 022-26253968. Myrah Spa, Binoli Palm Spring Society, JVPD Scheme, Mumbai

Chocolate and strawberry wraps: At White Mantra, Rs 3,500 for a little over an hour. Also check out White Mantra's "summer cooler" packages that include facials like “mint and cucumber” or “rose and milk.” Also indulge in the body cooling Javanese Lulur Scrub-n-Soak. (This treatment is also available at The Aman, Beijing). White Mantra also has a cooling sandalwood tan removing package which includes a spa treatment for the entire body, hands and feet too. Contact: White Mantra Spa and Salon, #142, Pop Cottage,Rustam Bagh, HAL Airport Road, Behind Manipal Hospital,Bangalore 560017, India.Phone: +91 - 80 -32429960 / 25214870Email: contact@whitemantraspa.com

Rain Mist Splendor: Available at Oberoi’s The Banyan Tree for in-house guests only, under its hydrotherapy section, this is a brand new “deep cleansing and conditioning” therapy that involves exfoliating body polishes and body conditioners to soften the skin. The treatment begins with a rain mist in order to prepare the body for deep cleansing and conditioning. This is followed by a lemon-yoghurt scrub/orange-oats scrub that aims at softening the skin. This is once again followed by a relaxing rain shower after which cucumber-yoghurt mask is applied. You can also opt for cucumber-honey if you wish. Price: Rs 6,300 for 90 minutes. Log on: http://www.oberoihotels.com/

Indoceane treatment: Available at Quan Spa at Mumbai’s JW Marriott, this involves a scrub with soft granules of sugar. This treatment, Quan’s super exclusive one, is priced at Rs 13,000 for a couple and is followed by two-and-a-half hours of blissful aromatic bath and massage.
Log on: http://www.quanspa.com/

Mango Orange Wrap: At the Renaissance Club Spa in Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai, you can spend 45 luxuriating minutes in a mango and a delicious orange texture wrap which repairs the skin giving benefits of butter, beeswax and honey while the trace elements mineralize the skin. This real body balm can leave the driest skins a velvety texture and a satin finish . Price: Rs 2100. Contact: Renaissance Hotel and Convention Centre, 022-66927777, 66927570

Photo courtesy: Quan Spa, JW Marriott, Mumbai

Apr 4, 2009

New summer packages from Aura, The Park, INDIA

Luxury spas across the country have started announcing their summer packages. The Park’s Aura spa, for instance, has announced three new packages for 2009. The luxury day spa located in the hotel’s properties across New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam will have packages that promise to pamper the skin and re-energise it for the harsh summer months that lie ahead. It is recommended that these therapies be taken at least twice a month, once every 15 days for its effect to last long. We haven’t tried any of these therapies so far
but will do so shortly.

Summer Cooler: It’s a complete skin cooling ritual from head to toe and one that allows you to pamper yourself for one hour, 15 minutes. While the especially designed body wrap (which also includes a special coconut cream) aims at hydrating your skin and healing it from any damage caused due to the harsh sun rays, there’s a cucumber mask for the face that tones and reduces fine lines and keeps the face fresh. But what’s absolutely fascinating is the special hair mask made with yoghurt, Indian gooseberry, lemon and hibiscus flower extracts that promises to fight dandruff and hair fall while leaving it soft and silky.
Duration: 1 hour and 15 min
Price: Rs 2,100 (excluding taxes)

Oriental Escape: For those of you who are uncomfortable stripping down to the underwear for spa treatments, Aura’s Oriental Escape is — without requiring you to shed your clothes — a treatment inspired from traditional Japanese, Chinese and Thai techniques to stretch, energize and remove energy blockages. According to therapists, combinations of stretches help in blood circulation and promise to restore the flow of energy in the body.
Duration: 1 hour
Price: Rs 2,200 (excluding taxes)

Soothing Acacia : Those with extremely sensitive skin need to be extra cautious of the use of aroma oils. In other words, only after the doctor’s advice should people with extremely sensitive skin opt for spa treatments (especially those treatments that involve aroma oil blends). Acacia flower, commonly known as “Babool” has anti-inflammatory properties that are usually considered good for sensitive skins and in this facial extracts of Acacia are used to soothe the skin, especially one which is afflicted with a sun tan.
Duration: 1 hour
Price: 2,500 (excluding taxes)
picture courtesy: Aura, The Park

Apr 2, 2009

Happy Feet, Select CityWalk, New Delhi

“Where do I submerge my feet?” I asked reluctantly, shifting uncomfortably on a wooden bench that looked like it had been hammered near the area where a faux mini pool was created. The therapist was adept at his work, cleaning my very, very dirty feet patiently with cotton and spray water (it may have also been an astringent, but I’m not too sure). He looked at me, gave a short grunt and pointed to the pool in which — I kid you not — 800-odd fish were floating. “Eight hundred, are you sure?” I asked, while the therapist smiled nodding in acknowledgment.
I dipped my feet and within a second of doing that, I was attacked. Actually, my dead skin, explained the therapist, was getting attacked.
So, I’d heard of friends who had experienced the fish spa pedicure treatment at Happy Feet, a humble spa outlet located right behind Barista in New Delhi’s Select City Walk, admitting that it was a ticklish sensation to have fish crawl and nibble non-stop at your feet. They’re crazy, I thought of my these friends, just when I dipped my feet and took them out twice from the pool — layered with soft, lovely pebbles, by the way. Why? Because they (my friends) can’t tell the difference between getting assaulted and feeling tickled or “kissed,” as one person suggested. Simply put, the first three-four minutes of the treatment were miserable especially as I kept expecting little fish to come snapping with their tiny teeth at my sickly, unkempt, corn-infested feet.
Did it get better? To be honest, yes it did. After my feet had become fodder for the Garra Rufa ‘doctor’ fish, as my therapist mentioned and after I’d surrendered myself to the feeling of getting gnawed at by these “especially imported from Turkey” fish, I liked the fact that it was a treatment in the open area of an otherwise overcrowded mall. That it was located behind the main mall area (in a small area of one of the mall’s many extended balconies actually) meant that it was further away from the crowds. This meant, feeling the gentle evening breeze on the face, getting tantalized with the whispering aromas of freshly buttered corn-in-a-cup while also listening to some fantastic music, notes of which added a nice rhythm to the spa experience. In fact, it’s a treatment you should indulge in with a friend, a companion with whom you can chat and catch up for 20 minutes while experiencing the fish spa treatment. (Note: It should ideally be done for an hour, according to experts). I went with my husband who kept wondering if the fish were fed anything else other than human dead skin. He also wondered aloud, much to my embarrassment, if the fish suspiciously resembled Indian tadpoles.
The only glitch: it’s not a very personalized experience. Which means, you’ll have little army of kids laughing away, pointing at your feet, while the water creatures hog — and burp, perhaps? — at your soles. It also means getting inadvertently clicked in photographs where a husband wants to lovingly capture his wife’s bushy, hairy legs while she gets her treatment. But what makes up for it is the last part: a pleasant massage with foot cream by the therapist. “You can come back every day and get it done,” he advices, clearly unhappy with my feet, which have been marked with eczema spots.
At Rs 390 for a 20-minute treatment, I think I’ll go back once again.

· Uncomfortable seating with no back rest
· Cash only, no credit cards accepted
· Not very personalized in that people tend to gawk at you
· The place should have aroma candles. The fish sometimes tend to give away a very faint stench
· Affordable
· Hospitable staff
· A unique experience