May 10, 2010

Spa-ced out

Stem cells, gold dust, caviar. It would appear that the oil massage as we knew it is passé, and exotic spas are big business.

As more and more Indians with disposable incomes discover the pleasures of being pampered with facials and massages, the spa industry in the country is growing by leaps and bounds (see box below) and spa entrepreneurs are innovating fast to keep the excitement going with new and exotic treatments.

Myrah, a luxury destination day spa in Mumbai’s upmarket Juhu area, has launched ‘stem cell therapy’, an 85-minute treatment priced Rs 5,500. “It’s considered a breakthrough in anti-ageing,” says Nisha Jhaveri, Myrah’s owner. The frozen stem cells used at Myrah are imported from Spain and contain Tropoelastin, a chemical that experts believe has anti-ageing properties. While the ‘stem cell therapy’ is Myrah’s USP, Jhaveri has other treatments, including exotic ones that use powder extracted from 1.5 carat diamonds, gold and caviar.

‘Organic’ is the USP of Aparna Raghavan’s White Mantra Spa, spread across 7,000 sq ft in Bangalore’s Rustam Bagh. White Mantra claims to use products that are not only natural, but also mostly grown within the spa premises. “Every ingredient — from the mix of herbs to the hand-pounded powders, the essential oils, the fresh, organically grown fruits and flowers — is sourced from the spa centre,” says Raghavan. White Mantra Spa specialises in creating customised packages based on individual need and body type. Some of the more exotic treatments it offers are an almond-chocolate body exfoliation, strawberry-oatmeal skin treatment, and massages using macadamia nuts and coconut milk.

Speaking of new therapies, Shen Reflexology, a wellness centre in Mumbai’s Bandra locality, has just brought in Moxibustion, an ancient Chinese therapy that aims to relieve stress around the eye area. The 30-minute treatment uses special ‘Moxa sticks’ (cigar-like, infused with herbs) that are warmed and gently massaged around the eye area and help to reduce dark circles.

Juhu in Mumbai also has the brand new Caressa Spa which offers a special ‘life spa capsule’, a spaceship-like chamber in which you lie down and are engulfed in a gush of temperature-controlled steam infused with aromatic herbs and essential oils.

It’s not quite the same, but New Delhi’s Radisson Hotel too has a special ‘aqua suite’ inside which it offers a ‘body detox’ treatment using micronised seaweed. Later, you are cocooned in a warm water blanket that gives you a feeling of complete weightlessness. At R The Spa, as the Radisson’s spa is called, the therapy is often combined with facials, body massages and body wraps such as the green coffee wrap, introduced this summer.

Anupam Dasgupta, general manager of Ananda in the Himalayas, an hour’s drive from Dehradun, well understands the need to offer unique, yet effective therapies. “That’s why 70-80 per cent of guests here,” he says, “are repeat customers.” Ananda recently introduced an exclusive treatment, a 45-minute Tibetan massage using hot Himalayan salt poultices infused with cardamom and lavender, and a blend of five types of organic oils.

Not just spa owners, spa vendors too are providing increasingly exotic stuff. Eminence Organics, a Hungarian brand of natural skincare products, has come out with a ‘chili facial’ cream that contains extracts of paprika, which heats the skin naturally, thus facilitating the opening of pores and removal of dead skin.

“Every hotel wants to give its customers a wholesome experience and that’s why they are opening spas,” explains Sanjeev Mansotra, chairman and MD, Core Wellness. The company runs Sohum Spa and Wellness Sanctuary, which has day spa centres in Baroda, Pune, Chennai and pilgrimage centres such as Shirdi and Katra, and also plans to offer certified spa courses.

Despite all these innovative new experiences being offered at spas within the country, those who can afford it — and many increasingly can — go abroad for exotic treatments at dedicated spa destinations. Dr Purnima Mhatre, who runs Gorgeous, a chain of cosmetology clinics in Mumbai, says: “Indulging in exotic treatments is a status symbol today.”

Megha Kawale, model/DJ/musician, takes regular ‘spa vacations’ and has just returned from a Polynesian spa in New Zealand. It was Nisha Jhaveri’s travels to spas all over the world that prompted her to open Myrah. In India, hotels such as Westin have developed properties in places like Sohna and Pune as quick spa getaways.

Arun Thapar, who anchors and produces the show Spectacular Spas for Men on NDTV Good Times, says, “Men, too, know the importance of a manicure or a fruit facial and are unapologetic about enjoying a spa treatment.”

Take Mohamed Morani, CEO of Cineyug, a Mumbai-based entertainment company, and his wife Lucky, who pack in a two-hour session at a spa every week getting back massages, hair treatments, foot reflexology, body wraps, etc. “Spa treatments are an intrinsic part of our lives; it’s no more a luxury, it’s a necessity,” he says. This year, they hope to go to Chiva-Som in Thailand, a luxury health resort which offers treatments such as marine mud wraps, volcanic mud facials and spiced coffee body glow, where ground coffee — which reduces cellulite, it is believed — is used to cleanse the body.

If you think that’s exotic, then some of the therapies at spas across the world would make your stomach turn — ‘snake venom’ facials to freeze wrinkles, ‘bird dropping’ massages for supple skin, snakes (non-venomous) slithering over you in a ‘body massage’, and a ‘hay stack bath’ where you’re buried under moist hay (heated to 40° C) for 20 minutes to open the pores and detoxify the body!

Clearly, spas have come a long way from the ‘water therapy’ they began as. Most people in India do not even realise that what most spas offer is ‘pampering’, without any ‘therapeutic’ benefits. “With pampering, one just feels good; but when it’s therapeutic, it works at a deeper level of health,” explains Dr Issac Mathai, medical director, Soukya International Holistic Health Centre, Bangalore. India also lacks regulations and standards, he adds, and even Ayurveda, India’s ancient medical system, tends to be widely misused.

These are important concerns, and the spa industry would do well to heed them if it is to continue to grow in India.


Pegged as a significant part of the Rs 11,000 crore wellness services sector, the spa industry, says a FICCI-E&Y report of 2009, is growing at 35 per cent per annum. The report further says that there are 2,300 spas in the country now, and by 2014 ,700 new ones will be added, comprising both homegrown and international brands which will open in India to meet the demand. What’s more, by 2012, nearly three lakh spa therapists will be required in India.

Apr 15, 2010

Forest Essentials' Yogurt Face Masque for summer 2010

Yoghurt is an excellent natural ingredient that soothes, pampers and moisturises the skin. It also works as a skin tightening and reviving agent and is said to have cleansing properties that help remove traces of dirt, pollution and make up from the pores of the skin and leave it looking fresh and glowing.
Forest Essentials brand new offering is Yogurt Face Masque, a product that includes cold pressed organic almond oil, wheat germ, Vitamin B3, Vitamin E and unprocessed natural yogurt.
To be used after cleansing. Preferably post steaming or using a hot towel. Apply smoothly on face and neck avoiding the eye area and allow it to dry. Rinse off with warm water and then cold water. Use moisturiser as usual.

Feb 12, 2010

Special Valentine's Day discount deal for SPAlendor readers

SPAlendor is happy to announce its association with Sign up on the website for interesting deals. Today's special deal is 59 per cent off on in-home massages. Please log on for more details.
ESPECIALLY FOR SPAlendor's readers: Go through the blog and get special "$5 Deal Bucks" to spend on your first purchase. Happy shopping this Valentine's Day!

Jan 31, 2010

Here’s what you can do this Valentine’s day

Devigarh Resorts is celebrating its 10th anniversary and offering special packages for Valentine's day 2010. Email for further details

1 A card from Sophie Creations is a must. These are greeting cards I design on my own with 100 per cent handmade paper, recycled materials and handiwork worked on by Indian artisans themselves. There’s no better way than a simple, personalized card to share your feelings. Rs 70 onwards. The link is on the blog webpage so go ahead, smile and order your cards on
2 Pamper your taste buds with yummy and specially crafted Godrej Nature’s Baskets. The “indulgence” hampers consists of heavenly chocolates and confectionaries like Villars bar - dark chocolate with orange, Guliyan Twists Impulse - Mixed Flavors and Terry's Choc Orange Mint. And if you think your Valentine is way too health conscious to enjoy all these sinful delights, the hamper also has a host of scrumptious snacks and beverages like Venus Healthy Cuisine Saffron Pepper, Pfanner Green Apple Drink, Merba Patisserie Cranberry Cookies and Swell Apricot Nectar. PRICE: Rs 3,500 onwards. Available in Mumbai but you can order them in other cities too by calling on these numbers: World Trade Centre: 022- 22154706/22152006; Warden Road: 022-23526775; Powai: 022-25707706; Lokhandwala: 022 26300766; Bandra : 022 6425050
3 It’s time to gift your man a spa treatment. ESPACE, the spa at Radisson MBD, NOIDA, has introduced special spa treatments for men this Valentine’s day. The treatments, says the spa manager, keep in mind the specific skin care and detoxification needs of men. The ambience is, obviously, luxurious but the therapies aim at reducing body stress while removing harmful toxins from the system.
The Gentlemen’s Retreat (back, neck and shoulder massage): The massage works on the head, neck and shoulders, relieving tension and bringing in a sense of relaxation. The treatment provides relief from back aches, relaxes the muscles and other parts of the body.
Price: Rs 1,500
Duration: 20 min
Gentlemen’s Happy Feet: Time to heal thy feet. This promises to be reflexology at its best. Specialized massage techniques, concentrating on the reflex areas of the feet will have your man falling at your feet for sure.
Price : Rs 999
Duration : 50 mins
Call (0120-4300000)
4 Go fall in love all over again this Valentine's Day. NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York, has announced special packages for Valentine’s day, 2010. Singles, you may want to join a “crash course in dating” with some relationship experts who will, apart from giving you gyaan will also serve you Love Potion Cocktail (yikes) at Havana Central Times Square. Tickets: $15 each. If that sounds dreary, the good part is that you can join a “Valentine Speed Dating” event at Havana Central at The West End. Tickets: $59.95 each, including tax, hors d’oeuvres and one Havana Central Classic Cocktail. Cruise holidays are passé, you might want to experience walking on the clouds this Valentine’s with Liberty Helicopters, which is offering Romance Over Manhattan tour lasting 25 minutes. At the end of the tour you’ll get a souvenir photo of you and your loved one. Price: $995 onwards. For more information, visit Don’t come away without the special Park Avenue Romance Package at Oasis Day Spa, which includes complementary candlelight dinner vouchers too. Price is $300. Services at the spa include a choice from aromatherapy massages, French wine facials and much more. Prices range from $70–$125 onwards. For more information, visit Mandarin Oriental New York is offering, apart from other packages, special Midnight Magic Over Manhattan spa experience. Price: $1,750+ For more information, visit
For more information about what to see and do in New York City, visit
5 Those of you in Delhi can head away from the maddening crowds and visit KBL Farm, Number 17, Mehrauli, where well-known aroma-therapist Blossom Kochhar has set up Ishwar, her brand new spa. You can choose from a wide variety of massages and treatments, which are based on the science of aromatherapy. We would recommend her signature, deep tissue massage, which Kochar believes removes negative energy and cleans the aura. Gift your Valentine detoxifying body wraps, scrubs and facials and enjoy the day with herbal teas and healthy organic snacks. For prices and other details, dial: + 91 9711862038/9711862039
6 The Altitude Store has brought out interesting hampers for Valentine's Day. For a store that specialises in organic products, we particularly like the store's "apricot hamper", which includes apricot face scrub, soap scrub with lemongrass extracts. The hamper also includes a special hand cream as well as apricot poil and herbal tea. Visit for more details. Delivery within 48 hours.
6 Quickly book this treatment for your precious Valentine. Radisson's R The Spa has a special Chocolate Indulgence treatment that has been created for Valentine's Day. This includes chocolate facial, chocolate wrap, chocolate massage and -- wow -- chocolate manicure and pedicure too.
Duration: 240 minutes
Price: Rs 7,500 ++
Where: Radisson Hotel, Delhi
Dial: +91 11 26779065

Jan 27, 2010

Italian Chettinad, anyone?

Tiramisu at FIO is fabulous

Jai and I had gone for a hearty meal at Fio, the newly opened restaurant at Delhi's Garden of Five Senses. Here's a review.

It’s a cold, winter evening in Delhi when we decide to head towards Fio, the latest dining address in the heart of Garden of Five Senses, described -- rather dryly – as a "park" on the Delhi Tourism website. The "park", however, is gradually making its mark on Delhi’s culinary map. There’s Magique, Marut Sikka’s celebrated restaurant, which serves "fine Asian and European inspired cuisine". Then there’s Spice, which offers Thai as well as Chinese cuisine. Fio joined the list exactly 100 days ago after Vineet Wadhwa, the restaurant’s managing director, worked overtime to "create a healthy balance of both Italian and Indian cuisine".

Wadhwa, who has been in the business of catering and setting up restaurants for the last 30 years, admits that the land, when he first saw it, was perhaps the most neglected part of the entire park. "Good food needs good ambience," says Wadhwa while we proceed to order our starters and cocktails. But why did he choose the Garden of Five Senses? "The indoor and outdoor synchronise beautifully at Garden of Five Senses and our herb garden fits in with the horticulture of the place," adds Wadhwa.

He’s right. The winter chill notwithstanding, it makes perfect sense to sit in the outside section of Fio. The lightening – swathed in blue – heightens the romantic setting, there’s a burst of natural green foliage, which adds to the restaurant’s delightful charm, the cobbled pathway, interspersed with part wooden- , part stone-flooring, makes the place even more gorgeous and pillar candles only aid in uplifting deplorable moods. A synergy between great food and great ambience, as Wadhwa explains it, is the reason why he’s serving diners in Garden of Five Senses.

The "angithi's" warmth, placed at a safe distance from where we’re sitting, is welcoming and the strawberry-vodka cocktail (Rs 250) -- its pink colour glowing softly in the candlelight -- becomes my perfect companion for the evening. We’ve opted for Murg Munnar Chettinad, a fiery starter, which goes perfectly with fresh mint chutney and onion slices. Next up are pizzas, and with this we make our foray in Fio’s Italian offerings. The smoky wood-fired pizzas; we pick Pepperoni and Smoked Chicken pizzas (both at Rs 425) are thin-crust and come with generous toppings. They’re light but filling, simple but bursting with flavor at the same time. And biting into the rocket leaves, which accompany the pizzas and are drizzled with olive oil, we know we’ve tasted a winner. Up next in our culinary tour of Fio is the Filetto Di Basa (Rs 525), pan seared basa, an Italian dish, which explodes with a concoction of ginger, honey, lemongrass and soya sauce. While the dish in itself is fabulous, I’m not convinced of the lemongrass shavings that come sprinkled on it.

What doesn’t work, even though it’s one of Wadhwa’s personal favourites, is the traditional Indian Kali dal, which is tempered with desi ghee (Rs 250). It’s a clumsy dish, one that seems to have been made hurridly, with too many flavours colliding unfairly to spoil what could well have been a winner. That said, we do enjoy the steaming hot lachcha parantha (Rs 50) with kosha murgi (Rs 450), Fio’s inclusion in the Indian section from Bengal.

And though we’re happily stuffed, it seems unfair to leave without Fio’s Tiramisu (Rs 220) that’s fresh, creamy and oh, so, rich in its taste.

Where: Fio, Garden of Five Senses, Said- ul- Ajaib, New Delhi.

Dial: 011-29536309

Service: Excellent

Average price of meal for two: Rs 1,600 (minus alcohol and other charges)

Jan 21, 2010

You can help the Haiti earthquake survivors

Dear Abhilasha

International Medical Corps is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization, founded by volunteer doctors and nurses and dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through relief and development programs. Our emergency response team is in Haiti responding in force and I would like to ask for your help to get the word out to the readers of SPAlendor: Treatments Trends Reviews And Offers. There are still thousands of patients seeking treatment of which approximately 80% are in need of surgery and are running out of time - especially with the tremendous aftershocks still devastating this country. The team is treating crush injuries, trauma, substantial wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies - And they're in it for the long haul. I would love your help spreading the word by blogging or tweeting about IMC's rescue efforts. We've put up a blogger friendly widget here on our site:

With the widget it's really easy to let your readers know that donating $10 to help the people of Haiti is as simple as sending a text message of the word "haiti" to 85944. If you have any questions just let me know and I will do my best to help you out. If you are able to post the widget or tweet, I would appreciate it if you could send me the link.

Thanks so much,


Ellie Brown
International Medical Corps

Jan 19, 2010

What a WOW holiday

Sumitra Senapaty brings her brand new package for 2010 for women who love travelling and are spa-holics. Read the details below and go on a "nirvana" holiday. Cheers to health, then.

WOW Wellness Week at
Om Beach, Gokarna
Celebrating 5 years of WOW!
June19th to June 26th ex Goa

SwaSwara is situated beside the legendary Om Beach in the small town of Gokarna in Karnataka, 170kms from Goa’s Dabolim Airport. Pampering comes naturally here because there are 26 acres of private forests of banyan, casuarinas, acacia, kokum, fig, coconut and palm trees within a secluded sanctuary for the soul right next to the Arabian Sea.
The sense of space is to die for! Because it is like your own private home! You can laze and linger on for the entire day, reading your favourite book, enjoying precious time for your self! Your villa consists of the following:
• A very comfortable glass and curtain enclosed air conditioned bedroom.
• A covered walk-in-wardrobe for suitcase and clothes.
• An open centre courtyard with loads of greenery.
• A sitting room that looks out over a beautiful pond.
• A staircase that leads up to your individual meditation platform, which faces the forest canopy and ocean below.
• 24 self contained villas built in traditional Konkan style.
• 22 meter lap swimming Pool
• Meditation Dome
• Ayurveda Centre
• Healthy vegetarian and fresh sea catch
• Interactive cooking at the Gallery Kitchen

Things to Do
• Yoga
• Pranayama
• Meditation
• Ayurveda (separate charges apply)
• Boat rides (weather permitting)
• Kayaking (weather permitting)
• Nature walks (weather permitting)
• Exploration of Gokarna town, market and temples
• Satsangs (discourses) on important aspects of Yoga and Ayurveda.
• Glass/sand painting with Artist in Residence.
• Clay modeling
• Jewellery designing with shells and beads.
• Movie evenings.

Your days at Gokarna
• 7:00am-8:00am Progressive Asanas Yoga Shala
• 8:15am-9:15am Wellness Asanas Yoga Shala
• 10:15am-11:00am Rejuvenation Asanas Blue Dome
• 11.15am-12pm Mantra studies Yoga Shala
• 12:15pm-12:45pm Art Yoga Art Gallery
• 3:30 pm-4:15pm Yoga Nidra Blue Dome
• 4:30 pm-5.30pm Chakra Meditation Blue Dome
• 7:00pm-7:45pm MSRT Blue Dome

What you get
Sanjivani Meditation - To strengthen biological as well as spiritual link between our inner vital force and cosmic force through simple hand movements. Application of these pranic sensations to all organs will enhance overall energy level.
Chakra Meditation: Activating 7 major energy centers (CHAKRAS) of body by focusing on their colour & location. Deep breathing & “OM” chanting accelerates the supply of vital energy from all chakras to related body organs.
Manthra Studies: To avoid mechanical chanting, here we teach you the pronunciation & meaning of various mantras, to get its real vibrations & all other benefits.
Stress Management: This session include theory and practical lessons on stress management, various techniques, motivating stories etc will reduce mental and emotional stresses.
Anahata Suddhi Meditation: This is to purify and enrich your personality by removing all emotional scars and wounds that you got in life. Positive values like universal love, compassion etc will become stronger in you with this practice.
Yoga Games: Various simple indoor games to increase quality of life to maintain inner happiness and to make interaction with others, smoother and enjoyable.
Satsanga: These include teachings of great personalities and this session will give you answers for questions relating to yoga spirituality etc.
Mind Sound Resonance Technique: This is a meditation technique to generate resonance throughout the body by repeating a mental sound (mantra). Thus makes us able to gain mastery over the mind and reach subtle layers of mind or super consciousness, enhances the power of mind and leads to bless.
Pranic Energisation Technique: This is a meditation technique in which we use our prana shakti (life energy) which is activated by hand gestures to energize our entire body. Each and every organ & system of the body can be revitalized by this meditation.
Om Tat Sat

• Airport transfers from Goa and back to Goa.
• All meals.
• Facilities & activities listed above.
• Ayurvedic treatments & massages.
• Wines & soft drinks & beverages.
• Excursions & transfers other than listed.
• Anything not included in the inclusions.
• Tips, telephone calls, laundry, room service.

*Please note that SwaSwara has no room service, no soft drinks and only Indian wines.

WOW Wellness Package cost per person on twin share is as follows:
• For 7 nights RS 22,000
• For 5 nights RS 18,000

To reserve your place on this exciting tour, please courier to the below address your full package amount in favour of WOW Club along with the filled in WRF that is attached. The last date for booking is 20th May 2010.
Below are the payment options:
• Courier an At Par Cheque in favour of WOW Club at the given address.
• Online transfer or deposit the money at any Axis Bank close to your area and send in the deposit details.

Bank Details
Current account no.296010200008051
Mayur Vihar, LSC, Phase 2, ND 91
IFS Code: UTIB0000296

Address for sending cheque and/or WRF
WOW Club
703/704 Som Dutt Chamber II
Bhikaji Cama Place
New Delhi-110066

Jan 7, 2010

Review: Blissful Lotus Facial at Aura, The Park, New Delhi

View of the spa room at Aura; Photo courtesy, AURA, New Delhi
What a stroke! No, I'm not watching any cricket match. This is in reaction to the fabulous facial treatment at Aura, The Park hotel’s very clean, chic and truly amazing spa. The luxurious therapy has been extra special because of the use of natural products and gets even more of a facelift with Vidhi, my therapist’s brilliant massage strokes.
While my treatment (I visit The Park in New Delhi) begins well on time, I’m told that the treatment can stretch by another 10-15 minutes (it does, eventually). For the record, I‘m experiencing one of Aura’s winter treatments for season 2010. Like I mentioned before, it’s a facial – even though Vidhi fabulously kneads sore muscles, pressing my shoulders and hands and massaging my fingers generously -- which makes use of freshly mashed lotus stem, fresh papaya and pineapple pulp and pure (yes, pure) saffron oil, which is bereft of any artificial perfume, scent or coloring.
Before the facial begins, I fill out a detailed document enquiring details on illnesses, whether I’m consuming any medicines, or, for that matter, whether I’m allergic to any natural products (a friend, for instance, is allergic to products that contain sesame) and if I have any skin allergies. That done – it helps to have a hot cup of herbal tea infused with honey on a winter afternoon – I am asked to move towards the locker area where I keep my belongings and later wait in a small lobby area. By the time Vidhi leads me to the spa therapy room, I’m already – thanks to the effect of the lilting music that Aura plays –brushing my day-to-day tensions aside.
And by the time the facial starts (it begins with a simple cleaning process) I know that with an expert masseuse like Vidhi, I’m – literally -- in gentle, safe and secure hands. Her cleanup act – of my face, silly – doesn’t involve just slapping, quickly massaging and subsequently cleaning of the face with moist cotton, it really is a trailer of what will follow. She massages the face gently for a couple of minutes and then deftly proceeds to remove the dirt and grime.
Once that’s done, she gently scrubs the face with freshly mashed lotus stem that doesn’t smell too great but then I haven’t opted for aroma facial exactly. Lotus stem, Vidhi tells me, is supposed to be good for sagging skin. Rich in fibre, when applied regularly on the face, mashed lotus stem also helps to control uneven toning and conditions and rehydrates dull skin. The scrub is wiped out later by a hot towel infused with eucalyptus oil. I like this part of the facial especially when I inhale and take a whiff of the soothing oil. It is also believed that this essential oil acts an antibacterial agent and is used to treat cuts and burns and insect bites too.
Since the strongest point of the facial is Vidhi’s expert massaging techniques, I love it when she finally applies pure saffron oil and starts a fabulous facial massage which lasts for good 20-25 minutes. “It’s pure,” Vidhi confirms while telling me that saffron is also known for its skin lighting properties. The massage is uplifting and very effective and definitely the highlight of the entire treatment. What follows is fresh pineapple-papaya pulp mask. I think it’s the pineapple that tingles just slightly on the skin but on the whole, it’s been a winning facial.

Blissful Lotus Facial
Duration: 60 mins
Price: Rs. 1,750 plus taxes
The treatment is available at The Park in Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam