Lulled into ethereal bliss
From a honey-citrus wrap to a Dead Sea mineral salt scrub, a repertoire of spa treatments is promising nirvana to a cash-lush clientele.
RELAXATION WITH GOOD HEALTH: There are a range of novel treatments to pamper the body, ensuring emotional and physical goodness. PHOTO: AFP
HMMMM, so your stress-battered, under-oxygenated body needs an urgent pick-me-up? How about a rejuvenating caviar facial? Or a diamond scrub for that uber smooth skin? Perhaps you'd prefer a volcanic ash body mask for its super exfoliating qualities?
Welcome to the world of spa exotica! From semi-precious stones to Dead Sea mineral salts to black pearl rubs to hot stone therapies, a mind-boggling repertoire of spa treatments is promising nirvana to a cash-lush clientele today. As Ajay Malik, Spa Manager at "Espace Spa", Radisson Hotel, Noida (Uttar Pradesh), puts it, "The concept of wellness has moved from the realm of simple, traditional massages to super specialist treatments in the hands of professionals. It's an offshoot of a combination of factors a peripatetic lifestyle, long work hours and increased affordability. These days people don't mind paying a packet to rejuvenate themselves."
Exotic and a great view too
And that they don't. In fact for "Espace's" "wellness journey" a Rs. 15,000, six-hour treatment that packs in a salt-oil scrub, balancing of chakras with hot stones, a rehydrator facial and an exotic spa lunch, there's invariably a long waiting list. Ditto for the spa's other exotic treatments Dead Sea mineral scrub, ginger herb body wrap and the almond-apricot body scrub that cleanses, exfoliates and restores elasticity to the body. "Chateau Espace", a deluxe spa suite located by the hotel's Olympic-sized pool, proffers clients an unobstructed view of a star-studded sky even as they get their rubdowns! The guests get to choose from over 30 treatments, all of which use exclusive "Forest Essentials" and "Dead Sea Mineral Line" products.
If a poolside ain't good enough for you, perhaps you'd like to plump for the "Banyan Tree Spa, The Oberoi Amar Vilas, Agra, wherein full view of the luscious Taj Mahal, you could root for the "Noor-e-Taj" package. This three-hour holistic spa experience includes an almond scrub, a honey-citrus wrap, a Balinese massage and a lavender milk bath. Alternatively, there's the "Spirit of Ayurveda" package too, in which rice and warm buttermilk is used to exfoliate the skin. And that'll be Rs. 7,650, please!
The "Banyan Tree Spa" also offers a marma therapy in which specialised pressure point techniques are used on the body's energy gateways reflex points, palms and soles for a soothing effect.
Perhaps the Indian spas are taking a leaf out of the foreign ones where it's de rigour to pamper the upper crust with top-of-the-line treatments. At "Delphi Spa" in California, U.S., for instance, a Cafi Latte manicure ($120 or Rs. 6,000) involves soaking your hands in steamed milk and coffee beans as a prelude the rest of the treatment! At Chicago's "Haven Spa", frequented by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Demi Moore and Madonna, the most popular and expensive ($500 or Rs. 25,000 for an hour!) treatment is the "ash body wrap" in which clients' bodies are smeared with a mixture of volcanic ash, seaweed, cocoa beans and honey as a prequel to other treatments.
Closer home, Delhi's "Asian Roots Spa", India's first ever standalone women's spa offers a "hot stone therapy" where hot stones slathered in cocoa butter are rolled all over the body for instant relaxation. The spa also offers the world's most exclusive "La Prairie" treatments such as the "Caviar Body Treatment" (Rs. 7,250) and "Cellular Detoxification"; "Sesame and Honey Body Buffs", "Boreh Body Mask" and the "Javanese Lulur massage". These massages fuse elements of French effleurage, Japanese shiatsu and Chinese acupressure. Says Kamayani Kanwar, owner, "Asian Roots", who is also one of the country's few Ashtanga Yoga teachers, "With today's woman juggling multiple roles, a day spa fulfils her need to have an exclusive space of her own for relaxation and rejuvenation. Feeling good is all about pampering your mind and body. And if you can afford it, why not?"
Serum concentrates, crystal candles
Well, why not indeed? In fact at Ashoka Hotel's spanking new "Amatrra Spa" in New Delhi, the "Dry Floatarium" Session in a uterus-shaped room (reminiscent of a mother's womb and, hence, scientifically the most relaxing), clients float on a membrane over a film of water under a faux star-studded sky (the effect is achieved by fibre optic lighting)! Channel music, dim lighting and aroma candles complete the picture of utmost tranquillity. For the spa's signature "Bouquet" treatment (Rs. 5,000 for the one-hour session), clients first recite a prayer followed by holistic healing with the specialist balancing the person's seven chakras. This is combined with Kerala's unique dhara (oil drip) treatment. "But whereas traditional dhara is done on the head," elaborates Dr. Narendra Shetty, "Amatrra's" Spa Manager, "we use it to balance a person's seven bodily chakras for complete rejuvenation and relaxation."
At renowned aromatherapist Blossom Kochhar's day spa, "Aroma Magic", potent aroma oils (bergamot, frankincense, chamomile, Melissa, tea tree, ylang ylang, patchouli) serum concentrates and crystal candles are routinely used for exclusive treatments. "This unique therapy works scientifically at three different levels. It is antiseptic, anti-bacterial and therapeutic. Through a person's unique sense of smell, it addresses emotional and physical problems too, apart from promoting beauty and good health," explains Kochhar.
In other words, the boss's deadline can wait. Just close your eyes, sink deep into that feathery duvet and let the spa magic begin. Provided you can afford it, of course!
Spa trivia, trends and tidbits
REJUVENATION: A purifying facial.
THE origins of the the word "spa"? It is derived from a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. It is situated in a romantic valley amid hills which form part of the Ardennes chain, 27 miles southeast of Liège, and 22 miles southwest of Aix-la-Chapelle. The town is best known as home to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which hosts the annual Formula One Belgian Grand Prix.
The German Great Headquarters were established here in 1918, where consultations were held concerning the armistice and from whence the German delegates set out for the French lines to meet Marshal Foch and sue for peace.
Though other sources of healing hot mineral springs have been known throughout the world, Spa is the eponymous "spa", an extended use from these famed hot springs the town was frequented as a watering place as early as the 14th Century.
In its generic use, the term "spa" is used to mean a place where water that is believed to have special health-giving properties occurs. This is usually a mineral or hot spring. It can also refer to a luxurious resort or resort hotel, usually one located near a special water source and/or offers hot tub or similar warm-water hydromassage facilities ... .
Should you get the aromatherapy or the purifying facial? What's the difference between a resort spa, hotel spa and destination spa? What are the top 10 spa trends in 2005? What is spa cooking? Are there spa treatments for people with disabilities? What is spa etiquette? Which are the world's Top 10 spas? ... For a website that gives you the answers and much more, visit: http://spas.about.com
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