New spa experiences

New spa experiences

Summer time, too hot for active afternoons, has to be spa time

Manidipa Mandal
July 04 , 2014
09 Min Read

These are our favourite massages (and more), masala maar ke. Retreat, and beat the heat with a treat at some of these spa experiences

1. Time for overindulgence - So Spa-Sofitel in Mumbai
Sofitel’s 6,000-sq-ft spa is a great alternative to dinner at a French gourmet restaurant: the menu includes ‘starters and desserts’ (30-minute treats), ‘main courses’ (full 30-90 minutes’ courses), and ‘specials’ that last up to 150 minutes if you really want to knock yourself out. Partners from France, Cinq Mondes and Gemology Cosmetics provide French contemporary-meets-ancient glocal rituals and precious mineral treatments, respectively. We like the 110-minute Gentleman’s Break (Rs 5,500) with the traditional Japanese anti-wrinkle Ko Bi Do facial and ‘kansu bowl’ foot reflexology to balance your chi for good measure. But an even better match for the ‘golden drops of luxury’ design feature here is the Le Diamantaire Facial (90 minutes, Rs 8,500), using actual powdered diamond, poinsettia and orchid flowers as ingredients. Ooh la la!

2. Time for Healing Energy - Ananda In The Himalayasin Rishikesh
Out of the 80-plus options with own-brand products at this 24,000-sq-ft destination spa, the Tibetan experiences by Ila based on the sowa rigpa healing traditions are a revelation even for those who have been there (here and everywhere) and done that Ayurveda/yoga/Swedish/Thai/hot stone what-not. We are hard put to choose between the Ku Nye massage (75 minutes, Rs 6,500 plus taxes) for deep lymphatic drainage and acupressure with meridian work using hot Himalayan salt poultices infused with lavender, cardamom and jatamansi, followed by a head massage, and the Tibetan Ritual (115 minutes, Rs 8,500 plus taxes), with five organic essential-oil blends to balance the five elements through head, hand and foot reflexology treatments and a hot Himalayan salt massage, with herb poultices, cupping, kneading and acupressure. Oh-mmm…

3.Time for an Inside-out rub-a-dub-dub - Menhla Chumbi Mountain Retreat in Pelling
One of our favourite new finds in the Eastern Himalaya, Chumbi offers something really unique and indigenous at the sign of the Menhla, or ‘medicine buddha’. The dottho hot tub treatment parks you in a traditional wooden bath carved out of a tree trunk, the water heated with hot stones and dosed with the medicinal herb lang-thang tse (black henbane, Hyoscyamus niger) to treat rheumatism, asthma, tummy aches, skin ailments and nervous disorders! At the least, it is great for a good meditative drowse as burglars from the Middle Ages can attest. Just don’t drink the bath water — the herb is not just psychotropic but fairly toxic! Either way, an hour and Rs 2,500 later, you should emerge a new man/woman.

4. Time for a Pick-me-up - Dusit Devarana in Delhi
Boost your own swimsuit calendar agenda with the three-hour Body Beautifier (
Rs 11,800 plus taxes) at this big-city retreat, the flagship spa hotel from the Thai Dusit brand. We were sold on the magical ‘secret garden’ ambience as well as the Darjeeling tea scrub with grapefruit oil to address sun damage, moisturising and detox needs. This long, lazy day’s programme, for when you can’t play beach bum just yet, also includes a cool, slimming algae wrap with caffeine and a contouring aromatic massage. The bikini will definitely beckon after this.

5. Time for an Agra-wah! Night- Kaya Kalp, Itc Mughal in Agra
Who cares for cold Turkey? After the heat and dust of Agra, doubtless the best backdrop to appreciate the exquisite Taj Mahal, you deserve magic that touches you closer to home. The Royal Mughal Hammam (70 minutes, Rs 6,750 plus taxes) combines a Mughal-style hammam experience with a Persian kese scrub with argan oil and mung bean, a soapy wash and a deep-conditioning hair treatment with massage…mmm-marvellous!

6. Time for Togetherness - Anaya Spa, Ganga Kutir in Raichak
New at Anaya, reliably relaxing, is the Dvandva Divi treatment (90 minutes, Rs 5,600) — as the name suggests, a divine treat for a couple. It’s so fresh we haven’t tried it, and couldn’t wheedle out the secrets of the special blend of aromatic oils used for the tandem massage therapy in person. However, we are assured the lucky pair will walk out feeling particularly in step, wherever their relationship is currently headed.

7. Time for a Pounding - Jiva Spa, Taj Club House in Chennai
Save this one for a weekend after the week of pounding city sidewalks (if such they may be called) or wrestling with impossible deadlines at work. The pehlwan malish (90 minutes, Rs
4,600 plus taxes), the therapy of choice for Indian traditional wrestlers, is not a ritual for the fainthearted. It matches the thumping heat and humidity of the Chennai summer and is for those self-indulgent times when you can say be-damned to finesse and preciousness, opting instead for something with extra kadak, like your cuppa. Don’t be fooled: this vigorous massage is also great for thundering good skin, in addition to beating your knotted shoulders and other tense muscles to pretty pulpitude. Of course, you will opt for the zinging heat of mustard oil over any fancy-shmancy aromatherapy oils this time.

8. Time for the Music of the Hemispheres-Oberoi Spasin Udaipur, Agra, Jaipur & Ranthambhore
Everyone does those warm herbal poultice potlis. But it takes a vilas to put the ritual to music. With sacred Tibetan singing bowls, the chakra balancing treatment (1.5 hours, Rs 8,300 plus taxes) at the Oberoi spas begins with a ritual vibration therapy — the metal bowls are aligned down your body and rung in rounds with a wooden mallet by the therapist to soothe and align. Herb potlis soaked with dosha-specific oils follow, to make sure of solid sleep and stolid nerves. Sure to leave you tuned up and singing in heavenly chorus.

9. Time for Après-ski Attention- The Khyber Spa By L’occitane in Gulmarg
Fresh and crisp as a new fall of snow. That’s what you should feel like after Signature Lemon Balm Apricot Scrub (60 minutes, Rs 3,550 plus taxes) at this L’Occitane-run spa, using mineral-rich Himalayan spring water and local apricot powder along with the brand’s hallmark neutral oil and lemon balm essential oils. Treatment starts with a hot mint detox tea and a foaming lavender foot bath. Then you are led to a lie-down with a lavender, tea tree and geranium mist before the therapist gets to work sloughing you down to a softness, then a shower and a dry ‘palm walk’ before a shea butter body lotion and an aroma of rosemary, mint and pine to send out the fresh new you. Worth travelling off-piste for.

10. Time for Spicy Situations - Shamana Spain Goa
Despite the property’s poor press of late, for no fault of its own, there is just too much deliciousness on this spa menu for us to be dissuaded. Witness, for example, the Indian spices body wrap with brown rice, cinnamon, ginger, clove and turmeric to improve lymphatic and blood circulation, treat skin ailments, sweat and supposedly support fat metabolism, relax muscles and soothe joints... (60 minutes, Rs 3,500).

Time for Hydration - Paradise Spa, The Dunein Kerala
A 14m swimming pool partially shaded by an old wooden Kerala house, chlorine-free and solar heated to nearly blood-warm, sits in a private relaxation garden at the sprawling Dune eco resort. Magic Water they call it, and we are happy to vouch for it. We don’t remember being born, but there must be something quite as intimate about that buried memory as this experience of being curled and stretched and whirled and swayed in water by your therapist while you just… let… yourself… go… Inspired by Zen shiatsu, this is India’s first Watsu treatment centre. Aqua yoga and reflexology and chroma water treatments combine with Watsu to make up 2- and 3-day Magic Water courses. But a single session of Watsu (Rs 2,750) is enough to make you feel born again.

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