Dr. Jayachandran Thampi

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi

Developing a spa team in India is challenging from an operational point, says the consultant at Spa and Wellness

Nayantara Patel
April 01 , 2014
04 Min Read

OT: Tell us a bit about yourself…

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: I belong to a family from Kottayam in Kerala that have been traditional practitioners of medicine — both Ayurveda and modern. My grandfather started our family’s Ayurveda centre in 1928 and later added a modern medical wing. I studied the Indian systems of medicine (natural therapies, yoga, Ayurveda basics) at Mangalore University and began by helping in the family venture. I then moved out of my hometown to gain more exposure and worked with the Jindal Institute in Bangalore as a medical officer.


OT: What was your first spa management job?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: I was offered a position at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa. I started off as the spa physician-cum-manager and moved to the position of spa director. This was very rewarding, and very different from a hospital environment!

OT: You were instrumental in setting up two of Goa’s best spas. Can you share some of your experiences at the Park Hyatt and more recently, the Grand Hyatt?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: The spa at the Park Hyatt was a new product in those days in Goa, very well conceived. It won many awards, including one for best spa in the world by Condé Nast Traveller. We introduced new concepts, such as charging for time spent rather than for a treatment — much easier for customers as they didn’t have to worry about a spa menu. They could simply choose the time and duration and later be guided about the treatment.

Later I moved to China and returned to open the Grand Hyatt Goa spa. This was a very different concept, focusing on Southeast Asian experiences along with Ayurveda treatments. We introduced luxury treatments using diamonds, organic seaweed, etc. This property was huge, being 36,000 sq ft, with nineteen spa suites, indoor pool, etc.

OT: What do you feel about Ayurveda being co-opted by the tourism industry? Given that Ayurveda believes there are no quick fixes, that it’s really a lifestyle, isn’t it a contradiction when people come to a spa for a few treatments and expect a new body?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: Yes, Ayurveda is not about quick fixes. Modern medicine has also accepted the need for lifestyle measures in managing many of the problems we face today and such measures are complementary in treating many of the conditions today. In some cases, lifestyle changes are the only intervention required.

Spas and wellness centres meet this need — as prevention or even as lifestyle care. Their capsule programmes are designed to match fast-paced contemporary life. Spas primarily focus on ‘conditions’ as opposed to diseases and on prevention; other wellness centres help in lifestyle transformation or continuing care. It is important to understand that spas and such centres are not places where you battle a serious condition with a few treatments but a place for cultivation and continuation of the right attitude and right actions for healing.

OT: You are now an independent consultant. What projects are you involved in now?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: I am working on a wellness retreat and another international hotel/resort spa. I’m also in discussions for another standalone spa.

OT: What’s the worst thing about your work?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: I’ll have to think… Really, the worst it gets is that it’s challenging. Developing a spa team in India is challenging from an operational point. Developing professionalism, creating awareness, dealing with cultural inhibitions, educational deficiencies, maintaining an emotional balance — these are not easy. Overpromise and underdelivery have become common in spas.

OT: And the best?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: No need to think! I would say the constant learning — from staff, clients, peers. It’s interesting for me that I have had to transform myself in various ways in various situations to meet my goals. These were practical yogic sessions in a way! It meant trying different postures in different situations (so to speak), aligning my energies to meet them, ensuring my thoughts were flowing in the right direction and moving to reach the goal…

OT: What does a spa consultant do to relax? Or is he simply permanently relaxed?

Dr. Jayachandran Thampi: (Laughs) Well, I like to read — New Age books, quantum physics… I like to travel. And it’s relaxing talking to people like you!

Dr Jayachandran Thampi; Spa and Wellness Consultant, D2, third floor, Sapana Habitat, Porvorim, Goa,  0832-6630728, 9552429964,

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