As corporates and other professionals look for a day away from hectic schedules to rejuvenate themselves, spas are stepping in as the perfect answer. At least 700 new spas are expected to come up in India in the next four years.
Spas are making a mark with their invigorating messages, exotic facials, hair treatments, luxurious body wraps and scrubs in cities and industrial towns.
A wellness market study by the International Medical Travel Journal says the Indian wellness and health market is estimated to be growing at 25 percent a year. A rough estimate by the journal cites that India has 2,300 big and medium spas. The next four years will see at least 700 new spas - both multinational and Indian brands - build their infrastructure in India.
India even has a comprehensive illustrated volume on Indian spas, Spas of India: Collectors' Guide (Thompson Press). Edited by Parineeta Sethi and Khuushboo Jain, the volume that dwells at length on the tradition and culture of spas in India arrived in bookshops early this month.
"Spa as we know today are sanctums of rejuvenation, relaxation and a world of healing. The spa dates back to ancient Greece when baths were built around volcanoes or natural hot springs," says Sethi.
"Today, the spa is an interesting combination of ancient traditions and modern mechanical wonders. Though modern spas have undergone a paradigm shift in their treatment procedures, they still retain water therapy as their nucleus," she said.
The spa dates back to as early as 500 BC when the Greek gentry met at hot springs and thermal community baths to treat skin ailments. Centuries later, the Romans replicated the baths, christened Sanus Per Aquam (SPA), which means healing through bath, the book says.
Indian spas can be classified into six categories - destination spas, ayurveda spas, hotel spas, resort spas, day spas and medi spas.
Day spas are business establishments similar to beauty salons that people visit for a fixed duration to avail themselves of professionally administered personal care. The treatments usually range from a few hours to a day.
The increase in disposable incomes allows middle class Indian working women the luxury of occasional spa treatments - either at their nearest beauty salons or in exclusive spa properties.
The book speaks of Asian Roots, a day spa located on the outskirts of the capital, 17 km from the airport. Spread over 6,500 sq feet, it merges traditional treatments from Bali, Thailand and India with modern philosophies of health and well-being. The signature treatment of the spa is the Balinese Boreh Body Mask.
Boreh, an ancient Balinese spice, is used as a traditional remedy to warm the body in combination with local spices like nutmeg, pepper, cloves, ginger, Javanese long pepper, cucuma beyneana and rice powder, the book says.
The Angsana Oasis Spa in the outskirts of Bengaluru spread over 5,000 sq feet offers traditional messages and rituals from Thailand, Bali, Hawaii as well as India. The signature treatment of the spa is a 120-minute massage therapy designed to work on your body's key pressure points.
It uses river stones, marine extracts, kaolin, jasmine green tea, orange, ginger and turmeric to treat the skin. Traditional southern therapies are the mainstay of The Aura, the day spa at The Park Hotel in Chennai.
The Fusion Therapy at the VLCC Day Spa in the capital de-stresses and boots the body's immune system with an anti-stress back treatment, aromatic body polish, natural body buff, Moroccan bath, Balinese Boreh, chocolate and coffee body wrap and an organic facial.
Sushupti - a natural treatment - is the signature of Jiva Grande, the day spa at Taj Wellington Mews in Mumbai. The therapy is a natural blend of rice, honey and cream that is lightly messaged to exfoliate dead skin, followed by a soft cotton conditioning wrap. The paste is rinsed off with a mix of warm milk sprinkled with flower petals, the book says.
A combination of Nuvola massage, Swedish massage, Morocan rassoul body wrap and deep cleansing facial is the USP of O Spa, a day care facility in Pune while the Nirva Spa located in Hyderabad blends aroma therapy, deep tissue massages- the Shiatsu and the Ayurvedic techniques- facial and scalp massages to heal the weathered epidermis.
The therapies are a mix of ancient Indian healing traditions like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, yoga, meditation and Oriental remedies like the Indonesian, Thai and Chinese healing processes.