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Are all spas the same?

We visited four venues — a five-star hotel, an ayurvedic centre, a swanky new space and a multi-chain outlet — to put our theory to test.

india Updated: Jul 03, 2012 16:46 IST
Shweta Mehta

We’ve always wondered just how different the same full-body massage can be at spas that charge us rates that exponentially higher than others. Is the difference in terms of experience also that big? Here’s what we thought.



The multi-outlet chain

VLCC, Worli


Call:

2433 4036


Treatment:

Aromatherapy massage


Duration:

1 hour, 20 minutes


Cost:

Rs 1,600 + taxes


Our rating:

2 and a half stars


Our hunch about this one was bang-on. There’s not much of an ambience — the music goes off after a while, the masseuse keeps changing the lighting from dim to harsh white, and the towel leaves strands of thread on the body which are very hard to get rid off.



Having said that, the massage itself is worthwhile. An additional body polishing scrub (Rs 3,000 + taxes) does wonders for the skin.



The pressure is good. And although the treatment is slightly longer than elsewhere, it doesn’t drag on endlessly. Being part of a huge chain doesn’t allow room for focus on design aspects and overall atmosphere. We can even hear Bollywood music playing nearby, and the AC is noisy. But if a good massage is all you want, don’t think twice before making an appointment.



The newly opened

The Palms Spa, inside Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba


Call:

6634 9898


Treatment:

Balinese Massage


Duration:

45 minutes


Cost:

Rs 3,300


Our rating:

3 stars


This treatment was recommended by the owner, and focussed mostly on the back. Hips, legs and hands also received attention — the masseuse slathering our limbs with aromatherapy oils and lingering on every area for longer than you’d expect. Gentle stretches are also involved. Barely three or four points constitute the acupressure we were


promised. Strawberry iced tea before and chamomile tea after are perfect accompaniments.



Eventually, it wins our vote for how cool it kept us for a whopping two hours in the sun, and even aboard the train back to the suburbs.



The traditional

Birla Kerala Vaidyashala, Bandra


Call:

2605 7726


Treatment:

Abhyangam


Duration:

55 minutes


Cost:

Rs1,800


Our rating:

3 and a half stars


Unassuming interiors and an unimpressive herbal tea on arrival lowered our expectations significantly, but that may have been why we enjoyed what followed even more. This one packed in face and head massages and even a herbal steam in a curious-looking boxy contraption.



The masseuse uses generous amounts of hot oil and throws in a bigger dose of acupressure than we received anywhere else. The pressure is perfect too. The bathroom is expectedly a lot more humble than at other spas, but a bucket of hot water is all we need to get all the oil off and walk out feeling lithe and rejuvenated. Clearly, desi is the real deal.



The extravagant

Quan Spa, JW Marriott Hotel, Juhu


Call:

6693 3000


Treatment:

Aroma Fusion Massage


Duration:

One hour


Cost:

Rs 4,200


Our rating:

3 stars


The biggest of them all, Quan has the works — saffron iced tea before and a lovely tea after, a masseuse who gently chides us for stress knots in our back and recommends we increase our water intake — so there’s really no way to leave disappointed.



The massage itself is long, luxurious and well-paced. The accompanying White Sand Smoothing Scrub (Rs 4,000; 45 minutes) leaves our skin softer than ever. The masseuse asks if the pressure is okay. She needn’t though, because whatever she’s doing is perfect anyway.



Massage-wise, they are all more or less up to the mark. They are adept at relieving stress and soothing our joints. Expectedly, it’s only the ambience that differs (drastically, in some places). But we’d never really shell out double or triple the amount for a bigger bathroom, better music and emulsions with fancier names. If you can afford it, though, why not?

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