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A State Of Serenity
Compiled by Viseshika Sharma, Arti Sarin, Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena and Sitanshi Talati-Parikh
Published: Volume 22, Issue 3, March, 2014
Spice compresses...aroma steams...bamboo massages....detoxifying scrubs.... Verve presents indulgent rituals that promise to seduce your mind and body into relaxed mode

RETURN TO WELLNESS, AT NIRAAMAYA RETREATS SURYA SAMUDRA, KOVALAM
Surrounded by lush greenery, by the Arabian Sea, Niraamaya is a beautiful resort with a globally acclaimed spa infused with timeless therapeutic traditions from across the world, including Ayurveda. Sprawled over 6000 square feet with Kerala-style architecture, it contains eight treatments rooms, a hydrotherapy room and a couples suite. At this wellness retreat, one can enjoy a week-long ‘Spa Niraamaya Essence of Wellness’ programme or the ‘Ayurveda Stress and Strain Buster’, or the two-week-long ‘Slim Body by Ayurveda’, amongst others.

I choose ‘Spice Magic’ – a harmonious blend of Indian and Western methodologies has inspired this signature therapy, which is good for detox and relieving physical stress and muscular tensions. The treatment overlooks a little garden with an idol of Lord Ganesh. She uses spiced oils and long loopy movements to knead the toxins out of my system. She also applies a spice compress of cardamom, cinnamon, clove and vetiver. My face is tenderly massaged with papaya gel.

My treatment lasts for 90 minutes and I emerge rejuvenated ­– body, mind and soul. As I am bid adieu with a refreshing cup of ginger tea, I promise myself to return for the one-week programme.

REINTERPRET AYURVEDA, AT NEOVEDA SPA, THE METROPOLITAN HOTEL AND SPA, NEW DELHI
The Met is conveniently located in the heart of the business and commercial hub of New Delhi, making it the perfect destination for a business or leisure traveller. Guests enter the world of health, and fitness at NeoVeda Spa, based on the concept of new Ayurveda, showcasing the modern translation of the ancient Indian knowledge of life and well-being, to heal and restore, relax and invigorate. The spa, recipient of many awards, is spread over 7000 square feet and is a retreat for the senses.

The NeoVeda Journey, the spa’s signature therapy, lasts a blissful two and a half hours – a journey that takes you beyond relaxation and relieves stress on all levels. We start with an anti-stress massage to the head, neck and shoulders, then with Shirodhara, the pouring of warm medicated oil on the third eye center, followed by a full body massage and the ‘salt and spice body glow’.

This treatment stimulates the brain, gives new awareness to an individual and promotes balanced thinking, awakening the glands and increasing the secretion of brain hormones. It combats muscle stiffness while relaxing the body and mind, as well as returning a glow to your skin. Truly a refreshing experience....

SOOTHE YOUR SKIN, AT SHAMANA SPA, GRAND HYATT, GOA
Nothing ruins a holiday in Goa like the ugly reality of a sunburn. Luckily, the spa at the Grand Hyatt springs to my rescue. Even while the menu features tempting well-being programmes that incorporate the traditional wisdom of South East Asia and Indian healing, the new ‘Summer Aloe Fresh’ therapy stands out. ‘Shamana’ means balance in Sanskrit, and the spa promises to do the same for harassed skin.

The two-hour long therapy begins with a cooling aloe vera extract wrap, which boosts the skin’s cell renewal process, with the added benefit of anti-oxidant properties. While my body luxuriates in the wrap, my face is cleansed and massaged, energising cell function and flushing out toxins. A soothing hour of aromatherapy later, I emerge to greet another day, secure in the knowledge that all is not lost just because I was too lazy for sunblock.

LOSE YOURSELF IN BLISS, AT KAYA KALP – THE ROYAL SPA, ITC GRAND CHOLA, CHENNAI
It is quite possible to get lost – literally and metaphorically – when one indulges in a luxuriant experience at Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa. It is aptly named for in Sanskrit ‘Kaya Kalp’ means a rejuvenation of one’s body, mind and soul. No wonder then that the spa dips into ancient customs and rituals to offer holistic, spiritual and medicinal legacies. The Royal Spa is spread across 23,000 square feet of sheer luxury. I step into its silver-hued reception area that is as quiet as it is plush and am led to a comfortable corner to await the arrival of the therapist. Despite the presence of other guests and staff, no voice is heard – as if to disturb the quiet would be a carnal sin.

When the therapist arrives, a soft discussion on the preferred treatment ensues. She offers informed guidance. I opt for the ‘Spiritual Tatvasamyam’. A 90-minute therapy, it promises to balance the five elements of nature with an Ayurvedic treatment. The therapists – a part of this treatment requires two, to ease fatigue and reduce pain – lead me into an inner room. I am quietly guided through the steps that are guaranteed to ease my mind and body into a holistic zone of complete relaxation. The interiors are gently lit, the music soothing, and the treatment, well, divinely rejuvenating.

A gauze soaked in herbs is placed over the crown of my head – as it seeps into my scalp, I can almost feel the stress oozing out. The gentle hands of the therapists knead away life’s aches as they address various issues that my body has been subject to. A herbal paste, to soften the skin, followed by a herbal aroma steam is sufficient to send me delicately into the arms of Morpheus, well, almost.

Later, herbal powder is gently placed on the crown of my head. By then I have abandoned any attempt at consciously following each step and descend into a state of serenity. I almost float out to the lift…and then on to my room, to experience undisturbed sleep – life beyond the walls completely forgotten in the holistic aftermath.

ENJOY THE SERENITY, AT HEAVENLY SPA BY WESTIN, MUMBAI
Popular as a convention venue, the Westin is buzzing with people on the warm day that I walk in. I am whisked away in a lift to the spa where I spend a few minutes perusing the menu before being curious enough to choose the interesting-looking ‘Rollerssage’.

As I sip from a glass of apple-infused elixir, I wander over to a niche where Aromatherapy Associates products are temptingly displayed. I am soon escorted to the suite where my charming therapist shows me the crystals I can choose from. I pick a mix of rose quartz and tourmaline – passion and power, you’ve been warned – before disrobing to lie on the table.

The therapist warns me that the massage won’t be the deep kneading I’m used to, but the pressure is just right as she rolls the perfectly round, heated crystals over my body. I melt into the bliss, snoozing intermittently on the pleasantly warmed table as she works the kinks out of my lower back.

The rest is a haze for I am lost in the feeling of well-being. One quick shower later and I bid the spa adieu as a square of dark chocolate melts on my tongue.

ROLL AWAY THE TENSION, AT RICHFEEL SPA, MUMBAI
In China, stalks of bamboo symbolise eternal youth, strength, prosperity, and peace. Rooted in ancient traditions, the bamboo massage incorporates bamboo stalks of varying sizes in a deep-tissue therapy.

At Richfeel Spa the stalks are heated and, optionally, essential oils are incorporated into the massage. The massage is great for circulation, improves sensory nerve perception and works wonders on lymphatic drainage while simultaneously relaxing the body. The warm bamboo is rolled over the muscle, which is then kneaded, to assist in the release of tension and easing of knots. Muscles relax to a deeper level when the cane is warmed and the sensation isn’t dissimilar to a rolling pin.

With a combination of a private steam facility in the same room as the massage, the Richfeel Spa provides much needed quiet and privacy – perfect for those who value their space. The combi-action of the bamboo massage leaves tension-ridden muscles and pain-wracked areas feeling much lighter and your body soothed.

REDISCOVER THE GLOW, AT JIVA SPA, TAJ LANDS END, MUMBAI
Recover from a hefty Sunday brunch at the ever-popular Vista by trudging all the way down the corridor to the newly-opened Jiva Spa at the Taj Lands End. I walk into the foyer to be greeted by cheery-faced therapists and the spa manager, who offers to show me around. We pass two cross-gender therapy suites on the way to a spacious and well-lit gym where hotel guests are fervently working out, almost, but not quite, inspiring me to join in. We return to the foyer where a cup of delicious tea awaits me – the concoction of jaggery, tulsi and lime is most refreshing.

I peruse the menu before choosing the ‘Pavithri’ therapy – a lymphatic drainage treatment with ginger, tulsi and lime oil. I am told that while this therapy flushes out toxins, regular visits can help with weight loss. I begin with 15 minutes in the steam room, followed by a warm shower. My petite therapist leads me to a therapy room where my feet are gently washed with a potion that promotes joint flexibility. I dispose of my organic cotton robe and climb onto the table where the therapist begins working her magic with butterfly-light strokes and small squeezing motions at certain points. Surrounded by the music of piano-over-babbling-brook, I sink into total relaxation as the she traverses my body with smooth movements.

My face and hairline are lightly massaged with a different oil, scented with sandalwood, to awaken the glow. It is recommended that I leave the oil on overnight, to moisturise my skin further, so I skip the shower, ending my visit with another cup of tea. I awaken the next morning, devoid of the usual lethargy, to skin that invites compliments, and I’m convinced that the ‘Pavithri’ treatment has delivered on its promises.

EMERGE ANEW, AT THE IMPERIAL SPA AND SALON, THE IMPERIAL, NEW DELHI
The Imperial Hotel is a favourite among Delhi’s residents and visitors alike, drawing one back to the best of the colonial era. A friend once said she dreams in sepia when she goes there for lunch. The inhouse spa is one of the largest in the country, set into the ground, with sunlight streaming in from the skylights. Coupled with the quietness of therapists who lead you through the maze of rooms, it always reminds me of the spas in Bond films.

While I immediately want every therapy on the menu, with the end of winter and a good hard look at my knees, I decide that the ‘Gharshana Neem and Rose Scrub’ is best suited to my purpose. Green gram and chickpea flours are mixed with neem to heal, turmeric to purify and rose to enrich, in this detoxifying scrub with anti-aging benefits. As I emerge from a thorough sloughing, I know I’m ready for skirt season.

GET THE ROSY OUTLOOK, AT THE SPA, PALLADIUM HOTEL, MUMBAI
Perched on the same level as the lovely pool at the Palladium Hotel, the spa is a tranquil zone, a far cry from the fervent activity in the mall below. Ensconced in a comfy niche, I run a critical eye over the treats to be had and, after a stressful week, the ‘Balancing Facial’ sounds like just the thing to put a smile on my face again.

I am escorted to the therapy suite, which has an inviting stone bath that I mentally bookmark for my next bout of indulgence, but today I need to lighten the furrow in my forehead. The facialist begins with a scented cleanser that prompts me to ask for the details, and I learn that the spa is the only one in the country to use Ila products – a vitality-enhancing range created from the purest plant and mineral extracts.

After the gentlest of extractions, a specialised massage technique is used, to open up the channels and allow energy to flow freely between mind and body. She finishes by rolling a rose quartz crystal over my face and décolletage. All is right with the world.

REINVIGORATE NATURALLY, AT THE KHYBER SPA BY L’OCCITANE, THE KHYBER HIMALAYAN RESORT & SPA, GULMARG
Nestled in a fairy-tale setting, the Khyber is a dream to experience. Walnut and teak accented rooms are highlighted with furnishings featuring traditional Kashmiri crewel embroidery. Each window promises a view to remember – either of the magnificent deodar forest, the majestic snow clad peaks, or of the resort’s own terraced gardens.

Gulmarg’s first luxury resort sweetens the deal with the opening of the spa powered by the goodness of Provençal florals. Recover from a day of hectic snow sports, or the Kashmiri wazwan, by indulging in a signature treatment with original L’Occitane products and pure water from Himalayan springs, all in the sanctuary of this calm spa. The repertoire consists of over 50 treatments encompassing everything from aromatherapy and concentrated deep massages to heal the body, to scrubs and wraps that nourish the skin – each one inviting you to forget the stress of the outside world.

Each experience begins with a welcome ritual and continues with an enchanting aromatic journey. Relaxing music and herbal teas inspired by Provençal traditions only serve to cosset you further as you sink into a comforting massage. The ‘Deep Tissue Intense Relief Massage’ is great for skiers recuperating after a run on the slopes while the ‘Lemon Balm Signature Massage’ is a thoroughly heavenly blend of Balinese and Swedish massage and acupressure techniques, designed to revive energy through the senses, while rebalancing the skin in the process.

And lest you feel guilty, all products used are made of natural material with traceable origins, helping preserve the environment as much as possible. Additionally, minimalistic usage of utilities promotes the eco-friendly experience.

Relax further by proceeding to The Khyber Wellness Block where steam and sauna chambers await. Paddle in the heated indoor pool with impressive views of nature’s bounty and prepare for another day in heaven.

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