Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wellness for Every Season


The towering Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai holds within itself an oasis of tranquility. Step into The Spa and watch your worries melt away



The menu of The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai opens with a very interesting phrase: Invest in yourself. These are precious words of wisdom for any city-dweller lost in the chaos of existence. Up on the treadmill of routine, we seldom have any rest, little time and no peace. We forget how we abuse our bodies and minds in the daily grind; we forget about our brakes. Holding the menu in your hands and reading those words remind you of what you owe yourself. Those words remind you to stop, breathe, relax and most importantly, thank your body. They remind you that a much-needed spa session is what you should get and start afresh.


Feeling welcome
The Spa is spread over two floors of the Four Seasons Hotel and occupies a generous area. Upon entering the Spa Lobby Level 3, one is greeted by welcoming faces and an ambience that is contemporary, yet Indian. Little ethnic touches, like an elegant chest here, a flower pattern there, add warmth and a welcome air to the place. The Spa lounge plays soothing chants that puts visitors in the mood to unwind and relax. A retail area features several products used in the treatments, including perfumes, and ‘Gentlemen’s Tonic’ – the well known men’s grooming line on display. Clients may buy them, or simply acquaint themselves with products that will be used in their spa treatments. The Spa Manager then hands you a questionnaire with questions about your general health and medical conditions, as a part of the consultation. Based on the answers, you are recommended a treatment and explained its merits. The comfort level of the guest is ensured before any treatments are commenced.


The concept
The Spa likes to call itself an Indian spa, but it uses several Western treatments in tandem with Ayurvedic/Indian ones.  However, the ethos is Indian and it is reflected at several levels, like in their decor, their conduct and most importantly, the products they use. The spa extensively uses products from international brands like Lotus Wei, Sundãri, Ilā, and Forest Essentials, and Tathastu among others from India. These brands are not only Ayurvedic/Organic/Natural, but some are also known to support several NGOs. The Spa strives to support brands that support such causes. In fact, The Spa plans to eventually use all organic products for their treatments.
In keeping with their Indian approach, the spa offers complimentary Yoga programs for all spa members at the Yoga studio called Yoga Mudra. There are daily Sunrise Yoga sessions (at the rooftop) to start the day with, private and group Yoga sessions and even an Executive Yoga program, designed especially for the jet-setting professional. A meditation hall is adjacent to the Yoga studio, where clients can escape into tranquil recesses.


The interiors
As far as hotel spas go, The Spa at Four Seasons, Mumbai, is a sizeable one with almost 23,000 sq. ft., including the pool and the salon. It operates on the third and fourth levels of the hotel. Level three features the spa lounge and the men’s wet areas and relaxation lounge while the fourth level has eight treatment rooms and the women’s wet area and relaxation lounge. The interiors look warm with wooden furniture, earthy and pastel colours and plenty of natural light. In treatment rooms that require privacy, oil lamps or candles add to soft lighting.   
There are eight treatment rooms in all, all named after Yoga asanas. The Vajrasana and Nararajasana rooms are coupletreatment rooms, with twin massage tables and a massive tub for two in each room. The Tadasana room or the Kerala room is where Ayurvedic treatments from Kerala like Shirodhara are given. The other five treatment rooms are single rooms. Strangely enough, the name plates of these rooms spell these names as Vajra-sana, Dhanura-sana, which looked rather odd because the proper suffix is ‘asana’, e.g. Vajra-asana… However, Sanskrit grammar apart, these treatment rooms are beautiful and very well conceptualized. It is here that therapists offer their clients treatments listed in the spa menu. Specific audio CDs with sacred chants and prayers complement the treatments, and massages strokes are often in tandem with the calming rhythm of the music. All the rooms have mood lighting, and the colour of the light changes in accordance with the treatment. Each room has its own private steam, shower chamber and locker room – something patrons really like and appreciate.  


Solus per aquas
Like all luxury spaces, there is a swimming pool alongside the spa. This rooftop pool is a private little sanctuary, with several cabanas and a small bar serving juices and drinks. There are even mini-treatments (20 minutes long) available at the poolside! From a separate spa menu called Cabana Comforts, clients can choose to have a quick head, hand or foot massage, which are named after the sun, moon and earth respectively.
However, one of our favourite spots at The Spa was the wet area, within the Changing Rooms. Besides the usual lockers and changing areas it features a wonderful expanse of the Vitality Lounge with its various ‘wet’ facilities. Guests are spoilt for choice here, with a choice of hot and cold Experience Showers, a Steam or an Ice Fountain to cool down with.   
However, the most wonderful feature of this wet area is the Vitality Pool. With its metal grill back rests and bubbling water, the pool looks absolutely inviting. Clients can soak in after a treatment, or simply step into it to wind down.
Speaking of winding down, The Spa has a dedicated Relaxation Room, where patrons can unplug, relax and even catch 40 winks post treatment!


The treatments
The Spa offers treatments divided into four main sections, namely Body Therapy, Ayurveda, The Ilā Experience and Face and Body.
 Massages of varying intensity – Ojas (intense), Tula (medium) and Mukta (soft) are offered under the Body Therapy. Other treatments include regulars like the Hot Stone Therapy and the non-so-regular ‘Apoha Mizra. In fact, the latter is exclusive to The Spa at Four Seasons and is a unique combination of western techniques and Ayurvedic healing traditions.
The Ayurveda menu includes the highly popular Shirodhara, Pada Mardhana (intense foot massage), Uzhichil (body massage) and Shiro Mardhana (head massage).
The Ilā Experience therapies make exclusive use of Ilā products and include a Body Marine Algae Therapy, a Marine Facial, a Rainforest Rejuvenation Facial, a Ku Nye Massage (Tibetan), a Kundalini Back Massage and even a Pregnancy Scrub and Massage.  The Spa is one of the very few places that offer treatments for pregnant women. This gentle therapy employs a mild scrub, massage and music meant for the well-being of both, the mother and the baby.
The Face and Body package includes three Gotu kola variants – Firming Body Envelopment, a body polish and a firming facial. There are two other facial variants too called the Sundari Facial and the Neem Healing Facial. But the most popular treatment that belongs to this category is the Roopana Body Ritual. This treatment is often preferred by couples, and involves a neem-based treatment.
The Spa prides itself for its simple menu that offers clients clear choices. Assistant Spa Manager, Kamal Rana says, “We have kept our menu simple, so as to not confound our clients. The choices are straightforward, without being restrictive.”


The highlights
One of the distinguishing things about The Spa is that all their therapists are CIDESCO & CIBTAC certified. Even if freshers are hired, they are trained in house and are tested for their skills regularly. Of the eight therapists (7 women, 1 man), four are trained in Reiki and use their skills to complement the regular treatments.   
The Spa frequently introduces special programs and promotions, whereby special client categories are catered for. These include, for instance, discounts for senior citizens, ‘Spa and Dine’ packages for couples and even an innovative one named ‘Eat, pray, spa’.


Another notable thing about The Spa is the intelligent business strategy they have employed in terms of membership and accessibility. The spa is open to not only in house guests and spa members, but also walk-in patrons. In fact, 68% of their footfalls comprise such walk-in patrons. They also have a decent number of members at present. Lastly, the spa has a dedicated gym and a Rosano Ferretti salon. 


With big endevours and small, The Spa strives to make a client’s experience memorable and makes you want to ‘Invest in yourself’ time and again. 


Factfile

Opened in: 2008
Area: Over 23,680 sq. ft. (over levels 3 and 4)
Location: Worli, Mumbai
Spa manager: Anjna Poonia
Spa timings: 6am to 10.30pm on all days
Appointments: Pre-fixed, beginning at 9am every day
Gym timings: 6am to 10pm (flexible on request)
Pool timings: 7am to 7pm
Number of therapists: 8 (1 male, 7 female)
Products used: Sundãri, Ilā, Forest Essentials, Tathastu
Certification: CIDESCO & CIBTAC certified therapists
Specialities: Pregnancy massage, couple treatments
Most popular treatment: Roopana Ritual
Client profile: Mostly middle aged males
Website: http://www.fourseasons.com/spa/

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(This article appeared in the Jan-Feb 2012 issue of Spa Mantra - a B2B magazine for the spa and wellness industry. The article can also be read here.)






1 comment:

hiren shah said...

Great Post worth sharing! An ion spa at house is definitely a smart idea for individuals who are feeling low with their wellness and want to relax. One of the benefits about this technique is that it can be done by calling spa in Mumbai
at your home place which will cost you basically a very mere amount.