5 Best Spas in India & Why You Should Visit Them
I read this somewhere and I couldn’t agree more – “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
Life is fast-paced, demanding and stressful. There are commitments to keep, deadlines to meet, and responsibilities to shoulder. And ever so often, in keeping with the mounting demands of daily life, we forget to nurture ourselves and care for our wellbeing. What follows next are bouts of burn-out, irritability and a longing to escape from it all, even for a few precious hours.
For those craving some relaxing, reflective and unadulterated ‘me’ time with plenty of pampering and loads of TLC, a visit to the spa may be the perfect getaway!
First things, first.
WHAT IS A SPA?
According to the International Spa Association, ‘A Spa is a place devoted to overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body, and spirit’.
Back in the day, the term ‘spa’ was primarily associated with mineral springs and medicinal baths. In recent years, however, with unprecedented growth in the wellness industry, many new dimensions have been added to this three-letter word, so much so, that the concept of ‘wellness at the Spa’ has gained immense popularity, the world over.
To put it simply, Spas are specialized spaces that offer a variety of traditional and modern treatments including Ayurveda therapies, Thai body massages, Aromatherapy, detoxifying scrubs, and indulgent beauty treatments by trained professionals.
Since it is a destination devoted to promoting good health, relaxation, and an optimum state of inner well-being, visitors are able to unwind, detox and recharge themselves without any disturbances or interruptions from the world outside. Sounds blissful, right?
So now that you know what a spa is (technically), I’m delighted to share my take on the need, essentials, and benefits of a good spa experience (and my list of top 5 spas in India).
Picture Aratrika (Ms. A); a high-strung, over-worked, and sleep-deprived, modern day Cinderella who’s perpetually tired. In between balancing work and home, she barely has time for herself. Every day, when the alarm goes off at six in the morning, she wonders what life would have been like if that nagging alarm clock had never been invented!
Her boss bombards her with deadlines and declarations, her family and team members turn to her for help and advice, and even her house help counts on her to listen to her woes with a sympathetic ear. And in being all things for everyone, Aratrika seems to be losing touch with herself.
One day, Ms. A makes a conscious decision to step away from the daily grind and make time for herself. “Enough is enough”, she says. “But what can I do to sneak-in some undisturbed me-time, without ignoring my responsibilities?” All of a sudden, she remembers an advertisement she saw in a magazine, some time back, about a highly-reputed and well-known Day SPA, not too far from home. Though she had looked at it longingly back then, her mind had repeated those four words she had become so accustomed to hearing – “BUT WHERE’S THE TIME?”
Today, however, she gave those same old, nagging thoughts a herculean-push, and repeated to herself with a child-like smile, “I WILL MAKE TIME.” Ms. A quickly browsed through the spa’s website, acquainted herself with essential spa etiquettes, researched and read several spa reviews, and after ensuring that the spa follows global standards and has a long list of happy customers, she booked her first Spa appointment.
(Read on to find out more about Ms. A’s rendezvous at the spa.)
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SPA –
Based on their services and offerings, a number of spa categories are recognized today. These include –
1. DESTINATION SPA aka SPA RESORTS – A destination spa is a highly specialized location that promises an extensive and all-encompassing wellness experience to its visitors and takes hospitality to the next level. From the moment you enter a spa resort until the time you leave it, you’ll be in an environment that is conducive to reducing stress, promoting physical and mental well-being, restoring a healthy lifestyle as well as a heightened sense of mindfulness.
Services offered at Spa resorts include accommodation and wholesome meals, industry-recognized massages and therapeutic treatments, special lectures, programs, and a host of outdoor activities like trekking, hiking, bird watching, and yoga, etc.
To experience a destination spa in its totality, a minimum stay of two to three nights is usually recommended.
2. DAY SPA – Imagine stepping away from the stresses of the day and sneaking in some wonderful me time without applying for leave, or waiting for your next holiday. That’s what Day Spas are perfect for!
As the name suggests, a day spa is an establishment that offers spa services like facials and massages, spa manicure and pedicure, etc., during the day, or on a day-visit basis. Since there is no requirement for overnight stays, day spas are quite convenient and popular with people who are pressed for time.
In fact, a majority of recognized spas around the world are day spas.
3. HOTEL SPA – Almost all high-end hotels these days house a gym, fitness center, yoga room, and a spa. A Hotel spa is a spa located within a hotel’s premises and provides many paid services and facilities to in-house guests including steam and sauna, wellness programs, massages, facials, and skin treatments, etc.
For guests already in the vacation mode, a visit to the hotel’s spa promises to take stress reduction, relaxation, and pampering to a new level.
What’s more, some hotel spas are also open to non-guests.
4. MEDISPA – A Medispa, also known as Medical Spa is usually a specialized day-spa cum health-clinic (medical center) offering medical treatments as well as beauty solutions to individuals under a specialist doctor’s supervision.
ESSENTIALS OF A GOOD SPA
Whether your visit to the spa is going to be a memorable experience or a terrifying one largely depends on factors such as the level of cleanliness and overall ambience at the spa, the standard of services offered, professionalism of the staff, and how well-trained your attendant is.
Though there is no dearth of spas in the country, not all of them follow essential spa regulations, stringent global standards, and optimum levels of hygiene. As a result, they not only fail to deliver an exceptional spa experience but also pose serious health risks (disease transmission and bacterial infections, etc.)
Before you choose a spa, look for spa reviews online to know what kind of experiences others have had.
A WORD OF CAUTION: A spa treatment your friend swears by may not be right for you. Hence, before you opt for any treatment or massage, think about what will suit you and make an informed decision. In case of any medical conditions, do consult your doctor before visiting a spa.
(The day of Ms. A’s first spa visit finally dawned.)
Ms. A was both, excited and a tiny bit nervous about her first spa visit. As suggested by the lady on the phone, she reached the spa, half an hour earlier than her scheduled appointment. Entering the spa premises, she was mesmerized by the waft of a distinctly calming aroma and the sounds of soft music, playing in the background.
“Such a relief from the noise of traffic and horns outside”, she thought. Aratrika noticed that the spa interiors were warm and pleasant, and the atmosphere was peaceful and relaxed. She settled in a comfortable chair and almost instantly, was served the most refreshing glass of jaljeera. Soon, a warm, friendly and courteous lady from the front desk (let’s call her Ms. Nice) walked over to greet her.
Ms. Nice asked if this was her first visit to the spa, and after Ms. A answered in the affirmative, gave her a quick walk-through of their exhaustive list of treatments and services. She inquired about any medical conditions Ms. A might have, and moved on to suggest a massage treatment, just right for her – a neck & shoulder massage to help relieve stress and relax her tired neck muscles. (Ms. A was already feeling the weight around her shoulders lift slowlyyyy.)
Next, Ms. Nice informed her about the various facilities and amenities offered at the spa including the showers, steam and sauna, provided her with the bathrobe, and slippers, etc., and guided her towards the locker where she could deposit her belongings. Aratrika spent some time in the waiting area, looking through magazines.
It was now time for her Massage to begin.
(It’s safe to say that so far, Ms. A loves her tryst at the spa. Let’s wait and find out whether or not this experience is going to be a memorable one.)
5 BEST SPAS IN INDIA
Here’s my list of top 5 spas in India –
1. Ananda in the Himalayas
Where: Narendra Nagar, Tehri–Garhwal, Uttaranchal
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, and spread across 25000 sq. ft., Ananda is a gorgeous, award-winning (Himalayan) luxury destination spa resort and Ayurvedic wellness retreat. Located on a Palace estate, overlooking the town of Rishikesh and the Ganges River Valley, Ananda combines traditional Indian wellness practices such as Yoga and Ayurveda with International experiences.
Attracting guests from India as well as all over the globe, Ananda offers an eclectic choice of healing, relaxation, nutrition, and fitness programs that help in de-stressing, restoring balance, cleansing the body, attaining weight loss and a sense of deep relaxation. Your stay at Ananda will inspire you towards a healthier lifestyle with inputs from Spa therapists, Yoga teachers, Fitness experts, Ayurvedic and Western physicians, and a team of nutritionists.
2. Wildflower Hall Spa, Shimla
Where: Shimla Kufri Highway, Chharabra, Shimla Himachal Pradesh
The Oberoi Spa at Wildflower Hall, Shimla is a peaceful and indulgent haven, especially for mountain lovers! Offering stunning views of the mighty Himalayas, this spectacular spa is counted among the best mountain spas in not just India but all over the world.
You can choose from a variety of invigorating Ayurvedic treatments, therapeutic Yoga sessions, indulgent massages as well as Aromatherapy which are offered at different locations around the property. The temperature controlled, indoor pool is one of the main highlights here.
3. Jiva Spa, Vivanta by Taj, Bekal
Where: Jiva Spa, Kappil Beach, Kasargod, Kerala
The Jiva Spa at Vivanta by Taj, Bekal is one of the largest Jiva Spas in India with an area of 165,000 square feet. Situated in the lap of nature, this spa specializes in offering some of the best Kerala Ayurvedic healing therapies, beauty treatments (scrubs and wraps), holistic rituals, and long duration treatment plans that spread over two to four weeks).
The spa includes two suites, meditation sanctuaries, relaxation rooms, etc. The interiors are peaceful and calming. Depending on your preference, you can choose from a range of ‘Jiva Signature Experiences’ that are known to restore a sense of peace and balance, both inside and outside.
4. ESPA at The Leela Palace Udaipur
Where: Lake Pichola, P.O. Box No. 125, Udaipur Rajasthan
The ESPA at The Leela Palace, Udaipur, is a gorgeous lake spa, overlooking the picturesque Lake Pichola. It offers a wide combination of modern and Ayurvedic spa therapies and treatments, meditation sessions and spa cuisine, known to restore the lost equilibrium between the mind and body.
Some of the holistic treatments offered here include Abhyanga Treatment and Shirodhara Treatment, etc. The sitting lounges of the tented spa are a great attraction too.
5. Kaya Kalp, The Royal Spa at ITC Mughal, Agra
Where: ITC Mughal, Taj Ganj, Agra
Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa is a tranquil and luxurious, award-winning spa that is located at the ITC Mughal Hotel, Agra. Referred to as the ‘largest spa’ in India (and Asia), Kaya Kalp is spread across a massive area of 99,000 sq ft.
The spa provides a variety of restful massages, luxurious hair and beauty treatments, as well as ancient Ayurvedic treatments in a setting that is truly royal, reminiscent of the lavish lifestyle of the Mughal dynasty. The Treatment Rooms, Ayurveda Room, Jacuzzi, and Pool Area, etc., are strikingly beautiful with some of the most enchanting and intricate architectural elements.
You can choose from a wide range of Ayurvedic and Relaxation Rituals, revitalizing Body Treatments and Beauty Essentials.
Other noteworthy Spas in India include –
- The Spa at The Leela Palace, Bengaluru
- The Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort, Kalka
- The Leela Kovalam
- Park Hyatt Resort and Spa, Goa
- The Oberoi Rajvilas Spa, Jaipur
- Kumarakom Lake Resort, and
- Mayfair Spa Resort, Gangtok, etc.
(Ms. A met her Massage Therapist who was a pleasant, courteous, and professional lady.)
The therapist answered all her questions patiently and put her at ease, instantly. She made sure Ms. A was comfortable and relaxed, throughout the 45 minute massage session.
Aratrika loved her experience at the spa. As she showered, dried her hair, and collected her belongings from the locker, she felt a calming silence within her. Her knotted neck muscles were now free from the shackles of stress and strain. Those precious 45 minutes had helped her to reconnect with herself, minus the distractions of gadgets and the cares of the world. And the best part, she didn’t have to wait for her next holiday to feel this relaxed.
Ms. A thanked the spa’s staff, settled her bill, and exited the spa, feeling light, happy, and harmonious.
(This experience taught her the importance of slowing down, every once in a while and making time for herself.)
BENEFITS OF A GOOD SPA EXPERIENCE
A good spa experience is beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit as it restores a sense of balance and helps in releasing tension. Massages and other spa treatments and therapies are known to
- Improve blood circulation
- Release built-up waste from the body
- Help in managing chronic pain
- Reduce stress and strain
- Moisturise and improve the skin
- Provide nourishment to the hair, etc.
While it is neither practical nor possible to always depend on a spa to help manage stress, we can make an effort to indulge in a little bit of self-care every day. And while you’re at it, do try to enjoy the ‘spa experience’ whenever opportunity calls and time permits.
A little under a month after writing this post ‘My list of Best 5 spas in India and why you should visit them, I got an opportunity to visit the Jiva Spa @ Vivanta by Taj, Bekal (number 3 on my list of top 5 spas in India), rather by chance.
My experience at the Jiva Spa in Bekal, Kerala was enriching, peaceful and deeply invigorating. Watch out this space for a link to my review of Taj Bekal, Kerala.
Last Updated: 18th December, 2017
How was your first spa visit? Is there a spa you highly recommend?
Feel free to share your experience and inputs in the comments section below.
DISCLAIMER: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this write-up are solely those of the writer, and should not be misconstrued as medical advice. Please make your own inquiries before visiting a spa or any of the spas mentioned above.