Food & Hospitality World Cover Story for Kairali-The Ayurvedic Healing Village | Season for Healing

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Ayurvedic Healing
Village featured in the Cover Story of Food & Hospitality World

Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village was featured by in the cover story ?SEASON FOR HEALING? of the Food and Hospitality World Magazine June 2014 Issue. This cover story is an interesting write up about the holistic healing destinations in India and about how India is globally being considered as the home to ancient Ayurveda and yoga, modern spa treatments and a complete holistic healing destination.
Food & Hospitality World is a fortnightly publication that offers insight for the hospitality trade by Indian Express group.
Season for Healing
Home to ancient Ayurveda and yoga, modern spa treatments are also positioning India as a holistic healing destination. This monsoon special issue focuses on why the season is the perfect time for hotels to cash in on rejuvenation

The land of Ayurveda and yoga, the concept of ?holistic healing? in India has seen changes over the last decade. For some the concept is more about the care taken rather than cure, while for the others it is viewed as finding a solution to a health issue by not only keeping its symptoms in perspective but also the underlying causes. ?Taking care of the causative factors gives sustainable and complete cure. Holistic also emphasises on the importance of multi methodological approach comprising of various methods focusing on single goals of achieving harmony of body, mind and soul,? opines Dr Mathew, Ayurvedic physician, Ananda in the Himalayas. Taking cue from these age old treatments, the market has been constantly innovating in therapies to be offered to customers, in turn spoiling them with choices to choose from the so called ?spa treatment?. After Ayurveda and yoga, spa has been accepted as an integral part of holistic healing and has been gaining significance in hotels. ?For example, Westin Hotels has always stayed ahead in the latest trends in the wellness space and recently launched ?The Westin Well-Being Movement? a multi-million year long campaign across all its properties in India positioning the brand as the perfect getaway for holistic healing,? highlights Anu Mohan, assistant spa manager, The Westin Mumbai Garden City.
India is positioning itself as the global destination for Ayurveda and spa, with its increasing clientele from various countries across the world. As India holds the credibility of being an integral destination for Ayurveda, there has not only been a shift from attractive destinations to exotic and healing locations, but also the months, particularly during the monsoon seasons where and when people today want to indulge in healthier activities. South India and especially Kerala offers the ideal climatic conditions required for the efficacy of Ayurveda – a moderate temperature, ample rainfall ensured by two monsoons, humid air and abundant natural wealth. All this makes Kerala the perfect natural setting for Ayurveda’s healing touch for the rejuvenation of body, mind and soul. Apart from Kerala, destinations such as Rishikesh, Puducherry and many more hold their Ayurveda values strongly, and there has been an incorporation of contemporary spa techniques which has resulted in the definite increase in inbound tourism.

What the market says
This evolution and need for holistic healing or rather well-being of the mind, body and soul has risen from factors like increasing stress and its related disorders which continue to form at least 75 per cent of illnesses today. ‘Wellness’ has become the latest buzzword with salons being converted into spalons, medispas, Ayurvedic centres, standalone spa outlets, and even the smallest of hotels offering spa services. ?The latest trend in spa is to have a Spa Concept, followed by the brand to be introduced depending on the products that would be used to provide the spa treatments. Today you have a choice of spas to look forward to e.g. an Ayurvedic Spa (provides spa treatments based on diet, purification & Yoga), Traditional Spa (includes range of spa treatments and spa therapies also includes steam, sauna, jacuzzi, gym & pool) Destination Spa (include some activities along with spa treatments), Medi Spa (involve health consultant to promote spa treatments) etc,? points out Anna Fernandes, director of spa, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa.

Growing at a healthy rate of 20-25 per cent, N Venkat, CEO, Birla Wellness & Healthcare strongly feels that the spa industry is expected to grow more than 15 per cent in the next five years. ?We feel Ayurveda spa and treatments are becoming more common place for people for both wellness and ailment curatives,? he says. Even the data released by International Monetary Fund (IMF), highlights that the Indian spa industry, with over 2,300 spas, generates revenues of around US$ 400 million annually. Presently, India has around 20-25 major spa centres, most of them in the southern states of Kerala and Karnataka. Moreover, the size of India’s Ayurvedic industry was forecasted to grow at a CAGR of around 22 per cent during 2009-2012 in view of the rising demand for Ayurvedic therapy and products. ?The total size of the spa industry today would be about US$ 10 billion specially after the arrival of therapeutic massages, taking the spa from a mere luxury, a few years ago, to a different level altogether, which is of healing the mind, body and soul. It is expected to grow to Rs 10,000 crore with an approximate 30 to 35 per cent growth from now on,? adds Dr Apoorva Shah of Richfeel.

According to a report by FICCI and PwC released in 2011, wellness services employ around one million people. By 2015, the total employment potential of wellness services is expected to touch around three million. Wellness can play an important role in providing gainful employment to India?s growing population.

Ayurvedic seasons

Ancient texts prescribe the monsoon season (June-August) as the ideal time for Ayurveda. It is during this season that the atmosphere remains cool and dust-free – letting the pores of the body open to a maximum, making the skin most receptive to therapy. A former Kerala tourism official informs, ?The state of Kerala has been receiving tourist inflows from the Middle East and Russia and keeping this in mind, we created a campaign for the Middle East last year for the monsoon season as tourists from there come during this season to escape the heat in their countries. We plan to sell the off season as the dream season for Ayurveda. Earlier we were focusing on the price factor but now we plan to focus on the experience factor; that is making it more experiential. We will focus on June and July as the season for Ayurveda. Especially as the monsoon season is most suitable for Ayurveda.?

About a two hours drive from Coimbatore International Airport, in the languid backyard of Palakkad the flagship retreat of Kairali Group that attracts people from across the globe who have faith in the healing power of ancient Ayurveda. The Ayurvedic Healing Village has been one of India’s foremost residential treatment centres for more than two decades. The Ayurvedic Healing Village continues to be a signature property for the group that is now following a strategic expansion plan across all its verticals. A lot of introductory courses are also organised, both in Ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation. The important thing is that they have not strayed from the traditional Ayurvedic principles and systems, but have modernised treatments according to modern diseases. The treatment packages cover an extensive range – Kairali’s Preventive & Regenerative Package; treatment for sinusitis and migraine; treatment for bronchial diseases; beauty and eye care; holistic treatment for rejuvenation and detoxification; stress removal and strain; nervous disability; weightloss programme; arthiritis and spondilitis; skin diseases; slip disc; chronic back pain; rheumatism; Panchakarma therapy; post pregnancy programme; facial paralysis; de-addition and rehabilitation from alcohol/drugs/tobacco, and more. Many of these guests come from overseas, including NRIs. From India the source markets are primarily Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. With the aim to ensure holistic healing – the environment, daily schedule, treatments and food, the name of the property was also changed from Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort to The Ayurvedic Healing Village. People from Chennai also come, but mostly during off season. The off season starts from February and ends in August.

Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort, which is a Green Leaf certified centre also recently won the state tourism award for Best Ayurveda Centre. Located at Chowara Beach on a hillock nine km south of the famous Kovalam Beach, in Kerala, the resort is spread over 15 acres of lush greenery. The resort accommodation is built in the traditional style of southern India, and most of the bungalows called Kerala Houses and Cottages have a lovely view of the sea. Elaborating on the demand for their treatments, an official from Somatheeram mentions, ?We do get domestic guests but majority of our guests are Europeans who come for the Ayurveda treatments that we specialise in.? Somatheeram has a diet plan that is integral to each course of Ayurvedic treatment. During the initial examination, the Somatheeram doctors compile a personal Ayurvedic diet plan for each guest ? in accordance with his/her personal Dosha or constitution. Roughly 200 different Ayurvedic dishes are available and are served in the resort’s restaurant in traditional mud pots that retain the flavours. The Ayurveda resort also has its own facility to manufacture the medications required for treatment
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At Zuri properties, the management has introduced a new theraphy called Chavutti Thirumal which is based and developed by Kalari martial arts. In Maya spa, guests close to 60-65 per cent choose Ayurveda treatments and the rest opt for western treatments. Among the Ayurveda their signature treatment Nirvana is more popular which includes one hour body massage followed by 30 minutes of Shirodhara which helps to rejuvenate the mind body and soul.
While at The Ananda in the Himalayas, the most preferred treatments have been Abhyanga and Ananda Fusion, and on the new offerings, Mathew replies, ?We are introducing treatments Karna Dhoopana( ear fumigation), Navara kizhi and Navara Theppu ( massage using a special variety of rice, milk and sida decoction).

Revenue generation
Holding the opinion that the health and wellness segment has started to grow in India, Priti Chand, VP corporate communications, Zuri Group Global highlights, ?If we compare the market share of the wellness industry in India to other European and American countries, it is very minimum, which is very clear by reports that only one per cent of the Indian population are visiting spas. There is a huge potential for the wellness segment in India and other growing nations due to the high disposable income and increasing awareness of health issues.? Usually it has been seen that resort spas contribute 13-15 per cent of the hotelrevenue, whereas in destination spas the revenue contribution could increase up to 35-40 per cent. ?Ayurveda and spa segment is expected to grow at a rate of 30-40 per cent annually for the next five years,? reiterates Chand.

Taking this into consideration, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa’s revenue contribution to the hotel’s operations is only three per cent. On the spa options that the hotel has as part of its offering, Fernandes mentions, ?At Quan Spa we ensure that we offer a choice of customised spa treatments, we offer packages which are conceptualised around the five elements – Earth, Wind, Space, Water, Fire offering value for money for our guests.? ?As per Spa Association of India (SAI), there are over 2,300 spas in the country generating revenues of about US$ 400 million per annum. A double-digit growth rate is estimated in the wellness industry over the next five years. About 30 per cent growth in the inventory of spas is expected over the next two-five years itself,? adds Mohan.

Game changers
As people are getting well informed about the philosophy of Ayurveda/ spa treatments, they are more likely to include these practices in their daily life. ?We have seen this awareness extend to corporate sponsorship of well therapies for employees, resulting in improved performance due to physical and mental health belief,? mentions Saif Usmani, spa manager, Shine Spa, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway. He further adds, ?There is a keen interest among our guests towards our Ayurveda inspired treatment in our non-clinical setup and they have been open to the opportunity of experiencing more varieties of treatments rather than focus on a particular treatment.?

Hence with the awareness of Ayurveda as a treatment modality especially for chronic health issues like diabetes, arthritis, etc, is increasing. Mathew states that within the limitations of a spa, Ananda in the Himalayas had slowly started with various retreat programmes focusing on health issues which might evolve into disease specific packages in the near future with the rising demand in the market. Adding more to it, Chand also feels that in Ayurveda, detox programmes, Panchakarma treatments for metabolic disorders will be the game changer apart from rejuvenation programmes, whereas in the spa segment beauty and chromo therapy will play a major role.? All these together are surely going to broaden the offering in the ‘holistic healing’ concept, a segment which is only going to continue growing in the future.

Published on: 16th June 2014

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