The Wellness Way | Ayurveda and Yoga | Ayurvedic Health Resort

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The Wellness Way- A Great Article by the Express Group Where
Kairali?s Directors were quoted.

The Express hospitality is a part
of The Express Group which is one of the nation’s largest media conglomerates
with a wide selection of publications and a network of offices spread across
the length and breadth of the country. It is a matter of great pride for the
Kairali Group to be featured in this prominent publication.

On its Cover story of February
2011 Food And Hospitality World issue a great article about the wellness
tourism in India was published, in which Dr Geeta Ramesh, joint MD, Kairali
Ayurvedia Health Resort was quoted,she said that ?The professional lifestyle is a stressed one
which leads to tension. The spa and wellness industry has capitalised on this
growing consciousness among people to give wellness importance in their lives,?
Also this article quoted Dr. Ramesh who said that at Kairali, the emphasis is
on the therapeutic part of treatment.”

Cover Story

The wellness way

Wellness as a concept has been
practised in India since time immemorial. However, the fact that it is a vast
and lucrative business which is waiting to be tapped, has only emerged in the
recent times.Sanjeev Bharexplores the offerings that the
wellness industry has to offer and its future prospects

India has a long history of wellness with the
distinction of being the birthplace of alternate therapies such as Ayurveda
which has now entered into the domain of spas. For long, many ancient
practices such as Rasayana Chikitsa, which deals with improving health and
vitality; sweda karma; panchakarma treatment, etc which had remained
unpractised for long, have been brought back to life through the opening of
wellness centres and spas across the country.

A report released by Associated Chambers of
Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) in October 2010 on ayurveda, yoga
and medical tourism, states that the wellness segment was likely to be the
biggest beneficiaries of the Commonwealth Games 2010 held in New Delhi,
gaining by around `1,000 crore. The ayurveda and yoga segments, alone, were
expected to earn business of ` 600 crores and revenues prospects for medical
tourism predicted to be around `400 crore. But beyond these figures, it is
difficult to ascertain the size of this segment which is slowly getting
recognised, primarily because medical centres, salons and day’s spa all are
counted under wellness. Darpan Sanghvi, director for Sanghvi Strategic
Consultants (part of the Pune based Sanghvi Group) which represents French
skin care brand L’Occitane for its luxury spas in India – L’Occitane Spa,
sees opportunity in this segment because 70 per cent of this market is almost
unorganised. ?Revenue for the market in this segment at present is tipped to
be US$ 380 million which is just 0.1 per cent of the global realisation,? he
says.

Assocham?s report also spoke about the growth
that this segment is seeing, pointing out that various players in the
hospitality industry based in Delhi, NCR, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
and Uttarakhand have already set up over 150 ayurveda, spa, herbal and yogic
centers. Further, pan-India, there are approx. 3,80,000 registered medical
practitioners of the ayurvedic system as compared to about 7,00,000 in modern
medical system. Thus, the opportunity lies in tapping the growing urge of
Indians to explore holistic living where wellness has emerged as a strong
facilitator. No longer confined to spas offering a few massage treatments,
wellness is evolving into a gamut of activities. Shubhra Banerjee, CEO, First
Resort Concepts, feels that spas in India have come a long way in a short
span of five-six years. ?Today, most investors and spa operators are well
aware of safety, hygiene, experience, professionalism and the latest
international trends in equipments and aesthetics. Having said that we still
have a long way to go in areas like quality of therapists, sanitisation,
lighting and physical comfort that a spa has to offer. Internationally, the
standards are very high – whether related to equipments or detailed aspects
such as temperature control.?

Maturing market

Wellness has always been an integral part of the
Indian lifestyle. But it would not be wrong to say that a more evolved and
commercial approach towards this facet has been fairly recent in India. In
this respect, Ananda in the Himalayas, which started in 2000, brought in a
new perspective to the possibility India had to explore the segment. Mahesh
Natarajan, VP ? marketing, IHHR Hospitality, says, ?When our group started
Ananda as a destination spa, the objective was different as the group had to
make people aware of what a spa is all about. There was no knowledge on
quality requirements of a spa, so our agenda was to educate the market on the
holistic approach one needs to take towards wellness, where the goal was to
attain relaxation that contributes positively towards health.? Now, he
believes, the market understands the products and is slowly maturing.
Banerjee adds, ?Developed spa destinations have extremely skilled therapists
these days. High-end destination spas focus on creating a personal path to
health and wellness. While a few resorts in India have been able to meet and
even create their own elite brands, most of our spas are lagging behind.?

Dr Geeta Ramesh, joint MD, Kairali Ayurvedia
Health Resort believes that the concept of relaxation is catching up not just
in India but the entire world, due to globalisation and stress. ?The
professional lifestyle is a stressed one which leads to tension. The spa and
wellness industry has capitalised on this growing consciousness among people
to give wellness importance in their lives,? she says. Natarajan adds, ?With
time, people have recognised the importance of wellness and how it impacts
one’s lifestyle. People have started exploring destination spas. When it
started, only international guests came to experience it, now, the ratio
between domestic and international clienteles stands at 50:50.?

The market is maturing and there is no denying
this fact. This can be attributed by the sheer number of spas opening up in
business and leisure hotels, and resorts are using their spas as an effective
marketing pitch. ?High level corporate lifestyle is such where board meetings
are held at a destination spa where the rest of the time can be given to
relaxation and rejuvenation,? says Natarajan.

Broadening business dimension

While the business of wellness in India started
off with a spa or salon offering some massage treatments, it has burgeoned
into a big business proposition. A spa is only one aspect of wellness and
with a maturing market, Indian business outfits have realised the need to
capitalise on all aspects of the segment. Banerjee opines, ?Wellness is all
about being physically fit and preventing ailments. Achieving and maintaining
an overall good body system is the fulfillment of an individual?s needs
through a wellness programme.? Though people still ask for the basic
offerings such as massages, baths, aroma treatments, the organised sector is
taking it beyond this zone giving more emphasis on aesthetics and products.
Natarajan says, ?At present, it is a complete holistic treatment that we
offer. In fact, no two individuals would have the same regime during their
rejuvenation programme as every body type differs and we take care of food,
spa programme to ensure that there is a 100 per cent personalised approach.?
This helps to bring in numerous therapies, rejuvenation programmes, styles
and techniques which people want to explore. Natarajan explains that they
have started Tibetan therapies which have become very popular and are
continuously adding on newer aspects. According to Dr Ramesh, at Kairali, the
emphasis is on the therapeutic part of treatment. ?Ayurveda is a combination
of curative/preventive and rejuvenation as a whole so people approach us for
these factors. We have in-house patients as well as out patients too at our
treatment centres, but at the resorts we prefer patients for whom an inhouse
programme encompasses dietary requirements and medicines,? he says.

Interestingly, apart from wellness needs, retail
is another avenue that has come into the fore as a direct byproduct of this
business. Sanghvi says, ?While L’Occitane ventured into spa from wellness
products, the reverse is also happening too whereby the wellness segment is
auguring the business dimension of spa products through retail.? Food is
another dimension that has been tapped intensively and thereby, spa cuisine
has become a rage these days. ?Spa cuisine has evolved as a different segment
altogether. Ayurvedic diet is what people like when they come for a
designated programme at Ananda.? Similarly, Banerjee feels, spa has induced
sale in products like oils, creams, aromas, whereby each spa brand offers its
own branded products. ?But there is no way to find out its contents or
effects. Good brands are expensive, hence home made products with no quality
control find their way into the market. There need to be a check,? she warns.

Trends for future

An important trend that Natarajan has noticed is
that the length and frequency of visits by customers have increased. He says,
?Earlier customers would come for weekends. The same set of customers then
would come for a week and later, for longer duration. This shows that what
started as a novel approach has become an important part of their lives.
Hence, for a destination spa, it is extremely critical to offer a
rejuvenation programme in a complete sense with choices to match customised
needs.?

Dr Ramesh is of the opinion that the future of
spa and wellness has tremendous potential provided the authenticity of the
treatments done is maintained in the highest order. He says, ?As in any other
industry, unscrupulous elements can take clients for a ride. To avoid this,
clients have to be educated about the basics of Ayurveda and the practioners
of the same and companies that are addressing the needs of spa and wellness
establishments, will play a role in adding to the core competency of the
segment.?

Natarajan believes that the future will be about
providing holistic experience whereby travellers experience rejuvenation in a
complete sense with a variety of options. ?They might like to experience
Ayurveda one day, another day Swedish treatment and so on. From food, yogic
learning, therapies, etc. each day has to bring in a new phase in their
holidays and that?s what week long programmes do to an individual. This trend
is going to strengthen ahead,? he says. Banerjee believes that the segment
look at upgrading treatments, new trends and offers. ?Technical aspect will
be vital where ambiance will be important too and the spa will be judged on
entirety that it offers. Customers would know what they are seeking and
therefore the physical, emotional and social wellness will be paramount in a
combined form, with a more professional, customised and skilled approach.?
While long stay options might be apt for destination spas, spa resort is the
segment rising fast. ?Spa resorts is a lucrative area as this market is not
only under penetrated but also, under served,? says Sanghvi.

Job opportunities in the spa and wellness sector
is also looking quite promising. While spa continues to be a strong
proposition, its success will depend on offering holistic programmes and the
best of services. Banerjee says, ?The biggest problem confronting this
industry is the lack of trained, dedicated and sensitive therapists. The huge
demand from the wellness segment is churning out half trained therapists.
These young apprentices are being employed post a short exposure to what is
otherwise a highly skilled technique.?

The Ananda Spa Institute, which IHHR Hospitality
has set up in Hyderabad, looks to address this issue and trained students get
inducted in hospitality to bring in an order.

Banerjee explains, ?There is a huge opportunity
based on the fact that the changing lifestyles have given rise to
individual?s physical and social awareness and willingness to spend on
wellness. This is evident from the high profitability in this industry,
tremendous growth in medi spas, real estate players entering the field and
well-known international brands foraying into the Indian market.? The future
trend in the wellness industry will be about customising need, offering the
right and standardised approach through skilled diagnostic services, stream
of medicines or therapies. ?In this, one has to understand the client?s
genotype to ensure maximum efficiency with minimal adverse effects. I can
foresee a highly specialised field emerging over the years, which will
clearly limit the un-regularised approach,? she surmises.

Published on: February 2011

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