Spa Wars

January 24, 2012 10:00 am by

Hotel Sea Princess, 969 Juhu Tara Road, Juhu. Tel: 2646 9555/2646 9500.
With green and white walls, a pleasant aroma of herbs and flowers and muzak played at the right volume, Suara Spa looks and feels exactly what you’d expect of a five-star hotel spa. Except for one thing: an AstroTurf floor that runs from the foot-wash area all the way up the wall of the juice bar (a bit weird we concede, but not as tacky as you would imagine). After our (as requested) firm deep-tissue body massage, we were kneaded into required and happy relaxation, but still surprised by a couple of things. One was the excessive use of oil (six pumps from the bottle) on each body part. The second (unpleasant) surprise? Ladies, if you do not want your chest (read breasts) to be given priority for three minutes, spell it out at the start.

Before the therapy starts, all clients are given chilled lychee-flavoured tea, a form to fill (about medications, health conditions, allergies, and sensitivities such as fractures), and a foot up-to-knee wash. Suara is immaculately clean (as most new barely-used spas are), and it helps that the steam and shower rooms are en suite. The room was readied for the next client while we showered and our belongings were put in the drawer of a dressing table, which also contained new combs, loofahs and moisturiser bottles. Surprisingly, the unlabeled shampoo in the shower room exceeded expectations by volumising, rather than destroying, our hair. After the treatment, you can have a selection of fruit and vegetable drinks (extra charges, Rs100 to Rs 200) from their juice bar. With ten massages, five body scrubs, five body cocoons (skin treatments), four facials, and three infused baths (with the most pricey treatment being Rs2,700) in a hotel environment with hotel-level hospitality, Suara has a lot going for it. Just remember to mind the boob attention and the oil slick bits though. Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Splurge: The Bespoke-at-Ease, which at Rs5,000 gets you a combination of four different massages.
Steal: The Oriental head massage, which lasts 30 minutes, and costs Rs650. Put your iPod on and get a head rubdown to prepare you for the rest of the week.

Rewa House, oppposite National Garage and the Haji Ali end of Cadbury House, Bank of India lane, Mahalaxmi. Tel: 96194 44993/2352 0580.
Rewa Escape will most likely show you a part of Mumbai that you never knew existed. Overlooking the part of the coast just south of Haji Ali dargah, this spa, situated in a seaside mansion, allows you to soak in the sea view while getting a foot massage. Looking out at the setting sun and views of the Arabian Sea (the best time to go there is sunset) and getting your feet pressed at the same time is something no Mumbai spa offers, so far. Their website says it’s a “spa by the bay”, and that it is “situated in the private gardens of the Maharani of Rewa, along the Arabian Sea…a place that drowns out the noise of city life.” That is all quite true, but it is also a very tiny spa, with four reflexology/pedicure chairs overlooking the sea, one manicure station, and one massage/therapy room (well designed with a floor-level bed and low lighting that may cause you to nod off almost immediately). There are over ten therapies each for foot, body and facial treatments, making choosing a complex, but happily indulgent exercise. The foot wash and massage happens while you are on the same reclining seat, thanks to a nifty handling of furniture (the cushion on the footstool gets pulled away to reveal a large washbasin underneath).

The hour-long deep-tissue leg massage was one of the best we’ve had in the city, a feat in the spa-heavy neighbourhood that also has AromaThai, Richfeel and Rudra. We asked for more pressure on our ankles and heels, and though it was a little inconsistent for the first half hour, the therapist eventually caught on after a couple of reminders. The foot massage included a back stretch that, in parts, was an upgrade on the one offered at AromaThai, and somewhat more painful, like a workout. Rewa offers therapies that easily compete with the best spas in the city, but that view elevates it to a place you want to frequent and grow familiar with. Given the size and the many early adopters, evenings there, clearly, are going to be booked out regularly. The latest slot we got was 4pm. It might help to call early, or sign up for their loyalty discount scheme. The cheapest plan involves paying Rs5,000 and getting treatments worth Rs6,000. At the highest end, clients can pay Rs30,000 and get treatments worth Rs42,000 (up to five people can use it over the course of a year). Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi
Splurge: A dry body massage involving ropes and Thai techniques for Rs2,800.
Steal: Rs50, per nail, for nail art.

Dhanraj Mahal, Ground Floor, near Gateway of India, opposite the Yacht Club, Colaba. Tel: 6634 9898/9922.
It’s just as well that The Palms Spa is hidden away inside the courtyard of Dhanraj Mahal. The spa proves to be an unexpectedly quiet treat when you realise it’s a mere hop away from the noisy and chaotic bustle of Colaba. Though small—there are just three treatment rooms—the jasmine-scented interiors, with their German wood floors and soothing white walls, instantly lull you into a relaxed state. Like most spas in the city (Suara Spa being the notable exception), there’s no form to fill for stating allergies or health issues; we were recommended the deep tissue massage, probably on the basis of it being one of the more common treatments found in spas the world over.

The therapist washed our feet in a bath of rose petals, a soothing initiation that was marred just a tad by the offer of a terrible-tasting watery black concoction of cinnamon and apple. In a first for a spa here, the masseuse wore a disposable mask as she worked on kneading out the knots in our shoulders and back. Ninety minutes of tranquility later, we had a steam and quick shower in a well-appointed en-suite bathroom that perplexingly had no shower gel, just body lotion and shampoo. We’d strongly recommend skipping the check-out drink as well—chamomile tea which tasted, distressingly enough, like cough syrup. The staff, all from Thailand, are efficient, polite and attentive; so much so they suggested that we try the Balinese massage next time as we had resisted the intense pressure of the deep-tissue massage. For now, they don’t accept credit cards, but don’t let that deter you. We’d return happily and in an instant, if only for the luxury of having absolute quiet in one of the noisiest cities in India.
Splurge: For those who just got off a long-haul, try the Jet Lag package, a combo body scrub, full body and foot massage for Rs5,000.
Steal: Nothing is quite a steal here, but for Rs1,000, you can get a 30-minute foot reflexology massage.

Update: Since the time of publishing this review, The Palms Spa has begun accepting credit cards.