The Wellness Way- Article by the Food and hospitality world Where Kairali’s Directors were quoted.

Wellness Way

Wellness Way

Image: Wellness Way

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 Bhar explores 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