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Indian Spas

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: June 5, 2007, from the June 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In fact, destination and resort spas have given way to day spas. The four main Indian metropolitan cities are seeing an increasing number of day spa openings.

“The Indian spa scenario is changing drastically. It is expected to grow 100% this year,” says Sanjay Malik, director, Fitplaza, a Dutch chain of day spas that recently opened its first Indian day spa and wellness center near New Delhi. “In fact, we see day spas growing more than resort spas this year. Since there are many foreign business travelers that come here on work, they do not have time to spend four to five days at destination spas. Yet, they need to wind down, and day spas give them this opportunity. That is why we feel it is a good idea to invest in day spas. In fact, after establishing our current wellness center, we plan to go to other locations in and around Delhi.”

More international investments are expected in day spas, as well as resort spas, this year. MSpa International is planning to open its specialty and day spas across the country—beginning with Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore—in 2007. The company is targeting major metropolitan areas as well as tourist destinations, in order to cater to both local consumers and international travelers.
Additionally, Unilever has recently taken over a chain of day spas run under the Ayush brand, demonstrating that international players are seeking entry into the Indian spa market. Currently, big hotel groups such as ITC and Oberoi are operating the most popular resort spas in India.

According to Kendra Lee, exhibition manager of Spa India Exhibition & India Beauty Expo, the Indian spa industry is still relatively small, but, with the current growth and influx of international companies, resort spas will give way to day spas, and spas in general will become part of a daily routine and not simply a holiday luxury. While the Indian spa industry remains very unorganized due to a lack of industry-wide standards and quality checks, Malik sees a light ahead: “I see this industry getting more organized in the next six to eight months, seeing the present growth rate.”

Cities like Mumbai are an up-and-coming market for spa operators. Because the city is already a tourist attraction due to the popularity and attraction of Bollywood, many spa operators are setting a foundation there. South Indian locations like Bangalore, Chennai and Kerala remain more traditional and still promote resort spas rather than day spas. However, commercial locations such as Delhi, Gurgaon and Mumbai will see a proliferation of day spas.