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The India Spa Market: Flourishing in the East

Kristen Wegrzyn November 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
The India Spa Market: Flourishing in the East

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The wellness industry is thriving in India, and right alongside of it is the country’s quickly growing spa and skin care industry. “Health and wellness, which until recently was a relatively niche concept targeting a select few, has now gained a mainstream audience,” according to the Winds of Change wellness report created by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).1 The report states that the wellness market in India reached roughly $9.5 billion in 2011, which is an impressive 20% increase over 2010.

The general movement toward wellness has opened many new doors for the skin care and spa industry. Based on the country’s ancient, long-standing traditions of yoga, meditation, ayurveda, and other spiritual and healing practices, spas in India are the perfect setting to provide wellness to clients.2 “Spas are already providing wellness, even if they don’t recognize it or claim it. The tradition of the spa industry as a place for healing, renewal, relaxation and ‘feeling well’ positions the spa industry as one of the most logical sectors to take advantage of (and help lead) the wellness movement,” according to the Spas and the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities report from the May 2010 Global Spa Summit.3

Although destination, and hotel or resort spas are hot spots in regard to tourism, combined they only make up 50% of the rejuvenation and spa market in India. Day spas account for the other half, and are growing more rapidly to compete with the latter by expanding spa franchises to reach a larger consumer base. The majority of large day spa chains in the region have an average of 15–25 locations, and a number of them have further expansion in the works.1

What is fueling the area’s spa growth?

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Let India Inspire You

Ayurveda. The spa menu at The Oberoi in Mumbai includes a variety of Ayurvedic-inspired rituals, including the Shirodhara treatment, which is “an ancient Indian therapy using warm, medicated oils that flow from a specially designed vessel. A gentle stream of warm oil is directed onto the third eye, which, in turn, triggers healing, restores balanced health and calms the mind.”

Yoga and meditation. Vana, Malsi Estate, located in Dehradun, India, is a sponsor of the 2013 Global Spa & Wellness Summit, and plans to open its doors on January 4, 2014. They aim to be an iconic wellness retreat, bringing together the major modalities of wellness. Part of a stay at Vana will include daily guided meditation and yoga.

Skin-lightening. Four Fountains De-stress Spas located throughout India, offer a Lightening Facial, which “contains the goodness of mulberry and saffron, which are highly regarded for their skin-lightening properties. Mulberry contains antioxidants and arbutin, which prevents skin from darkening. Saffron is a popular traditional remedy for skin-lightening.” (See Spa Snapshot: Four Fountains De-Stress Spa—Building a Stress-free India.)

Fitness. Ananda in the Himalayas, a destination spa, employs fitness specialists to assess clients’ fitness levels and offer program recommendations to suit various lifestyles. The specialists test aerobic capacity, heart rate and for overall strengths and weaknesses, and recommends target weight and body mass percentage. That information is used to create a program for clients to follow at home and while staying at Ananda, where they offer a 16-station fitness gym with cardio, strength training and an aerobic facility. 

Body treatments. Jiva Spa, located within Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces in India, offers a Plantain Leaf Wrap, which is a unique treatment that “uses the healing properties of the plantain leaf to purify the skin. It eliminates toxins by opening the pores and inducing sweating, thereby resorting the skin’s natural vitality.” It is completed with the application of a skin-nourisher to leave the client renewed.

Spa Snapshot: Four Fountains De-stress Spa—Building Stress-free India

Spa Snapshot: Four Fountains De-stress Spa

Four Fountains Spa is a chain of affordable day spas located throughout major cities in India. Skin Inc. interviewed Sunil Rao, co-founder of the spa group, to find out how a major spa chain operation in India parallels the experiences of a U.S. spa.

Established: We launched our first day spa under the brand Four Fountains De-stress Spa in October 2007 in the city of Pune, India.

Locations: We have 20 spas that are located in seven major cities of India—Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Goa.

Founders: Four Fountains De-stress Spa is a first-generation entrepreneurial venture that was started by Anurag Kedia, Saurabh Garg and myself.

The story behind the spa: After completing our MBAs from IIM Ahmedabad and SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, we worked for three years with companies such as Hindustan Unilever, Tata group and KPMG Consulting. During that period we traveled frequently for work and stayed at hotels in various parts of the country. After a really stressful day, as most days tended to be, we would often long to try the spa therapies offered at the hotels’ spas. But soon we realized that we could hardly afford to take the exorbitantly priced spa therapies regularly.

It was ironic: We felt, that people who were stressed and needed spa therapies the most could not afford to take them regularly. That common experience provided us the inspiration to start a chain of spas that would put the health benefits of spa therapies within reach of more people.

Staff: Each spa team is comprised of 12 therapists, one spa doctor, one spa manager, two guest relationship executives and two housekeeping team members.

Target clientele: Our target clientele are first-time spa-goers who lead a stressful life in the city, and are looking for ways to de-stress and get rid of their physical and mental tiredness. They are men as well as women who are looking for an affordable spa that they feel comfortable visiting with their families regularly.

Product lines: We use an in-house range of products that are custom-made for us.

Spa philosophy: Our vision is to bring the scientifically proven health benefits of spa therapies within reach of every Indian by setting up 300 affordable spas across India by 2016. We want more and more first-time spa-goers to experience the health benefits of taking regular spa therapies.

Most popular treatment: Our most popular therapy is the Green Tea & Spice Scrubassage. A Scrubassage is a combination of a scrub and a massage. It is performed using a special blend of clove and green tea leaves infused in a cream base. Clove is known for its pain relieving properties and reduces soreness of muscles. The fine grains of green tea increase blood circulation and exfoliate dead skin cells. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, which prevent potential damage from free radicals, thus promoting longevity.

Most unique spa feature: The most unique feature of Four Fountains De-stress Spa is our affordability, which is a very important factor since in India spas tend to price themselves beyond the reach of most people.

Spa collaboration: Some of our spas are co-located with a hair and beauty salon chain called Jazz Up Salons, which is one of our newer ventures. We regularly collaborate with other retailers in our neighborhood for cross-promotions. We also enter into alliances with companies to offer employee wellness programs.

Retail strategies: We soon plan to start retailing products under our own label in the near future. The product range will include green tea, spa candles, and face and body care products. We will start by retailing them from our spas and eventually build a separate distribution channel for them.

Marketing campaigns: We employ a mix of city-level mass media and neighborhood marketing activities. Apart from regular advertisements in newspapers, on billboards and on the radio, we run couponing programs with other retailers. Our online marketing efforts give us a steady stream of footfalls. We also engage closely with our existing database, which results in repeat visits and membership renewals.

Inspiration: We continue to be inspired by our own experience as working professionals of being unable to afford regular spa therapies at expensive spas. Our aim is to build a stress-free India. We are convinced that if India is to be made stress-free, spa therapies would have to be made more affordable.

For more information on Four Fountains De-stress Spa, visit


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