Take travel out of spa

You can pamper the body without killing the wallet. Priya Kapoor takes a look at various leading spas and their treatment costs to show you how.

Priya Kapoor | Print Edition: May 1, 2008

After a tough day juggling men and politics, Cleopatra was known to soak away her worries in a bath of mare’s milk. The good news is that you can opt for the same treatment. The better news is that you might not have to pay a small fortune for it. Spa treatment is no longer for the rich and famous. There are day spas in almost every city, and there are several destination spas as well.

So, what’s the difference and why should you opt for one over the other? “The difference between a day spa and a destination spa is like the difference between a cafeteria and a fine dining restaurant— they both cover your basic need for food, but the quick sandwich is squeezed in between meetings and the candlelit dinner with a good wine is protracted enjoyment,” says Jesper Hougaard, chairman and managing director, Serena Spa.

The main difference between the two is, of course, price. But take a look at the table (Are Destination Spas...) and you’ll see that the cost of individual treatments is not wildly different, except for the body wrap. What you’re paying much more for is the room with a view and the food on your plate. Eliminate those, and you have the cost of treatment at a day spa.

But what if you really want to take off for, say, a week and indulge yourself without stretching your credit card to its limits? Book your daily spa treatments at the destination spa that grabs your interest—then go online and book accommodation at a different, and far more affordable, hotel. You get the best of both worlds that way.

Of course, check with the spa if they offer individual treatments to day guests—some destination spas might only take you on if you’re a guest staying there. If you can swing a deal where you book your own accommodation, remember to factor in that cost as well as travel expenses and other tourist activity you might like to indulge in. If you’re taking the family along, add the cost of miscellaneous entertainment for them while you indulge yourself. It is still likely to work out cheaper than paying the Rs 1 lakh plus that Ananda charges for a week’s stay and treatment.


Are Destination Spas the Only Alternative?

The cost comparison shows that’s not the case




1,2001,242 2,000
Body wrap
6,5001,6002,208 2,000 1,350 Comes with packages 
Aromatherapy massage
1,900 2,415  2,5001,250 1,500
Shirodhara 4,400
2,200 No 3,000 3,300
1,800 1,500 2,139 3,500 2,100 1,800 
One night tariff 13,500

Total cost 







All figures in Rs; prices may not include taxes; duration of the treatment varies from 30-60 minutes; Ananda is located in Rishikesh, Golden Palms and Angasana in Bangalore, A+ Medispa and Serena in Delhi and Oryza Spa in Chennai
• The day spas selected are representative of the category; one each of a stand-alone spa, a hotel spa and a medical spa
• The treatments selected are all designed for detoxification, one of the main reasons to go to a spa
• The takeaway is that for regular treatments day spas are cheaper than destination spa
• Destination spas are the only choice if the idea is to combine relaxation with a holiday

It will be a good idea to check if children under eight are even allowed inside destination spas. When you choose a day spa— and they are no longer just an upgraded version of a salon—don’t look only at the price and treatments on offer. Also check to see what the price includes. For instance, Delhi’s Amattra charges Rs 4,970 for a scrub and body wrap, but this includes a membership fee of Rs 1,000, which gives you access to the pool and fitness centre at Hotel Ashok, where the spa is located. Check if there are other charges like this one before you decide on your oasis.

Then, there are seasonal specials. Summer is generally when most of these spas offer special treatments. Latha Mohan, CEO, Oryza Spa in Chennai, says: “In summers, we give emphasis on cooling treatments rich in Vitamin C to our customers. Presently, we offer ‘Citrus-Sea’ and ‘Divine Pleasure Grape Seed Foot And Hand Spa’ treatment.” The specials generally do not come at discounted rates. If you’re looking for value-formoney deals, your best option is to consider the spa’s package deals. In the case of Oryza, Mohan says: “We offer a 15-20% discount on our packages.”

Spas are now evolving from places of total indulgence to those that offer semi-medical treatments. For instance, at A+medispa in Delhi, you can combine regular spa treatment with aesthetic surgery, aesthetic medical skin care, cosmetic dentistry and purification treatments under qualified medical supervision. These treatments can cost anything from Rs 20,000 to over Rs 1 lakh, not including the consultation charges, which can be as much as Rs 1,000.

As V Prasida, assistant spa manager, Golden Palms Spa, a destination-cum-day spa at Bangalore, says: “Spas are no more a luxury today. It’s become a necessity. The trend will favour spa culture rather than any particular spa category.”

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