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    Everything Balinese takes centrestage at the newest spa in town, with luxe treatments and ear therapies

    It’s a hot, dusty afternoon as I make my way through KNK Road, eager to check out the 10-day-old Manthra Bali Spa. While emerald green fields of paddy (isn’t that what everyone tells us spas in the Indonesian island are nestled among) are missing from the picture, the smells of jasmine and frangipani greet me as I walk in. Touted as the city’s first ‘authentic’ Bali spa, the interiors are minimalist, with the occasional hibiscus painting or a pretty Balinese figurine.
    A refreshing iced lemon tea later, I am shown into a well-outfitted spa room—complete with a teak wood table imported from the island—for a quick chat with the owner and a longer perusal of the variety of massage oils and scrubs on offer. “I’ve been a regular at spas in Chennai. And while everyone claims to give a true Balinese or Thai experience, nothing ever comes close to what you get in these countries,” begins Aravind Renganathan, a telecom and real-estate entrepreneur who is debuting in the wellness industry (along with two friends) because it makes “business sense and helps me explore something new”. The challenge was straightforward: recreate what he’d come to love on his travels abroad. The answer was equally straightforward: bring the entire experience down.
    Keeping it real
    Renganathan is proud that everything in the spa is Balinese—from the décor and the oils to the therapists and even their uniforms (tailored in Bali). “I spent weeks at a time there, visiting spas, talking to locals and consultants, and researching where the best spas sourced their oils and creams from. Then I went to those places and picked them up,” he smiles, adding that he recruited his staff from boutique spas known for their exemplary service rather than hotels that went by their brand names alone. And he left the planning of his spa’s services to the “experts”, the therapists themselves. “All of them have a minimum of five years’ experience. So who best to know what will work well?” he asks. Like ear candling. A first in the city, this alternative therapy may have received some criticism, but Renganathan claims that in the hands of experts it can be relaxing and cleansing. “We also have traditional massages like aromatherapy and the four-hand massage, and popular ones like the dry body yoga massage and hot stone massage,” he informs.
    I settle down to the traditional—a frangipani aromatherapy massage followed by a coconut scrub and a milk-and-honey mask. Starting with a dry massage that works out all the knots, my therapist skillfully incorporates oils, ensuring the pressure is consistent and that I’m lulled into a trance-like state. As I lie there listening to strains of strings and percussion (yet another import), I must admit that for two hours I almost picture paddy fields instead of  dusty roads.
    From Rs 2,500 onwards. 11 am to 9 pm. Details: 42081333

    Surya  Praphulla Kumar


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