Modern Spa Services: Amidst Local Charm

Happening Issue 101 Jul, 2010
Text by Ayusha Nirola / Photo: ECS Media


An establishment that exudes modernity and sophistication, a touch of tradition in the mixture might just give you a whole another spa experience.

Spas began when people started soaking themselves in hot springs thousands of years ago. But the spa world has changed since then. With hectic work schedules and fast-paced life that has now become a part of the Kathmandu lifestyle, we are heading to spas for some ‘alone’ time and some well deserved pampering. Whether it is the Ayurvedic massage or the much loved Shirodhara therapy, spas take you into another zone, a state of complete bliss.

With the ambience and therapies on offer, spas generally give us the impression of being high-end and up-market, and many a spa has opened around town that provides good service with trained therapists. One spa, however, aims to provide the best of service with modern facilities yet be pleasantly traditional. Not only does it have facilities like Botox and anti-cellulite treatments on offer, it comes as a surprise when you come across intricate details that have a hint of Nepali-ness to it.

 “We wanted to create such an ambience that if a tourist comes in for our service, we wanted them to get a glimpse of what they might see when they go to Patan or Bhaktapur,” says Ritu Vaidhya, Proprietor of Spa Prana. With this in mind, the interiors have been designed with Patan-inspired wooden double doors with wooden latches, traditional brass door handles, antique chest tables, sunken baths, and bathroom sinks. Not only that, the earthy color scheme of green, gold and beige that stays intact throughout the spa actually makes you feel calm and centered.

“What I absolutely love about the spa is its ambience and how they have made the place homely with hints of traditional furniture, fixtures and decorative items here and there,” shares Raveena Joshi, General Manager of Mega Bank. A regular at the spa, Joshi further explains, “Right from the doors to the Nepali dharas to the little ceramic cups they serve you tea in, it all has that Nepali-ness to it that makes me feel really relaxed and tranquil once there.”
The attention to detail in décor undoubtedly gives this spa a unique feel. The door and other amenities, all locally inspired, give the visitor a visual delight and with it, of course, ultimate rejuvenation.
Apart from the impeccable décor, however, Prana has on offer numerous locally inspired therapies that the Kathmandu spa enthusiasts would probably love to indulge in.

Newari Malish, a traditional Nepali massage therapy that has made a comeback thanks to the spa, promotes that feeling of wellbeing and also helps to reduce emotional and physical stress. The entire body is subjected to gentle kneading techniques infused with aromatic oils. Specially designed for the back and shoulder, it leaves you feeling balanced and rejuvenated. But how did a spa with a Thai consultant specialize in a traditionally Newari Malish? “We had an old lady come in and give us a demonstration after which our consultant Annie quickly picked it up and practiced it on the other therapists all the while, training them as well,” shares Vaidhya. Newari Malish is not the only locally inspired therapy that you can experience here. The Tibetan Soul massage utilizes the traditional singing bowl, which helps stimulate the Chakras (centers of energy) of the body. The massage renews the body and mind from the effects of daily stress and disturbed inner balance. From deep muscle relaxation, mental clarity, alleviating physical pain, releasing of toxins from the body to increasing energy and strength, sound massage with the singing bowls has shown a remarkable and swift improvement in many people with physical or mental and emotional pain.

Talking about the therapies Joshi says, “I have done a range of therapies at the spa, but I am in love with the Hot Stone therapy.” Hot Stone or Saligram,           is an exotic treatment that involves the application of soothing, smooth basalt stones, lifted from heated water, to key points of the body, soaked in warm oils to give a deeply penetrating and relaxing massage.

Another well-known client at the spa, Nirakar Yakthumba says, “After long rides, my friends and I hit the spa to unwind and try out their aromatherapy.” Elaborating about the service, he says, “I think they have done a wonderful job with the treatments and with it the traditional ambience.”

Along with its emphasis on tradition, however, the spa offers a series of popular therapies that are local but now are very popular worldwide. One of them is Shirodhara, where a warm flow of sesame oil is applied to the forehead (third eye) in a constant stream. It is one of the most popular and recommended therapies around the world as it assists in giving strength to the nervous system and helps to liberate toxins. With benefits like these, it will be surprising if anybody shies away from these therapies.

The spa also makes it a point to use all the materials that are local and have not been imported. Instead of getting herbs like spikenard, Tulsi and Artemisia from India and China, for example, it has opted to use these herbs from Nepal itself. Yakthumba says, “It just makes the treatments much more special to know that the spa is using locally available oils and other essentials.”

At a time when most people are shying away from their roots to be more in sync with the ‘world’, projects like these are, without a doubt, bringing the much needed Nepali touch to a modern setting.

When you enter the spa, the first thing that catches your attention is the sheer warmth of the place. It automatically sets your mood right. They are intent on reviving ‘Old grannies’ version of wellness’, which we have taken for granted all this while. Prana believes that true wellness is a state on which three essential components – Elements, Structural and Emotional states of being – are in harmony. Whether it is the aroma, the soothing music, the sheer warmth of the place, the green tea offered to you when you enter or, ultimately, the massage, it does exactly that.