Taj Hotels is set to open 23 new spas around the world under the Taj Spa brand in an expansion estimated at ‘tens of millions of dollars’, according to a senior executive at the company.
Samir Patel, vice-president, spa operations and development, Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, told TTN that the new spas will open various locations around the world, including Phuket, Thimpu in Bhutan, Cape Town, Langkawi and at the group’s new Dubai property on the Palm Jumeirah in 2009. “When you got to the Maldives, every resort has the same sun, sand and snorkelling – the Taj Spa concept is a great differentiator in such places,” he said.
Of the 14 spas currently operating under the Taj Spa brand, three are outside India, the group’s home country, in Mauritius, the Maldives and at Bentota in Sri Lanka.
“As a large group of hotels with a very large portfolio, it runs into tens of millions of dollars. Each spa is quite large, between 20,000 and 40,000 sq feet, so that’s quite a significant investment per unit,” he said, while declining to put an exact figure to the group’s investment.
The Taj Spa brand was born from a need to present Indian therapies and treatments in the group’s hotels, Patel said, pointing out the irony of an Indian hospitality brand offering Thai or Japanese treatments. “More and more guests in the luxury sector looking for wellbeing at a deeper level than just a comfortable bed at a five star hotel, and it was imperative for Taj to take care of its brand cash, which is Indian and yet contemporary and global. The Taj Spa concept is the result: Indian in a contemporary setting with international standards.”
The company has researched ancient Indian traditions and techniques to serve up a variety of treatments that reflect the country’s heritage – from Ayurveda and yoga to royal pre-wedding bathing regimes, such as that offered at their Usha Kiran Palace in Gwalior. From the linen to the ambience to the actual treatment itself, he said, everything is studied in minute detail and recreated as authentically as possible.
In the first phase, the spas will be associated with existing resorts and palace hotels, moving to standalone units in a future expansion phase.
by Keith J Fernandez
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