With the first thrill of winter’s chill gently upon us, there’s a tangible buzz of Christmas cheer already.

A fun activity that has caught the fancy of most top hotels is the mixing of the Christmas cakes and puddings. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the ITC Windsor as, donning caps, aprons and gloves (looking like Masterchef aspirants), we poured mountains of sultanas, walnuts and other assorted dry fruits and casks of liquor on to tables with generous chunks of butter.

I felt a tad guilty for not going to the ITC Gardenia’s cake mix and auction but one can’t be whizzing around to all the parties in town. Writing and editing is hard work, though it might not appear so!

Not wanting to play favourites between the two hotels, I decided to take my custom to the Gardenia’s spa. Six hours later, I came out feeling a new woman and two young men said to me that I must visit spas more often. Was I damned with faint praise or did the marvelous Mia and her assistants work a miracle? Read on.

Mia Munshi, the Spa Manager, is from Singapore and has worked extensively with global luxury resorts and hotels. She gave up a high profile career in advertising, when on a holiday in India she came across aromatherapy. “I found my calling,” she told me and went on to explain how she learnt all about picking jasmine buds to extract the right scent and the healing power of massage. She lectures in spa academies and is on TV and radio sharing her experience, techniques and demonstration.

The spa Ayurveda room

The expertise and attunement to the senses of touch and smell is what made my session at Kaya Kalp one of the best in my life. Like with all guests, Mia consulted me for my preferences. Then she guided me to treatments and the products that would suit my skin before leaving me in the safe hands of her staff who were trained at the spa academy in Agra.

My mind boggled at the choice of traditional Indian and international therapies, and I finally opted for a pomegranate body scrub – made all the more exotic with the rich red fruit picked from Himachal Pradesh.

The ITC Gardenia caters to high-end business travellers and offers 30 different treatments and therapies. One of the highest selling treatments is a half hour tension reliever massage that concentrates on the back, neck and shoulders, excellent for a pre or post business meeting. I wanted more, and asked for a ninety minute de-stressing aromatherapy massage and a combination skin facial using products from the luxury brand Pevonia.

Kaya Kalp

I was assured that the products were botanical extracts that do not contain perfume or artificial ingredients. The finale was a pedicure that was a complete sensory delight pedicure, again with products and nail polishes free of harmful ingredients. As if the going so far was not great already, my chair had a built-in massager to boot.

The name Kaya Kalp is coined from the Sanskrit words kaya which means ‘the physical self, body or skin’, and kalp which means ‘to rejuvenate, invent or change’. The aim is to give ‘rejuvenation of mind, body and soul’.

If you want a similar spa journey of relaxation and rejuvenation, you could check into the ITC Gardenia. One of the finest ‘green’ hotels in the world, its vertical gardens and naturally cooled spaces make it a remarkable experience in responsible luxury.

By Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for the Herald Goa)

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below: