Shangri-La Hotel, Mumbai - The Mystical Chi

Encouraging good health and beauty, Chi, The Spa, at the newly opened Shangri-La hotel in Mumbai, knows how to pamper and take control of your well-being in equal measure

By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: April 23, 2013

Encouraging good health and beauty, Chi, The Spa, at the newly opened Shangri-La hotel in Mumbai, knows how to pamper and take control of your well-being in equal measure.

Standing tall over the Palladium shopping complex, inspired by the traditional understated charm of Asian décor with Rajasthani tikri work, along with bold contemporary décor, Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts has opened its doors to Mumbai patrons. While we are intrigued about its three restaurants, four bars and the embracing lobby with the mesmerising staircase, our attention was focused on their signature Chi Spa during this visit.

The first, make-do reception of the hotel on the ground floor, will guide you to an elevator which takes you up to the spa on the 10th floor. A short walk will get you inside a haven of tranquillity. Exuding a palpable sense of calm is Chi, The Spa. The spa reception warmly welcomes you with walnut wooden flooring finished with a hand tufted carpet. Almost naturally, your eyes will smile at the embedded mirror at the reception desk that reflects an intricate mosaic design, while an aura of mystery will envelope you due to the soft lightings in the corridor .

Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La, draws inspiration from the origins of the Shangri-La legend, a place of personal peace, enchantment and well-being. The massages and treatments are based on authentic natural healing methods found in traditional well-being practices shared by many Asian cultures. Featuring a selection of treatments that use natural botanical products with therapeutic properties, they even know how to pamper the shopaholic within you as they retail Ila products.

In traditional Chinese philosophy, ‘Chi’ or ‘Qi’ is the universal life force that governs well-being and personal vitality. For good health to be maintained, it is believed that chi must flow freely within the body. Does this spa manage to do that? Let’s find out.
Judge the book by its cover
At Shangri-La, the team always tries to imbibe local traditional elements to reflect the culture of the city where the property stands. It comes as no surprise then that Sanskrit served as an inspiration and building block for this property. Not only at Chi, The Spa, where all rooms are named in Sanskrit after a flower, even the driveway has glimpses of engraved Sanskrit shlokas on the walls. Even though the properties are architecturally similar and reflect equally high standards of service, the local treatments in the menu are unique to each property.

The team at Shangri-La pride themselves on being gracious hosts. Every guest is welcomed with a traditional Namaskar (which is mildly indecipherable), a detox drink (made of ginger and served cold) and a scented cold face towel. So take a deep breath, spend a few seconds on the couch and refresh yourself. Once seated, the staff re-confirms the treatment with you even if the treatment is pre-selected. Take a few moments as you sit through a consultation and a menu card (which is extremely detailed and tempting) to explain your requirements, while the team recommends the treatment that is best suited for your needs. My consultation was a quick one as I filled out a preferences form and discussed a few concerns with the director of spa who was extremely hospitable and knowledgeable. Guests will be happy to note that the team pays strong heed to the consultation to avoid aggravation to existing conditions and ensure that the guest is not uncomfortable or unsatisfied. In case of serious medical conditions, the team requests a doctor’s advice before the treatment.

Movement is a key element in releasing blockages, and thus one will notice a variety of body massages, exercises, stretching, hydrotherapy, and movement of the mind through relaxation and meditation in the spa menu. The team believes that a perfect combination will assist the body's natural renewal and in turn rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. This also forms the basis of the Chi spa philosophy.

Closer to the door
Once the formalities are completed, you are introduced to the therapist and taken to the therapy room. The ambience calms you down as you further feel your muscles starting to relax while slipping into the comfortably fluffy robe as your therapist waits for you outside the room. Notice the Jacuzzi, steam rooms and sauna amongst other components that make you feel like you are in a home away from home, with of course the luxury factor! Not to miss is the sight of the private bath tub, which exudes vibrant rainbow colours as a form of colour therapy, which is said to lift your spirits!

Chi has nine spacious treatment suites, which, as mentioned before, have Sanskrit names of flowers. Adorning the English name is an eye catching graphic which depicts the flower with Marketti artwork. You could be assigned to the Padma Couple suite (Lotus) which symbolises purity, chastity and eloquence, or Japa which is the Hibiscus flower symbolising rare and delicate beauty, which was assigned to me. The names of the rooms add a distinctive feature to the spa in a country, where, in most of the spas, the treatment rooms are built the same way and have the same amenities. So whichever suite is prepared for you, get set to surrender to the intuitive touch of their skilled therapists to revitalise the body and soothe the senses.

A choice made, is a good one indeed

The treatment set up for me was a 'journey' as they call it, which was completely customised as per my need, with a variety of treatments lined up to suit my purpose. Starting off with a quick few minutes of steam to open up the pores, this treatment began with a welcome foot ritual, where feet are washed with Himalayan salts and rose petals in an aluminium tub of warm water. Once you are comfortable on the therapy bed, shut your eyes and prepare yourself for an energising and detoxifying scrub which contains Himalayan rock salt crystal, rose geranium, Alpine lavender, lemongrass, rose hip seed, wild juniper berry and argan oil. This body scrub is an ideal treatment to combat stress and exhaustion, and effectively stimulate the lymphatic system, aid circulation and eliminate toxins while stimulating the marma centre. Extremely sensitive and tired limbs like mine will ask the therapist to take it easy with the pressure a few times, but other than that, you will like the pampering and squeaky clean sensation of your skin being cleaned at the end of it. Once the body scrub was done, Dechen, my therapist, requested me to have a quick shower.

Having washed myself with warm water, it was now time for a massage. The CHI Balance Massage was set up for me, which was a gentle, yet penetrative palm massage focusing on relaxation and peace of mind. With a variety of five different aroma oils, with each having its own name and effect, I selected the Peace of Mind oil. Containing lime, Marjuram, geranium, patchouli, lavender mogra, neroh and rose, this oil is said to be good for hydrating and stimulating, helping in achieve a clarity of mind and body. Techniques used included acupressure and coordinated movements that originate in Tai Chi. The therapist softly massages every part of the body she is about to knead so as to ‘wake up’ and ‘warn’ the muscles that they are now going to be worked upon. In this way, you are not nastily snapped out of your sweet stupor and your muscles do not cramp up.

This massage was followed by the Bio-energizing body wrap which is said to be rich in mineral rich green clay, rose hydrolyte, argan oil, Himalayan salt, lavender, lemongrass, rose geranium and juniper berry oils. This wrap aims to be a powerful treatment as it draws deeper toxins from the cells and deeply revitalises the skin, lymphatic system and bio-energy field, while promoting a profound anti-oxidation effect. Once Dechen was done applying the wrap, with quick swift movements she covered me up in plastic sheets, so as to let the wrap settle. You may feel like a modern mummy, but it is worth it eventually as your skin feels supple and fresh! During the wrap, I was told that the product applied would release negative ions which would strengthen the energy fields damaged due to excessive amount of positive ions from electromagnetic fields that surrounded our body on a daily basis. Having never really given this a thought, I realised it to be quite true! I found myself nodding my head while she explained how technology had an impact on our skin.

While I was relaxing, I was given a face massage with crystal stones and Ila glow oil. This was most comforting and the sensation of cold stones along the contours of the face was invigourating. It was interesting to note (after being explained though) how the synergy of pure aromatherapy oils and a focused touch awakens the energetic and physical channels of the mind and body for inner serenity. The crystal energizing treatment is said to alleviate allergic problems by diffusing the heat in the pores, reducing redness and swelling, hereby refining pores promptly. Effect? My face was glowing as it felt rejuvenated and restored.

As an added bonus to the journey, I experienced ‘Foot Pounding’. However scary it may sound, Foot Pounding was actually a very unique procedure which involved invigourating movements that are said to stimulate circulation for the elimination of toxins, alleviate water retention, expel negative energies collected in the lower leg and foot area and stimulate the reflect points! All in all, your feet will enjoy the sensation and will wake up and may even want to take you dancing!

At the end of this, I was put in a tub of rose petals, precious rosewater and paste of fresh rose petals with aromatic bath oils and bath salts added into the warm water - an ideal luxury bath experience! As mentioned before, the tub uses colour therapy to balance the physical and emotional system, and regenerate new cells and blood. What's more, it is also said to revitalise the body and mind. An absolutely thrilling experience, it was fun to notice all the colours lighting up the tub as I munched on some fruit and juice to replenish the body. Wondering what all the colours mean? Orange is associated with the pelvis area, yellow is associated with the stomach, green is associated with the heart, blue is associated with the throat, indigo is associated with the forehead, and finally violet is associated with the upper head.

As my entire being felt relaxed, rejuvenated and clean, I hadn’t anticipated this much pampering and spa education at Chi, The Spa. All I had to do was listen to and follow their instructions. Whoever knew that a key to so much good health and revitalisation was a simple visit to Shangri- La's Chi Spa? Well, now you know.

Coordinates: 462 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai - 400013
Ph: +91-22-61628000

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