Bangalore: As urban professionals think of ways to beat soaring anxiety levels, stress-relieving treatments at wellness spas are no more a luxury.
From a niche category, available at unaffordable places, often in exotic locales, spas are becoming more common in India—accessible and without sticker shock.
“The objective (of locating them in the heart of a city) is to make more number of people visit these spas, which is not always possible if they are far,” said Sanjay Jain, chairman of Floriana Group, a New Delhi-based company with an annual turnover of Rs2,300 crore that is planning to launch 300 spas by 2010, with an investment of nearly Rs500 crore from its internal accruals.
Mass pampering: Sanjay Jain, chairman of Floriana Group, at the launch of Lambency Chandan Sparsh Spa in Bangalore on 18 July. Apart from major cities, the company plans to enter tier II and III towns as well. (Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint)
The spa industry in India started expanding nearly a decade ago and has grown steadily. It has now diversified into a range of categories: resort spas, typically within a resort and mostly catering to resident guests; destination spas that offer lifestyle changes; day spas where one can get a quick treatment in a couple of hours; and medical spas that offer specific treatments.
The Floriana group’s Lambency Chandan Sparsh chain is primarily looking at a franchise model for growth along with a few company-owned outlets, and plans to penetrate most major cities and tier II and III towns as well. The company opened its first spa in Ahmedabad and launched the second one on 18 July in Bangalore. On the anvil are spas in cities such as Lucknow, Indore, Jammu, Surat and Jalan-dhar. Each spa is about 3,500 sq. ft in area and will see investment of around Rs2crore.
Jain is confident the model will work. “I am hoping to break even in 90 days after the opening of each spa, though the revenues would differ from city to city,” he said, adding that the Lambency Chandan Sparsh chain wants to make spas affordable and replicate the mass retail models of brands such as Subhiksha and Pantaloons, aiming to make it the biggest spa chain in India.
Success of spas will be determined by pricing and quality of services, says Jain. Though the spa industry has been traditionally concentrated in south India, the popularity of day spas have seen them mushrooming in metros, such as New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. “Appropriate pricing of such treatments is crucial in day spas, where you are basically encouraging people for a walk-in experience. Increasing real estate prices, extensive training of therapists and use of quality products pose a combined challenge to make such spa treatments at a competitive price,” said Jesper Hougaard, managing director of the Mangalore-based Serena Spa, and a director on the board of the US-based International Spa Association (ISA).
For example, a facial at your neighbourhood salon would be around Rs600. At spas such as Serena, they are priced at a minimum of Rs2,300, but day spas such as Lambency have taken the middle path, pricing a basic facial at Rs1,200.
While firm estimates on either the number of spas or the size of the industry is not available, Pranay Vakil, chairman of Knight Frank India, a property consultancy firm, said that with growing demand for health and wellness spas, a number of international spa management companies such as Angsana Resorts and Spa, Thai Privilege Spa Co. Ltd and Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts have come into the country.
Bangalore-based real estate developer Brigade Group, which is coming up with a Rs100 crore spa resort in Chikmaglur, has tied up with Singapore-based Angsana Spa and Banyan Tree to run it.
Says Vineet Verma, chief executive officer of Brigade Hospitality Services: “They have the expertise to manage and run such chains and so it is wise to rope them in for such ventures.”
“The ISA is planning to educate the spa community in India including spa owners and therapists more aware of the norms and making the parameters of running a spa more stringent,” says Houggard. “A beauty parlour offering some massages is not a spa.”