It was Anne’s first day at the Tahaa Spa. A Thai national in her early 20s, she had been a masseur in Bangkok, she tells me in broken English, while preparing for an hour-long therapy for my distressed spine.
A surreal afternoon—right in the middle of a working Wednesday, I rushed to one end of the city for a spa treatment, then returned to meet the day’s deadlines, grinning. Yes, it’s possible in Lounge.
Tahaa officially opened in June at Napean Sea Road without much brouhaha. It is a small, three-room spa with a pedicure and manicure cabin on the side, and an open-air sitting space in front with bamboo-columned walls. Its owner, Nari Mehta, an industrialist in his 50s, has been a spa enthusiast for years, and if you happen to see him watching TV at the spa’s mini lounge, he is most likely to strike up a conversation with you. He will give you a complete lowdown on the origins of the Swedish massage and how Asia, especially Thailand, imported it and made it their own, why Hungarian mud is the best in the world for mud wrap therapies, or what exotic flowers go into a Thai detox therapy. Mehta got work permits for the four therapists he has brought down from Bangkok.
Anne specializes in the Balinese massage, a 72-minute session that involves acupressure, stretching, an aroma oil massage (your choice of oil, from tangerine and lavender) and a steam and shower. The walls of the treatment rooms, each with a built-in sauna and shower room, are painted pristine white. There is little trace of design flourishes, which may not attract some, considering the spas we are familiar with in five-star hotels are known as much for their stylish interiors as what’s on their menu.
The good stuff
Fingertips, knuckles and elbow moved in perfect harmony for the massage that produced a few faint creaking sounds from my neck and back muscles. They were slightly knotted, as my therapist told me later.
Tahaa’s other areas of expertise are the Therapeutic Deep Tissue Work (75 minutes) and the Detox Therapy (75 minutes). For these, you need to take a prior appointment because the preparations require time. Dried assorted herbs made of flowers such as acacia, wild rose and jojoba are wrapped in small cloth pouches and soaked in warm water for a couple of hours. At the time of the therapy, they are dipped in hot oil and applied on the body with a stipulated degree of pressure. The other therapies are the usual spa staples—aromatherapy massage, mud therapy, foot massage, back massage, wax manicure and pedicure, and others. Tahaa is small, intimate and geared towards specific needs in an affordable range of prices. And, of course, you are transported to a mini Thailand on Malabar Hill.
The size of the space could put you off. The three treatment rooms are next to each other, and could make you feel boxed in. It is too concentrated on massages and lacking in elaborate beauty treatments, although a basic spa facial is available.
Shortened versions of most of the treatments—Express Manicure, Express Foot Therapy and Express Back Massage—are available in the range of Rs300 to 900. The Detox Therapy and the Deep Tissue Work are for Rs2,500. The rest are in the range of Rs900 to 2,200. They are yet to include the Balinese massage on the menu.