Quan Spa, JW Marriott, Mumbai
Luckily, you may enjoy facilities at Quan Spa at Mumbai’s JW Marriott hotel even if you’re not a hotel guest. Quan is a luxurious, well thought-out and designed space, with staff more than eager to please. As I entered, I immediately felt the cool serenity and vibe of an international day spa. Before I finish my welcome drink, a saffron iced tea, it’s obvious that subtle attention to detail has gone into the spa’s aesthetic appeal. Ayurvedic therapies form a significant part of Quan’s offerings though there are plenty of other treatments: massages, facials, body polishes, scrubs, wraps and masks. And, this is not just a place for women; I saw more men the day I was there.
The good stuff
Quan (Chinese for source of water) makes you feel well-entrenched in the world of pampering from the moment you arrive. Space, ambience and all the spa’s facilities are outstanding. I opted for an Aroma Fusion massage because it’s the spa’s signature treatment. The massage therapist was courteous, discreet and had her spa etiquette down to a tee. The massage (Swedish) was good. Not amazing, but good. The massage room was beautiful and warmly lit, and unlike many other massage rooms, spacious. Clients facing down on the massage table gaze at a glass disc with a chakra on it, lit from underneath with a candle.
Quan is very particular about letting you know exactly what you are in for. So, while I was disappointed that my massage did not include a head massage, I was informed of this twice before my treatment started.
Facials here are very different from those in a salon. Quan’s Vichy shower and lovely jacuzzi are pluses. While I didn’t try the shower because it usually goes with a scrub or body wrap, there’s something quite delightful about being gently pummelled by multiple shower heads while you lie on a soft table. Most of the products used at Quan are from Thalgo, high-end French cosmetics made from marine algae and other plants; and they smell heavenly. And, if a couple wants to be pampered together, the couple’s treatment room is fantastic.
A spa can’t rest on the laurels of its philosophy, equipment, facilities and high-end beauty products, so I do wish the actual massage had been a cut above, like the spa’s aesthetic.
My full body massage without a face massage left me with a slightly incomplete feeling, but I had been warned. My post-massage shower started off beautifully, with a powerful overhead shower that had been set to the perfect temperature. However, within a few minutes, the bathroom was flooded and I was standing in over two inches of water, which kept rising till I turned off the shower and waited. Great European concept, poor Indian plumbing!
And finally—this is a personal Indian hospitality industry peeve, but let me air it anyway—after a good massage or relaxing treatment, it’s a bit irritating to answer six staff members separately asking the same question, “how was your massage?” Perhaps only one of the three employees at reception could ask, instead of all three doing so separately.
While prices at Quan are high-end, they are on par with other hotels in the city. Note that many well-known spa resorts around the world charge around the same. The Aroma Fusion massage I had is priced at Rs3,000. Other full body massages cost a bit more, with the most expensive being the Earth Stone massage (Rs4,900). For facials, expect to shell out Rs3,750; and around Rs3,000 for body wraps.
Mad Over Donuts, Noida
Some time has elapsed since the days when I’d stumble out of bed on a weekend and head to the bakery for doughnuts to get my morning sugar and carb fix. That was during college in the US, and while the subsequent return to the homeland saw the burger and pizza chains and the submarine sandwich deli follow in my footsteps, the doughnuts had long since become memories. For what was on offer at the sundry bakeries and cafes in the city tasted more like stale white bread.
So, it was with a bit of anticipation and apprehension that I headed to Mad Over Donuts (MOD) at the Great India Palace mall in Noida.
The good stuff
I needn’t have worried. The first bite of the custard chocolate doughnut (the one which doesn’t have a hole in the middle) and I was transported back in time. It tasted just right—the custard filling, the chocolate glazing, but, more than anything else, the dough. Once they have got that basic element right, what’s left, I’d imagine, is the easier task of getting the various glazings and fillings right. Which they do—whether it was the sugar glazing in the classic doughnut or the coffee mousse filling in what has been christened Perk-Me-Up, or the strawberry compote filling in Blush Factor. The novelty for me was that three of the 17 varieties on offer are actually not sweet—I sampled Mama Mia, which had herbs sprinkled on cheese, and it tasted great. Also worthy of mention is the scrupulous attention to cleanliness and hygiene.
The Almond Einstein with almond shavings and some creamy glazing didn’t taste so great. And, why no credit cards? Surely not to deter people from buying too many?
A dozen will set you back by Rs300 plus taxes. A single doughnut costs Rs30 plus taxes, except for the classic sugar doughnut which costs Rs25 plus taxes.