Sanghvi, the director of Sanghvi Brands, a premium salon and spa operator from India which counts Spa L’OCCITANE, Spa by CLARINS, Warren Tricomi Salon & Spa and ELLE Spa & Salon in its global portfolio, did not, however, lose hope. The key is to survive cash flow needs over the next one year, she said, as restrictions ease and people feel the need to step out.
“I genuinely believe there is going to be a lot of need for mental well-being. The pandemic has taken a severe mental toll on people – not being able to leave their home, not being able to interact with family and friends… changing the way we do every little thing has taken a huge emotional and mental toll,” she said.
Only two of her spas – The L’Occitane Spa at the JW Marriott in Mussoorie, and the Clarins Spa at the W Goa, have opened so far.
The entire health and wellness sector comprising spas, gyms and fitness centres, which prides itself on a ‘healing’ or ‘personal touch’, reeled for months on end as the pandemic continued to rage, but there seems to be a glimmer of hope now as service providers across the board are hoping to win back customers through new and revamped strategies.
They are offering treatments that minimize face-to-face interactions, virtual workouts, holistic wellness and retail products promising better immunity.
On October 5, Cure.fit said its popular Cult.fit centres would reopen in multiple cities with new safety guidelines.
Cure.fit said it had reopened 25 centres in September and would reopen more this month across Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai, Gurugram and Hyderabad, besides its Fitness First centres in Delhi/NCR.
During the lockdown, Cure.fit had shifted all its classes online and the company said its virtual, live home workouts would continue even after the centres reopen.
Of course, how the chain used to interact with and service its customers will obviously not be the same as before, said Naresh Krishnaswamy, growth and marketing head, Cure.Fit.
“We have implemented a protocol called Cult CARES, which highlights new changes like controlled access, allotted workstations with sanitised equipment, replacing common touch-points with touchless set-ups, extensive sanitisation and social distancing at all times,” he said.
“Even as lockdown restrictions have eased, we have been cautious about reopening our offline businesses… Our digital pivot, meanwhile, has helped us keep the business afloat and active even as we are in the process of reopening,” Krishnaswamy added.
Neha Ahuja, founder of luxury and spa wellness consultancy Kaashi Wellness, said people will work on a 70% self-help programme for the next one year and that there would be longer gaps before they return.
Ahuja had to close down her wellness centres in Varanasi and Mumbai due to the outbreak.
She is now betting on e-commerce sales of products like the Kaashi energy drink mix and has also tied up with restaurants like Earth Cafe @Waterfield in Mumbai for sales.
Elsewhere, the Taj Rishikesh Resort & Spa in Uttarakhand, an hour’s drive from Rishikesh and located in the middle of a forest, has been operational for the past two months and is back to business with its wellness retreats.
“The government guidelines have given us new protocols for therapies. We are offering guests the option of open-air therapies as every treatment room has open air areas. People are preferring treatments like back massages to avoid face-to-face interactions,” said Devraj Singh, general manager of the property, which also houses IHCL’s Jiva spa brand.
“Every treatment room is kept vacant for one hour, fumigated and sanitized for the next treatment. The chefs have developed wellness cuisines and menus that can be curated as per guest requirements. Experiences are getting more immersive,” Singh added.
IHCL’s senior VP for global sales and marketing, Renu Basu, added that the chain was ‘hyper-focused’ on providing extreme levels of hygiene and personalized care through frequent sanitization, social distancing, and use of protective gear for both associates and guests at its Jiva spas.
Jiva spas are located at hotels in London, Cape Town, Maldives, Dubai, Bhutan and Lusaka (capital of Zambia), besides India.