I headed off to the pool and gym, while Sybaritic Spy planned to visit the spa to have an ayurvedic treatment (appropriate, as in India). However, after a busy week's work, one look in the mirror convinced her that she needed help before appearing in public ever again. She booked the brightening facial, which turned out to be very much more than a facial.
In the peace and calm of the Oberoi's Mumbai spa, the treatment started with foot washing in a copper bowl sprinkled with rose petals. The bowls are copper because copper is believed to purify the water, and rose petals feature because... Well, just because rose petals look lovely!
Savvy, our Spy's therapist, began the facial with a cleanse, then another cleanse, then a third cleanse, this time using warm foaming products to make skin feel super clean. A creamy face pack followed and, while this worked, Savvy left the room without saying so. This always worries the Spies a little, as we are never sure if we are just meant to drift off to sleep -- and risk being caught snoring -- or when or even if our therapist will return.
"Thankfully," reports Sybaritic Spy, "Savvy did return to remove the face mask and do clever things with the area around my eyes. Dark circles are certainly ageing; as I had been travelling and had little sleep, my dark circles were rather noticeable. But much applying of unguents and gentle tapping seemed to do the trick. The end result of all these ministrations was that my skin looked much brighter and I looked wide awake and alert."
The gym at the Oberoi Mumbai is light and airy, with sun streaming in through the windows most days, white towels, plenty of water, and enough machines and weights to keep hotel residents happy. The outdoor pool is small, and only sees the sun for part of the day, so for instant uplift, the spa is your best bet.
A day or two later, after endless meetings and a flight to Delhi, we found ourselves in need of some more spa R&R. The Oberoi Gurgaon is an oasis of a business hotel in this busy and bustling district, with reflective blue pools, green gardens, and bright yellow loungers around the outdoor pool. As usual, I headed off to the gym while Sybaritic Spy sent herself spa-wards.
The outdoor pool in garden surroundings is longer than an Olympic pool, so you can certainly feel proud of yourself if you get your lengths in here. The gym is also challenging: plenty of resistance machines, but also free weights and on-hand personal trainers. Try the free yoga sessions every morning (except Mondays).
- The outdoor pool at The Oberoi Gurgaon
The spa has large treatment rooms, each with its own steam room and shower. The spa treatment menu offers seven very different ayurvedic treatments. Sybaritic Spy opted for the Hot Herbal Poultice, not just because she could pronounce the name -- easier than Padabhyanga or Shiroabhyanga -- but also because she loved the idea of little bags of hot herbs pounding her muscles into relaxation. A word of warning here: this treatment is not for wimps. As our Spy reports:
"My therapist, Heibom, took one look me and politely suggested that she would keep the massage at the soft and medium level. I am very glad she did as it was pretty hard-core stuff. Only once did I give in and request a more gentle massage and that was oddly enough on my shins where there is little muscle to be massaged.
"The herbal poultices are hot, hot, hot. A couple of times I had to resist yelping. As your therapist taps each poultice onto your skin, you just have long enough to think: 'Ooh, that is hot,' and then the poultice moves to the next area. Once the poultices cool a little, your therapist uses them in sweeping strokes to massage your skin. The bags are slightly rough so they also stimulate blood-flow as they go. I could almost feel my dry and dusty layer of top skin sloughing off. The massage that followed was deep and firm. Heibom found the knots in my shoulder muscles and worked on them several times. She made a noticeable difference to the tightness of those muscles. The treatment finished with a head massage, then Heibom invited me into the steam room for a ten-minute steam, while a final shower removed the excess oil and allowed me to cool down.
"My skin felt wonderful: smooth, conditioned, zingy. I felt both relaxed and energised which, given I had been travelling for over a week and India is hot and dusty, was a great result."
- Flowers abound at The Oberoi hotels
Sybaritic Spy places the Hot Herbal Poultice in her TOP THREE SPA TREATMENTS EVER.
We agreed that a hot herbal poultice would be the perfect treatment for a cold winter's day -- and isn't so bad when its 30 degrees outside, either. Luckily, no matter the temperature, or what time of the day or night you arrive in The Oberoi Gurgaon, you can schedule a little herbal revitalisation for your body and soul: the spa is open 24 hours.
(PS: We paid for our treatments ourselves. Well worth the money!)
14th March 2014
Warm floors when you put your bare feet upon them; heated treatment beds; soft towels; attention to detail, so that your treatment room looks and smells beautiful when you arrive in it.
Cold floors when you put your bare feet upon them; therapists who use your treatment time to write up a list of product "recommendations" that they hope you will purchase.
Behind the scenes