Off with the knots!

RASHEEDA BHAGAT | Updated on December 31, 2011



Long hours on a chair, however comfortable, before the computer screen, can only have a negative impact on the body. Forget making your eyes puffy and tired, it makes the muscles tense and the blood circulation tardy by sending tons of toxins into your body. Your back takes the maximum beating with the stress of day-to-day life, be it home or the workplace, compounding the damage by forming knots all over your body, particularly the back.

So my first choice of spa at the spectacularly beautiful Marriott Resort and Spa in Goa was the Deep Renewal Massage that promised to work deep on the tissues, concentrating especially on the back. Of course, when my therapist Lucy said this was mainly meant for sportspersons who did vigorous workouts, I mumbled something apologetically about my not-so-vigorous, but nevertheless determined treadmill sessions in the gym.

Toxins galore

Very soon she gave me a certificate, not on my fitness but on any number of toxins having wreaked havoc in my system, by observing: “Your back is full of knots… I will have to do something about it”.

Soon after, her expert fingers were probing, exploring, prodding the knots, and as she pressed on the sore point on the upper back, with considerable pressure, I could feel the pain, and along with it, hopefully, the toxins too, exiting the body.

Apart from those who spend long hours at their workstations/computer tables, the deep relaxation massage is also recommended for travellers who've taken long and exhausting flights. But a word of caution; opt for it only if you can take a fair bit of pressure. At times I could feel Lucy having a go at the knots on my upper back with her elbows, and I had to restrain myself from letting out tiny yelps of pain! The oil she used for the massage was a blend of peppermint oil and basil, which smelt heavenly.

Moncy Joy, the chief therapist at the Quan Spa — the signature spa of Marriott hotels — explains that knots get formed in the body in the first place because toxins get absorbed in the muscles and disturb the blood circulation. “Knots that creep into your system, thanks to long hours of tension and work at the computer table, can be coaxed out by regular massages, exercise, particularly breathing exercises, and plenty of water,” he says encouragingly. During the deep tissue massage, thumb pressure is applied on individual knots to get them out of the body.

Needless to say, that night I slept like a baby and woke up in the morning fresh and energised to swim so many laps in the resort's delightfully large infinity swimming pool, nestling between the swaying coconut palms and the sea, that I got a compliment from the bartender at the pool: “Ma'am most of the guests just do one or two laps and then stretch out with a beer or a book. You are a rare guest who has spent so much time inside and not around the pool!”

Goan magic

Very soon it was time to sample the second session, and there was not much difficulty in zeroing in on the Goan Magic experience, as this is a fusion of western, Thai and Ayurvedic massage and is the signature treatment at this hotel. Indu was my therapist and began the 90-minute treatment with a 10-minute stretch session “to loosen the body and relax the muscles. She explained how this treatment had incorporated the Swedish part of a massage “which works on the body part by part. While an Ayurveda massage is done with long strokes across the back, in a Swedish massage the movements are shorter and slow and over individual parts.”

The best part of this massage was the application of a warm herbal compress — basically a cloth bundle filled with all kinds of herbs. As it is pressed on different parts of the back, the powdered herbs seep through, sending some really great soothing, healing vibes.

Pavithran Nambiar, General Manager at this resort, says demands of travellers are increasing and spa experiences and workouts in the gym are part of heightened expectations. “We are a 180-room hotel and historically a resort destination would not have put a lot of focus on the gym. But we have designed a beautiful, large gym which is not at the back of the hotel in a corner. It is at the front, looking out on the garden.”

He says that 10-15 years ago people would use a holiday break as an opportunity to stop their workout regime, indulge and then resume exercising after returning home. “But these days, people not only continue to work out, some guests even intensify their workout regime because they've got time.”

Similarly spa experiences have now become very popular among travellers in the luxury segment. The five spa rooms at this resort are spacious; “we wanted to give the feeling of luxury and there is nothing more luxurious than space.” The spa includes a special room for couples and, naturally enough, there are special spa packages for honeymoon couples. Apart from this, there are the pre-treatment rooms and relaxation rooms after the treatment is over. Nambiar is happy that the gym and spa have become a huge hit with the local as well as in-house guests.

An interesting package on offer here is the three-hour Celebration Wedding Ritual, “to calm pre-wedding stress, or take some time out together for a post-reception break.” Joy explains that this begins with a body polish or scrub to remove dead skin and is followed by a 60-minute aroma-fusion massage, a facial and bath with milk and rose petals! It costs Rs 12,000, but then, in an era where marriages cost the earth, this seems like pittance. Nambiar adds that 75 per cent of his guests are Indians and, “what is even better, 95 per cent of our premium guests are Indians. They are checking into suites, buying malt whiskey and eating lobster.”

The Quan Spa has also introduced an interesting concept — a massage lesson for couples. During the 90-minute treatment, the couple learns how to give a massage to each other, and Joy says this is getting quite popular.


Quan Spa offers four different kinds of facials; a detoxifying facial for dry skin; a brightening facial for sun-damaged and pigmented skin, which Joy says removes all kinds of pigmentation and spots; one which is specially tailored for men (called Handsome, nothing less!) and Cold Marine Facial for sensitive skin or skin allergic to different kinds of products. The last one based on marine algae and plant extract is specially suited for fragile skin and incorporates “a clay mask with mint essence to reduce redness.”

When it was my turn to go for a facial, I promptly opted for the “brightening one”, wanting to return home with a new look, but only to be chastised by Lucy. She said firmly: “You already have a fair skin and that is enough. Only people with dark skin tones or spots should undergo that facial; for you I recommend a detoxifying facial.”

And so I returned home with both… a detoxified body and hydrated face, with numerous spots and pigments that are, hopefully, visible only to me!

Published on November 24, 2011

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