A Balinese massage at Sohum Spa in Gokulam Grand Hotel & Spa in Bengaluru is the best way to pamper yourself.
The spa is designed by architect Kaushik Mukherjee, and has a design philosophy inspired from the ancient temple architecture of Southern India. A statue of Sri Dhanvantari (the God of Health) made out of local stone, right at the entrance opposite the reception welcomes you to the spa.
The spa is divided in various functional sections like reception, consultation room, ayurvedic massage rooms, facial rooms, hydrotherapy area, salon and relaxation room. Each room has mythological animal figures signifying different moods in each room. The spa has an old world charm that is reinforced through the decor that has textures of old stone, old timber, kalamkari designs on the ceilings and beaten copper. Incidentally, the ceiling murals have the tree of life motif by famous Kalamkari painters from Machilipatnam and the work has been done by a NGO that works to uplift village artisans.
The treatment rooms have muted lighting that is controlled through the use of soft linen blinds behind louvered shutters and a painted ceiling hung with a white panel on above the treatment bed. Ceramic sculptures by artist Rahul Modak depicting artefacts like ayurveda jars and containers have been used to liven up the timber screens as dividers between various spaces inside the spa.
I am welcomed at the spa with an organic cold tea made with cranberry and apple that is comforting. I am first asked to fill a consultation form where I list out the areas I need my therapist to focus. Since I opt for a medium pressure massage, I am recommended the traditional Balinese massage which is a continuum of relaxing acupressure, skin rolling and firm, smooth strokes along specific energy channels. This ritual is a confluence of the best of healing traditions of erstwhile Siam, China and India.
My therapist Namita from Assam shows me to my room and asks me to change. Once done I am asked to soak my feet into a bowl of warm water with rose petals and I am given a soothing foot scrub. After patting my feet dry, she asks me to lie face down and covers me with a towel. As I settle in, I notice an urli with beautiful marigold in orange and yellow on which the sun rays are streaming in. The beautiful sight immediately has a calming sense on my mind.
The massage begins with a high pressure dry massage where Namita starts from my foot and reaches my neck massaging my entire body on the towel. This gets me ready for the oil massage to follow. Using aromatic aromatherapy oil with an olive oil base she first starts massaging my back using firm strokes with her hands, palms and even fingers applying pressure with her thumbs. She massages both the left and right side of my back using elongated strokes and then moves to my legs and uses her hands deftly to remove all the strain and stress from the muscles.
After my hands are massaged, I am asked to turn over and my legs and hands are massaged again. She then asks me if I need an oil or dry massage on my head and as I opt for the latter Namita carefully massages my forehead and head that feels deeply relaxing. Post the session, she wipes off all the oil using a hot towel. It is ideal to retain the oil for a few hours unless you need to shower immediately so that the oil is well absorbed into the pores. Post the session I feel relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to take on work headlong.
My therapist Kusum from West Bengal shows me my treatment room that interestingly has panelled mirrors on the ceiling. After I change, Kusum asks me to sit and gives me a back massage. Interestingly she first touches my head and back very lightly almost like a feather touch and slowly raises the pressure to give me a dry massage that sets the tone for the relaxing ritual to follow. My feet and hands are also given a hot towel rub and it feels instantly relaxing. Once done she asks me to lie face down and starts with a deeply relaxing pressure point massage across the back of my neck and shoulders using a fragrant massage moisturizing cream.
The therapist begins the facial by first spraying an aromatic mist over my face. Then she starts with a cleansing routine where she first neatly applies the cleanser on my face and neck and that is neatly wiped off after a deft massage. She then applies a toner so that all the open pores are closed. Once done she applies a scrub with a brush and leaves it for 10 minutes. At this time, she gives me an invigorating leg massage using a massage cream and then uses a warm towel to wipe it dry. Once the scrub is removed, she uses a toner once again and pats the skin dry with a paper towel.
Following this, the miracle mask is applied and while this takes 10 minutes as well, I am given a relaxing hand massage. The mask is then massaged into my face using professional strokes – a technique to permeate into the skin. Her strokes are firm yet relaxing and synchronize perfectly to ensure all my facial muscles are rejuvenated completely. A deep head massage ensues that feels like bliss. The last step in the facial is the application of the award winning serum and face moisturizer with sun protection to lock in the hydration.
After the session, my face looks radiant and the effect of the facial is immediately visible. This 90 minute session is a must do so make sure you make your appointment and flaunt your new look.