Ankit Rawat, Director Spa at the Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore, has a passionate take on the key elements that make an ‘it’ spa. He shares his meritorious journey of 15 years with Salon India
Please tell us about your professional background.
Before joining The Ritz-Carlton in Bangalore, I was with Ananda – In The Himalayas and have been associated with leading hotel chains such as, Raffles International Hotels and Resorts (West Indies), Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (Thailand), The Leela Kempinski Goa, The Westin Gurgaon-Sohna and JW Marriott Chandigarh. For the last 15 years, I have worked with globally recognised hotel chains and spas with a responsibility to drive their business and meet their respective goals. I am also a part of the pre-opening hotel team as that helps a property to establish brand’s benchmark along with setting the standards of Spa and Recreation facilities. Born and brought up in Rishikesh, I am a Post Graduate in Philosophy, Naturopathy and Traditional Holistic Wellness.
What inspired you to get into the wellness industry?
My first desire was to become a hotelier and a certified wellness practitioner. Post the Naturopathy course, I got an opportunity to work with Ananda – In the Himalayas, where I enhanced my learnings and experience. After more than a decade of experience, I am still passionate about trying out novel practises for my associates and guests. As a practise, whatever I learn or study, I apply it on myself first; only when I am confident of the result, do I share it with others.
What are the USPs of your spa?
It is a spacious set up of 17,000 square feet with an exclusive private spa suite with the facility of its own relaxation room, couple shower with steam bath, Jacuzzi with chromo therapy, personalised vanity area and beautifully decorated couple’s treatment room. There are 11 individual treatment rooms, separate facilities for men and women that are well equipped with steam bath, sauna, cold shower, thermal suite and digital lockers. Our range of therapies include western, traditional Indian, Thai and Asian therapies using renowned brands such as, Ila, Espa, Omrovicza, Gemology and Forest Essential. There is a state of the art fitness studio, an all-weather swimming pool with a private cabana as well as a salon by Rossano Ferretti.
What are the therapies offered?
Apart from various international and Indian therapies for beauty, body and healing, our signature treatment is Jaali. It is a four hand healing massage.
How do you stay ahead of competition?
In order to run any spa, one must have deep knowledge of Wellness as a whole – the concept, practice and philosophy must be clear. If one is working in a hotel, the person needs to be a disciplined hotelier first; second is the team – they must be cheerful, full of enthusiasm and mature to deal with issues of health, spirituality and more. They must be provided with proper training, coaching and counselling effectively; and finally, an understanding and awareness about the latest trend in the market, competitors, and most importantly, the different market segments, as different parts of the country demand different businesses. Being curiously aware of the customer’s need lends a personal touch to meet their expectations, which in turn, makes them loyal to you.
How do you educate clients on the importance of wellness?
We offer a personalised consultation before each treatment wherein therapists obtain detailed information about the guest’s health and recommend the treatment accordingly. Apart from this, we also have one-to-one sessions with the guest, moreso if they want more information or knowledge about any subject of wellness. Our dedicated fitness trainers are well educated and trained to carry out body analysis for the guest and create a workout plan as per the individual’s requirements. At the time of departure, we offer the home recommendation card which keep a guest aware of his or her wellness, and works as a reminder to be aware of themselves.
Please tell us about the different client engagement programmes offered by the spa.
We have several spa packages to celebrate our client’s special day with us. A monthly newsletter and weekly promotions are effective ways to keep our guest’s engaged. Time to time, we host a thanks giving high tea for our regular visitors and loyal guests. With our retail partners, we organise several events like salon day, spa product launch, fitness day, and so on. Apart from this, we invite our guests to various hotel events and activities.
What are the main challenges that you face?
First of all, I feel, finding the right talent and professionals is very difficult; secondly, these roadside spas are a challenge, as they are cheap and do not have professionals in the team; also they do not follow any norm or process. However, at the Ritz-Carlton, we ensure that everyone in the team follows a protocol. There are audits that take place from time-to-time which help us maintain the brand’s standard.
What are your views on the wellness industry?
Wellness industry is witnessing an all-time boom due to changing customer preferences and lifestyles. Over the years, I have witnessed many changes and mind-changing adaptability in people. The wellness industry has a lot of potential worldwide in every aspect be it revenue, employment, medical tourism, education, treatments, and so on. Unfortunately in India, there is hardly any recognition given to this profession and lack of basic education structure are the main reasons we have a dearth of professionals in this field. If we see worldwide, Wellness is a billion dollar industry growing with each passing day.