The aroma of soothing flowers and herbs, the sound of peaceful Oriental instrumentals, and a creative and relaxing interior — this is an accurate picture of a trendy spa in town. Around a decade ago, the concept of a spa was almost non-existent even though there were plenty of salons and beauty parlours. In those days, thalgo treatments that do wonders for your skin, or aromatherapy massages that relieve the stress building up in your upper and lower back, were unheard of.
Things have changed drastically, and for the better. Gone are the days when a home-bound ‘maalish waali’ would be sufficient to help you make it through an aggravating day. Women now spend days off from home or work at a relaxing spa that offers salon services. Facials are not only a luxury taken prior to Eid or a wedding, but have become a necessity after every fortnight. This makes one wonder — how have these spas so quickly proliferated into our society?
Rukaiya Adamjee of Rukaiya Salon and Spa suggests two prominent reasons, “It is probably because people are traveling more to places like Thailand and other Asian cities, where they have tried these facilities and enjoyed them,” she says. “Or it could be that women have stopped feeling guilty about pampering themselves and have more disposable income now.”
With lives in urban centres getting busier than ever, Hina Shah Farid, a specialist in Caci treatments at Blush Spa and Salon, feels that spas offer a great opportunity to unwind. “As our lives are getting busier day by day, we need a place to relax, unwind and get rid of the stress from our hectic schedule — whether it’s household chores, children, traffic or work,” says Hira. “Spas just offer all that we need to pamper ourselves and rejuvenate our bodies. Other than that, they are also outlets where ladies can socialise and catch up with friends,” she adds.
Considering the amount of money spent on spa services — between Rs2,000 and Rs25,000 — it seems that only affluent members of society can afford the facilities. However, Afreen Shiraz of Ellemint Pret disagrees. “Spas are not only for the elite. They are for anyone who needs a break from their daily routine and wants to feel pampered and relaxed. They offer a great escape from stressful lives through rejuvenating your body and mind and improving your total well-being,” she says. Adamjee, too, differs from the notion that only women belonging to higher income brackets indulge in spa treatments.
While massage options were earlier limited to foot or body massages, there are innumerable variations today. But why are they gaining so much popularity and how are they beneficial? Shiraz says, “Massages not only relax the muscle but also improve blood circulation. Certain techniques also help remove toxins from the body.”
Clearly, the rising number of spas is an influx of foreign culture, since Pakistan has not always been familiar with it. “Relaxation methods in spas go back to ancient times, however, since the Far East is closest to our region, it can be said that we have been inspired by them,” says Shiraz. However, Shah, on the other hand, asserts that it is surely an inspiration from the Far East.
So far, there about 15 popular spas in Karachi, excluding the countless spas which are open in private houses. Do we then see a growing industry? Shah says, “Apparently, it seems that there will be more spas and salons and less houses! On a serious note, the way things are now, the spa trend will certainly be booming. But only spas that maintain their standards and the quality of products used will succeed.”
Shiraz, too, feels that the spa culture will continue to pick up in the metropolitan city. “The spa culture is certainly growing in Karachi. Salons have expanded into mini spas and I feel that in the next five years almost all reputed salons will offer spa facilities,” she says.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.
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