Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Kombai Fruit Farm visit - a must during your Thekkady Tour

After a sumptuous early morning breakfast if you could take off from Mayapott villa at Thekkady on an open jeep or a regular sedan car or an MUV as you prefer. A jeep drive makes the whole experience very different as you will feel the heat, the breeze, the smell of the soil and the warmth of people across the Kerala boarder in Tamilnadu.
The entire drive to Pottamkulam Farms in Kombai takes roughly 90 minutes . You would drive either by the Kumbam mettu check post or by the Kumily check post from to climb down through the Ghats to the  plains of Cumbam.  Cumbam and Theni districts of Tamilnadu is predominantly agricultural landscapes with several small yet vibrant vegetable and pulses markets spread across.  

A leisurely drive about  90 minutes from Thekkady , the seat of the Periyar wild life and Tiger reserve or the Kattappana Town the famous spice trading town of the high ranges of the Idukki district you would reach Kombai. During  this drive you climb down from an altitude of 4000 ft above MSL to  300 ft MSL.  During this drive you would come cross picturesque Tamilnadu planes. The agricultural boarder town called Cumbam is the first village town you would come across, followed by Uthamapalayam, Chinnamanoor and Kombai.  Life in the Tamilnadu planes is totally different from what you would have experienced across the Ghatts in the hill stations of Kerala. 

The Kombai fruit ( Pottamkulam) Farms belongs to the Pottamkulam family from Kanjirappally, Kerala. Mr. Varkey Goerge, the third generation planter’s family member is the custodian of the 170 acres fruit farm.  A very committed planter with passionate love for grapes and fruits. After his post graduation he joined the family business of running plantations across Kerala and Tamilnadu with his brother, Sri Jojo George. 

The days are normally dry and warm and the evening brings yon home a comfortable temperature as the sun settles down. As the agrarian society mainly focuses their life around raring cattle, growing vegetables, lentils and fruits and the complexity of technology is still slow. You would come across herds of cattle and group of bullock cart having a joy ride along road where farm tractors and public buses and modern cars are passing by. You would also come across simple village folk working in the orchards and vineyards with their Tiffin carriers (lunch packs) hanging out on a shaded tree. Their loud and lively talks will be mistaken by an outsider as if they are always fighting, their sense humor and kinesthetic tones of exchanges is a main feature of their vibrant life style. 

As you enter the gates of the Pottamkulam Farms what  welcomes is live gallery of images: the swaying coconut trees, lanes of mango trees and stretch of farm land till the farthest end  of the nearby hill called Salamai and there is a small temple on top. The 170 acres of farm has  50% mixed fruits like Alphonso variety mangoes, pomegranates, Chickoos, gooseberries, and varieties of tamarinds. The rest of the 50% equally divided for coconuts and table grapes.  the varieties of table grapes found here are:  Yielding varieties Paneer Muscat (black seeded), Red Globe (red seeded), Manik Chamin (green seedless). Soon to be yielding Sharath (Black seedless), Thompsun seedless (green seedless), Flame (Red seedless). During the harvesting season it is indeed a fulfilled experience to pluck grapes and walk along the narrow lanes of vines  with your fiancĂ©e, friends family and children – a truly romantic experience like the nostalgic  scenes in the Movie-“ Walking in the Clouds” immortalized by Keanu Reeves.

 The all fruits and grapes are branded as Sunbloom to maintain its distinct quality in the market. Mr. Varkey indeed very frankly shares to the visitors secret health hazard involved  in the unnatural and unethical method used by many for ripening mangoes using carcinogenic gas and chemicals. Whereas, as a principle Sunbloom brand strictly follows the organic ripening method . “Our mangoes are all alphonso variety. We do only natural ripening. Picking from the tree at the latest matured stage and ripened in hay to attain the maximum sweetness and taste.”  Says Mr.Varkey.

During your tour of the farm, encounter with the horses and pony will be a rare nostalgic experience. There are three horses; Garnet (English Throughbred), Aravan (Indian Kathiawari), Malooty (the cute pony). The stable is beautifully designed with green and white color tones, completely merging to the shades of the farm. 

In the afternoons the horse lunging : in which the horse is trained into Gait: the paces at which horses move, usually the walk, trot, canter, and gallop.  The graceful and royal movement of Garnet and Aravan listening to their master’s instructions like obedient kids during their martial arts drill. The pony carriage drive along the vineyard is a very romantic experience too especially for lovers and newly weds.

 Cycling in the tracks and hiking to the Salamalai could also be part of the itinerary during the farm tour. It will also be an excellent tent camping spot with lot of scope for farm and activity related tours.

 The stable


 In the very near future Pottamkulam Farm also will have a goat farm added to its gallery for the visitors. The outhouse and the one bedroom tented accommodation will be functioning as lunch andrefreshment center for visitors to relax after the farm tour

 The out-house roof top dining

Johnson Joseph : sisalwellness

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Mayapott stream and the River Periyar

 Mayapott stream and the magical powers of nature! 
Article Source
Mayapott villa being closely located at the seat of the Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Kattappana Cardamom village,it would be interesting to read about the origin of River Periyar along with Mayapott stream.

How big is river Periyar?

This river would be originating through Sundaramala and that is Sivagiri peaks, Tamil Nadu. It comprises of 240 kms length and it is having the catchment area of approximnately 5397 sq kms and out of this 5280 is present in Kerala. It would be flowing in north direction and Thekkady would be joining and it is the Periyar tributary. A Mullaperiyar dam has been constructed at Mullayar and Periyar confluence and that would be creating reservoir, lakes and national parks as well. Some of the water would be getting diverted in the east direction and that would be mainly towards Tamil Nadu and that would be done through the help of a tunnel and then it would be getting joined in Vaigai River. It would be flowing in north and west direction and that is mainly through Elappara, Vandiperiyar and Aiyyappankoil and that is formed through Cheruthoni, Kulamavu and Idukki.

Now, it would be flowing in north west and then at Vembanad lake that is present at Kochi. The Tamil Nadu area that is belonging to Periyar basin would be drained through Nirar tributary and then it would get diverted in inner-state Parambikulam-Aiyar project. This river would be getting bifurcated into Mangalapuzha and Marthandavarna branches. The former one would be joining Chalakkudy River and then it would be getting empty into Lakshadweep and then at the Munambam where as the latter one would be flowing in south direction and that is mainly through Udhyogamandal and then it would be joining in backwater Cochin system and that is at the varapuzha. It is having a towering height if 2694 m.

 What is the historical significance of  river Periyar?

River Periyar is also has witnessed advent of some historical spiritual leaders. The great Aadi Shankara had his origins at Kalady on the banks of river Periyar. St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, who spread Christianity in Indian soil also established the first Church on the banks of this holy river at Malayatoor, which is also the one of the greatest piligrim centres of Asia as far as Christianity is concerned.

 Also during the mid monsoon in the Malayalam month of Karkidakam, the Hindus of all sects offer homage to their departed souls at Aluva Shiva Temple, were the river splits and rejoins  at a mystical point with great vibrancy and magnitude. This is festival day is called the famous Karkidaka Beli or pooja.

 What does Mayapott mean?

Mayapott Villa is also blessed to be at the source and origin of river or contributory river to the Kattappana river that is located just 14 kms from  Thekkady town and the distance is only 25 minutes if you make a leisurely drive through picturesque and serene state high way – Kochi Kumily via Idukki.  The word Mayapott meaning mystical point is thus derived from the Tamil word Maya .. Mystery.

The source or the stream is still a mystery. From nowhere a stream appears underneath the gigantic boulders of around which the Villa is being conceptualized by the very creative and innovative architect Mr. Rajesh Pottamkulam.  The village where Mayapott belongs is called Kadamakuzy; and the elders of the village attribute some sacred powers to this stream.  Mayapott stream flows for about 8 kms and joins the Kattappana river and then to the  Erayattayar reservoir. And according to them the water has extra ordinary qualities and purity. Even during the peak summer days the trickling of the stream is alive. For travelers and guests who frequent Mayapott for their nature retreat, it has been very soothing spiritual experience; during their stay at Mayapott, weather it is for leisure family holidays, honeymoon, spiritual solitude or discovering themselves along with their close friends to re-bond a hibernating relationships or initiating children who are used only to the urban life style amidst modern concrete jungle; everybody has found this place heaven of solace in the lap of nature.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Story of Bottled Water (2010)

Cleopatra, the ultimate beauty queen and her wellness rendezvous

 Cleopatra the ultimate beauty Queen: Her milk baths and wellness rendezvous

Cleopatra, the iconic Egyptian queen was famous for her beautiful skin and almost perfect feminine features and vital statistics. Her secret was that she soaked in baths of fresh milk & honey. Modern laboratories now know why milk worked such wonders for her skin: The Greek historian Plutarch describes her alleged exoticism as “itself neither altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her” – but the legend of her radiant skin and beauty is anything but a mythical wonder.
Cleopatra VII was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty, ruling Egypt from 51 BC - 30 BC. She is celebrated for her beauty and her love affairs with the Roman warlords Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Cleopatra was born in 69 BC - 68 BC. When her father Ptolemy XII died in 51 BC, Cleopatra became co-regent with her 10-year-old brother Ptolemy XIII. They were married, in keeping with Egyptian tradition. Whether she was as beautiful as was claimed, she was a highly intelligent woman and an astute politician, who brought prosperity and peace to a country that was bankrupt and split by civil war. During her love affairs with the roman rulers Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, she had four children too. However, like many Hellenistic queens, she was passionate but not promiscuous. As far as we know, she had no other lovers other than Caesar and Antony. Many believe that she did what she felt was necessary to try to save Alexandria, whatever the price.

The lactic acid in milk is an alpha hydroxy acid, a natural material that dissolves the glue that holds dead skin cells together. Milk can cleanse the skin down to its deepest layers. A milk bath gives you smooth skin because of the vitamin A & D. The lactic acid in milk contains beta hydroxy acids which exfoliates your skin and gives it a healthy natural glow.
To achieve such smooth, supple skin, Cleopatra regularly soaked in milk baths, a luxury befitting only a queen; in today’s economy, milk isn’t cheap, and very few people without claim to a throne, crown, and royal subjects can afford such an indulgence. During your spice Tree Munnar, indulge yourselves in the therapeutic and relaxing spa sessions and the variety bathing experiences in the copper tub would be a unique romantic wellness rendezvous!
Our milk bath, however, isn’t just about healthy, glowing, exuberant skin. There are other benefits to this decadent escape that only Cleopatra was privy – until now. Take a look at these six reasons you should enjoy a relaxing bath tonight or during your stay at Spice Tree for honey moon holidays and for special occasions with your soul mate.This secret beauty formula couldn’t be simpler. Add 2 to 4 cups of fresh milk or buttermilk to the bathwater as the tub is filling. Soak for a good 20 minutes. Gently rub your skin with a washcloth or loofa to slough off the dead skin. Rinse your body thoroughly after soaking. Very hot baths are not good for those with high blood pressure, and they can be draining for anyone. Skip this bath if you are allergic to milk or are lactose intolerant.

 What are the benefits of Milk baths?
1. Release Tension
When you can’t find a good masseur, a warm milk bath is the next best thing to release the bodily tension that causes soreness, tenderness, and other unwanted aches. The heat increases elasticity in your body, allowing it to relax and loosen up. When you’re ready to get out, gently stretch your muscles to take full advantage of this tension reliever before letting your pains slip down the drain.

 2. De-Stress from the Day
It's common knowledge that a long soak in the tub allows you to relax and de-stress after a hard day, but did you know that the de-stressing effect of a warm bath is a scientific fact? A study from Osaka, Japan, confirms that after 60 minutes of bathing, subjects experienced a dramatic reduction in cortisol and chromogranin, two sensitive salivary stress markers. Of course, you may not have the time or stamina to soak for an hour, but if you take a shorter bath make sure that it’s uninterrupted so you can effectively find your happy place.
3. Induce Fatigue
If you have trouble sleeping, perhaps a bath before bedtime will help you drift off to dreamland. Fatigue is a common experience after a hot bath because when you’re in the warm water your body dilates your blood vessels causing less blood to reach your brain. In response, your heart speeds up to try to circulate your blood faster. Basically, this is your body’s attempt to cool itself when your body temperature rises, and the fatigue is nature’s way of telling you that your body needs to rest.
4. Expunge Toxins
Run bath water cool enough to prevent scalding but hot enough to make you sweat and you’ll release toxins from your body via perspiration.
5. Increase Circulation
When you bathe, the rate of nourishing blood cells traveling to damaged tissue increases allowing your blood to circulate more easily.
6. Boost Your Immune System

 Not only can the hot bath water potentially kill strains of bacteria that may be lurking on your body, but the stimulation of your vascular and lymph system will decrease the risk of colds and other infections as you wash your troubles away.

Johnson Joseph
Director, Sisal Wellness & Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Kochi
 Article source /blog

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Who is at fault, Natures Fury or Human atrocity?

Land slide and flood in Munnar!

Land slide at Kunchithanni near Rajakadu; is indeed a natures fury and helplessness of human power void of concern and care. The recent landslides during the heavy monsoon in Kerala and especially in the hilly Idukki district may seen in two different perspectives. 1. Over hyped - attention grabbing media presentation and 2. The Ground Zero reality show.

There were two major landslide incidents that occurred simultaneous. At Cheeyappara on the NH 49 and at Kucnhithanni junction near Rajakkadu. 15 kms distance from Munnar. The entire media including print has given and hyped up coverage on the Cheeyappara landslide similar to Solar heat wave, where as the Kunchithanni incident that claimed lives as well as several houses and shops was sidelined. 

The tourism advisory board as well the media should give pro-active warnings to tourists and travelers about the monsoon season and the geography of the hill stations. It is untimely to give warnings after some major accidents. All the vendors as well as tourists should be warned with visible signs about the dangers  near water falls especially in heavy rains. There were some incidents where couple of resorts affected day to day operations, especially in the Pothmedu side of Munnar. Hope this will bring some positive criticism to the ill- planned approved designs on construction in the ecologically fragile Munnar. The Flood water at Old Munnar is also call for serious future planning on bridges and canals for Munnar. The Tourism fraternity also needs to voice out the concerns as it affects the entire fabric of the industry.

 Munnar and Thekkady is well connected to Madurai air port. The news about Kochi airport shut down is glorified where as other options are not show cased! Travelers should be suggested options. We should not make ourselves a mockery of poor disaster management situation.At present the roads are cleared and is motor-able. There is no Utarakhand situation that exists in Idukki district, media should play their role very discrete as any news that is published for public attention would create ripple effect to the tourism industry as a whole which is the only sustainable industry in Kerala after politics!?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

A magic encounter with the Princess of Spices.

A magic encounter with the Princess of Spices

Source Article

" I would never describe it as spicy. Cinnamon is spicy. Ginger is spicy. Cardamom is not. I am at a loss for how else to describe the mysterious and exotic cardamom. No wonder the Arabs and the Europeans fought each other and among themselves to own this princess of the east."   

 It was indeed a one of a kind experience to walk amongst the green canopy of tall trees, listening to the exotic sounds and songs of birds; beneath the green canopy is the manicured and verdant cardamom plants. The aroma of the spices has always stimulated my mood, the color of a real red chilly is irresistible to any ordinary Indian palate and eyes; especially the aroma of cardamom – the princess among spices. On her behest a lot many wars must have been fought by the erstwhile kings.

After watching the movie “The Mistress of Spices” during a lone weekend I have decided that I should plan my next holiday to the spice villages in the Gods own country – Kerala. And Thekkady was a natural choice as it offered me a two-fold benefit of making an encounter with spices as well as going for a wild life expedition trek. However my priority was to the encounter with spices. While searching online for accommodations in Thekkady for several hours I ended at a point – Mayapott; a mystery point. A unique plantation heritage bungalow near the Periyar wild life sanctuary and at the heart of the Spice Villages of Idukki district.

My typical day started with a walk at 6:30 am, after sipping a cup of freshly brewed tea flavored with cardamom. It was a unique experience sipping the tea by the gurgling stream, a host of birds giving you company as if they have flown in to greet you a fine morning. The walk along the plantation trails was a walk of more than two hours to & fro leading to the curing centre. I always had thought that they used to pick the fruits from the top branches of the cardamom plant; As I had a close look at the plant for the first time, I noticed several stems at the bottom of the plants adorned with young green fruits and white-purple heart shaped flowers. And I could also see that a battalion of honey bees collecting the early morning nectar from the flowers before other lazy insects and bees could drop in. They were really doing a very responsible job, hovering from one flower to the other. I learned from the accompanying guide staff that the honey bees help in the pollination process more than the honey collection. Oh! What a simple link in the age old natural eco-chain. And it seems that if the number of bees dwindled during a certain period it can predict an infection to the plants in the near future. In a simple ecology everything relates to everything.

  I spend a quality time appreciating the cute tiny flower. At a glance it looked like a beautiful ear stud matching to my favorite pink chiffon saree I usually wear during weekend special celebrations in college. I tasted the fresh fruits offered by John, both young and the matured. The young fruits had several soft white seeds while the matured ones gave me a mellow sweet taste with black seeds in it. I cracked a couple of seeds in the mouth, within seconds the sweet wholesome aroma was playing different notes of low and high, creating a symphony of aroma to my taste buds that I had never ever experienced. The taste and scent of cardamom is hard to describe. It's very distinct and unique. If you're familiar with it, there is no mistaking it. If you're not familiar, then you might say it's floral with a hint a ginger. I would never describe it as spicy. Cinnamon is spicy. Ginger is spicy. Cardamom is not. I am at a loss for how else to describe the mysterious and exotic cardamom. No wonder the Arabs and the Europeans fought each other and among themselves to own this princess of the east.   
As I continued my morning walk, watching the organic fencing of hibiscus with lots of red and pink flowers, swaying and swinging in the morning breeze among the foliage of dark green leaves. I reached the cardamom curing centre (the oven place) and suddenly the irresistible aroma around me created a million goose bumps as if the princess of cardamom had tossed her magic wand around me, the aphrodisiac and appetizing flavor of cardamom wafted the whole air. There everyone breathed cardamom. Nothing else.    I felt light, exhilarated, my nostrils and taste buds could not but just give in to her majesty’s magic aura taking me to a mesmerizing world of enchantment. I went around the huge ovens that dried the fresh fruits and then to the polishing mills, and next to the special old house where women seated in the red oxide verandah sorted the dried cardamom in different sizes.

During my stay at Mayapott, I made almost three visits to the curing centre along the cardamom trails only to feel engulfed in the magic aroma of her majesty – the Princess of Spices.    

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Welcome to a world of well being …physical … mental … spiritual!

 It’s happened! Cried an elderly person in anguish as he sat playing bridge with some charming women, in a club on a fine evening.
“What’s happened?” asked the young woman next to him.  “A stroke: My left side is paralyzed.”
“Are you sure?” asked the young lady.
“Yes, yes,” groaned the elderly person. “I’ve been pinching my left leg for the past few minutes and feel no sensation whatsoever.”
“Relax!” said the young lady.  Further, she continued with a deep exhale as if she were in a yoga pose. “That was my leg you were pinching.”  It could be written off as a cartoonist portrayal of a bizarre and confused status of a mind, body and spirit.
Irrespective of the age factor a need for deep rest and recuperation that is often lacking in our over stimulated lives. Many lead overly busy lives where even time off is scheduled and dictated by what is trendy.  But quick fixes don't have lasting effects. We know that it's good to connect with nature and to simplify our material lives.  But exactly what does that take in practice? In the near future, a complete well being of mental, physical and spiritual status is not and will not be a choice for the tourists or international traveler alone. If only someone or something could take our pains and problems away; if only pampering or prescriptions were the answers. A spa for every home and wellness centre for every flat or community will become a necessity more than a luxury. Our ancestors very well realized and practiced it, well designed natural bathing ponds near to temples and houses were a classic example of this quest for wellness. The Romans, in the early centuries of BC have realized the same and their legions built their military camps at hot springs, where healing waters “poured forth.”      
In the recent past, tourism industry in general, particularly in Kerala has been giving a lot of emphasis to wellness. You cannot imagine an advertisement or feature on Kerala tourism without a depiction of the rich old traditions of ayurveda. In fact, a picture or a photograph of a ‘shirodhara’ or an abhyangam performed by a charming Saree clad Keralite woman has become a second symbol of Kerala tourism or the wellness tourism. Our rich traditional systems of healing practiced and perfected by the great sages and seers, show cases a gold mine of cultural heritage and proven system of knowledge on health and life style. As a matter of fact, at a Spa or wellness centre in Kerala, the West and East meets in unison, through a harmonious fusion in wellness – as a life style.   
As the health tourism in general and wellness industry in particular is enfolding us a very large canvas, a broader horizon of opportunities; it would be ideal to have a conceptual understanding of the same. Ayurvedic traditions do not treat a patient in parts rather it treats him/her as a person, from a holistic wellness point. However our common knowledge or notion about a spa or wellness centre quickly associates to the words reflection, rejuvenation, relaxation, revive etc, some of these adjectives are names of wellness centers in resorts and hotels as well. And very often they focus everything to one angle that is the therapy, treatment or the massage performed inside the four walls of a treatment room. This narrow notion is often misleading too; as it is sometimes attributed as cross gender massage etc. Hence it is imperative to understand a wider perspective about a wellness centre or SPA and the concept of holistic wellness.
According to Jonathan Paul De Vierville, Ph.D., director of Alamo Plaza Spa in San Antonio, Texas and the secretary of the ISPA Foundation and a member of the Medical Spa Advisory Committee: “Regardless of the spa type, the true purpose of spa is to provide, through some form of the waters, helpful health services and treatments that are relaxing, restful, regenerative and socially re-creative. To suggest or claim otherwise is missing the main meaning of spa. Spa is not a pampering escape or self-indulgent avoidance. It is a necessary way of life that consists of services, activities and therapies best done within the wholeness, harmony, balance and rhythms of nature’s blood and water. Unfortunately, the original intentions of spa are often lost in the immediate rush to retail and quota sales.”
The domains and dimensions of a SPA
The conventional school of thought focuses SPA as Solus per Aqua or Healing through water. In the recent past there is another school of thought that is treating or defining SPA from a Solus Per Art or healing through art concept which is becoming popular and it opens us a mine of opportunities as well.
Solus per Aqua – Healing through water

So, what really is “spa”? The origin of the word gives us a clue. Etymologically, spa is traced from the Latin verb “spargere,” to pour forth. Roman legions built their military camps at hot springs, where healing waters “poured forth.” Also, the acronym S.P.A., referring to salus per aqua (health through water), was scrawled on the brick walls of many Roman thermal establishments.
The origins and true definition of spa recognize and include an important cultural dimension and a social institution that provide for a place and time for not only healthcare services and therapeutic treatments, but also cultural activities, shared events, societal leisure, relaxation and renewal. All of these features in combination eventually spawned the emergence of the contemporary spa industry with its related professions and culture.
Fundamentally, a spa is an eco-socio-cultural learning community and civil institution that attempts to bring together and truthfully integrate all the dynamic dimensions of time and space, temperatures, touch and therapeutic treatments within a supporting context of goodness, beauty, harmony and wholeness of nature.
The 10 domains of Spa defined by ISPA (International Spa Professionals Association) is worth knowing for anyone, and especially for the professionals in the tourism industry.
1.    Waters: The internal and external use of water in its many forms. 'Water is nature's sense organ'. Let's extend our perception of water as a utility for drinking and washing to water as a vital medium for life, transformation, creativity, and healing.  Not only can it enhance our sense of wellbeing, it can also expand our inner and outer awareness, and inspire life-affirming action.
  1. Nourishment: What we feed ourselves: food, herbals, supplements and medicines.
  2. Movement: Vitality and energy through movement, exercise, stretching and fitness.
  3. Touch: Connectivity and communication embraced through touch, massage and bodywork.
  4. Integration: The personal and social relationship between mind, body, spirit and environment.
  5. Aesthetics: Our concept of beauty and how botanical agents relate to the biochemical components of the body.
  6. Environment: Location, placement, weather patterns, water constitution, natural agents and social responsibility.
  7. Cultural Expression: The spiritual belief systems, the value of art and the scientific and political view of the time.
  8. Social Contribution: Commerce, volunteer efforts, and intention as they relate to well-being.
  9. Time, Space Rhythms: The perception of space and time and its relationship to natural cycles and rhythms.
Our bodies generate heat through a variety of metabolic mechanisms from the food we digest and liquids we drink. We dissipate approximately 85 percent of body heat through the skin. The skin serves as the principal area of entry and exit for heat and cold within the body; the skin provides the primary link between the body’s temperatures and the brain’s hypothalamus. The two linking pathways between the skin and the hypothalamus are through the peripheral nervous system and the circulation system’s capillaries, the small lacework of blood vessels that reach from our fingertips to our toes.
Spa involves not only the role of the skin but also the rhythm of daily activities and nighttime sleep. Spa time and temperature touches the whole person in full time/space and energy. Spa is more than skin deep; spa is also deep dreaming sleep.

For a spa or wellness centre or destination spa resort to get qualified – it should be less technology based, simple and inviting; set at the backdrop of a natural ambience, because technology degenerates where as nature regenerates and there is a very big difference'.  'A spa is a place with the purpose of facilitating whole human health care, wellness and social well-being.’ Fundamentally, a spa is an eco-socio-cultural learning community and civil institution that attempts to bring together and truthfully integrate all the dynamic dimensions of time and space, temperatures, touch and therapeutic treatments within a supporting context of goodness, beauty, harmony and wholeness of nature.'

A Spa culture is a blending of four areas, and, for Jonathan, spa as culture encompasses all these:
  • Art - in terms of beauty and esthetics
  • Science and technology - what is repeatable and provable
  • Politics (including economics and law) - relationships and values
  • Spirituality - the mystical, invisible
It is saddening to note that the emphasis has shifted from spa culture to spa industry, slowly consuming and diluting the other three areas through commoditization, and the marketing of that which was previously sacred. Wellness loses its soul in retails and sustains when focused in service. The mushrooming massage parlors along with some of the well designed and run branded Spas in the resorts, hotels and day spas in different destinations across Kerala.

If Kerala is the God’s own country, with its age old cultural heritage in art, knowledge, wellness, naturally blessed landscapes with fresh water bodies, pristine costal lines, inviting mountains; and above all as a spiritual hub of cohesive living could very well be qualified as the ‘The World Spa”. This could be achieved with minimum investments, coupled with a commitment for the genuine wellness of people and our fragile environment, a passion for wellness education, a societal acceptance of the wellness industry without ambiguities, as a respectable and value added profession worth cherishing. Welcome to a world of wellbeing in Kerala; physically … mentally and spiritually; encompassing its magnificent mountains, sensual backwaters, pristine beaches and its vibrant culture and heritage.

Johnson Joseph
Founder Director – Sisal Wellness & Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Kochi, Kerala, India