October 18th 2021

Inspiring Indulgence

Whether your stay at the Four Seasons is defined by daily spa visits, or you only want to treat yourself to that one special wellness experience that revives and soothes every inch of your body, the Indian Ceremony of Indulgence should be on your ‘must-do’ list. 

Signature treatments are the DNA of a spa, the special attractions that differentiate one spa from another – and the Four Seasons Shiseido Spa has recently added another one to its menu: the 90-minute Indian Ceremony of Indulgence. This Four Seasons exclusive was developed, tested and fine-tuned over several months by Spa Manager Anna Donovan and her team. 
The treatment involves the trained touch of flowing hand strokes, the fragrant smell of Indian spices, the sound of soothing instrumental music, and the taste of herbal teas you’ll be sipping at the end of your treatment. The combination is not random; Anna was after a very specific result: “I wanted to achieve that overall feeling of balance, and I wanted to get there along a path that could be customized, according to each guest’s ‘dosha’.”

What’s your dosha?
As the name suggests, the Indian Ceremony of Indulgence has its roots in the Indian subcontinent, drawing on the principles of Ayurveda – the philosophical and spiritual holistic health tradition that focuses on disease prevention through lifestyle, exercise, treatments and nutrition. Although this top-to-toe massage treatment is strictly speaking not an Ayurvedic massage, it is based on the Ayurvedic theory that each person belongs to one of three mind/body types – the so-called ‘doshas’. Most people have one predominant dosha, though some are identified as tri-dosha. 
“We start with the Prakriti analysis – similar to a lifestyle and medical questionnaire – to determine the person’s dosha, or constitution,” says Anna.
Anna is happy to explain the differences in detail, but to summarize: VATA type defines individuals with high metabolism, who are hyperactive in thoughts  and energy levels, and usually slim. A PITTA type person is usually of medium body build, athletic with good muscle tone, fiery and temperamental. If you have a caring, nurturing nature, are easy-going and tend to put on weight, you’re like to fall into the third category, the KAPHA type. So, why does all this matter? Depending on your dosha, Anna will blend a corresponding mix of spices and combine it with a base oil to define the treatment and achieve the desired physical and mental balance when these spices are absorbed by your skin.

From toe to top
The 3-part treatment starts with a foot-cleansing ceremony. As warm sesame oil is drizzled on your lower legs, a blend of spices – including  desiccated coconut, cumin, coriander, star anise, cardamom, fennel seeds – is sprinkled on the oil before your feet are tenderly scrubbed and exfoliated. The effect of starting with the feet cannot be overstated, as it flows upwards, preparing you for the full-body massage, one side of the body at a time, addressing the legs, back, neck and back of the head. Main long strokes alternate with mini-strokes, before you are turned over to repeat the process on the front of the body. 
The final stage of this dance of the hands is dedicated to the head, starting with a pressure point face massage, followed by a warm hair mask and scalp massage, ending with the quintessential Indian treatment – the Shirodhara. This slow and thin drizzle of warm oil on your forehead (the third eye) lasts for a full five minutes. As the rich oil conditions both your hair and scalp, your body and mind seem to simply float away.
Equally suited for men and women, this rhythmic, deep-acting, stress-relieving experience enhanced with the matching atmospherics lasts for 90 minutes. Relax and allow your body to absorb the spice-infused oils, and the feeling and effect will be with you for much longer.