By Sharell Cook : Imagine deep red and gold interiors.  Ornate chandeliers.  Intricate Thai sculptures and artwork. The heady aroma of essential oils. Flickering candles. Trickling water.  Soft instrumental music.  The serene face of Lord Buddha.  And, Thai masseuses to knead away all your cares.

[quote]Sounds like a scene from a Thai palace, opulent and indulgent, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a spa in Mumbai.[/quote]

The spa industry is booming in India and one brand that’s really making its mark in Mumbai is Aura Thai Spa. As its name suggests, Aura Thai Spa is dedicated to providing a range of authentic Thai body therapies including massages, reflexology, and facials. But not only that, the company aims to create a haven of tranquillity where customers can completely let go of mental and physical stress, unwind, and rejuvenate.

I was pleased to discover that the largest Aura Thai Spa in Mumbai is located in Powai. The branch has seven rooms for men, and six for women. There’s also a couples suite. Tense from work, it was therefore with great anticipation that I went to the spa to try their services.

[quote]Upon entering the premises, it was immediately apparent that Aura Thai Spa does indeed offer more than just treatments for the body. A visit is a complete sensory experience that also soothes the mind. Undoubtedly, first impressions count and the remarkable decor set the scene perfectly. Strikingly breathtaking, and presided over by a 9-foot gold sitting Buddha statue, it transported me to another world.[/quote]

Not surprisingly, Thai Aura Spa received nominations for Best New Spa, Best Spa Interiors, and Best Day Spa at the 2010 asiaSpa India Awards, placing it in the top 4 spas in the country.

As I gazed around in wonder, the spa manager handed me the menu and proceeded to explain the treatments. Specifically trained in Thailand to help customers choose the right ones for their needs, she recommended a combination of traditional Thai massage and aromatherapy massage. The masseuses at Aura Thai Spa are called ‘AJARNS’. The AJARN is a highly skilled Thai Therapist, certified by the Ministry of Health and Education, Thailand, so authenticity is assured. In addition, most have completed further intensive studies in sophisticated massage techniques.

Down the corridor, my gracious masseuse awaited. “Sawadee kaa,” she gently bowed and greeted me, as she invited me into a treatment room. Her delicate demeanour was deceptive though. As I soon found out, Thai massage is a rigorous type of dry massage. Hands, knees, and feet are used to apply pressure to special points on the body, which is also coaxed into a series of stretches. It could accurately be described as passive yoga. If you’re feeling too lazy for the real thing, Thai massage is an ideal substitute to improve energy flow, alleviate stiffness, and freshen the muscles.

Starting at my feet, the masseuse gradually worked her way up my body to my shoulders, intermittently checking that I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable. It was strangely invigorating and relaxing at the same time.  Yet, the real relaxation came from the full body aromatherapy massage that followed.

I’d chosen lemongrass essential oil from the five different types available. The masseuse liberally poured it onto my back. At that stage, my mind was still alert. However, thoughts rapidly started dissolving as her fingers firmly glided over my muscles. After the strain had been removed from every bit of my body, I was given a brisk head and shoulder massage to bring me back to life. Then, it was time for a shower to wash off the residue.

Often, the shower can be a disappointment after a fabulous massage but I was happy to discover that it wasn’t the case there.  Hot water generously flowed from the huge rain head above me.

[quote]I left the spa reluctantly and with a delicious sense of peace.[/quote]

Treatments at Aura Thai Spa are quite reasonably priced and range in duration from 30 minutes to two hours.  Thai massages start at 900 rupees for 30 minutes. Aromatherapy massages start at 1,900 rupees for 60 minutes. Combination packages are also offered. A 60 minute Thai and 60 minute aromatherapy massage costs 3,200 rupees.  If you really feel like pampering yourself, add a 60 minute foot reflexology massage to both of those for a total of 4,400 rupees. All prices are fully inclusive of tax.

Other possible treatments include facials, body wraps, body scrubs, and herbal compresses. I’ll be returning soon to try them, for sure!

[box type=”info”]Aura Thai Spa is located on the first floor of Delphi Building, Orchard Avenue (near the corner of Lake Boulevard), Hiranandani Gardens, Powai.  Phone: 022 65153636 / 65153737 or visit their website:[/box]