Peace out: India’s growing wellness market

Ram Chatterjee, Wellness Advisor, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, offers lessons in wellbeing, insights into India’s growing wellness market, and shares his plans for the overhaul of the twin hotels’ spa and fitness centre.

Ram Chatterjee is a firm believer in using wellness practices to enrich one’s life and live in harmony with nature. As a certified yoga teacher and karate black belt holder, he incorporates different modalities into his own routine. Over the past 20 years, he has also used his insights to make a mark in the wellness industry, having worked with leading brands such as Taj Hotels, ITC, Hyatt and Intercontinental-Kimpton. Most recently, he’s been busy revamping the wellness offerings at Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity as the twin hotels’ new Wellness Advisor.

Read on for excerpts from a chat with Traveldine.

Can you tell us about your background? What prompted you to make a career in the wellness industry?

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Ram Chatterjee, Wellness Advisor, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity.

I began as a gymnast and karate practitioner. I am highly passionate and ambitious individual which helped me in my endeavours. I followed the motto, ‘Knowledge is power’ very closely; and with that in mind, I pursued several international certifications as well.

I have vast experience in establishing the wellness brands, designing menus and collaterals, risk management, creating brand visuals, training all levels of employees and establishing standard operating procedures (SOP). I have opened premier spa brands in India and have worked in a variety of resorts, destination and city hotels with a large membership and employee base. I understand international trends in the wellness business and the needs of people across the globe.

I found personal wellness goals through gymnastics, martial arts, power training, spa therapies, naturopathy and Kriya yoga. I believe that the world can be a better place through wellness practices because these practices have a deeper impact on the external and internal body and mind, where people take their path towards self-actualization, happiness and compassion.

How do you see consumers’ approach to wellness changing post-Covid? What scope do you see for the wellness industry in India post-pandemic?

Wellness was always an important pillar for our wellbeing but people have realised its value much later. However, it’s better late than never. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things, including our daily routine. People are mostly at home; they are adopting new ways of keeping fit by replacing the gyms with home workouts and outdoor activities and are avoiding enclosed spaces. Our homes have become the centre stage for everything from office work, exercise and meditation, to socializing and entertainment. I am happy to see some positive changes in people’s behaviour during this pandemic. They are focusing more on their health by participating in various activities such as cycling, yoga and meditation, online fitness classes with the family, going out in nature, and serving society.

With increasing environmental awareness among consumers and the need for sustainable practices across all the industry, many hotels, resorts and wellness destinations are innovating exemplary ways of avoiding chemicals and plastics in their spas, guest amenities and restaurants. They are using more effective natural alternatives and organic products to approach a complete view of wellness. Initiatives where hotels are minimizing food wastage and focusing on nutritious meals for the guests and staff is increasing. 

Wellness as a trend has emerged globally, and in India, people have learnt lessons in maintaining wellbeing, which may stay permanently in their life. 

As Wellness Advisor, what is your vision for the Woo Spa and other wellness offerings at Pullman Aerocity? 

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There will be a rebranding of the Woo Spa to Pullman Spa & Pullman Fit very soon. Guests are the reason we come to work daily and employees are the principal asset for our company. My vision is to create a simple, doable well-being program for our guests, employees and community members. 

Our guests are always on the go, and therefore relaxation is necessary. My focus is to improve our guests’ physical, mental and spiritual health through various wellness programs. When it comes to our employees, we will provide what is best for them. Developing healthy habits is a process and many of our associates may not be aware of those practices. Therefore, I plan to design a balanced nutritious meal plan, take care of their emotional health and host many events related to health and wellness.

Our community members are our brand ambassadors and they will be an integral part of our journey to wellbeing. My focus is to improve their well-being experiences through wellness retreats, yoga and breath workshops and other fun wellness events.

Is there a new spa treatment or programme that you are particularly excited about?

Of course, there will be many exciting new therapies in our new offerings. At Pullman Spa, we understand that everybody is unique. Our bodies change throughout each day. Our wellness experiences will be designed to match these moments, ensure energy is restored, relaxation achieved and blissfulness bestowed.

What is one thing that makes the wellness offerings at Pullman Aerocity stand out from others?

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The wellness programs will be designed based on Accor’s wellness philosophy which is, “Sleep-Spa-Sports & Food”. There will be a dedicated program for restful sleep, active breakfast and nutritious meals, and new spa and mediation offerings.

6. Do you plan on offering any Covid-related therapies?

Image for representational purposes only. (Photo: Pexels)

We will introduce Yogic therapies for overall well-being and a Covid-protection plan based on the five principles of yoga:

•      Proper exercise (Asanas): Yoga postures to help develop a strong, healthy body by enhancing flexibility and improving circulation.

•      Proper breathing (Pranayama): Deep, conscious breathing to reduce stress and many diseases.

•      Proper relaxation: Helps keep the body from going into overload mode, and eases worry and fatigue.

•      Proper diet: Eating simple, healthy foods that are easy to digest. This has a notably positive effect on the mind and body.

•      Positive thinking and meditation: These are the true keys of achieving peace of mind and eliminating negativity from our lives.

What do you consider to be the biggest trends in the spa and wellness industry on the horizon?

I strongly believe, that orientation towards Indian wellness philosophy (Yoga, Ayurveda, Naturopathy) will flourish in the coming days.

Globally, people are suffering from anxiety and stress and there will be a very strong focus to improve the mental health. The introduction of spirituality-based services renders relief and peace to the mind as well as the soul.

You have worked abroad in destinations such as Azerbaijan and Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. How does the Indian wellness industry fare when compared to global standards? 

I would say that Azerbaijan has yet to rediscovere the relevance of wellness and spa treatments. They are focusing on physical activities such as boxing, martial arts, football, etc., but with little emphasis on mental wellness . It has yet to develop as a mature wellness market; hence, opportunities are endless. However, Grand Cayman is completely different. People consider spas an important part of their well-being practice. One needs to book an appointment much earlier to avail of the services because it’s really busy there.

In India, the focus on wellness is growing. The pandemic is expected to take this growth to another trajectory. Unlike the places I have experienced, the concept of wellness in India is always holistic which leads to a complete change of lifestyle. Awareness and demand for wellbeing is expected to be seen among Indians of all ages and will the wellness market will penetrate a larger part of society in the coming days. 

What does wellness mean to you? How do you incorporate it into your life?

Wellness for me is a state of a happy mind, calm behaviour and a non-reactive approach. I have a black belt in Kyokushin karate and am a certified yoga and wellness teacher (from the Morarji Desai National Institute). Apart from my daily routine, which starts at 6am with jal neti and kunjal kriya followed by yoga, I believe that sharing quality time with friends and family is also a great way to relax and energise. My family stays connected to nature and practices a variety of physical activities and meditation, which gives me immense joy. I do get joy in little things. I like being certain about my actions but enjoying uncertainty about the results.