Luxury

Why Gokarna’s SwaSwara wellness resort is drawing more women

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Away from the raves and the surfing hot-spots, this Ayurvedic retreat in Karnataka is getting very popular with women

A couple of women in white yoga gear walk down a tree-laden path. At the pool, women do languid lengths in the blue waters. A lone female ranger chats with a young woman arranging flowers in an urli. I am at SwaSwara, in Gokarna, to experience their three-night Wellness Package. While there are men about — the staff consists of as many men as women — the delightful thing is, among the visitors, men are clearly outnumbered.

“This is like a girl’s resort,’’ I tell Mini Chandran, SwaSwara’s general manager, and she says they’ve seen a big spurt in the last few years (in 2019, over 85% of the guests were women). They are coming to celebrate their Significant Birthdays, with female kith and kin; even travel agents are pitching the resort to all-women groups. Meanwhile, celebrities like filmmaker Mira Nair and British actor Kristin Scott Thomas quietly frequent it, too. “They thrive on the anonymity, peace and tranquillity we provide,” says Chandran, adding, “The way I see it, SwaSwara has a very feminine energy, which both nurtures and cocoons.”

Why Gokarna’s SwaSwara wellness resort is drawing more women

Pampering by the sea

I am an Ayurvedic wellness resort veteran, both in my capacity of lifestyle journalist and a true-blue Malayali who believes in abhyangams, lehyams and kashayams. The tonier kind of Ayurvedic resort has always been hugely popular with the female gender, but I find there is a lot here that’s calculated to appeal to women (and men). The 13-year-old wellness centre, a CGH Earth property, sits on 26 verdant acres located on Gokarna’s Om Beach, but is far removed from the hippie-like ambience that prevails in other parts of the famous beachfront. It has 24 laterite brick cottages, manicured gardens — with a gorgeous banyan as the jewel in the crown — an open-air restaurant, a treatment centre, a coconut thatch-roofed meditation hall, and dinner served poolside under the trees.

“I came wondering how I’d stave off boredom,” Bengaluru-based P Kalyani tells me. “Each day is so wrapped around treatments and recreational activities, I haven’t had time to watch the films I downloaded on to my laptop.” This turns out to be true for me as well. I manage to attend an interactive cooking class, a hatha yoga session, take a stab at pottery and painting, and go for a dip in the pool, but have to regretfully pass on the guided meditation, the nature walk, the bird-watching trek and the boat ride. This is simply because every time the weather turns a little less hot, I walk down the brick path to the beach, to sit and stare dreamily at the waves.

Why Gokarna’s SwaSwara wellness resort is drawing more women

Deal makers
  • My package offers two massages. So, first, I meet the doctors, a couple of affable young men who treat the gamut of ailments ranging from arthritis and sciatica, to skin disorders and rejuvenation after chemo. Given that I fall below the radar of serious concern, they prescribe massages for relaxation and rejuvenation. The cooking class is a revelation, too. All the food is cooked with little or no oil, no refined sugar or flour. And they conjure up the most delicious salads, koftas, and desserts like coriander laddoos and vegan cheesecake! Those on a basic programme (with no stringent regulations) get seafood, too.

Girl power

“Year after year, our groups of women head to SwaSwara and they say it is like coming home,” says Sumitra Senapathy, founder of the hugely-popular WOW (women on wanderlust) Club. “The staff remember their individual preferences, there’s the freshly-cooked food, and a lot of me-time.”

Meital Rusdia, who works for the United Nations in India and visited the centre recently, says she picked up on the ‘feminine vibe’ as soon as she got to the property. “It has excellent yoga and a stunning setting. There was a group of middle-aged women who made for wonderful dinner companions. That feminine camaraderie was part of the experience,” she concludes.

The three-night Wellbeing Holiday programmes are priced from ₹76,500 onwards. Curative programmes start from seven nights, with prices starting from ₹2 lakh, inclusive of pick-up and drop from Hubli or Goa airport.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 8:32:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/luxury/why-gokarnas-swaswara-wellness-resort-is-drawing-more-women/article30533632.ece

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