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Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 in Spa Reviews | 2 comments

Indian Serenity in the Heart of New York

Indian Serenity in the Heart of New York

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How does a world class, five-star hotel satisfy its spa-loving guests when it doesn’t have a spa? For The Pierre, a Taj Hotel and venerable New York landmark, it was a no brainer. Like Mohammed and the mountain, it simply brings the necessary spa facilities to its guests in their rooms. No padding through the public spaces in a terry robe. No changing in a common locker room. Just open the door to your spa therapist, to set up a portable table, light judiciously placed aromatic candles, turn on the tranquil Swara sounds of Indian music, and dim the lights in your room.

Pierre, Exterior From Park, NY, New York, photo courtesy Taj Hotels

Pierre, Exterior From Park, photo courtesy Taj Hotels

This is the curtain raiser to a Jiva spa experience.

Jiva Grande Spa, The Pierre, Taj Hotel, NY, New York

Jiva Grande Spa, photo courtesy of Taj Hotels

Since 2005, when Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces acquired The Pierre as its U.S. flagship, it introduced a subtle Indian sensibility to the smart, sophisticated New York landmark. You see it in the contemporary Indian artwork in the main floor public spaces, for instance, and in the Jiva spa program. Originally created in 2004 by Taj, Jiva is the only Indian spa brand in the world with unique Indian signature spa therapies and experiences. In Hinduism and Jainism, Jiva is the word for the immortal essence of a living organism, or as Taj calls it, “the destination within” or “inner force.” Inspired by India’s ancient traditions of wellness and the rituals of Indian royalty, the therapies embrace a deep understanding of the interdependency of mind, body and spirit. Jiva ethos draws on the rich and ancient wellness heritage of India; the fabled lifestyle and culture of Indian royalty; and the healing therapies that embrace Indian spirituality.

Drawing on the therapeutic attributes of Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation and other indigenous Indian therapies, the Jiva menu features signature experiences, massages, meditation, wraps, scrubs and yoga that help in creating physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Treatments are offered with all natural and organic products and specially blended oils, no chemicals or dyes.

Jiva Treatment, The Pierre, Taj Hotel, NY, New York

Jiva Treatment, photo courtesy Taj Hotels

There are currently ten therapists on call: six female, four male, two aestheticians. Already experienced in conventional spa therapies, they are specially trained for three to six months in Jiva’s intricate Indian techniques, as well as the core Indian values of service and humility.

Jiva treatments at The Pierre include:

Sammardan Indian Deep Tissue Massage: A customized technique of muscle massage to release deep-seated stress and enhance joint mobility for a deep sense of relief; 60-minutes, $220; 90-minutes, $300

Vishram Relaxation Massage: A full-body massage designed to melt away stress using alternating palm and thumb strokes and fragrant signature oil blends of kewda, frankincense and brahmi, with infusions of sandalwood and sesame to release tension and instill ease and tranquility; 60-minutes, $220; 90-minutes, $300

Padamardana Indian Foot Massage: A treatment on the soles of your feet to create profound relaxation by stimulating the foot’s reflex zones; 60-minutes, $220

Jiva, photo by Babs Harrison, The Pierre, Taj Hotel, NY, New York

Jiva, photo by Babs Harrison

Prishta Mardana Back Treatment: A back and deep shoulder massage to help restore relief to and eliminate tension in those often sore and stiff areas; $150, 30 minutes.

Champi Indian Head Massage: This invigorating hair treatment is believed to promote hair growth and restore the natural sheen and glossiness of the hair fiber using a signature blend of traditional ingredients (amla, brahmi, jatamansi, curry leaves and neem) to instill long-lasting, enriching benefits and relieve muscular tension from the head, neck and shoulders to create a deep sense of joy and clarity of thought; 45-minutes, $180

Indian Aroma Therapy Treatment: Aromatic oil blends from Ayurveda Pharmacopoeias have been carefully chosen for these treatments, which have powerful healing properties. All ingredients used for these treatments are native to India. Choose from the selection of specially prepared signature oil blends to meet your need of the day; priced according to desired duration, from $180 – $300 for 30 – 90 minutes.

Pierre Fitness, photo courtesy Taj Hotels, The Pierre, Taj Hotel, NY, New York

Pierre Fitness, photo courtesy Taj Hotels

Anana Lepa Facial: Many Indian women use homemade recipes passed down from mother to daughter to nourish their families and their skin. Following this custom, Jiva uses fresh, all natural ingredients straight from the home. Your facial will also include a face massage that tones and nourishes the skin to a radiant natural glow; 60-minutes, $220.

From this menu, I chose the Indian foot Massage.

My therapist, Maria, knocked on the door, and, bowing her head, greeted me with “Namaste,” meaning “I bow to you” in Sanskrit. After she handed me an organic cotton robe with an herbally-dyed design, I changed into it and sat in an armchair while she made up the portable spa table with organic cotton sheets. Cue the candles and the Swara background music.

She placed a round metal bowl filled with flower petals at my feet and filled it with warm water for my foot bath. She poured a trio of oils–lime to refresh, ashwagandha to rejuvenate and tulasi to calm—into the foot bath. Then she put my feet into the bath and poured the same mixture over them, stroking my feet all over, scrubbing the bottoms with petals, and finally wiping them with more petals.

Jiva, photo by Joan Scobey, The Pierre, Taj Hotel, NY, New York

Jiva, photo by Joan Scobey

In Indian ritual, the foot bath, always preceding other treatments, is a sign of respect, and acknowledgment of Indian royalty; in a charming nod to Pierre “royalty,” it acknowledges the residents (not the transient guests) who actually own the hotel.

It’s now time to move to the spa table. Using the same trio of oils, Maria massages my feet and ankles, digging deep in and around every toe, bone, muscle. It is mostly relaxing, but it hurts in some places.

“It is the same idea as reflexology, with pressure points,” says Maria.

A half-hour treatment per foot, then Maria wipes my feet with oil and rinses them, but, she points out, no soap.

The treatment over, what a treat to just fall into bed and let Jiva work its restorative magic.

Jiva treatments are offered daily from 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m; or later with a surcharge. As an alternate to in-room therapy, you can reserve the single treatment room next to the third floor fitness center. In 2012, Jiva will expand into a new spa space on The Pierre’s fourth floor, but still retain the in-room service. From Nov 18, 2011 to Jan 31, 2012 The Pierre is offering a 2011-12 Holiday Well-being Experience with your choice of three hour-long massage therapies– Vishram Relaxation Massage, Sammardan Indian Deep Tissue Massage, or Padamardana Indian Foot Massage—and various gifts including Jiva music, a yoga mat, and a $100 donation to City Harvest, part of Taj’s “giving back” philosophy. For details of the package, visit the Pierre website or call 800-743-7734.

The Pierre, a Taj Hotel, 2 East 61st St New York, N Y 10065, (212) 838-8000,, Leading Hotels of the World, 800-223-6800.

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