A sense of calm

Wellness veteran Tanya Talreja on recharging after the holidays.


INTERVIEW  NICKKY FAUSTINE P. DE GUZMAN

After flirting with a career in fashion and beauty, Tanya Talreja decided that her energies were better directed at learning the ins and out of what was then a fledgling wellness industry.  She immersed herself in studying anatomy and physiology, skin biology, skin disorders, cosmetic chemistry, and nutrition.

Tanya Talreja
Tanya Talreja

“I was 20 when it all started. I told myself that I would start from the bottom as a therapist, so one day I could truly direct my future staff,” she said. Her hard work paid off, and with more than 10 years of experience in the industry, the British-Indian businesswoman founded her own company, Global Spa Development, in 2009 and renamed it GSD Spa and Wellness Development Corporation in 2016. Her company provides consultation services to international luxury hotels and resorts seeking to reboot their spa, salon, and gym services.  Her roster of five-star clients includes the Westin Resort Hotel, Kempinski Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Carlton Hotel, and Robinson Club. “The world is our oyster,” she said. “Our next locations could be by the sea, or snowy mountaintops, or concrete jungles, or a rain forest, or a desert. Who knows?”

Ms. Talreja was born in Hong Kong, studied in the Philippines at International School Manila and Brent International School, and then moved to Singapore for university. “I moved around the world thereafter for work but Manila is like home to me,” said Ms. Talreja, who, in 2016 bagged one of the citations at the prestigious “World Luxury Spa Awards” in Switzerland. Egypt’s Cascades Thalasso and Spa, with Ms. Talreja as director, was feted as one of several “Luxury Destination Spas” during the said event.   

“Maintaining a wellness business is about providing a sense of calm to guests,” she said of her achievements. “It’s important to have the drive in providing an experience that goes beyond the average:  an experience that allows guests to feel like they have stepped into a completely different world than the one they had walked in from. What we do is stage your best experiences.”

In the Philippines, Ms. Talreja works as the independent spa and wellness consultant for Conrad Manila Spa. Here, she talks about beer baths, lemongrass, and how to look fresh despite alcohol-fueled late nights.

Do you remember your first-ever spa and wellness treatment?

It was actually a galvanic facial. Galvanic facials use a direct galvanic electrical current to introduce water-soluble substances through the skin’s surface in an effort to improve the ingredient absorption and moisture retention. Needless to say, it was so mind-blowing I ended up in the business. I remember it was by far the most interesting and amazing experience. I remember the room—how clean and white it was, how beautiful with its feminine yet simplistic design. I recall the machine and even and tools and sounds they made. I even recall the sensation on my skin from the therapist’s hands during the facial massage.

What treatments would you suggest for welcoming the New Year with renewed energy?

I think due to the vacation season, most people will likely be indulging in a larger amount of food and beverages. Late nights with alcohol, or overindulgent carbohydrates with too much oil, will indeed take its toll on the face and body. You can play hard and also be fresh for the new year—not just through detox but through committing to a healthy lifestyle, and, of course, these treatments: an invigorating and purifying facial to remove dead skin cells and promote blood circulation. As for body massage, definitely a Swedish or sports massage for a more results-driven treatment that promotes pain relief from dancing the night away. Alternatively, hitting the gym to tone up.

What do you think of Filipino treatments like hilot and bamboo sticks?

I have experienced the hilot and bamboo sticks. The hilot in itself is very interesting and unique. The best part is the aromatic scents and use of indigenous ingredients, especially the banana leaves. The bamboo sticks are bit tougher, but I find that for my sports aches and pains it’s really a great mimic for the massage ball used to ease plantar fasciitis by hitting pressure points and nodules.

How often do you have facials or massages?

This may sound funny, but as someone who works in the realm of luxury spas, salons, and gyms, I don’t have much time at all to enjoy them. When I do, it becomes work because I have to analyze their steps and it’s hard to enjoy it. Though there are some therapists who truly wow me—help me escape the thought process and let me unwind—which is a great reminder of why we’re in this business. My favorite treatment is the hot-stone massage. The combination of heat and Swedish massage techniques provide this incredible friction of hot and soft, and it works out your muscles so well.

Any rituals before and after going to a spa and wellness center?

To arrive early and to avail of the amazing facilities. I love a good steam and sauna and wish I had time to enjoy it more. Once I leave, I try to take the tea offered, or head on back home to rest and sleep. Nothing better than getting a few extra hours of sleep.

If you were to come up with a signature treatment, what key ingredient would you use?

My favorite essential oil, I would say, is lemongrass as it has incredible notes that remind me of being in a spa: it is refreshing, rejuvenating, stimulating, and balancing, and it inspires and improves mental clarity. It’s like a song that provides a memory.