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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

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Glamour elements to age old ayurveda in Sri Lanka:

Spa Ceylon a new dimension

Spa Ceylon is truly Sri Lankan, a luxury spa brand that has given ayurveda a whole new dimension, infusing glamour elements to age old ayurveda in Sri Lanka. In an exclusive interview with the Daily News Business, Spa Ceylon Directors Shiwantha Dias and Shalin Balasuriya expressed their views on the Spa Ceylon and its future growth plan for both locally and internationally.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:


Spa Ceylon Directors Shiwantha Dias and Shalin Balasuriya
Pictures by -Ruwan De Silva
Spa Ceylon Luxury Ayurveda products

Q: With the launch of Spa Ceylon first store, what has been the progress that Spa Ceylon made in Sri Lanka, what is the customer response to your products; how has your brand been accepted in Sri Lanka?

A: Our business has grown significantly with the launch of our first store in Colombo. The response has been very good both locally and internationally. The boom in tourism has been good for us. Spa Ceylon is currently operating in nine locations across the island, with several more new resort spa and boutique locations currently under construction, Spa Ceylon is well on course to have 15 locations open in Sri Lanka by end of 2012.

The products of Spa Ceylon are exported to Russia, Indonesia, Middle East, Seychelles , India and South Africa. We are currently going through EU registration process; with this, our products are expected to enter European markets by the end of 2012.

The product range of the company is offered to distributors internationally and spas are being franchised. Our parent company, which is a BoI approved facility that has already established in the field of Ayurveda and has the core competencies in manufacturing.

Q: How did you manage to create a luxurious spa brand in Sri Lanka? How does the Spa Ceylon maintain the Sri Lankan identity with your products, innovations, packaging?

A: Spa Ceylon has a differentiated product line, we combine the essence of old Ceylon ayurveda heritage and wisdom and come up with a range of very indulgent, pampering , luxurious spa ayurveda treatment products, as well as living products to appeal to the consumers’ body, mind and soul.

Prior to Spa Ceylon coming into operation, ayurveda was getting very popular in Sri Lanka. However, the environment which was treatments administered and the aromas and the oils were not too popular with up market, elite, high spending tourists. We found a niche and opportunity there to give luxury ayurveda offering which is not just as a medicated line of treatments available.

Spa Ceylon is a lot about promoting health and wellbeing of customers, we give it in a very luxurious form and has managed to create a luxurious image for our brand, products and services as well.

Everything was about branding, the old Ceylonese heritages, the very old Ceylon identity when it comes to our product line, packaging, if you look at our packaging, we have insignia from royal Kandyan court . This has given us a lot of resistance.

Even though, certain hotels are offering foreign spa experience to their customers. But, Sri Lanka is blessed with this rich, natural ayurveda medicine, possibly the best in the world. It is quite a task to convince, create awareness among the customers on the importance of having Ayurveda treatments.


Spa Ceylon Luxury Ayurveda products

Inside Spa Ceylon

Spa Ceylon has the capability, know how to do something unique to Sri Lanka without the foreign influence , tourists coming to Sri Lanka look for a destination specific experience , they are not coming here looking for Thai , Indian or Indonesian experience. What they want is to try out Sri Lankan food, culture, ayurveda, hospitality. We think there is huge opportunity to create Sri Lankan experience and Spa Ceylon has been successful in achieving the objective within a short period .

Spa Ceylon is a lot about promoting health and wellbeing of customers , but we are giving it in a very luxurious form . We have created a very luxurious image and appeal for our brand, our product and services. Even if you are putting out a personal care product or spa product or anything of that sort, it needs a story behind, it needs a science behind it, it needs something little more, than what Spa Ceylon is all about.

Each of the treatments we offer has a unique back story that comes from grand palaces of old age, Ceylon. So it is more than just a product itself, it is the whole philosophy that comes in making this brand.

Q: Do you think that spa culture is growing in Sri Lanka?

A: There are spas popping up everywhere. With the conflict ending in 2009, there was an impending boom in tourism, as such there was a great opportunity in this sector . The spas that are popping up everywhere is not the kind of spas we are trying to fetch, we are trying to create an upmarket, unique destination experience through our spas and products.

Q: How did you overcome the initial challenges of the business; and what do you think are the challenges in respective segment?

A: Setting up a luxury experience with Sri Lankan made products is more difficult. There is a sense that Sri Lankan products are not as good as international products, people considered “ayurveda” as sticky, smelly and not comfortable treatment and it was more of a medical science than a pampering luxurious well-being science that we focused in . Getting over these two barriers was the most difficult task at the beginning.

Spa Ceylon is staffed by well experienced spa therapists, beauticians and doctors . We currently employ more than 50-60 therapists, of which 90 percent of them are local.

We have a online store , where we ship our products worldwide within 24 hours. A lot of tourists who come to Sri Lanka experience the Spa Ceylon brand and take these products home as gifts for their friends or business partners. If they are willing to repurchase these products, they have the opportunity to order the required products through our online store.

Since we are not in all markets; our online store really helps. The online store was pushed forward fast, and it has become an amazing way to interacting with clients as they are getting their products and their needs and it's been quite popular since it was launched. We have a facebook page with a large number of fans. we have positioned our brand in such a way and ensure that our clientele and target markets are kept informed and constantly engaging ourselves with the brand.

Q: What innovations can we look forward to?

A: We are developing several new product lines and are looking at innovations for Ayurveda that is unique to Sri Lankans. One of the ranges we are looking at incorporating into the spa and ayurveda product is, Organic Ceylon Tea, which would be a completely new twist to the local tea industry.

Q: Any promotional campaign coming up to promote your products and services?

A: We launched the first of our larger promotional campaign mid last year and portrayed what the Spa Ceylon brand was. Through this, Sri Lankan royalty was brought on newer age basically giving the sense that our client will be indulging in our products, spas or any of our lifestyle products and they will be treated in royalty and will feel like royalty . We are looking at extending it to the next step as the brand grows.

Q: Spa Ceylon achievements?

A: We have been recognized in Asia’s Spa Award 2011, our product line was nominated as one of the natural product lines of the year and Spa rituals of Spa Ceylon were nominated as Spa Rituals of the year .

We believe this is truly an hievement for a young and growing brand like Spa Ceylon and are expected to win in one of those categories this year as well.

Q: How does your company make a responsible commitment for the wellbeing of the local community?

A: We have a community trade programme in Kalpitiya where organic Aloe Vera is grown by women in the area, we buy all their products at a guaranteed price, this has not only empowered the women in Kalpitiya but also provided them an alternate source of income.

We started a home garden cultivation project with the involvement of 100 families in Kalpitiya and are expanding the project by encouraging them to grow more herbs.

Wooden packages which is a source for craftsmen in Kalutara and we work with another NGO in the Meerigama area where they make reed baskets for us . Palmyrah baskets are provided by the war widows in the Northern areas. We have a lot more projects to give back to Sri Lanka and are committed to empower the community that we are present in. indunil.hewage@gmail.com
 

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