Immunity Boosters: Detox Covid blues: India’s rich traveling to exotic and secluded locations to boost immunity

From the backwaters of Kerala to the beaches of Gokarna to the foothills of Himalayas, India’s uber rich are traveling to some of the most exotic and secluded places in the country – not on a holiday but to detox themselves or boost immunity post Covid-19.

Investment bankers, startup founders, stockbrokers, fund managers, entrepreneurs and industrialists are taking time off for a complete detox, helping luxury wellness resorts and spas across the country recover from the shocks of pandemic-induced lockdowns and travel restrictions.

“Indian clients to Ananda for Wellness programs have doubled since 2020,” said Mahesh Natarajan, chief operating officer at IHHR Hospitality that owns luxury spa Ananda in the Himalayas near Rishikesh. “These clients are looking for overall rejuvenation and boost in immunity.”

Ananda has launched a ‘Post Covid Rejuvenation’ program with a psychosomatic assessment, leading to identification and management of specific symptoms.

Other luxury wellness destinations such as CGH Earth Wellness that owns SwaSwara in Gokarna, and Bengaluru-based Ayurveda resorts Soukya Ayurveda and AyurvedaGram, too, are attracting rich Indians for their detox and holistic health programmes.

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“The last one year has completely opened up a new market of consumers (domestic) who are willing to take time off for a minimum of at least 2-4 weeks,” said Sidarth Dominic, CEO of CGH Earth Wellness. “During the initial days of opening post-Covid, we hardly got any consumers. We had to drop prices both in naturopathy and Ayurveda programmes. Now, the demand and pricing are back to pre-Covid levels.”

Pre-Covid, these wellness centers were mostly catering to international clientele. But that has become a trickle now, with the exception of those traveling with medical visas, Dominic said.

Benefits of Ayurvedic
“One starts destressing almost immediately,” said Atul Kirloskar, chairman of

, who underwent a program at CGH Earth Wellness. “The dosage of allopathic medicines I was taking for my heart and diabetes reduced. I also learnt about the natural healing of Ayurveda.”

Ayurveda has less side-effects and helps improve immunity, which has become all the more vital post Covid, experts said. It provides a comprehensive diagnostic and treatment plan for the entire health system, they said.

Many people have felt burnt out and are suffering from post-Covid lingering issues such as unexplained fatigue, sleep disorders, respiratory and skin issues, foggy brain, memory loss, joint pains, anxiety, and depression.

“It helped to reduce my stress levels and also made me feel lighter physically as I did lose weight,” said Shalini Warrier, executive director and business head, retail, at

who underwent a treatment at CGH Earth Wellness.

While addressing medical problems through an approach of integrated medicine, there is a preferred treatment for every problem, said Ashok Soota, chairman of

who had health issues that got corrected at Soukya Wellness.

Time is Health
Having seen their benefit, India Inc’s top executives are now willing to invest time and money and make regular healing trips to these high-profile wellness centers where serene locales add to the charm and positivity of rejuvenation.

“For working professionals, it’s hard to dedicate even 10 days, but this is highly recommended,” said Vivek Sunder, founder of edtech startup Cuemath, who went through a session recently at AyurvedaGram and feels “detoxed, light and holistic”.

Kirloskar, too, found it “very difficult to commit to 21-30-day schedules” but committed to a 21-day schedule. He said he started feeling a change mentally and physically on the 18th day. “My blood pressure dropped, and I physically felt good as my weight dropped 8 kg even though I had all the meals.”

Serial entrepreneur Ramesh Vangal who runs AyurvedaGram said, “Anyone opting for these treatments should be geared to have a very different lifestyle for the days they undergo the treatment. The schedule can be tough at times; it is imperative that one carries back at least some of the changes into one’s life after that.”

Wellness travel has grown to include multiple demographic groups covering younger audiences and single travelers as well, and many are coming back for repeat therapies and staying longer too. “These consumers come for a complete detox which gives them a new lease of life,” said Issac Mathai, founder of Soukya Ayurveda which relies on the traditional methods of treatment with a combination of Ayurveda, homeopathy and naturopathy.

Manish Chokhani, director at Enam Holdings, who recently went to the Ananda wellness program, said he looks at it as akin to the annual servicing of one’s car. It needs regular maintenance as well as a semi/annual/defined frequency overall service.

It also worked for Theo Spierings, founder and CEO of The Purpose Factory, who had neurological and muscular problems. He had tried various treatments in Europe. He came to Soukya in 2021 and got treated, he said.

Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has predicted that the wellness economy will return to robust growth. “We project 9.9% average annual growth, with the wellness economy reaching nearly $7 trillion in 2025. The wellness economy represents 5.1% of global economic output in 2020,” it said.

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