Partners test wellness market with Indian-inspired spa

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita August 19,2018 - 09:51 PM

Co-owners Sunita Doolani (left photo, left) and Varun Mahajan (left photo, right) introduce Abhyangga to Cebu’s market. The new spa’s beds (below, left) and chairs (below) are ready for customers wanting a full-body massage or a foot spa.


Not all massage experiences are the same.

For Indian national Varun Mahajan, this is something that some Cebuanos don’t fully realize yet. And he sees it as an opportunity to offer something new.

Together with his Cebuano business partner and partner in life Sunita Doolani, the 38-year old Mahajan established Abhyangga Indian-inspired Spa in Barangay Punta Princesa, Cebu City.

“We thought it will be a challenge to introduce a new kind or style of massage, especially that people have the notion that all massages are the same and that the oils don’t really matter as long as you get the pressure and points right,” he told Cebu Daily News.

“However, as we explain to our customers the importance of oils, and as they experience our way of giving massage, they felt the difference and kept coming back. So the challenge actually became a blessing,” he added.

The concept behind Abhyangga is inspired by India’s Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest medical systems and has been in practice for more than 3,000 years already.

Mahajan explained that the practice makes use of oils and herbs to prevent and treat ailments naturally.

These oils are ingested through topical application during the massage.

For Abhyangga, he said, they mainly use pure virgin coconut oil which is common for a tropical country like the Philippines and is easily absorbed by the body.

They also infuse it with essential oils like peppermint, lavender, sandalwood, and frankincense among others.


Mahajan is engaged to the 35-year old Doolani whom he has been with for around four years already.

Doolani is a Cebuana lawyer by profession. But her undergraduate course in the University of the Philippines is business management.

On the other hand, Mahajan completed a master’s degree in general business administration at the Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, United Kingdom where he focused on sales, marketing, and business strategy.

He got his undergraduate degree of Political Science and English at the University of Delhi in India.

“A few years ago, when I started learning about Ayurveda, I learned that Abhyangga, which means self oil massage, is an essential part of Ayurvedic daily routine. So I started practicing it myself,” Mahajan said.

This sparked his interest in the spa and wellness business.

Currently, the business is under Doolani’s name but the couple plans to transfer it soon under a corporation.

They set aside between P500,000 to P1 million for the establishment of the Abhyangga Indian-inspired Spa which only had its grand opening earlier this month.

Products and services

For now, Abhyangga offers full body massage and foot massage which costs P350 and P300, respectively.

But soon, they will be adding more services like body scrub, foot scrub, facial, and waxing, among others.

“Our usual customers are mostly residents within the vicinity. But we also have customers from Talisay City or further who are forced to pass by Sabellano St. due to the tunnel works in Mambaling. That’s another challenge turned to blessing,” Mahajan said.

The spa employs nine people but as early as now, they are already looking into adding more people to match the increasing demand and interest for their massage.

Mahajan said they hope to open more branches in Cebu in the future. However, for now, they would like to focus on establishing their brand.

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TAGS: Indian, inspired, market, partners, spa, test, wellness, with

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