Ayurveda in Sri Lanka – Perspectives for the Club Business

Ayurveda in Sri Lanka – Perspectives for the Club Business 900 600 Hans Muench

For the fourth year in a row I treated myself to a stay in the Oasis Ayurveda Resort.

It’s located in Sri Lanka’s Southern Province town of Sisilasagama, and I am hooked.

The word Ayurveda can be translated as “knowledge of life”. This “detox” treatment system (for lack of a better word) is a medicinal system often attributed to roots in India and goes back 5000 years. An interdisciplinary approach involving yoga, healthy food (mostly vegetarian, though there was fish and chicken on the buffet), two hours of treatments daily and mostly no alcohol (New Year´s Eve was an exception). Ayurveda sees a person as part of the environment. The friendly people at the resort (2 staff for each guest, made possible by extremely low wages of approx. $150.00 per month) are grateful for tips which many guests give generously for the incredible service provided.

Five doctors work on the premises, natural medicine based on herbs grown locally, are given twice per day to the guests, an enjoyable ritual in the day, which includes, in three phases, various types of treatments such as
– four hand massages
– head, face and foot massages
– Shirodhara (warm oil) treatments on your forehead
– herbal and flower baths
– nasal inhalation and
– acupuncture

Ayurveda is well known in the Germanic market (including Switzerland and Austria) where 80% of the guests come from (a few French, Croatian, Turks and Americans found their way to Oasis this year during my time there). I really “come down” during the 18 day stay. It has an effect on my head and my body, I am much calmer, relaxed and focused. Twice daily yoga has improved my flexibility. The effect of the treatment lasts for about three months.

The cost per day was approx. $160.00 including full board and treatments, in a garden that I would expect to find in paradise. It is, for what you get in return, highly under-priced. This might change when the new airport (in Mattala, 30 km away) starts to pick up more carriers (there are currently only 3-4 flights per day from Colombo, Maléand Dubai for example); still most people need to endure a 5 1/2 hour overland transfer, which combined with the flight (and usual connection in the Middle East) makes the approx. 24 hours travel time door to door a deterrent.

My takeaways for our health club sector:
1. People are willing to pay more for special services.
2. A multi-disciplinary approach could help many of our members as well
3. Taking a different approach with our clients may just be what some people still sitting on the sidelines with the “wrong” impression of our industry, are looking for (and willing to pay for).