Conrad hotel's Spa Chakra closes abruptly

August 23, 2010

The upscale Spa Chakra at downtown's Conrad Indianapolis abruptly closed on Friday, leaving both customers and hotel management with little notice.

Spa Chakra leased about 5,000 square feet of space from the hotel, including a fitness and wellness center that the Conrad took over from the spa in April.

The hotel likewise plans to reopen the spa under Conrad management by Oct. 1, said Greg Tinsley, the hotel’s general manager.

“It was a surprise to us for sure,” he said of the closing. “We weren’t expecting that.”

Founded in Australia in 1998, Spa Chakra operated about 15 locations worldwide, including the spa that opened in the Conrad in 2006.

But the economic downturn has dampened demand for luxury spa services. Spa Chakra completed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in March, in which the company sold all its assets to Hercules Technology Growth Capital Inc., a California-based equity fund.

Besides the Indianapolis location, Hercules also closed spas on Friday in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Versailles, France.

The Conrad is notifying all customers with spa appointments about the closing and the hotel’s plans to reopen it under a different name.

“It’s certainly a part of the level of service we provide here,” Tinsley said. “It’s financially stable enough to reinvest in.”

Many of those customers purchased Spa Chakra services using the Web-based Groupon discounter. This spring, more than 2,000 people paid $79 for $300 worth of  spa services, said Mark Desky, a spokesman for Chicago-based Groupon.

Desky said the startup’s “liberal refund policy” will enable customers to get their money back by e-mailing support@groupon.com.

With 10 employees, Spa Chakra was the 13th-largest day spa in the city, according to 2009 IBJ statistics. The year before, however, the spa ranked third with 19 employees.

Spa Chakra not only boasted high-end massages, facials and body wraps, but also a systematic, analytical “healing” approach to improve overall health by identifying causes of stress.

The word “chakra” is taken from the Sanskrit word meaning “wheel” and refers to the seven energy centers of the body.


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