Director of The Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2011
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Ayurvedic Physician, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
- Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre, Mysore, India; Radisson Resort Temple Bay, Mamallapuram, India; Dr Arshad Institute of Sports Medicine and Nutrition, Kondotty Kerala, India; Administrator – Fitness & Spa, Tashkent, Uzbekistan; SM Charitable Trust, Delhi, India; Marari Beach Resort, India; ETM Ayurvedic Hospital, Kerala, India
- Madikeri, Coorg, India
- Bachelor in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS); WATSU Practitioner; WOGA Certified; AntiGravity® Yoga Practitioner; Ayurvedic Sports Therapist; Yoga & Ashtanga Yoga Teacher (trained for 8 years under Dr. Raghavendra Pai, SDM, Shanthivana. Ujire); Certified Japanese Reiki Practitioner
- English, Russian Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil
Dr. Shylesh Subramanya is a lifelong scholar of nature, lifestyles and culture, and Director of The Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat at Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru whose responsiblities also include The Ocean of Consciousness Spa at Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll. Here, he offers his personal look at Ayruveda.
On changing people’s perception of Ayurveda
“Many people have stereotyped Ayurveda; they think that all Ayurvedic doctors do is to tell you what NOT to do. So, part of my mission is to clear the air and to show guests that Ayurveda is not just about how NOT to do things but about how to do things better or in a way that would suit them and their lifestyle.
"That’s why I always relate things to each individual’s lifestyle – so for example I don't tell them not to take alcohol but how to take it better for their health’s sake not simply just for drinking’s sake.
"Most people don’t question when conventional medicines are prescribed but they do when Ayurvedic medicines are prescribed. This is because they don’t have much faith in Ayurveda so I want to help people become more open to Ayurveda and to follow a philosophical way of living grounded in Ayurveda.
"Ayurveda is not about restriction but about collective knowledge of lifestyle modifications and herbal supplements that can help to cure ailments and support a healthy balanced life.
"Lifestyles nowadays have changed a lot and we should adapt Ayurvedic principles accordingly because Ayurveda is very flexible and one of the only things that can be applied to all types of people and lifestyles.
"A collective way of understanding Ayurveda and holistic health is that it’s not just about healing yourself but learning how to utilise the natural energies and aspects of the universe to help yourself: the elements, ingredients, breathing correctly, meditation, anything.”
On how he came to be an Ayurvedic doctor
“My paternal grandparents were the local healers; my grandfather used to administer local medicines and my grandmother was an osteopath.
"There was one special nasal medicine that my mum still practises back home, using spices and pumpkin flower. Our family is very famous for it and people still come to my home for my mother to administer it.
"I used to watch my grandparents administering treatments when I was young and was always used to seeing lots of patients in the house.
"Then when I grew up, my dad suggested I develop my knowledge of Sanskrit from high school and follow my grandparents’ path by progressing a career in Ayurveda.
'Things really took off when I started organising local health camps in small villages within 30 kilometres (19 miles) of my Ayurvedic college. People were so grateful for the support as not everywhere had medical facilities. I used to take medical and dental college staff with me and create really big clinics so we could see more patients. The college management really encouraged it – so I was always more of a practical guy from the start; people really wanted to meet with me when I came into their villages, and that’s how I first became interested in a career helping others.”
On joining the hospitality industry
“I moved to Kerala to supplement my college and university medical education with a deeper insight into the different local styles and traditions of Ayurveda. One of the families I worked with had a hotel – and that’s how I got into the hospitality sector.”
On his own mottos and mantras
“When people ask me ‘What do you pray for?’ I always say just for health and happiness. In fact ‘health and happiness’ is my motto; it’s what I want to experience and want to help others experience too, naturally and holistically.
"In hotels I also used to educate people about an Ayurvedic diet and, to be frank, when I compared that to my home diet – which was Ayurvedic food all the time – I realised I just wanted to make it easier for people to understand that Ayurvedic food and diet are not that complicated and are really just made up of everyday foods and ingredients.”
On his impact at Landaa’s Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat
“When I first joined The Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat, the Ayurvedic offering was more of a package than a lifestyle management program. I said no to the creation of packages and wanted instead to keep things flexible to enable guests to benefit from a lifestyle management program that could be tailor-made for them personally. I added the Panchakarma (detoxification) program and brought in everything from herbal medicines to metabolism-booster baths.”
On travelling and being “a practical person”
“I am a practical person. I like to learn and grow by doing things practically. Going out alone into nature, travelling alone, it’s the best way to learn. I went for my birthday to a Buddhist monastery to meditate. But when they found out I was a doctor I was soon giving classes to the young monks, diagnosing those who were ill, connecting them with different doctors for treatment, and soon I was just like one of the staff there! For me, travelling always takes on a practical approach.
"When I travelled to Europe I could understand my guests’ lifestyle much more clearly; I could empathise and appreciate their lives and what they go through – and it left me in a much better position to comment on the good, bad and ugly parts of it based on my own experiences.
"My travels are more into nature for sure, but more from a backpacking angle that allows me to be more flexible in my travels and my plans and to stay put in a place for a long time. I don’t just travel hopping from place to place but like to stay for a while to better understand and feel that place and see what’s going on in that area. In Bhutan I just visited three towns in 12 days to help me understand the local lifestyle, the food, family relationships, and many other social and emotional aspects of normal daily life.
"When I travelled to Europe I met a few guests who live in a totally different world altogether. To experience their lives and to meet them in a different environment adds a different dimension to our relationship; it increases the bond. I don’t feel that Landaa is my workplace, I feel it is like my own clinic, so to travel to other places to meet the people I have met here makes what I do feel that much more homely, personal and connected.”