Featured post

Herbal Health: The Essence of Spa


It’s impossible to imagine the spa world today without products derived from botanical life, most notably essential oils. For their therapeutic and aromatic values, these undiluted substances extracted directly from botanicals are the most versatile way in which we draw plants into the spa experience.

Essential oils provide their benefits in concentrated doses. We rely on their healing and aromatherapeutic properties, which are delivered via skincare products and treatments, massage, energy work, steam and hydrotherapy treatments and, of course, the very air we breathe. Deeply.

As a spa professional, you’re no doubt well versed in identifying the types of essential oil your client needs most, be it calming lavender, refreshing and invigorating citrus, or restorative wood-based varieties. But how much do you know about the oils you use? Do you know how they were manufactured, and their precise levels of purity and quality

Featured post

Taste: Earning Their Stripes


Think “porridge” and you probably don’t envision chia seeds, but this cool and super-simple version of the traditionally warm winter pick-me-up might just change your perception.

The recipe comes from Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in Vista, California, which recently welcomed Tyler Lockwood as its culinary gardener. Lockwood, a graduate of the University of California Master Gardener Program, oversees the growing of fresh produce and herbs in the destination resort’s onsite gardens, and collaborates with executive chef Curtis Cooke and dietician May Tom to devise its menus.

Lockwood has already started to expand Cal-a-Vie’s culinary program to include new varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and fruit trees. But not everything is entirely his own work: when it comes to sourcing the rich, luscious honey that lends this dish its sweetness, he has enlisted the help of six colonies of bees, dubbed “employbees”. (Of course, store-bought honey works just as well if you don’t have a hive on hand!)

Tom cites some of the porridge’s health benefits. “Chia seeds are a fantastic source of omega-3 fats and are high in

Featured post

Relaxing Teas for Cozy Winter Spa Days


As the days get colder, a nice hot cup of tea is the perfect relaxing beverage to serve before or after your clients’ treatments. Here are three calming tea options to warm up your clients on winter spa days. Learn about what makes each tea so soothing, from aromas of lavender and the ocean to notes of earthy field grasses and rosewater.

Tattoo removal in NYC

The gold standard for tattoo removal at this point is laser tattoo removal. Unlike earlier methods, this method doesn’t rely on invasive procedure to dig the ink out of the skin. By using q-switched laser technology, removal professionals are able to use laser energy to break up tattoo ink so that it can be disposed of by the body’s own mechanisms. This results in minimal damage to the skin, and therefore, very little scarring will result.

Laser removal takes weeks or months to perform properly, but there is an approach to the treatment that will allow for this to be radically accelerated. The R20 approach consists of performing several passes with the laser in fewer, extended treatment sessions.

Tataway offers both the regular and the R20 treatments. For NYC tattoo removal, they have a location in Midtown East at Park Avenue South, between 26th and 27th street, just a block from the nearest subway station.

Spa Hopping: London Calling

A newcomer to the London spa scene, Agua is part of the Mondrian hotel, located in Sea Containers House, a 16-story Brutalist-style building designed by American architect Warren Platner in the 1970s. The gigantic structure was envisioned as a luxury hotel, but when a global recession hit, those plans ground to a halt and the property was turned into offices for an international shipping company. That firm went bankrupt in 2006, and the building languished until 2011, when planning permission for extensive internal and external refurbishments was sought.

Thanks to a collaboration between the Mondrian’s parent company Morgans Hotel Group (MHG) and British interior design specialists Design Research Studio, the complex’s south wing has been transformed into a 360-room, luxury hotel. At the studio’s helm is Tom Dixon, famed for his lighting, furniture and home accessories collections. This is the first hotel he has lent his name to, and the first Mondrian property in London. In other words, it’s uncharted territory for both parties.

Top Design Tips From Spa Consultant Alexis Ufland

Spa consultant Alexis Ufland of New York City-based Lexi Design has overseen her share of spa designs (and redesigns) and as a result, the spa veteran has seen a range of problems that arise during the process. The good news is that she has also come up with myriad solutions. Here are her issues to look out for, and her suggestions for how to get back on track.

PROBLEM: Not negotiating a lease with some flexibility

“When negotiating your lease you may be able to secure either a financial contribution from the landlord toward the build out of the spa or a set number of months of free rent to help get your business up and running,” Ufland says. “It’s rare that you will get both, so take the time to do the math and see which arrangement will suit you best.”

PROBLEM: Hiring the wrong development team

SOLUTION: “There are only a handful of architects and designers who specialize in designing spas,” says Ufland. “Depending on your location and budget, sometimes it’s smarter to go with a local team that has less experience. If you take this approach, ensure that you hire

One on One With Dr. Neal Kitchen of HydroPeptide

Most people are familiar with the concept of sibling rivalry, but how many of us have felt the pressure of competing with an identical twin? One such person is Dr. Neal Kitchen, who magnanimously describes his brother Dale, a research and development manager, as his “best friend and collaborator in all things mischievous” and chalks up their respective career successes to constant fraternal efforts to push each other academically.

Kitchen was born in Utah but grew up in Illinois near St. Louis. “I was raised a Midwesterner—go Cardinals!” he quips. Although Kitchen’s brother has been a major influence throughout his life, it was someone else who inadvertently spurred his interest in becoming a research scientist. As an undergraduate studying microbiology at Brigham Young University, Kitchen had a close friend who developed type 1 diabetes. His desire to understand his buddy’s disease kickstarted Kitchen’s fascination for cell and molecular biology. He transferred to the University of Illinois, where he completed his degree in the cell and structural biology program.

“From that moment I focused on understanding cellular function and what ultimately determines our long-term health and well-being,” he explains. Kitchen went on to receive his doctorate from

Profit Center: Decor on a Dollar

Nothing compares to the thrill of showing off your newly remodeled spa space. But for many day spa operators, the costs associated with a true remodel are just too high to even think about. In such cases, it’s important to figure out the best ways to spend those precious dollars.

Michele Pelafas, principal designer and artistic director at Michele Pelafas, Inc., suggests that spa owners on tight budgets concentrate on small and special details that lead to enhanced customer experiences. “You might focus your energies on the retail environment, including free-standing retail display tables, for the highest return on your investment,” she says. “Or perhaps you can zero in on the areas that aren’t currently working for you or that need improvement—if massage appointments are down, warm up your body therapy room.”

Fortunately, by employing just a few simple changes, it is possible to achieve a decorative upgrade with very little financial investment. Here are some of the creative decor suggestions from people in the know.

Designed to Impress

There’s more to a memorable spa experience than just an expert massage and a sublime facial, as renewing as both may be. Clients also return to spas because they’re enriched by their environments: interiors that are soothing and serene, yes, but also those that dazzle, delight and communicate ideas.

To illustrate, we present some spas whose visual appeal, design concepts and brilliant space planning went above and beyond to establish themselves as playgrounds of pampering, or to incorporate their distinct regions or communities into their design.

Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel Star in Swiss Spa-set Film, Youth

The new film Youth is a rarity: A major motion picture shot largely on location at a spa. Veteran English actor Michael Caine plays retired orchestra conductor and composer Fred Ballinger, who meets his longtime American friend and filmmaker Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel), at an unspecified upscale wellness center somewhere in Switzerland.

“In the story, this is where Harvey and I spend time when we’re free. We’ve been coming here for years,” Caine explained during a personal appearance following an AFI Fest screening of Youth at the 1920s Egyptian Theatre beside Hollywood Boulevard’s fabled Walk of Fame. AFI Fest is an annual film festival presented by the nonprofit American Film Institute, founded in 1967.

In the movie, Fred and Mick discuss the meaning of life in between Mick’s story conferences with writers who have accompanied him to Switzerland to work on his next screenplay. At the posh spa, they enjoy massages, wraps, facials, sauna and steam sessions, and hang out with Brenda Morel (played by Jane Fonda), a ditzy diva—and Mick’s muse—who has flown in to discuss her role in his upcoming picture. They also see Fred’s daughter, Lena Ballinger (Rachel Weisz), who joins her father

Spa Hopping: The Joys of Joya

With its stark, red-hued mountain range shaped like a three-humped camel’s back, forests of saguaro cacti that stand like centuries-old welcoming committees, and giant red boulders stacked like gifts on the hillsides, Scottsdale, Arizona has an almost otherworldly landscape. Combine all of that with blazing, sky-consuming sunsets, and a trip here leaves visitors truly in awe of Mother Nature.

So it makes perfect sense that more than 20 noteworthy resorts have established spas in the area. Thus, when the creative and business forces behind the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia decided to construct the Moorish-style property, they aspired toward building something unusual and undeniably special: a Moroccan-themed spa and salon that would transport guests to the country that inspired it. Although it took a significant amount of planning and labor, the decision to follow that path was a savvy one, establishing Joya as a requisite visit among spa aficionados, even in Scottsdale’s saturated market of dazzling wellness properties

Decor on a Dollar

Nothing compares to the thrill of showing off your newly remodeled spa space. But for many day spa operators, the costs associated with a true remodel are just too high to even think about. In such cases, it’s important to figure out the best ways to spend those precious dollars.

Marketing Savvy: Goodwill Abassadors

Open house events, online advertising campaigns and social media marketing are all popular ways to attract new spa clients. However, there’s another, less obvious (but equally effective) way to promote your business every day, at no extra cost to you: via your employees.

Whether through networking or chance encounters, your employees may be your spa’s first point of contact with members of your community. They are, therefore, extensions of your promotional efforts and can contribute to your business growth even when away from the spa. This is why, when hiring, you should consider not only the candidates’ tangible skills, but also their talents for recruiting and driving growth. This also highlights the importance of staff orientation and training.

The following are strategies that can be utilized by owners and managers to help staff members understand their roles in bolstering the spa’s image and encourage employees to drive new customers through the front door – whether or not those employees are on the premises at the time.

Taste: Parfait Pairings

Located on 18 acres of restored wetlands a mere mile from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Cedarbrook Lodge boasts a unique urban-yet-eco setting. Cognizant of the hotel’s natural surroundings, management has gone to great lengths to implement eco-friendly practices, from placing low-energy TVs in the guest rooms to planting culinary herb, fruit and vegetable gardens to supply its onsite Copperleaf Restaurant.

The award-winning, farm-to-table eatery reduces its carbon footprint further by serving dishes that feature sustainable ingredients from local independent artisans. Think seafood, cheese, truffles — and some of the nuts, berries and grains used in this deceptively healthful Huckleberry Yogurt Parfait, a treat that soars in popularity in December.

“This parfait is a delicious alternative to the heavy desserts we often indulge in around the holidays,” says culinary director Roy Breiman. “Guests love it because they know that, while satisfying their sweet tooth, this dish also gives them a protein punch that keeps them energized throughout the day, plus a burst of antioxidants from the berries.”

Your Wellness Spa: Pacific Bliss

A charming, Spanish-style, 1920s complex sits tucked at the north end of Crescent Drive — the singular oceanfront boulevard in the town of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, part of the Channel Islands chain off the Pacific coast of California. Home to Island Spa Catalina, the structure makes an earthy statement with its off-white walls, terracotta roof and warm brown tile flooring, all punctuated by turquoise-trim windows and hand-painted tiling in bright cobalt and marigold hues – an homage to the building’s rich, century-long history.

Once known as El Encanto (Spanish for “the charm”), the original compound served as the Band Box Theatre and housed a Chinese restaurant. In 1933, the Santa Catalina Island Company (SCICO) purchased it, via the William Wrigley Junior estate, and converted the lot into an authentic Mexican-style village populated with artisans, candle makers and food vendors. A full-service restaurant was added in the 1970s. But by 2013, the building was beginning to show its age, and the island’s salty air had taken its toll on the structure’s foundation. In November 2014, SCICO helped to fill one of the island’s noticeable wellness voids and opened the doors to Island Spa Catalina.


One on One With Philippe Hennessy of Pevonia International

The word “driven” could easily apply to Philippe Hennessy. “When I was a child, it was a challenge to keep up with me. From the minute I awoke to the minute I went to sleep, I was always running,” says the Frenchman. In school, Hennessy directed his energy toward studying engineering. Ultimately, however, it was sales and marketing that “fascinated and motivated” him. He worked in sales for many years, and his international travels ultimately led him to New York City. He decided to make his home there, along with his wife, Sylvie (a biochemist), and their sons, Edmond and Olivier.

Hennessy describes what happened next: “I’d been working as a distributor for another skincare brand, but they weren’t interested in the all-natural botanical skincare line that Sylvie had developed. We believed so strongly in what she had created that we gave up our distributorship and I began selling Pevonia. Each morning, I’d start the day very early with a cup of coffee at the same café, then I’d go door to door to spas and salons, explaining why Pevonia was the best skincare line for estheticians. It worked!”

There were, of course, challenges in building

Spa Hopping: Wellness by the Water

To motorists making their way up California’s Highway 1, Stanford Inn’s Mendocino Center for Living Well seems little more than an appealing way station — a place to stop and enjoy the scenery and shake off stress. Just across the bay from Mendocino Village in Northern California, the woodsy, ocean-facing property is surrounded by gardens, with llamas and donkeys wandering about and a sign offering bicycles and canoes for rent.

But the simple exterior belies what waits inside: a 10-acre, 41-room, pet-friendly wellness resort with a day spa, yoga studio, acupuncture room, workout room, art studio, organic nurseries, vegan restaurant and workshops geared toward integrating mind, body and soul, with an eye on preserving and protecting the planet and its living creatures.

Mendocino is a natural match for a wellness destination. With its misty backdrop of dense redwood forests, fern-carpeted trails, sandy beaches, craggy coastal bluffs and sun-dappled fog, it boasts a rugged beauty that inspires inner peace and healing. At last count, the town’s population was less than 900, but it swells in peak season, when well-heeled tourists visit to experience its upscale dining, fine local wine and unbeatable scenery.

In the 1960s and

Winter Handcare Tips for Clients

We spoke to four expert sources for the lowdown on handling hands in winter time.

On the challenges of winter:

Patricia Hawthorn-Freund, president, Cuccio: Hand care is critical in the winter months, when the environment saps much-needed moisture from our skin. During this time, we must pay special attention to the palms because they don’t have sebaceous glands to lubricate the skin.

Catherine Baek, director of global education, SpaRitual: In winter, heaters can deplete hydration levels and make the skin dry and itchy. Also, heavy layers of clothes increase our body temperature, which causes us to sweat more and contributes further to skin dehydration. It’s important to consistently moisturize both day and night but also put in place an advanced skin ritual that incorporates serums.

Lydia Sarfati, president and CEO of Repêchage: While we’re bundling up to combat winter weather, our hands are often left open to the elements. Indoor heating can accelerate moisture loss, and UV damage may increase if we’re outdoors, unprotected. Also, extended immersion in water can cause dehydration and dryness, cracking (especially around the cuticles) and even infections.

Shawn Towne, global educator, Jane Iredale: Hands get so much abuse—not

Trend Watch: Delights from the Depths

The Seaweed Body Scrub (60 min./$130) at the Little River Inn in the small Northern California community of Mendocino has remained popular ever since the coastal day spa’s debut four years ago. Inspired by the proximity of the Pacific Ocean — it’s right across the street — the treatment features a full-body exfoliation with sea salts, essential oils and micronized algae, followed by a hydrating cream application and a full-body massage. The inclusion of the massage is often what spurs clients to spring for the treatment, says spa manager Laurie Hill, though she adds that seaweed is also a major draw.

“People are tired and they want to get that detox,” explains Hill. “Seaweed, which is rich in vitamins, is quite detoxifying, not to mention moisturizing. Once you mention the key words ‘detoxifying scrub’ and ‘massage,’ the service markets itself.” Clients are often coaxed to tack on the spa’s Luminous C & Sea facial (60 min./$130), which merges vitamin C with seaweed extracts to brighten dull, damaged skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Last April, when it came time for Jennifer Linder, spa director at Halele’a Spa at The St. Regis Princeville

Spa Pops Up at New York City Subway Station

A bustling New York City subway station may be one of the last places that comes to mind for de-stressing and relaxing, but recently the 34th Street Station transformed into a pop-up luxury spa! Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd figured why not embrace the subway heat which already feels like a sauna and offer complimentary spa services to passengers. The spa provided infused water, towels, sauna benches, hot stone massage and a misting station.

While many of the spa guests were really Improv Everywhere performers, random New Yorkers enthusiastically joined in to enjoy a little much-needed relaxation. The 34th Street Station was an ideal subway location for the spa because of an art installation which provided the sounds of wind chimes and bird noises similar to spa music. Todd explains, “It contains the awesome art installation REACH: New York by Christopher Janney. Installed in 1995, the installation allows passengers to create music by waving their hands in front of sensors. It’s always been my favorite piece of art in the subway system. It enables complete strangers to interact together and share a smile, a goal shared by Improv Everywhere.”

Watch the Subway Spa video and then check

Upwardly Mobile

The results are in: Mobile-friendly websites attract a lot more business. Here’s how to make sure your spa is keeping up. Having a website with a mobile-ready format isn’t simply a trend; it’s a customer service necessity,” asserts Connie Holen, owner of Connie Holen Design, whose company provides brand identity and website services for small businesses. “According to Google’s Mobile Playbook, mobile search activity has grown by five times in the past two years alone. More and more customers expect to accomplish things on the internet,” she adds.

In fact, this tsunami of tablet and smartphone searches recently prompted the search engine giant to change its equation to heavily favor mobile-friendly sites. This means that, in any online Google search, mobile-friendly sites show up at the top of the results. And this matters because, according to AdWeek’s Social Times, “83% of searches end with the user clicking on one of the top four results.”

People are increasingly turning to their mobile devices for everything from information seeking to appointment making, and for obvious reasons. It’s quick, efficient and available 24/7. (Online scheduling software makers MindBody reports that 46% of consumers book their service appointments after hours

Striving for Spring

“Across all the Spring 2016 runways, I’ve noticed one thing: it’s all about the skin,” states Natalie Soto-Carlisle, global educator for Jane Iredale — The Skin Care Makeup. “And for glowing complexions,” adds independent makeup artist Jamie Dorman, “skin prep is absolutely essential.”

We’re thrilled to predict that the trend toward revealing healthful, natural complexions means great things for the experts in all areas of your spa. Women will call on your estheticians to help them de-gunk and shed their winter skin, they’ll reach out to your makeup artists to show them how to execute the season’s trends, and they’ll want to chat with all of your skincare experts to develop a beauty regimen that will leave their faces healthy all season long.

Radiant skin isn’t the only spa-centric trend that has been pulled from NYFW runways, however. “The top 10 fashion colors for Spring 2016 really exude a feeling of calmness,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. The hues she’s referring to: Rose Quartz, Peach Echo and Limpet Shell, all straight out of a tropical resort; Snorkel Blue, Lilac Gray and Serenity, mid-tones that inspire cool transcendence; and Iced Coffee, a