Monday, February 23, 2009

In case you're curious.....

The post you've just read contains some contradictory insight to the world of spa, given the economic downturn that's enveloping all of us. Many spas, like other businesses, are having to re-think their entire pricing structure and see a dramatic loss in clientele, new or repeat. With more and more individuals having to choose between bread and butter issues, versus the hedonism of a jaunt to their local spa, more and more spas are finding it difficult to keep their doors open, including terminating staff. Please remember that with each failed business there comes with its demise a human element reiterating that we're all in this together, with or without spa-ing. Consider donating some unused canned goods to your local food pantry, community center, or faith center.


Über Spa-Goers: Never mind the impressive and thought-provoking results of ISPA’s 2006 Spa-Goer Study (Hartman Group, Inc.) and what it has to say about the spa demographic. When it comes to spa-ing, and for eye-popping, jaw-dropping stratospheric trending, look to the 2006 The New Jet Set Elite Traveler Study (Prince & Associates); Elite Traveler (ET) is the definitive publication dedicated to the “jet lifestyle”. This rarified “breed” of multi-millionaires who jettison around the world at a proverbial drop of the feather anywhere, anytime and for any reason in their cute little multi-million dollar jet-toys (which they usually own), with nary a worry about bread and butter issues like the rest of us in the land of reality, are also big-time consumers and devotees of spa-ing. Anything these folks do is definitely über, like individually spending $107k (weighted average) each on spa services at destination spas and day spas. It’s no wonder why some spas don’t bat an eye at charging $500 or more for one individual treatment. Here’s how the big-spenders breakdown:

• Trendsetter (60.9%): the impulse buyer or celeb, spent $98k.
• Winners (33%): they lavish themselves and their BFFs with rewards anytime they do something on the “oh-goodie-me” scale, spent $119k.
• Connoisseurs (6.1%): probative, cerebral and deliberative when making purchases, spent $128k.

Interested in marketing to these über spa-goers? Then keep in mind some of their base expectations, which aren’t that much different than what most non-rarified spa-goers demand: 1) a place that’s fashionable and beautiful where they can unwind; 2) an indulgent place where they can celebrate and get pampered; 3) cost, signature services, personal referrals and media mention are important in reaching them.

The Peninsula Chicago Hotel and Spa: As if this mega-rated luxury hotel and spa can’t get any better, the spa will now be an ESPA branded spa. Originating in the United Kingdom, ESPA has become the definitive all-inclusive turnkey operative for spa-dom. All Peninsula Hotels will be gradually phasing in the ESPA branded approach and within two year’s time, all will be under this name. More than a name, The Peninsula Spa by ESPA will meld European with Asian treatment approaches, using natural and cutting-edge technologies; individual hotels will also incorporate their own unique indigenous ingredients and cultural touches. It’s a way of treatment delivery, an operational philosophy and an ideal way to achieve extraordinary continuity from all aspects of spa; this win-win will benefit the luxury hotel chain and its rightly so demanding clientele. The Hong Kong and Bangkok locations are up and running with the new Peninsula Spa by ESPA brand. The Chicago location is the first North American location to go ESPA. Another new emphasis for the luxury chain is to incorporate recipes from the award-winning “Naturally Peninsula Flavours” cookbook in the various hotel restaurants, and especially on menu selections at their spas. Emphasis is on natural, organic, fresh, local, and heart-healthy. Available in Chicago’s “The Lobby” restaurant (or Room Service Menus), these plated selections are a feast for the eyes and tantalizing as well. I had the pleasure of experiencing some of these artistic culinary concoctions at the Chicago location. With the advent of the ESPA transformation and the emphasis on healthy cuisine, as reflected in the beautiful new cookbook, Peninsula is definitely branding themselves, more so than ever, as having a commitment to health, well being and an holistic philosophy. Who says the best can’t be made better?

Coldwater Creek Spa: Coldwater Creek has always been a quality brick and mortar retail store catering to the comfort and eclecticism of discerning women; their website and catalog also do a brisk business. In 2006, this retail brand entered the day spa arena, building amenities either contiguous to, or vertical to their stores; currently there are six such spas in the U.S. I recently went to the spa in Naperville, IL. The new spa is beautiful, with its sleek design and muted natural palette; treatment rooms were generously sized and not crowded. The spa has a well-designed retail area stocked with products ideal for an at-home regimen (two of my favorite lines are carried, Aromafloria and Olivina Napa Valley); staff are pleasant and attentive. Guests booking any spa treatment (except nails) receive a welcoming eucalyptus foot soak, complete with washing, exfoliation and moisturizing; this was wonderful. Guests are given probably the best fitting body sheeting and robes I’ve ever worn; locker area is roomy. Downside is that there’s no steam, sauna or whirlpool. I booked the Field of Lavender Dreams and the manicure-pedicure combination. The first treatment involved a two-step body exfoliation (the sea salt particles were too large and chunky and uncomfortable); my therapist kept concentrating exfoliating the back calf and knee areas (neither needed aggressive exfoliation); warm toweling was then used to remove the salt; a body massage followed, and full moisturization ended the service; lavender scent was barely discernible. The nail combo treatment was too lengthy; treatment area was loud and raucous; my technician was inattentive in grooming the cuticles of my toes, polishing over the cuticle, instead of taking the time to properly trim and groom them. Drawback to my treatment experience was that its level was mediocre, at best; in time, more experience should address these shortcomings. Major draw for the spa will be the brand name of this popular retail chain, and the fact that after spa-ing, a guest can go downstairs, shop and spend more money on Coldwater Creek clothing and accessories. Again, the spa is beautiful and staff very cordial; however, the goal of high quality treatment delivery needs to be addressed; this new branded day spa has potential.

I Tried These: Speaking of making the best better, a kicked-up version of jane iredale's PurePressed Eye Shadow, Amazing Base and PurePressed Base formulations are hitting the market. These enhanced formulations are oomphed-up to include beneficial sea minerals and boron nitride, both of which increase the nutritive product benefits, while soothing and protecting the skin from harmful UV rays and dehydration. The new Dawn and Dusk eyeshadow colors are beautiful, and make eyelids more fashionable than ever; wet or dry, the application is flawless and the look enhances any skin tone; the peepers are softly accentuated and glam. The new Amazing Base and PurePressed Base illuminate the skin with maximum coverage that’s not noticeable. Beneficial boron nitrade and algae extracts make these reformulated products high performing. Application was effortless and felt luxurious with the aid of the line’s natural pony and goat hairbrushes. Mineral makeup got its definitive and innovative beginning with the line’s eponymous namesake.

The originators of Vinothérapie, Caudalíe Paris, have some of the most luxurious and restorative Vinothérapie spas in the world (France, Italy, Spain, US and Taiwan); the original spa is located in Bordeaux, France. In addition to these fab spas, all of their treatment products are high-performers, which many others have tried to copy using the basic premise of anti-aging properties through grape by-products, which are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. With their great formulations and composition, these effective treatment and curative products also have a heady aroma; textures are exceptionally emulsified and application was effortless; quickly absorbed, no tack and didn’t leave any residue. Try the super Radiance Day Fluid SPF8 and the exceptional Anti-Ageing Eye and Lip Serum. The high-performance workhorse ingredient in both products is Resveratrol, a super-charged polyphenol and antioxidant ideal for anti-aging because it minimizes wrinkles, firms and maximizes hydration.

Think tomato and basil are just for cooking? How about cucumber and carrot? Think again. With inventive flavor combinations, Fully Loaded Tea continues to titillate tea aficionados with its unique black tea infused pyramid bags of tea-wonder. Two new inventive flavor combinations include Tomato Rebel Black Tea, with its basil, tomato pieces, black tea leaves, marigold and cornflowers, makes for a naturally sweet and herb brew that is delicious and comforting; or Cucumber Mojo White Tea, with its white tea leaves, melon flavor, carrot and cucumber pieces, safflowers and marigold flowers makes for a crisp, sweet and fresh concoction. An extensive line of inventive and interesting blends adds a totally new dimension to teatime.

When Ojon hit the scene a few years back, there was an audible sizzle when their highly prized Restorative Hair Treatment arrived. The I-can’t-get-enough-of-this-stuff clamor for this naturally based organic tree oil from South America has been incorporated into all of its product formulations since day one. Expanding their full line of products is the new treatment line Tawaka, which includes Ancient Tribal Rejuvenating Cleanser, Ancient Tribal Rejuvenating Conditioner, and Ancient Tribal Rejuvenating Cream. These nearly hard-to-come-by products are infused with a new high-performing anti-oxidant exotic oil find named the “savage” cocoa. Controlled tests have found this ingredient has the anti-oxidant equivalent of over two hundred pounds of blueberries. The Rejuvenating Cleanser and Rejuvenating Conditioner are both an exceptional hair treatment duo; the Rejuvenating Cleanser is also ideal for facial and body cleansing as well. Products left my hair, face and body in a hydrated state; non-irritating, silky texture, with no tack or residue. A real stunner in this trio of new products is the Rejuvenating Cream. This exceptional cream does more than hydrate and replenish, it appears to restore the skin’s texture and noticeably improves appearance. Yummy aroma, too!

One of the originators of healing and relaxation music for the spa industry and especially the healing arts, Real Music continues to offer an impressively eclectic array of relaxing and healing music. Sensory stimulation imprints and impacts people in different ways, while experiences will vary either favorably or unfavorably. Music impacts the auditory sense and can have a deeply profound impact on the way one reacts to it through aural stimulation and imprinting. I recently had the pleasure of listening to some new spa focused titles that included Lotus Age (Gandalf), Tropical Meditation (Mark Ciaburri), Zen Pause (Thierry David), and Gratitude Joy (Anand Anugrah, Paul Avgerinos). I found the most effectual treatment music was from Lotus Age, because each track was distinctively different than the other, including the instrumentation used, (whether it was acoustical or digitally synthesized), and better suited to incorporate into a treatment setting with its seamless interface from one track to the next, which ebbs and flows, as do the treatment properties. In the treatment setting where music is utilized, there are three sensory elements: therapist, guest and music. Music used in the spa treatment setting is ideally suited as a background for the guest while the therapist administers the treatment. Since each guest perceives music differently as a sensory driven element, always ask before playing the music so as not to alienate or offend them. The other two titles are better suited for individual meditative sessions.

Lily Organics was doing the vegan and organic thing long before it became part of mainstream vocabulary and an in-the-trend-moment. The overall skin care I sampled wasn’t sufficient for me to make any observations, other than the fact that I enjoyed the aroma and textures; I received a sample kit for normal to oily; products had a very intense herbal aroma, medicinal in quality. The product I continue to use is the Organic Moisture Mist. This moisturizing spray is ideal after the cleansing ritual, or sprayed on as a pick-me-up. Comfrey and essential oil of ylang-ylang are the predominant aromas, although lavender oil, seaweed, calendula, chamomile and citrus seed extract are part of the formulation. Chilled, the mist is especially crisp on a hot and humid day, or during a “hot flash”. Another must-have addition to one’s reference library is Lily’s book “Beauty, Health, and Happiness~A Way of Life”, which is a compendium of information on nutrition, skin care and body care information, herbs, lifestyle recommendations, and insight on natural and organic alternatives to health and beauty care.

A Contemplative: Capture the possibilities and dare to go beyond limitations, imagined or real.

Resources: For additional information, visit the following websites.

Caudalíe Paris (; Coldwater Creek Spa (; Elite Traveler (; Fully Loaded Tea (; jane iredale (, Lily Organics (; Ojon (; Peninsula Hotels (, Peninsula Chicago Hotel (; and, Real Music (


By Terry Herman