My respect for Guerlain stems from a story I did on Orchidée Impériale, their gorgeously packaged $350 skin-care cream, whose anti-aging essence is derived from the roots of orchids. Because every single day a company tells me a story about their magical youth-preserving ingredient, I was expecting to get another. But instead I was wowed by the time spent on sensible science. (Seven years; two just on the orchid molecule-skin connection.) And by Guerlain’s nonchalance at surrounding itself with experts to get the job done right (including Philippe Lecoufle, a fourth-generation orchid specialist). The investment of time and expertise (Spa Chakra, as consultants, and The Regent, a top international hotel brand) is very present in their new Bal Harbour spa, which is why I predict Guerlain will become known as leading spa brand — not just a fragrance brand, turned skin-care brand, turned spa brand.
While the spa lacks a sumptuous relaxation room — it’s given instead to an enormous pedicure area with hydraulic sofas that put your toes into perfect position for polishing, pictured — here are few highlights of my visit:
-No locker rooms. Instead, you change and shower in your private treatment room, because, as spa director Michael Perez said so wisely, a single cell-phone talker can disrupt an otherwise amazing personal spa experience;
-Customized facials are de rigeur, as is switching from one massage style to another if a consultation suggests you’d benefit from something else. (My therapist Christine Nigro recommended hydrotherapy before a Swedish massage — very sound advice based on my gnarly knots and past injuries — even though I’d booked the Imperiale Massage. Which, by the way, I loved.)
-Therapists move treatment rooms, not you. While other spas do this, or have therapists trained both in skin care and massage, it’s still far from standard. And it puts “service” in spa service.
-No tipping policy. It’s included, and therapists are paid a salary, not per service. Facials average $250 and massage, $165, so presumably that accounts for it. Rates include valet parking and access to a cache of Guerlain makeup to apply afterward.
The bill comes to you in the treatment room, which is meant to prevent waiting in a line at reception. I’m not sure it’s worth introducing money into the treatment room, another stressful, if not strange, situation. So when I go again, I’ll just pay upfront, so I can glide out of there. How would you feel about paying a bill in your treatment room? Your comments are welcome.