Yes, says Rosita Missoni. The Italian fashion house has partnered with a Belgium-based hotel group to launch Missoni “lifestyle hotels” with spas, aimed at a design-conscious traveler. According to a company rep, the first two (in Edinburgh and Kuwait City, destinations that are way, way ahead of the curve?) will launch in 2009, followed by 30 more in the next 10 years. I don’t have to tell you that’s a staggering number.
I used to flinch when a fragrance company, a cosmetics brand, or a fashion house migrated into spas. But I’m revising my stance:
Bulgari did it successfully in Milan and Bali, probably by aligning itself with solid spa management (ESPA, in the case of Milan). Miuccia Prada created some surprisingly good skin-care products a few years back, and hired a talented North American to create Prada facials for a handful of Ritz-Carlton spas. And Guerlain’s new luxe spas, run by Spa Chakra’s team of perfectionists, are opening one after another. (Next up: Waldorf-Astoria.)
So now I’m far more curious about them: And here’s why: Too many spas tout the same design, share the same treatment menu, and offer life-enrichment programming that’s now decades old. This is instead of evaluating what’s been working, scrapping what doesn’t, and adding something completely innovative by drawing on the world beyond the spa gates. (Ian Schrager made this point at the 2008 Global Spa Summit, when he encouraged spas to look outside their industry for new ideas. See Susie Ellis’s blog entry for more on his keynote address.)
What I’m seeing now, with outside industries coming into the spa world, is that they bring with them intense creativity, new spa-going terms, and a new tone—instead of a checklist of familiar must-haves. Who will up the ante and take us into a 21st-century-style of spa-going? Maybe the Missonis. Maybe not. But I am willing to be surprised.
(*A nod to Domino Magazine.)