Category Archives: Trend

Bringing the massage to Mohammed

Globetrotting spa therapists

A new era of globe-trotting spa therapists

It’s plausible that experts in far-flung treatments from all corners of the planet will be visiting a spa near you, thanks to a new trend of spa therapists spending “a semester abroad.”

Given all the fabulous spas that are a $1,000 plane ticket away—and that I can’t get an authentic lomi lomi massage on the East Coast (I’ll pass on the knock-offs, thank you very much)—it’s a development I really appreciate, since it potentially brings the skilled practitioners to me.

Some examples: In mid September, Chiva Som, Thailand’s top destination spa, dispatches three therapists experienced in meditation and meridian tapping for Gwinganna, a new destination spa on Australia’s Gold Coast that’s getting great reviews for its progressive programming. This spring, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon brought its unique geothermal seawater treatments to Cornelia Day Resort in New York City, and in October, the Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong will host two therapists steeped in traditional Thai therapies from the resort spas at the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai and Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.

Expertise and authenticity are two big benefits for spa-goers—and I appreciate the host spas that aren’t willing to fake it. (I mean, I know Gordon Ramsey can cook but I wouldn’t have him make my sushi.) And since it’s so-often specialists that draw me to a spa, I can’t wait to see more spas sending their therapists packing for places where their craft is hard to come by. Can I recommend a spa close to me?


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Filed under beauty, massage, spa therapist, spa travel, Spa treatment, Trend

Can this outfit be turned into a spa?*

From runway to Missoni lifestyle hotels

From runway to Missoni lifestyle hotels

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.)

A guest room at Missoni Kuwait

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.)

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Filed under Design hotel, New Spa, skin care, Trend

When a beauty product speaks for itself

Some beauty companies need help with their branding. Not This Works, makers of Tired Eye Serum, Really Rich Lotion, and Dry Leg Oil, among others. The high-quality aromatherapy line has never minced words. Hence, Perfect Cleavage, a name (and a promise) that might otherwise give you pause. It contains nourishing essential oils, firming algae and plant-derived polysaccharides, and leaves a subtle shimmer—much needed for the fragile skin of the neck and décolleté (it has fewer oil glands than the face, but gets just as much sun exposure).

The brand-new item joins the widening pool of anti-aging products that are meant for use below the makeup line (my spa beauty predictions are coming true!)—only I suspect it’ll fair better than many others. Why?

Its simple syntax. Brands that load up labels with useless adjectives or sci-fi-sounding neologisms make me scratch my head. (Free advice to companies: That’s prime real estate for your product elevator pitch.) If I, a professional product decoder, can’t give sentence diagramming and name decoding more than three seconds (given the flood of beauty items boxing me into my office), will a shopper?

Simple is smarter. That must have been Kathy Phillips’s thinking, the International Beauty Director for Condé Nast Asia (she oversees Vogue, W, and Allure), who is also This Works’s creator. That Phillips sniffed out Sue Beechey and Geraldine Howard, the genius duo behind Aromatherapy Associates, a top spa line, for a hand with the formulations is another feature of the product that speaks volumes.

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Filed under Aromatherapy, skin care, Trend

We’ve crossed the final spa frontier, Times’ reports

If “Sex in the City” were still on the air, we would have had some warning. Maybe an episode involving Samantha taking Charlotte to Kegel classes at the local pelvic fitness center. “But it’s embarrassing,” says Charlotte. “Shut up and clench,” replies Samantha, as she renews her unlimited monthly class card to Pelvic Pilates.

Instead, the debut later this month of Phit, a New York City spa run by gynecologist Lauri Romanzi, MD, comes as a bit of shock, dedicated as it is to “strengthening and grooming a woman’s genital area,” reports Natasha Singer, who covered the spa for the Times. Gee, and I’ve spent all this time and money on facials. Continue reading

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A spa treatment in your car?

Forget fabulously designed spa treatment rooms. There are days when my subway car requires some serious aromatherapy. (Soaring summer temperatures, festering puddles the size of kiddy pools on the platforms, and train cars packed with sweaty New Yorkers can test your olfactory limits more quickly than the blue cheese selection at Whole Foods.) Capitalizing on the way the rest of the country gets to work, and the limited amount of time women have to themselves, is Car-Ma. The company has created an aromatherapy equivalent of a Glade PlugIn for the car, only with mellowing lavender pebbles, rejuvenating eucalyptus mists, or vanilla discs that sit in a cupholder, rather than in the able hands of a skilled spa therapist.

I suppose a room of one’s own for many women is now a Toyota Prius, the commute providing the only personal space between home and work. So I can see how this product would appeal. I just wish I liked the ingredients used in it, which stray from the pure essentials oils and hydrosol distillations that aromatherapists craft. They’re more cloying than a Bath & Body Works store but less sneeze-inducing than a taxicab’s scented rearview-mirror pine tree. But even if the execution isn’t well done, the idea is an excellent one. Someone should strike a deal with the city to pipe aromatherapy into the subway system. I vote for rosemary mint.

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Filed under Aromatherapy, Trend