Spa Trends: Unique Spa Consultations

A unique consultation ritual can elevate the guest experience.

Joya Spa

Joya Spa at the Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers a two-pronged spa consultation that invites each visitor to connect with her mind-body issues. First, the guest (who arrives 40 minutes early) checks in with a “journey coordinator,” who escorts her to a small gold room featuring a 16-foot-high dome and an ornate table holding five types of stones—rhodonite, rose quartz, blue lace agate, hematite and tiger eye—each of which represents an area of healing (tension release, for example). The guest considers which type of restorative energy she’d like to bring to her life and then states her intention—for that day, that week, or for her life. “It makes guests aware of why they came to the spa, which helps us focus on their needs,” explains assistant spa director Eddie Zrimsek.

The second step in the Joya consultation takes place in yet another domed room, where the guest puts her hands on a 55-pound Brazilian quartz crystal, takes a few deeps breaths, and exhales slowly to release negative energy. She enjoys a seasonal blend of green tea and then goes to the treatment room to meet her therapist.

Elaborate? Yes. But, says Zrimsek, the ritual “helps guests leave their daily lives behind, get in touch with what they are seeking here, and ready to find renewal.”

Willow Spa

The client consultation at Willow Spa in the Los Angeles coastal community of Santa Monica “starts our clients on a journey out of L.A. and onto a healing path,” says co-owner Coco Iv. To facilitate this change in emotional landscape, each 60-minute-or-more service starts with a 15-minute foot soak—provided the client arrives 20 minutes early. “This motivates our clients to be on time, which helps us stay on track with appointments,” notes lv.

The fragrant foot treatment takes place in a tropical-style garden at the back of the spa. Submerged in a Thai soaking bowl, clients’ feet are bathed in a warm-water solution of anti-inflammatory Epsom salts, antiseptic grapefruit slices and hydrating rose petals (also reputed to ward off negative energy). “The aroma of all these elements wafts up and is instantly transporting,” says Iv. The client is offered a brew of seasonal green tea while she and the therapist “sync their energy” to facilitate an optimal treatment experience.

Iv is convinced that Willow Spa’s consultation ritual sets it apart. “We don’t provide some of the amenities that other spas might, but we have this wonderful ritual,” she says. “There’s no question that our clients see it as added value.”

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City is focused on holistic wellness, and the spa’s consultation is designed to help customize the healing experience. The consultation starts with the guest nursing a cup of ginger tea as her feet are eased into warm, oxygenated water treated with mineral salts. The therapist lifts a Tibetan tingsha bell and rings it. This clears negative energy from the space, allowing the guest to leave the outside world and enter a meditative state.

After the feet are cleansed, massaged and dried, the actual consultation begins. (For more details, see this month’s Spa Hopping, page 24.) The therapist uses a diagnostic questionnaire based on Traditional Chinese Medicine to determine the client’s emotional and physical state using four essential elements—fire, earth, water and wood—as touchstones. The client then selects a custom-blended aromatherapy oil for her treatment. A spine evaluation based on acupuncture points is also offered.

What does the client take away from this intimate and expansive spa consultation? “It truly is an opportunity for a conversation, allowing for a more personalized experience,” says spa director Heather Hannig. “Our clients really value the care.”