Spa Wellness: Feng Shui Spaces

Promote a balanced environment by implementing some feng shui design strategies.

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The ancient Chinese design tool of feng shui lends itself to healing spaces, and no one understands this better than Judith Wendell, feng shui expert and founder of Sacred Currents, a design consultancy based in New York City that's dedicated to “creating vital and thriving environments.”

“The time-honored system of feng shui has been used for thousands of years to help us live in harmony with nature, and to increase the fortunes of businesses and the health and harmony of individuals and corporations,” says Wendell. “At the very least, I see feng shui as an ‘insurance plan’: you may not need it but you wouldn’t want to be without it.”

Feng (“wind”) shui (“water”) is applied to environments to facilitate the harmonious flow of energy or chi, thereby promoting health, happiness and prosperity. Assuming that creatures and things exist together as part of a natural order, feng shui maximizes that relationship via the strategic placement of objects and spaces. Experts in feng shui use a bagua, or chart of symbols representing principles of reality, to analyze a space and make recommendations that will maximize flow and allow for an optimal outcome.

The good news is, even if your spa was designed without a single feng shui principle in mind, there are changes you can make to increase its “feng shui quotient.” “The best part is that feng shui can be incorporated into any level of style, taste, budget or environment,” Wendell says. “For instance, one principle to follow is that a spa should give the arriving client reason to pause and take a breath—the space should feel like a break from the outside. This is accomplished by having an open and uncluttered environment. I call this a balance of yin and yang—yin, meaning the place feels restful, and yang, meaning it is alive and healthy.”

As a feng shui consultant, Wendell works with businesses at every stage of development, “from sourcing a site and initial architectural plans to tweaking an up-and-running spa that needs a boost,” she says. Among her projects was the spa at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City, where she worked to “energetically and visually connect our retail areas to the spa, which helped greatly to increase sales,” shares former Mandarin spa director Denise Vitiello.

Feng shui isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. “A highly effective adjustment in one spa may have little or even a negative effect in another,” explains Wendell. “How this translates into a particular spa and its style is the creative challenge of the feng shui consultant. Done professionally, feng shui adjustments should be seamless and not draw any particular attention to themselves.”

To locate your own feng shui expert, Wendell suggests visiting fengshuidirectory.com. Make sure your potential consultant is experienced in working with spas, and always ask for references.