spa REVIEWS: Japanese-style Spas

Prior to treatment, Willow Spa guests are led to this outdoor lounge for complimentary foot soaks.

Eastern Hospitality

Clients entering a traditional Japanese spa, such as Spa Relaken at the Miyako Hybrid Hotel in Torrance, California, are immediately struck by the nurturing manner with which spa staff treats each guest. Movements are gentle, voices are soft and requests are accommodated without hesitation. “At our spa, the client is god,” says Relaken founder Akemi Yamamoto. This royal treatment is called omorenashi—a Japanese term encompassing hospitality and graciousness.

Other ways to foster a sense of omorenashi include serving clients tea (green or ginger are classic choices) in a quiet, beautiful space before and after treatments, and offering such gracious, low-cost extras as foot soaks. Los Angeles’ Asian-themed Willow Spa treats clients to a complimentary and sense-stimulating foot soak of rose petals (to soften skin), grapefruit juice (to cleanse) and epson salts (to detoxify and reduce inflammation). “The ritual helps our guests transition from the outside world to the one inside the spa,” says co-owner Wendi Clifford Reeves. “It’s our way of bringing something extra to the treatment.”