A Refreshed Oasis

Lounge and fireplace  at Miraval
Lounge and fireplace at Miraval

Beyond the Physical

Over the course of Miraval’s tremendous overhaul, therapists themselves served as real catalysts for change. Following the 2010 union with Clarins, the two companies’ trainers and therapists went to work devising 30—yes, 30—treatments to debut in the new spa. Among these additions to Miraval’s (already considerably sized) menu are: Mountain Berry Clay Renewal (100 min./$285), an exfoliation featuring sustainably harvested bamboo coupled with an antioxidant berry wrap; Nâga Thai Massage (50, 100 min./$215, 285), which employs richly colored silk suspensions to help deepen stretches; and the Grounding Facial (70 min./$225), essentially a hot stone massage for the face. All new treatments were initially dreamt up by core teams of seasoned therapists, who had to sell management and trainers on each idea, modifying until the entire spa staff was on board.

This eclectic menu mix is typical for Miraval, longtime home of Spirit Flight (110 min./$375), a renowned “letting go” ceremony performed by an energy healer using singing bowls, prayer, massage and acupuncture; and Bountiful Earth (100 min./$285), a body ritual involving indigenous ingredients from four different continents; and, of course, Dr. Andrew Weil’s well-known Integrative Health Program. Here, spa services are meant to challenge the body, open the mind and restore the spirit. Upon arrival, guests must sign a waiver indicating that they’re willing to push themselves physically and emotionally (and another one stipulating that they won’t use cell phones on property!).

Throughout the day, it’s not uncommon to witness guests thoughtfully staring off into the postcard-worthy mountain scene, or engaging in philosophical banter at the juice bar. Come nightfall, Miraval airs documentaries exploring the phenomena of happiness and other transcendent topics. For clients likes these, who approach spa-going somewhat like a TED conference, Marxer has found it best to create challenging services clients would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

“During the recession, we’d try to introduce trends like mini-services, but no one would book them!” he says. “Guests started to come less often, but they continued to book our most one-of-a-kind, $200- and $300-plus treatments. So we now focus entirely on exclusivity and uniqueness, differentiating these services as much as possible with our menu descriptions.”

As a result, creativity and individuality among staff members is highly encouraged. There’s no script to follow, and customizing services, even when that means straying from protocol, is permitted. Along with management, therapists themselves interview and test prospective hires—one must deliver three treatments deemed successful by consensus to make the cut—and new hires are immediately paired with experienced mentors. It’s safe to say that Marxer is a believer in massaging internal spa resources for overall improvement.