With a plethora of spas renovating and opening fresh facilities this year, planners looking to incorporate spa services into their meetings have plenty of options. What's more, spa directors are more willing than ever to customize meetings and events to fit a group's needs (and budget), whether by offering time saving mini-treatments, opening the spa after hours or bringing technicians' magic hands to the meeting room itself. Following are a sampling of spas and spa resorts throughout the country that have upgraded services or unveiled all-new venues.
Eden Roc Renaissance Beach Resort & Spa
(305) 531-0000; boldnewedenroc.com
Approximately $200 million and an 18-month renovation have completely transformed the Eden Roc Renaissance Beach Resort & Spa in Miami Beach. Chief among the remodeled features is the 21,000-square-foot Spa of Eden, the final touch of this massive makeover, to be unveiled in July. The facility's three levels have been redesigned in myriad ways. For one, upon entering, all guest are escorted through a series of water rituals involving a clay hammam, a dry sauna and a water lagoon, guided by spa butlers. A new relaxation lounge with a fireplace, and a fitness center equipped with a yoga and Pilates studio with ocean views, can be booked exclusively for groups.
"For those planners who don't have the time to come to us, we'll bring the spa to them, by putting together services during coffee breaks or intermissions," says spa director Tim Williams.
The Waldorf Astoria
New York City, N.Y.
(773) 467-9401; guerlainspa.com/newyork/index.html
Last September, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Collection unveiled its flagship spa facility, the Guerlain Spa, at its New York City location. Encompassing 14,000 square feet and 16 treatment rooms (three of which feature Vichy showers and hydrotherapy equipment), the ultra-luxe venue, named after French fragrance and skin care company Guerlain, offers a highly customized experience. According to spa director Kimani Roquemore, a journey at Guerlain is akin to a guest room experience, with each visitor assigned a personal suite -- no shared locker rooms and showers here.
The spa's entryway sets the tone of décor, with immaculate white marble walls and custom-made crystal chandeliers. All treatment rooms feature one to three windows, allowing the filtration of natural light.
Two footbath lounges highlight the spa's special introductory treatments. "With every first-time client, our technicians provide a complimentary footbath to promote relaxation and to allow the dialogue to begin right away," Roquemore explains. "From there, specific treatments are customized for clients."
Group spa treatments are an option (up to four treatment rooms can be joined as one), as is a complete facility buyout. One recent group of 140 was accommodated by extending the spa's hours of operation. Food and beverage stations were arranged, and guests had the opportunity to explore the spa's "retail playground," where they sampled luxury cosmetic, skin care and fragrance products by Guerlain. The spa also can be used as an event venue for receptions of up to 125 people.
Montage Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills, Calif.
(310) 860-7801; montagebeverlyhills.com
In November 2008, the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage opened within the new 201-room Montage Beverly Hills, the luxury brand's second resort to date. As was the case with the company's first property, Montage Laguna Beach, the resort's architectural design and décor took inspiration from its surroundings. At the Beverly Hills location, some of the glamour of Hollywood during the 1920s and '30s, coupled with the Spanish Revival style popular to the region, was chosen as the theme.
"Our treatments are deeply rooted in water," says spa director Barbara Shultz. "We use muds, clays and dead sea salts, for example, as ingredients." One signature treatment features a mud and clay application within a steam room, followed by a fusion shower with 21 heads programmed to personal preference. Finally, guests are doused in oils and lotions, again customized to fit the client's therapeutic needs, which are determined through in-depth conversations with technicians.
Services offered to groups include private Pilates or yoga instruction, water circuit therapies and, if requested, organic wine and cocktails following spa treatments.
Abbey Resort and Spa
(800) 709-1323; theabbeyresort.com
The Abbey Resort and Spa has renovated and renamed its spa facility, now called the Avani Spa. This past July, the 35,000-square-foot venue experienced service menu changes, new fitness equipment and an overall redesign.
The spa's focal point remains its Atrium Pool and the Avani Sanctuary Suite, a feature of particular interest to small groups. The suite's private hot tub, flat-screen TV and massage tables can be enjoyed by up to 10 people. Alternatively, the space can be used as a semiprivate area stocked with refreshments, for a group not requiring a full buyout.
The property also offers 40,000 square feet of meeting space, six restaurants and a 406-slip marina off Lake Geneva.
Canyon Ranch SpaClub
The Venetian/The Palazzo, Las Vegas
(877) 220-2688; canyonranch.com/spaclubs
Last November, the 69,000-square-foot Canyon Ranch SpaClub, which services both The Venetian and The Palazzo Resort, Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, unveiled its expansion to 134,000 square feet, having nearly doubled in size. Much like a sports facility and spa in one, this multipurpose venue includes a 40-foot indoor rock-climbing wall, a Pilates studio, a cycling gym, a Kinesis studio, locker rooms, relaxation lounges, 82 treatment rooms and a new European-influenced suite of thermal spa cabins, referred to as the Aquavana. The latter includes a wave room, an aromatic steam area, cooling showers, saunas, and cave-like dwellings that produce snowfall and cool mist showers.
Also part of the expansion is a 993-square-foot retail boutique called Living Essentials at Canyon Ranch, where fitness clothing, literature, cookbooks and nutritional supplements are sold. Now accompanying the 60-seat Canyon Ranch Café as an additional option for healthful cuisine is the 100-seat fine dining Canyon Ranch Grill, which serves organic spirits, beer and wine.
Another enticement for groups: the spa's new Mixology Blending Bar, where guests are able to mix scrubs, lotions and oils to their liking.
Immersion, the Spa at the Water Club
(800) 800-8817; thewaterclubatborgata.com/spa
The $400 million Water Club, A Signature Hotel by Borgata, opened last June in Atlantic City, with the 36,000-square-foot Immersion spa as one of its most notable amenities. Set on the 32nd and 33rd floors, with 42-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the Atlantic Ocean, Immersion offers 16 treatment rooms, an 80-foot-long infinity-edged lap pool (one of five pools at the resort), a 25-person coed Jacuzzi, and a poolside spa menu overseen by chef and owner of New York City's Country and Town restaurant, Geoffrey Zakarian.
A high-tech fitness center, lounges with cold water plunge pools, and Jacuzzi and steam rooms are additional features. Signature treatments include the Immersion Rainforest, which begins with an exfoliation and clay mud wrap, followed by soaking in an essence-filled Japanese-style Hanoki tub and finishing with a deep tissue massage.
Special programs are available for both convention and incentive groups. On one recent occasion, chair massages were administered to attendees in a studio adjacent to the convention, with low lighting and soothing music provided for atmosphere. "The group was in intense meetings from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., so a chair massage really helped with the shoulder tension and headaches," notes Lisa Anctil, the spa's group sales manager.
Within a 10-hour period, Immersion can handle approximately 90 appointments. A typical incentive group will enjoy a light lunch at the pool, followed by a treatment, then a champagne toast after the services. "The toast is synchronized with the sunset, and with the nighttime view and city lights from the 32nd floor, you are truly on top of the world," says Anctil.
Here are three new or revamped spas from around the world.
CuisinArt Resort & Spa
Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla
(264) 498-2000; cuisinartresort.com
The Venus Spa & Fitness Center in the CuisinArt Resort & Spa on the Caribbean island of Anguilla completed a $10 million expansion last December, which tripled the size of the original 1999 facility. Indeed, thanks to additions such as 16 treatment rooms, a VIP suite and the project's crown jewel, the Healing Waters Pool (geared for aqua therapy), the spa has grown to 27,000 square feet. The added treatment areas include facial rooms and mens' and womens' hammams. Guests now can sample the Gentleman's Facial and Hot Towel Shave in the new Men's Club Room, and the newly expanded fitness center features TechnoGym equipment and Kinesis System weight training. Meeting space at the resort consists of the 2,500-square-foot Santorini banquet space, the Rendezvous private dining room accommodating 40, the 4,000-square-foot Penthouse Suite and Café Mediterraneo, which seats 120.
The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
(011) 962-5-356-8888; kempinski-deadsea.com
At the start of this year, the 117-room Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea opened the Antantara Spa, a reminder of how spectacularly massive such projects can be in this part of the world. The facility covers more than 100,000 square feet and includes 20 treatment rooms, 28 spa suites, a sizable yoga and Pilates studio, a Moroccan hammam, a tennis club and myriad spa pools. Attendees can soak in indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis; traverse a lap pool aglow with fiber-optic lighting; or go for treatments in a private Watsu pool, which combines shiatzu massage techniques and light stretching in shallow water set to the guest's body temperature. Banquet and meeting facilities on-site include a grand ballroom that can accommodate 800 and an auditorium that seats 182, in addition to several meeting rooms.
Westport Plaza and Castlecourt Hotel Resort
Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
(011) 353-98-51166; westportplazahotel.ie
In October 2008, the Westport Plaza and Castlecourt Hotel Resort, sister properties with a combined room count of 240, unveiled the 9,000-square-foot Spa Sula. Features include 10 treatment rooms, hydrotherapy baths and a thermal suite. Sundari skin care, by model Christy Turlington, and Thai inspired Ytsara organic spa products are administered during treatments. Among the spa's more innovative amenities: an ice fountain, used for cooling between heat treatments; a Rasul chamber, for a Turkish cleansing ritual using medicinal muds to exfoliate impurities; and a mineral salt grotto. Also available to guests are a rock sauna, a relaxation room overlooking a landscaped garden, and a heated outdoor rock pool. On-site meeting facilities can host up to 750 delegates, with 10 breakout rooms on hand. -- K.H.