Tag Archives: spa

Confessions from Argentta Spa Grand Opening Party at The Watergate Hotel

I confess, it wasn’t my first time at Argentta Spa, it was my fourth to be exact, with previous visits during my November birthday, over New Year’s, while hosting a Confessions of a Spa Bunny “Spa Scandalous” Time-out event, and now, for their official “grand opening” party.  Compared to the other relatively quiet visits (you know, what you normally expect at a spa), this visit was not for solitude, but more for celebration.  Celebrating the iconic Watergate Hotel‘s past, while diving into its revamped future, or for starters into the beautiful historic pool.

When the dress to impress, invitation-only crowd descended to level B3 and exited the elevators, the vibrant scene which awaited was not to be expected.  I could try to describe it, with creative words to help you visualize being there, though you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you there were models that looked like mannequins, body painted in silver (Argentta is derived from the word Argento, the Italian word for Silver, if you didn’t know), a magician doing card tricks, signature drinks at an open “juice” bar, poolside DJ and hookah, synchronized swimmers, personalized caricature drawings, hand treatments, and more!  Sounds pretty amazing right?

It was… so I thought putting together this short video, giving you an insider’s look, would be even better.

When you visit Argentta Spa, and you should, try the Argentta Seven Elements Ritual, which drapes and soothes your body in the natural awesomeness that is red flower.  Arrive at least 90 min prior to your treatment so that you have enough time to enjoy the hydrotherapy areas, sauna, and steam room.  Ask for champagne, and see if they have those oh so delectable macaroons, while you lounge post-treatment in the relaxation area wrapped in a luxe La Bottega robe.

 

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India K. Robinson, President & CEO
“Confessions of a Spa Bunny”, The H.I.S Agency, LLC
spabunny@hisincorporated.com

 Creator and Founder of “Confessions of a Spa Bunny”, India is an active member of the International Spa Association, Wellness Warrior, and the Washington Spa Alliance.  She is also a contributing author for Insider’s Guide to Spas.  

7th Annual Washington Spa Alliance – Timeless Growth

It was the first day of Spring in Washington, DC. While some anxiously visit the city to await the full blooms of the Cherry Blossoms, others came to connect, engage, and deliver for another reason.  This year, regional, national, and international spa industry professionals gathered at the newly renovated Watergate Hotel for a meeting of the minds at the 7th Annual Washington Spa Alliance Symposium (WSPA).

Like a recently hatched caterpillar hungry for food, symposium attendees fed and nourished their minds during the presentations from speakers and panelist, allowing them to peel off their layers and grow, with expanded knowledge at their core.

Stories of transformation and growth were told throughout the symposium. A few to highlight:

“Reflections of a Wellness Pioneer”, an inspiring video from Deborah Szekely, transported us back to the creation of Rancho La Puerta, when outdoor tents were made from World War I airplane wings, warm-up suits weren’t yet the norm for exercise, wellness was an experiment, and a sacred mountain “convinced people of their ability to change their life”.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Deborah Szekely

Ophelia Yeung, Senior Fellow Researcher at The Global Wellness Institute, started her presentation on the Spa & Global Wellness Economy with a definition of the word wellness.  Wellness, she indicated, is an English word without an equivalent translation in other languages.  Yet, despite the void of a one-for-one translation, statistics show the Global Wellness Economy growth at $3.7 trillion in 2015, with categories ranging from Workplace Wellness ($43b), Spa Industry ($99b), Wellness Tourism ($563b), and Beauty & Anti-Aging ($999b) to name a few.

The Global Wellness Institute defines “Wellness” as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.

Co-founder of WSPA and Symposium Chair Emeritus, Mary F. Bemis, gave a brief history lesson on the Seven Timeless Truths of Spa, and then introduced Mia Kyricos, President/CEO, Kyricos & Associates, LLC.  Mia presented a “7 Timeless Truths” game plan by showing multiple trends (i.e., reading the tea leaves) for each timeless truth and offering a prediction for the future.  Some predictions made: “Spas will become true champions & prescribers of nature” with rooftop gardens in urban settings, and spa services delivered outside of your typical four walls.  “Spacernauts” will soon make their debut to include, spas with hourly fitness classes, cafes/juice bars, full-service spa boutiques, and hotel spas with existing local eateries.

Seven Timeless Truths of Spa: Community. Nature. Food. Fitness. Water. Quiet. Sleep.

Julia Sutton, Chief Operating Officer of Exhale Enterprises, served on the panel which discussed “Pushing the Boundary of Wellness”, her company is working on live streaming of fitness/wellness classes, while incorporating wearable technology, so that “you don’t cheat at home”.

Samer Hamadeh, CEO of Zeel, presented on “Technology: Disrupting the Status Quo”.  Technology advancements with Zeel provides solutions for both customers and therapists. Customer Experience: On demand, in-home convenience, therapists verified, vetted, and insured.   Provider Experience: Customers ID-checked for safety, more customers who book more often, better payout and flexible hours.  A few statistics showed 22% of massages are happening after 9pm and 55% of customers want a massage within 4 hours of requesting.  In some cases, a therapist can reach a customer in as little as 30min of a request.  Zeel’s “massage- on-demand” has expanded beyond just the at-home customer, but also serves as a resource to brick-n-mortar spas to fill temporary staffing needs.

Rona Berg, Editor-in-Chief, Organic Spa Media Ltd., provided a consumer perspective on how to “Connect, Engage, and Deliver Sustainable Wellness” through the interconnectedness of things – mind, body, spirit, health, and nature. One slide noted alarming data that shows by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, according to a World Economic Forum report.  Ways to help: Consume less, buy fair-trade organic, use cold water for laundry, eat grass-fed beef.  One statistic showed eating organic for one week has shown a 6% decrease in pesticides in our body.  The importance of bringing self-care rituals into your daily life was highlighted, and another definition of wellness was presented:

Well-Ness (noun): the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

Each year, after the information shared has rested in chrysalis, these WSPA caterpillars grow into beautiful butterflies, fluttering back to their respective domains to make their mark by connecting, engaging, and delivering, until the life cycle starts all over again.

 

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India K. Robinson, President & CEO
“Confessions of a Spa Bunny”, The H.I.S Agency, LLC
spabunny@hisincorporated.com

 Creator and Founder of “Confessions of a Spa Bunny”, India is an active member of the International Spa Association, Wellness Warrior, and the Washington Spa Alliance.  She is also a contributing author for Insider’s Guide to Spas.

The Washington Spa Alliance Kicks Off 2017 at MGM National Harbor

They didn’t gather for the casino, upscale lounges, or signature restaurants.  No, this intimate gathering was all about spa, as the Washington Spa Alliance (WSPA) held its first member event of 2017 this past Wednesday at the new MGM National Harbor hotel.  Tucked within the fitness center, and past a hall of sheer white drapes, the yoga studio served host to this gathering of the wellness minded.  As the mix of spa professionals and resource partners convened, they gleamed with excitement in their conversations about new endeavors, partnerships, and the year ahead.

The new WSPA Board of Directors was announced by Chair, Penny Kriel, as well as the date and venue for the 7th Annual WSPA Symposium, which will move from being held previous years at the National Press Club to the newly renovated Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC on March 20, 2017.  The Watergate’s Argentta Spa launch party, led by Spa Director Stephanie Rest, will also coincide with the March WSPA Symposium.

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In between the hugs, hors d’oeuvres, and happy people, attendees had an opportunity to tour the MGM Spa & Salon.  Greeted by a waterfall backdrop, this modern 2-level oasis comes complete with a co-ed lounge housing sleek chaise lounges draped with blankets, a spacious couple’s suite with in-room soaking tub, full salon with hair, nail and make-up stations, and a dedicated man-cave of sorts, complete with barber chairs, a library of literature, and flat-screen tv for the gentlemen to indulge in grooming services tailored to them.

Though there was no official afterparty, many of the night’s attendees ended up at MGM’s restaurant Marcus to continue the positive vibes and end the night over dinner and cocktails.

The DC-MD-VA (DMV) luxury spa scene is on the rise, and with recent spa openings across the area, a new enthusiastic WSPA board, and Confessions of a Spa Bunny ready to cover it all, 2017 is sure to be an exciting year!

Confessions from Noel Asmar – Noel Asmar Group

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It may seem unrelated, but when I think of holiday cheer, I reflect back to September and my experience at the International Spa Association  (ISPA) Conference in Las Vegas.  Though it was not the holidays, it certainly felt like one. A big family reunion, lots of hugs, tons of great gifts (some that were even secretly dropped in your room, so you always arrived to a surprise), music and dancing, learning from your elders, friendly competitions, and meeting new people who you instantly connect with.

One such group of people, were the lovely individuals from The Noel Asmar Group, of which I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with at the lunchtime fashion show, exhibit booth, auction, and farewell party. I felt welcomed into their tight knit family, as if I was meeting distant cousins or long-time pen pals for the first time.

I actually reached out to Noel Asmar directly prior to the event, once I heard there was a fashion show planned that would highlight the brand’s spa and hospitality uniforms, as well as debut her new spring/summer 2017 fashion collection, and requested an exclusive interview.   To my excitement, she agreed.  Check out the “confessions” that were revealed as a result.

 “Confessions from Noel Asmar”

You indicated that your motto “Made for the Way You Move” is the vision for everything you do, from your uniform line, to the portable pedicure bowls, the equine apparel, and now even with the the new lifestyle fashion collection.  Outside of your business ventures, how does this motto play a role in your personal/daily life?

 I have always been passionate about creating garments that would not prohibit movement. Designed to enhance the motion and never restrict the natural movement and shape of the human body, each style is designed to enrich the wearer’s experience. This freedom and free flowing inspiration is truly a way of life for myself. I am always looking for a solution and will not be held back by the notions of “it can’t be done.” I am constantly on the go, with 4 successful global brands, industry initiatives and as a wife and mother of three I am always on the move. I emulate a lifestyle and design philosophy that needs to be made for the way you move in order to just keep up!

What is changing/has changed in the world of spa uniform fashion, and how does the Noel Asmar Group want to influence the spa uniform trends moving forward?

When I launched SpaUniforms.com in 2002 there was no such thing as “spa uniform fashion” – so we have certainly experienced a lot of change in this industry in the last fourteen years!  In that time we have seen almost every major hotel property incorporate a spa into their offering and with this evolution came the necessity to offer integrated fashions for various departments within a spa, salon, hotel and overall property. We are proud to have expanded our offering and now service over 4000 properties around the world. We continue to push the boundaries on a traditional uniform to design functional silhouettes that people are proud to wear!

“Designed to enhance the motion and never restrict the natural movement and shape of the human body…”

You indicated how “the uniform is far more powerful than anyone thinks”. What power lies in a uniform, and how does that translate into better business for spas who embrace that power?

After experiencing the power of a uniform while I was working overseas, I understood the value that a garment can truly have. I saw hotel staff in ill-fitting, worn out, hand-me-down uniforms at a property where I worked. These men and women had selflessly devoted their entire careers to the care and well-being of others, and while they took pride in their positions, they had never received any appreciation or recognition of their efforts. I was creating my own personal collection of custom women’s garments at the time and felt that I needed to do something for the staff. I will never forget their reactions after receiving a clean, new uniform made just for them. They were now a part of something much bigger. They always did their best at their job, but now their dedication and passion resonated from them.  A uniform had the power to transform them and this reflected well on the business. Never underestimate the incredible influence of a uniform.

What’s the most unique thing that sets the Noel Asmar Group apart from other brands?
I believe that our brand comes from an authentic place. We are constantly inspired by our clients and take their feedback into consideration with each new design. We pride ourselves on offering excellent customer service because our team is passionate about the product and truly cares about the client. We are constantly evolving, and Noel Asmar Uniforms has adapted and grown with the industry in ways other brands have not.  We are proud to offer one of the widest selections of styles for the spa and hotel industries. Our dedication to offer trend setting and in stock styles is a unique benefit of working with our team.

“Never underestimate the incredible influence of a uniform.”
What inspired you to design a fashion “lifestyle” collection for retail?

For many years our existing equestrian and uniform clients have requested contemporary lifestyle fashions that embrace our existing dedication to quality, premium fabrics and expert design that they have come to trust from all Noel Asmar brands. The Noel Asmar Collection was created with our existing clientele in mind, and we have been very well received by the contemporary fashion industry when we went to market this year. From the passionate equestrian fashionista to the jet-setting resort client, the Noel Asmar Collection offers premium fashions for the modern woman living life on the go. This fall we released a small capsule collection with a rich equestrian lifestyle influence and textured palette. The full brand launch will take place with the free flowing and exotic Spring 2017 collection. Inspired by the elegance and breeze of the resort lifestyle, we are looking forward to seeing the line offered in premium fashion boutiques and at luxury resorts around the world next year.

Behind every successful company, there is a support system that keeps things “moving” seamlessly. I had the pleasure of meeting some members of your team, and their energy, smiles, and motivation was infectious. If I was sitting in on one of your staff meetings, what might I hear you telling your team if you were offering words of motivation, teamwork, and encouragement?  

If you were to attend one of our staff meetings you would certainly be laughing! Our team is truly an authentic and fun loving group of individuals. We hire for cultural fit and take pride in the creative and passionate community we have built. I believe that when you are passionate about your people, your people are passionate about you. I give them the power to follow their interests and find purpose within the company and in their own life and that karmic energy brings the brand to life.

 “I believe that when you are passionate about your people, your people are passionate about you.”
Check out my video highlights from the Noel Asmar Group Fashion Show and Exhibit during #ISPA2016.  The show highlighted the brand’s motto of “Made for the Way You Move” with contemporary dancers visually expressing how much you can physically “move” in the attire.    I can attest to the comfort of the uniform line, as I wore my own Noel Asmar ensemble (Coco tunic and Ibiza pant) the day of the fashion show, which just happened to be in the signature pink/black spa bunny colors.

Learn more about The Noel Asmar Group brand at : www.NoelAsmar.com | www.AsmarEquestrian.com | www.NoelAsmarUniforms.com  | www.PedicureBowls.com

Confessions from The Setai Spa & Robert D. Henry Architects

In the middle of a bustling financial district, I looked for the branded flag that identified the entrance to the Wall Street sanctuary known as The Setai.  Hidden within a residential building, The Setai Club & Spa resides on the 3rd floor, and welcomes you with warm hues of red and tan, dark woods, tiled walls, and an air of seduction.

With a welcome as warm as the decor, I was escorted to the locker room to change into my robe and slippers.  I wandered the softly lit corridor to the heat experience area, which was dark and mysterious as if you were far removed from any city and hidden within your own private lair.

My therapist Erica soon came to retrieve me for my “suite experience” with a Polynesian Spa Ritual.  I entered a gorgeous room, which included an oversized marble soaking tub,  rain shower, plush treatment table, and gorgeous Italian glass tile work.  The ritual commenced with a yummy drink called the Yumberry Elixir (no seriously, that’s the name), which I was told is packed with Vitamin A, C, and E, is anti -inflammatory, and lowers bad cholesterol.  I then enjoyed a sand, salt, and coconut shell scrub enriched with Tahitian vanilla extracts and Monoi oil, a rinse in the shower, a White Lilly Lagoon bath soak, and ended with a restful full body massage with Bora Bora sand pouches (of which I was able to take home with me).

The scents transported me to an exotic island, and the spa music made me feel like I was the star of my own Broadway show.  Somewhere in between the island and broadway, my own snort awoke me from my slumber.  My skin felt radiant and smelled amazing, as I floated in a daze to my next destination.

The Setai is unique in the fact that not only is it an exclusive amenity within a residential building, but they also open their doors to non-residents as a day spa.  See video highlights of my visit to The Setai Spa below:

Confessions from Robert D. Henry Architects at the Setai Spa Wall Street

Following my treatment, I had the pleasure of chatting in the Setai Tea Lounge with the architect behind The Setai, Robert D. Henry.   Mr. Henry’s love affair with spas started 18 years ago, with his first project being the Mar-a-Lago Spa in Palm Beach for Donald Trump and Marla Maples.  I wanted to learn more, and asked Mr. Henry to share more of his confessions:

What do you enjoy the most about designing spas over other types of architectural projects (i.e commercial, residential) ?

Spa’s allow us to create an experiential journey for Guests integrating all the senses, it is our speciality and focus and influences all our other projects.  We are doing a number of homes with wellness as a focus, enhancing the quality of life for the Owners.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

Wellness research and practitioners; I’ve had more than 300 spa treatments all over the world.

What do you feel is the most unique design feature about The Setai as compared to other spas you’ve designed?

The East meets West fusion associated with the Setai brand. Mysterious, sensuous and exotic, an escape from the everyday…other-worldly.

Spa’s allow us to create an experiential journey for Guests integrating all the senses, it is our speciality and focus and influences all our other projects.  We are doing a number of homes w/ wellness as a focus, enhancing the quality of life for the Owners.

Were there any design considerations that had to be accounted for with the spa being primarily in a residential setting as opposed to say a hotel spa?

The aesthetic was brought thru from the Lobby to the Amenities and Residences.

What will the spa of the future look like?  

Our next generation of Spa projects will establish new experiences w/our projects for the Mandarin Oriental -NY and the new signature Spa for Ivanka Trump’s Washington Hotel.

Mysterious, sensuous and exotic, an escape from the everyday…other-worldly.

Robert D. Henry recently debuted a new line of signature spa furniture at the 2016 International Spa Association Conference in partnership with SALT Chamber and Touch America.

Learn more about Robert D. Henry Architects HERE

One-on-One with Bellus Academy’s Lynelle Lynch About Wellness for Cancer

Out of all of the wonderful things I had a chance to experience during the ISPA East Coast Media Event, and from all the coverage and content I gathered, my interview with Lynelle Lynch, President of Bellus Academy, is the one I want to be heard and shared the most within the spa community.  It’s important. You can help make a difference in the industry, so listen up!

During my one-on-one, I learned something that I didn’t even know was happening, or not happening for that matter, in the world of spa.  Something that as a fairly healthy person with  normal day-to-day life stressors, I couldn’t imagine not being able to experience now, let alone if I was dealing with a life altering disease like cancer.  I take for granted how easily I can book a spa appointment, enjoy a relaxing massage or body treatment and de-stress from all of life’s worries, even if only for a few hours.  Lynelle Lynch, however, painted a picture of a very different scenario:

“Once if you were pregnant and you went to go get a massage there was nothing.  and now pregnancy massages are everywhere.  So if you are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation you are not allowed to go to a spa right now, they would turn you away, and how traumatic and emotional.”

Wow.  Just think… how heartbreaking it must be, as a cancer patient or survivor you attempt to take back some of the control cancer has spread into your life, only to realize it has raised its ugly head in a place you want to retreat to for sanctuary. So instead of feeling empowered, you have to walk away and leave feeling as if you no longer have any control at all.  I agree Mrs. Lynch, very traumatic and emotional indeed!

I was happy to hear, however, there are now options and an educational solution to help spas and spa professionals avoid creating such a devastating experience for the clientele that may need them the most.

Bellus Academy in partnership with Wellness for Cancer, a 501c3 organization, and with support from the Global Wellness Institute, and leading cancer doctors, worked together to develop a custom training program that helps debunk the myths surrounding claims of massage spreading cancer or being contraindicated for cancer patients.  Instead, the training provides education on  what is safe, proper protocols that should be followed, and helps identify  treatments that can be offered at spas to allow cancer patients and survivors to experience the nurturing and de-stressing benefits massage and touch can provide during such a difficult time in an individual’s life.

The Global Wellness Institute’s website discusses the Wellness for Cancer Initiative and identifies the disconnect in the spa industry:

First, spas must have the proper perspective about supporting clients with cancer, which means understanding that our role is well-being not disease care. Second, we need to take responsibility for our role in holding space for our clients to reduce their stress, find inner peace and increase their emotional resiliency.   Individuals don’t want to go to cancer specific spas; they want to get away from their cancer – they want to visit your spa. (http://www.globalwellnessinstitute.org/wellness-for-cancer-initiative)

According to the official press release, “Bellus Academy Becomes First U.S. Academy to Offer Wellness for Cancer Massage Therapy Training”.  During my interview Lynch indicates, “starting in September we have it built into our curriculum at Bellus Academy, we have a full spa at 20,000 square feet in San Diego, so we’re hoping that we’ll be a catalyst for all other spas in Southern California.  Offering the training not just to our students coming in but also to professionals within the San Diego county community”.

The 10 week, 50-hour Wellness for Cancer curriculum is designed to be flexible and can be completed entirely online or at the academy.  The hands-on training is held in class with a Wellness for Cancer certified educator.  Lynch says the in-class program gives students “a much more in-depth ability to have conversations, and to question things if they are not really understanding it well”.  All students will have to complete case study modules where they identify and find patients, offer complimentary services, and help them to relax and de-stress.

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Wellness for Cancer has created a little tree logo (pictured above) that will be utilized as the universal symbol for spas employing certified professionals and who have chosen to “debunk the myths” by  providing safe treatment options to individuals living with or surviving cancer.   Lynch hopes that the symbol will become widely recognized, “like when you go to  restaurants and you see the little gluten free symbol”, and that certified partnerships can be further developed on the Wellness for Cancer website, where guests will have the ability to perform a search and find places they can go for spa services, or identify products they can utilize during their cancer journey.    Lynch states:

“So in the future, 5 years from now, we’re hoping that this message gets out there and that more spas send their therapists to this level of training, and that more product companies put this into their menu of services so that they actually are identifying which products can complement the different services, and we’re all working as a unified profession. “

The final takeaway from Lynch: “It’s so important we reach the entire spa community and get them trained as soon as possible.  Join this movement because it’s very important”.   Important indeed!  I whole-heartedly believe in the healing power of touch, and though a trip to the spa may not be a cure from a literal sense, we all know there is so much more that can be healed beyond the physical. Will you join the movement and debunk the myth?

To learn more about Wellness for Cancer, or for inquiries on how you can become a certified Wellness for Cancer spa or therapist, please contact Bellus Academy President Lynelle Lynch at Llynch@bellusacademy.edu or Spa Director Joanne Berry at joanne@wellnessforcancer.com.  View the official Bellus Academy Wellness for Cancer press release here:    http://www.bellusacademy.edu/wellness-for-cancer

Story by:  India K. Robinson, “Confessions of a Spa Bunny” coverage from ISPA East Coast Media Event July 27, 2016

 

Sight, Sound, Touch: ISPA East Coast Media Event

I invite you to immerse yourself in the sensory experience afforded to invited media at the 2016 International Spa Association‘s East Coast Media Event at Gotham Hall in NYC. An evening of stunning visuals, high touch, and healing sounds.  Confessions of a Spa Bunny was there, and this video highlights the event through my eyes, these are my “confessions”…

Video and photography collaboration presented by: The H.I.S Agency, LLC & EyeConic Photo