Creating a Buzz with Alternative Therapies at Destination Spas

By Magnolia Polley Partner, The Green Team Project | June 11, 2010

Many cutting edge spa facilities have endeavored upon the education of their therapists in age old techniques and practices that live within the cultures that offer us an artistic palette in which to create and re-adapt ancient treatments, herbs, and tools as modalities for healing in our modern facilities. Along with the trainings, the tools, and the product lines, comes awareness, that as practitioners, these therapists do not just "perform" a therapy, treatment, or ritual, but are deeply spiritually, mentally, and physically involved with the understanding, research, and proper application of these techniques. This requires a depth of understanding, research and a willingness to be open to other cultures and varied spiritual traditions. Performing a ritual requires the therapist to be able to step into the shoes of a "guide" for their client and be self empowered by the ritual they are guiding their clients through.

The Spas that have pioneered such work are led by individuals that are innovative, revolutionary, rare and most of all, aware. Aware that the clientele being served is constantly evolving, following trends, doing their own research and healing, and are looking for a Spa that can aid them in their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pursuits. There are many levels of awareness and limits to what each facility is able to provide, based on the clientele they wish to target or the clientele within a genre that they may have already established.

Alternative therapies include but are not limited to treatments influenced by or coming from spiritual paths such as Asian, East Indian, Native American, South American, African, Turkish, and numerous European derived therapies. An alternative therapy is one that reaches beyond classic services offered at most spas, which include a massage, a wrap, a scrub, or a facial. An alternative therapy is usually one that evolves from one of the previously listed basic therapies and can combine them together and elaborate them with aroma, crystals, guided visualizations, herbal compresses or herbal application, sound therapy through music that reflects the culture that the therapy comes from, etc.

The Carneros Inn located in the heart of wine country in the Napa Valley is a successful example of a luxury spa facility that has incorporated alternative therapies and spa ritual into their permanent spa menu. Spa Director, Jeannie Jarnot responded in this way when interviewed about the spa's alternative treatment menu:


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Ms. Jeannie Jarnot

"Luxury properties are obligated to have distinct spas that create a memorable experience, similar to their restaurants. The spa menu is one of several ways that a hotel communicates the personality and flavor of the area to its guests. Therefore we tend to use a lot of locally produced ingredients for locally inspired treatments. Just like a chef uses local seasonal ingredients, a spa too should look around its surroundings for inspiration. Furthermore, you want to inspire your staff and get them excited about what they are doing. If they are excited and in tune with the treatments they are performing, they can be profoundly memorable for your guest. Spa rituals are popular because they are like going to eat a different cuisine in a restaurant. They feel and smell different and have great benefits. So we blend inspirations from other countries with locally inspired treatments to create a great balance. Specifically, our rituals are incredibly therapeutic and so our guests find great value in them. I think the incredible amount of training hours for our staff has really provided value for our hotel. Guests have one of these treatments and they become the highlight of their stay. That pretty much is the best definition I could ask for. We want to provide value for our guests, spa treatments are not inexpensive, you must do them well or the guest will know, and they won't come back".

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