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The Axis of Relaxation

By: Bryan Durocher
Posted: July 23, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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As with all of its properties, Berlin’s 302-room Ritz-Carlton delivers impeccable service in an elegant setting, providing visitors to this fast-paced city with an upscale haven, and because of its location in such a bustling area, it offers many options for relaxation. One of its newest—and most innovative—is the Bath Butler in which, true to its five-star pedigree, the hotel offers its guests customized, in-room bathing experiences. Order up The Gentleman’s Bath, for example, and your Bath Butler draws you a green fir aromatherapy soak and discreetly disappears, leaving behind a glass of cognac, a plate of canapés and an optional cigar.

The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin’s spa, The Art of Beauty Spa, is actually a La Prairie boutique facility. Part of the hotel’s spacious health and wellness area, the combination workout room and spa comprises approximately 4,300 square feet with four treatment rooms. Decorated with ornate marble intarsia, colored glass and golden mosaics from Bisazza, the spa features a stunning indoor pool able to be reserved for private events and alongside of which clients can request spa treatments to be performed.

I chose the La Prairie Radiance Gold Facial from the menu of signature services. The high-end Swiss skin care company is known for its state-of-the-art range of anti-aging cellular treatments and for its use of rare and exclusive ingredients, such as gold and caviar. The spa menu promises the Radiance Facial will visibly lift, firm, brighten and energize skin thanks to “pure golden drops of Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold” accompanied by gentle heat and select masks that enhance penetration. And after racing around Berlin trying to take in all the city had to offer, I felt I was the ideal candidate for this sophisticated skin treatment.

My beautician, as they are referred to, was extensively trained, as are the vast majority of technicians in Europe. In fact, three years of core training are required, along with regular continuing education. She began by conducting one of the most thorough skin analyses I have ever had, complete with an in-depth review of my habits and lifestyle. The resulting facial was a model of efficiency—the cleansing, steam, precise extractions, masks and moisturizing were all focused, flawless and brisk. She also offered something I had never experienced—a complimentary brow grooming during the treatment, which left my eyebrows artfully and tastefully shaped. The service ended with the therapist’s recommendations for a quality continuing skin care program.

One of the best features of The Art of Beauty Spa was the treatment bed. More of a chair than a bed, it allowed my head to be positioned higher than my feet while the therapist was situated behind me on a raised stool. For the first time ever during a facial, I did not experience a sore back from lying prone, nor did I fall victim to my usual blocked sinuses, and consequently, this was a much more comfortable position in which to receive a 90-minute facial treatment.