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The Journey

By: Mary Bemis
Posted: June 24, 2008, from the February 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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“The corporate structure was creating a lot of stressed clients for us,” she says. “And I was unwilling to become a part of that belief. So I thought about old traditional ways of working together, and the tribal concept came to mind because it is circular. Having always been a therapeutic-oriented spa with a focus on balancing the five senses, it was important to create an environment that truly has a mind-body-spirit experience. Thus, the concept of going on a journey was born. To ensure that clients really enjoy a journey that is exotic and new, they need a sure-footed guide. So Ummelina Guide Tribe was created.”

All of Ummel’s staff are guides—Skin Care Guides, Massage Guides, Nail Care Guides or Global Remedies Guides. All packages are called “Journeys,” and individual services are called “Rituals.” Journeys available include The Pacific Rim, which is inspired by the Far East and offers a tranquil temple garden experience; The Safari, designed especially for men; and The Journey to Eden.

Creating an experience

A journey is so essential to the spa experience that some facilities have gone so far as to incorporate the word into the spa name. There’s the Journeys Spa at Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, which aims to “transform you into everything you need to take those many journeys in life.” Its promotional materials describe the spa as providing “an extensive array of treatments and services so that you will discover your personal wisdom and express yourself through peaceful processes.” Then there’s Mii amo, a destination spa at Enchantment, in Sedona, Arizona: The Native American name translates into “one’s path, or journey,” in Yuman, the traditional Native American language of northern Arizona.

Even if a spa doesn’t have packages described as journeys, a client’s experience often is a transcendence into a different state of mind. Kathy Zia, spa director at Santa Monica, California’s Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach, sums it up: “I would call the entire time one has at the spa a journey—from the minute a client walks in to the minute they leave.”