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A Body of Work

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 5 of 7

Mearns offers the following advice to spas considering offering cultural treatments: “Do some research and really understand the culture and indigenous products. If you have an existing spa, sample your service concept and get ideas from current spa clients to get a consumer perspective,” she says. “You’ve got to make sure that it is real—not hokey—authentic, something they can believe in and see the benefits of, as well. There’s got to be some benefit to the service.” Hercik agrees, “It should be authentic. Also, be careful not to offend a culture that is alive. Reach out to someone who lives the way the culture dictates, and they can tell you the dos and don’ts. Sometimes you have to have permission to depict a culture in a service.”

Sweet slumber

If you are talking about the culture in the United States, lack of sleep is one of the major issues plaguing it. According to Nicolas Ronco, founder of New York’s Yelo, a wellness center based around the benefits of sleep, the first reason for the nation’s insomnia is the escalating pace of life. “It has really increased during the past 15 years,” he says. “Faxes, the BlackBerry*, the Internet, Wi-Fi—we are reachable everywhere and that’s really stressing people out.”

Lisa Hedley, founder and creative director of the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut, agrees. “We are chronic insomniacs, plugged into every device known to man, and those things create a series of bad habits that prevent people from sleeping well and sleeping the amount that they need.”

And although these two industry leaders agree, their methods are extremely different. At Yelo, which offers a variety of relaxation-based services, YeloNaps are the most requested menu item. Clients can purchase naps at a variety of different time intervals, and during the first visit, a questionnaire is filled out regarding sleep patterns and medical history, as well as how the client feels. Once this is known, the client selects a scent—options include orange flower, fig, mimosa and blackberry—and then music or sound—such as whales, nature, Mozart or Chopin.

Once their nap is created, they are installed in a sleep cabin and sit in a zero-gravity chair, which is the secret to a quick, quality nap, says Ronco. “Their knees are put above their heart, which helps them fall asleep quickly.” When it is time to wake the client, a sunrise simulation is created using LED lighting. In three minutes, people come back, open their eyes and leave. “They feel like they’ve taken a three-week vacation because, when they leave, they feel lighter and in a good mood,” he explains. Ronco came up with this concept as an overstressed, overworked insomniac and has secured corporate clients, such as Newsweek magazine and TimeWarner, that offer YeloNaps as an employee benefit.