Beantown Bliss

When it comes to sports, Bostonites are considered the ultimate fans, with an almost religious reverence for their beloved Red Socks and Celtics. Now, denizens of this East coast metropolis are welcoming a new fan to town—the Mandarin Oriental, Boston, an outpost of the luxury resort company that sports a fan motif as its logo. The hotel, located in Boston's trendy Back Bay neighborhood, is giving both residents and visitors plenty of reasons to become enthusiasts. A welcome addition to the city's bustling hotel scene, the property, featuring 136 rooms and 12 suites spread throughout 14 floors, offers the most spacious accommodations in town. The 16,000-square-foot, nine-treatment-room The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston also brings a new brand of healing to Beantown bliss-seekers, offering a unique marriage of New England chic and Asian influence when it comes to both the spa's design and its treatment menu.

As with all Mandarin Oriental spas, spectacular design and inviting spaces define the retreat's aesthetic. "It blends simple Oriental style with Bostonian elegance," says spa director Sharon Holtz. "There are many natural textures, including bamboo flooring, golden-hued anegre wood, Italian marble, and glass tiles." The space includes women's and men's lounge areas that each have Crystal Steam Rooms, Vitality Pools, Experience Showers, and Ice Fountains. Five spacious individual treatment rooms, each named after Chinese numerical symbols, include a foot ritual area, a private shower, and an iPod dock for guests who want to listen to their own music during services. A Hydrotherapy Room with a Vichy shower and a chromatherapy tub and a Manicure Room that is imbued with natural light and offers hidden alcoves for more private pampering are also available. The Sanctuary Couples Suite, which is available for two- and three-hour spa experiences, features side-by-side treatment beds, a private vanity area, and a soaking tub, and the 700-square-foot Mandarin Suite offers such amenities as a stone sauna, a soaking tub, two treatment tables, and a sumptuous daybed. "It is more like a private spa within a spa," says Holtz. "Guests book the suite for three hours or more, which includes thirty minutes of relaxation time to enjoy a heat experience before treatments, as well as thirty minutes of relaxation time to linger and enjoy some light refreshments after the treatment has concluded."

Upon arrival, all guests are treated to the traditional Mandarin Oriental welcome ritual, where they swap their shoes for slippers and sip on soothing tea before being brought back to either the locker areas or one of the specialty suites. For brand devotees, treatments that can be found at other Mandarin spas are available, such as the Time Rituals ($260 weekdays/$390 weekends, 2 hours; $280 weekdays/$420 weekends, 3 hours), where guests purchase a set amount of time and receive a completely customized experience depending on their treatment needs, and Oriental Harmony ($460 weekdays/$480 weekends, 1 hour 50 minutes), a four-handed scrub and massage.


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But for those looking for an authentic New England encounter, locally inspired options abound, as well. The New England Retreat ($260 weekdays/$280 weekends, 1 hour 50 minutes), which uses ingredients that are indigenous to the region, and the Commonwealth Comforter ($260 weekdays/$280 weekends, 1 hour 50 minutes), which includes full-body exfoliation, a hydrating body and facial massage, and a scalp treatment, are two options offered exclusively at this location. The Spa Café, which includes a selection of healthy fare created by Executive Chef Nicolas Boutin that are seasonal to New England and are produced locally, adds additional East-Coast flair. Still, Holtz says it is her team, all of whom underwent seven weeks of training prior to the spa's opening in October, that makes the spa truly distinctive. "Our guests have commented on how pleased they are to find that every therapist they have had each time they visit is just as great as the first," she says.

Still, in this time of economic upheaval, Holtz and her staff of 38 full-time employees are working hard to entice both hotel guests and locals to become loyal fans of the spa. Upon making a reservation, hotel guests are encouraged to book a spa experience, which has been an effective way to get the word out about the spa to visitors. As for locals, a value-added promotion celebrating the spa's debut has helped raise awareness of its opening and encourages them to visit. "Our local guests are so delighted to have us just blocks away from home, although they feel they are 'transported to another world,' as one guest told me," says Holtz. Regardless of visitors' origins, "we show them the value of a spa experience with us and encourage them to book another appointment when they check out," she adds.

Holtz and her team also make retail a priority to help ensure the spa's success. Along with homecare selections of Aromatherapy Associates, Somme Institute, and SpaRitual products that are used in the treatment rooms, the retail area also provides a wide assortment of wellness-oriented options, including Mandarin Oriental signature items, Erbaviva products for expectant mothers and their babies, Zensei apparel, and Kokoro candles. "We look for offerings that have a wellness lifestyle element to them," says Holtz. "Our therapists also provide guests with wellness recommendations that include items that might benefit them based on what their concerns might be."

The new Mandarin Oriental, Boston (pictured) is located in the city's Back Bay neighborhood, an area full of trendy boutiques, ivy-covered townhouses, and more.
The new Mandarin Oriental, Boston (pictured) is located in the city's Back Bay neighborhood, an area full of trendy boutiques, ivy-covered townhouses, and more.

So far, this well-rounded approach seems to be keeping the new spa thriving and in the minds of spa-goers. "The response we have been receiving from guests in our first few months has been very positive," says Holtz, who plans to continue garnering these good vibes with participation in local philanthropic events and by offering continued spa and hotel promotions. "We will also continue to provide an exceptional holistic spa experience that brings about an improved sense of wellness for our guests—these are the elements that entice guests to come to the spa and, more importantly, to return." she adds, proving that she knows what it takes to make lifelong fans of the Boston spa-going community.

The spacious Mandarin Suite is available for two- to three-hour treatment experiences.
The spacious Mandarin Suite is available for two- to three-hour treatment experiences.