Beverly Hills Bootcamp

PASSIONATE ABOUT SKINCARE, SONYA DAKAR HAS built a reputation in the industry that rivals that of her many celebrity clients. She has developed legions of devoted fans, many of whom include Hollywood's elite, with her innate ability to turn problematic skin into a healthy, beautiful complexion. Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow are just a few of the stars who swear by her talent as well as her namesake product line. Although the Sonya Dakar Skin Clinic first opened in West Los Angeles in 1984, a new location opened in Beverly Hills in 2003. For years, Dakar was content to treat clients in the intimate space. However, as demand grew for her services, so did the need for a larger facility. As a result, the clinic recently expanded from 5,500 to 12,500 square feet and now offers treatments for the face and the body.

 Clients can indulge in a treatment on the spa's rooftop deck.
Clients can indulge in a treatment on the spa's rooftop deck.

Sparing no expense, Dakar set out to create a haven that would appeal to her most discriminating clients. With imported Jerusalem stone floor tiles and a customized stingray-inlaid concierge desk and consultation table, the clinic is an inviting sanctuary. Dakar even imported a Brazilian hardwood plank-style floor to achieve the aesthetic she wanted.

The expanded and renovated clinic now features 12 facial treatment rooms and a rooftop vegan cafe complete with a Chinese elixir bar. The additional space allowed Dakar to expand the menu to include acupuncture, clinical manicures and pedicures, eyebrow shaping, mineral makeup application, naturopathic medicine, sunless tanning, and more. According to her, a strong desire for change is a common thread that runs among her clientele. "A lot of people aren't satisfied getting injectables every two months," says Dakar. "They want something to firm all over the face, neck, and chest." For others, acne or rosacea is the condition they seek to correct. Whatever the skincare issue, Dakar is focused on providing the solution. The idea behind the spa was to give clients a variety of results-oriented clinically based treatments under one roof.

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Dakar photographs her clients' skin before beginning a course of treatment to document the changes that occur. She also enlists clients to take an active role in their quest for healthy skin. Likening it to a marriage, Dakar notes that it is an ongoing relationship in which clients are expected to follow a prescribed homecare regimen.

A consultation area is provided to discuss treatment options and prescribed care. Bottom left: The stingray-inlaid concierge desk serves as the hub of the spa. Bottom right: The waiting area features imported stone tiles.
A consultation area is provided to discuss treatment options and prescribed care. Bottom left: The stingray-inlaid concierge desk serves as the hub of the spa. Bottom right: The waiting area features imported stone tiles.

This enduring relationship with clients helps explain the clinic's high rate of return. According to Dakar, for the first six to 12 weeks, clients come in weekly. After that, they come every three to four weeks for maintenance. It also helps explain the fact that few clients, if any, ever leave the clinic empty-handed. Dakar credits the nature of the relationship between client and therapist as being directly related to the spa's retail success. "[Clients] are like a sponge," says Dakar. "They say, 'tell me what I should do.'"

Expanding on the treatments and packages that have made her operation such a success, Dakar offers her own brand of tough love with her Beauty Boot Camp ($2,100 to $5,000), a six-week program including regular Fitness Facials, Custom Green Tea Peels, homecare, and more. Because the clinic will forever be associated with promoting radiant skin, most spa-goers gravitate toward the Fitness Facial ($225, 50 minutes), which is customized to their individual skincare concerns. The Custom Green Tea Peel ($225, 55 minutes), often used to enhance the effects of the Fitness Facial, is another client favorite.

The VIP Treatment Suite comes with a Mac or PC laptop.
The VIP Treatment Suite comes with a Mac or PC laptop.

Dakar also offers a host of packages to appeal to her most high-maintenance clients. The Heliport Diva Package ($1,500 plus helicopter charter) includes private transportation by helicopter to a nearby landing pad in Century City, car service to the clinic, a Sonya Dakar travel bag, a private yoga session, and a number of face and body treatments. The 911 ($1,395), for last-minute emergencies before big gala events, includes acupuncture, Endermologie, a Custom Green Tea Peel, and Red Light Collagen Therapy. There are also packages for pet lovers, expecting parents, jetlagged travelers, and more.

For those not accustomed to waiting behind the velvet rope, the clinic features a VIP Treatment Suite complete with a private entrance, bath and shower, mini fridge, water bar, Mac or PC laptop, and private butler available to run personal errands. Clients can also take advantage of the clinic's rooftop, which offers panoramic views of Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Hills, Century City, and more. The rooftop, available for private parties, houses cabanas where clients can dine or socialize during happy hour while enjoying a selection of organic wines.

With the new-and-improved clinic, Dakar gives her clients even more of what they've come to expect. A full-service concierge, a 24-hour concierge hotline, and valet parking are just a few of the ways she accommodates her demanding clientele. However, it's Dakar herself who remains the real draw. Expecting only the best from her staff, she sets the bar extremely high. "I don't care if they have eighteen years in the business," says Dakar. "They have to learn my philosophy if they work under my roof." With 18 employees, the staff is still growing. Dakar plans to double that number in the next six months. And looking further into the future, she plans to open additional locations in key markets and continue spreading her philosophy on health and beauty. Says Dakar, "I don't see beauty without health as its basic foundation."

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