Bluegrass Belle

As The Home Of The Most Revered Event In Horse Racing And the birthplace of the official bat of Major League Baseball, Louisville, KY, has left an indelible mark in the history books. This eponymous city, with a history as regal as its namesake (French monarch Louis XVI), still offers a glimpse of the past in the heart of it all.

 Classic nail services, such as the Pedicure, performed in a cozy setting, are highly popular at the spa.
Classic nail services, such as the Pedicure, performed in a cozy setting, are highly popular at the spa.

Located in bustling downtown, The Seelbach Hilton, home of Z Salon & Spa, has earned its place in Louisville's story. Opened in 1905, the hotel, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places, seems frozen in time as it captures the romance of a decadent era. The hotel has hosted a range of guests, from dignitaries and the well-heeled, to the legendary, such as gangster Al Capone and author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who refers to the Seelbach in his book The Great Gatsby.

Since 2004, Z Salon & Spa has taken up residence at this turn-of-the-century landmark, where it brings together modern amenities with old-world charm. Its location is an offshoot, and a quarter of the size, of the original 21,000-square-foot Z Salon & Spa in the city's East End.

Modern artwork adorns the hallway, which leads to the spa's Magnolia Suite.
Modern artwork adorns the hallway, which leads to the spa's Magnolia Suite.

Although the menu is practically the same at both locations, Denise Zeydel, general manager of the two Z Salon & Spas, says there are stark differences between them. "The decor of the Seelbach location matches the classical elegance of the hotel with darker wood and darker colors, while the other one is very bright. The Seelbach location creates more of a spa feel—more intimate, very soothing, and very relaxing." Another difference between the two spas is the addition of the Magnolia Suite at the newer location. Ideal for couples treatments, the room has a soaking tub, which can be enjoyed before or after a service.

The fact that the spa is situated in a hotel accounts for some of its traffic, but not all. Half of the client roster is made up of locals. "We attract a lot of downtown businesspeople because of word-of-mouth and our great location," says Zeydel. "We are right in the middle of everything." Although the calming environment may appear to be the main draw for guests, Zeydel believes that the 30 staff members are really what make the Z Salon & Spa experience exceptional. "Guests just love how they are taken care of here," she says.

A soaking tub for two is the centerpiece in the Magnolia Suite, ideal for couples treatments.
A soaking tub for two is the centerpiece in the Magnolia Suite, ideal for couples treatments.

When selecting services at the spa, guests tend to lean towards the classics. Favorites include the Full Body Massage ($70, 50 minutes), the Facial ($70/$75 depending on the esthetician, 50 minutes), and the Pedicure ($55, 60 minutes). Zeydel says, "Most people don't really want to try the Caribbean Bath Soak with Scalp Massage until they've tried something traditional."

While classic services are mainstays, creativity reigns supreme when it comes time to select packages. Although the spa offers comprehensive options, such as The Z Escape ($300, 4 1/2 hours), which includes a signature body service; a signature massage; and Shirodhara, and the Himalayan Rejuvenation Retreat ($175, 2 1/2 hours), which combines five treatments into one journey, most clients like to take matters into their own hands. According to Zeydel, approximately 75 to 80 percent of people like to create their own packages.

Z Salon & Spa's front entrance introduces clients to the reception, retail, and waiting areas of the spa.
Z Salon & Spa's front entrance introduces clients to the reception, retail, and waiting areas of the spa.

Client retention may seem like a challenge to some spa managers, but not to Zeydel. Her formula is simple, yet effective: "If you take care of your guests, I truly believe they will come back. If you create an environment that they like, they will come back," she says. With a third Z Salon & Spa opening in the near future, it seems that guests are responding, and the spa is succeeding in offering a little southern comfort in the heart of the Bluegrass State.



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