For most spas, indulgent treatments are the draw. And while the folks at Salamander Spa at The Henderson (Destin, FL) can certainly boast about its enticing service menu, the spa also garners attention for its impressive display of work from local artists. Stunning art pieces can be found throughout the resort, but the spa itself is also home to an impressive gallery, including a glass inspiration sculpture in the spa’s entryway and a Sea Oats glass art piece behind the reception desk, both by local glass artist Russ Gilbert. Other highlights of the spa’s collection include pieces from Mary Hong, who is known for a unique glass mixed media approach, and Jeff Waldorff, who specializes in landscape and wildlife found along Florida’s Emerald Coast. The coast certainly inspires the art, and it’s also a muse for the spa design and menu. “We are located near the sugar-white sand and emerald water of the Gulf of Mexico, adjacent to 200 pristine acres of preserved state park, so we were naturally excited to bring nature indoors and weave thematic elements into our spa experience, from our sparkling water-inspired glass art sculptures and paintings to our experiential water features to our turndown with mineral salts, organic product lines, and more,” says spa director Kimberly DeOrsey.
Guests begin their spa experience upon arrival with a special ritual using a hammered metal Tibetan bowl and a soft mallet to help them clear away any negative energy and set an intention for their visit. “It’s a singing bowl, and it’s quite powerful for some,” says DeOrsey. “It’s important to us that our guests begin their wellness experience prior to even entering the treatment room.”
The 10,000-square-foot spa features 11 treatment rooms—one is a couples' room, another is a VIP suite with a private balcony and tub, and three are dedicated facial rooms. There, guests can take advantage of a variety of treatments relying on Kerstin Florian, Pure Fiji, Salt of the Earth, and more. According to DeOrsey, the criteria used to choose the product lines included the spa’s demographics and price points, the region’s climate, the company’s in-house training, and the line’s exclusivity and results.
In creating the menu, DeOrsey wanted to embrace the culture and brand standards that were already a part of the Salamander name. With another location in Middleburg, VA, the Destin spa is characterized by its beachside locale. “We considered our staff and facility and wanted to build a menu of services within a holistic program that would reflect our beautiful natural location,” says DeOrsey. The spa’s most popular treatment is the Mineral Aromatherapy Massage ($150, 60 minutes, $195, 90 minutes), a nourishing treatment that promotes detoxification, relaxes muscles, and replenishes deficient magnesium levels. Guests can also customize any chosen massage with the following enhancements ($25, 15 minutes): Aromatherapy, Bamboo Massage, Ginger Oil, Lavender Oil, Neroli, and Revitalizing. Facials, such as the Caviar Age-Defying Facial ($225, 90 minutes), are also especially popular. “Body treatments are most often booked when a client is staying with us for more than three days,” says DeOrsey. “When a guest only has a day or two for spa services, they tend to be drawn to massages and facials.”
According to her, the guiding philosophy of the spa is Outer Beauty, Inner Health. Focused on supporting a wellness-based lifestyle that incorporates the four cornerstones of wellness—proper nutrition, regular exercise, care of face and body, and peace of mind—the spa encourages guests to incorporate all into their daily lives. “The core motivation with our recreation programming is promoting wellness in as many ways as we can through our fitness classes, wellness workshops, children’s programming, treatment protocols, spa guest rooms, and at-home recipe programs,” says DeOrsey.
One of the key wellness offerings is the resort’s 16 spa-themed guest rooms, which are ideally situated near a bank of elevators that take guests directly to the spa. The rooms feature deep soaker tubs and spa-themed amenities, such as mineral wellness soaks, eye masks, and exfoliation treatments as part of the room’s Well Being Bar. Each room also comes complete with a Wellness Cr8, created by DeOrsey herself. It contains a yoga mat and block, a back roller, an Acupoint Yoga Massage Ball, hand weights, a travel workout guide, a journal, and a bottle of water. Although each guest room features a special mindful turndown service incorporating Kerstin Florian Mineral Wellness Salts, the spa rooms include an extra personal touch with a Daily Affirmation card, in-room spa dining, and more. Guest can also take advantage of the resort’s innovative service calls. A Work-Down call is designed to remind guests to unplug all devices to ensure a technology-free zone before bed, and a Morning-Wellness call reminds guests of the wellness classes available the following day and of the spa concierges who can customize a spa treatment for their stay.
With 20 full-time and 15 part-time staff members in high season, the spa is able to accommodate approximately 300 guests each day. In the meantime, DeOrsey and her team are thinking ahead. There are already plans to add another skincare line, new technology-driven services, a VIP salon suite for couples and bridal services, and sound-based experiences. “As a new luxury spa, we are looking forward to letting everyone know we are here so they can experience all we have to offer,” says DeOrsey. “We know that once they come to Salamander Spa at The Henderson, they will return again and again.” •