The Comeback Kid

Moneyed denizens of Rodeo Drive are rediscovering the charms of The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire. Recently opened after a 10-month renovation, the spa is proving quite an attraction for those to whom money is no object. It should come as no surprise, however, when you consider the spa's prime location in the heart of Beverly Hills. It is situated on the second floor of Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, which stands as a formidable sight on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard.

Some may recognize the hotel from Pretty Woman or any number of Hollywood hits. It's hard to miss with its eye-catching design featuring Italian Renaissance style and French neoclassic influences. Not surprisingly, it has attracted a veritable who's who of guests over the years, including the likes of Cary Grant, Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand, members of Britain's Royal family, the Dalai Lama, and Warren Beatty, who called the hotel home for 10 years.

The women's locker area features vessel sinks and an inviting vanity area.
The women's locker area features vessel sinks and an inviting vanity area.

Despite the all-star lineup, the hotel has recently undergone a transformation of sorts with a $35-million makeover, which included the addition of Cut, a new restaurant from Wolfgang Puck; room renovations; a new Pool Bar and Café; and more. After the delays all-too commonly associated with new construction, the 8,000-square-foot spa was unveiled as a truly lavish complement to the historic hotel. According to spa director Daisy Tepper, the spa takes luxury to a new level. "It is to me the most luxurious spa," says Tepper. "It's the attention to detail, it's the design of the spa, it's what we offer the guest from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave, it's really the whole experience that makes us stand out compared to what we have around us."

Catering to a savvy, well-traveled, and demanding clientele with high expectations, the spa is often frequented by professional athletes, people in the music industry, and high-level executives, many of whom are men. According to Tepper, hotel guests make up 75 percent of the spa's clientele. Such demographics help explain why the spa attracts a greater number—approximately 45 percent—of male spa-goers than most typical spas. "Good deep tissue massages are really popular with the men, but now facials are becoming a big thing," says Tepper.

The Aromatherapy Crystal Steam Room is an ideal place to relax.
The Aromatherapy Crystal Steam Room is an ideal place to relax.

Popular with both men and women, the spa's Personalized Time ($385, 2 hours) gives spa-goers an opportunity to book a set amount of time and then customize their experience. Tepper and her staff recommend this route for many of the guests who want to be spoiled but yet aren't sure what they want. "We determine what they need in a consultation given during the foot ritual," says Tepper. "Based on that consultation, the therapist will determine the oils, the products, and the treatments to be used and why."

In creating the menu, Tepper was adamant that it be kept simple. Having visited many spas, looked at their menus, and spoken to a lot of guests, she found that offering a substantial number of treatments tends to overwhelm people to the point that they sometimes don't want to do anything because they don't know what it is they want. "They're so lost that they're on the phone forever trying to decide with a coordinator what they should have," says Tepper. Simplifying matters is the fact that the spa is carrying one product line, Espa. "The owners wanted to bring in a product that was more natural and that had a very good reputation," says Tepper.

The addition of the Aromatherapy Crystal Steam Room was part of the spa's recent overall makeover.
The addition of the Aromatherapy Crystal Steam Room was part of the spa's recent overall makeover.

For guests interested in something more specific than the Personalized Time, the spa offers the Balancing ($290, 2 hours), which includes a scalp treatment, a facial, a dry-brush exfoliation, and a massage. Another popular specialty treatment is the Balinese massage ($250, 90 minutes), which eases an aching back and soothes tired muscles.

At full capacity, the spa is able to accommodate 100 one-hour treatments in a day. To keep up with demand, the spa is staffed with 13 estheticians and therapists, six receptionists, five locker room attendants, one receptionist supervisor, and one assistant spa director. According to Tepper, her most daunting task is keeping the staff motivated. "I don't like my staff getting too comfortable because you never know [what spa] is going to open up next." That means staying on top of service to ensure that clients get all of their needs met. "It is important to me that we do little personalized touches that go a long way," says Tepper. "For example, we'll recognize it if it's somebody's anniversary or birthday and get something from the kitchen for them. I also have my therapists write a personalized card basically saying 'I hope you enjoyed your stay—have fun at Disneyland tomorrow,' depending on what the conversation was when they met the guest. It's this attention to detail that really makes guests come back."

Color therapy is used throughout the spa to alter the mood.
Color therapy is used throughout the spa to alter the mood.

According to Tepper, therapists, in general, will often say that they aren't appreciated or that the spa director doesn't understand what they do. To combat those notions, Tepper makes it a point to keep her staff happy and excited. "I take time out to recognize what they do, make sure they're not run down or overworked, and they understand that I do get what they do for a living, and I'm there to support them. Having a great strong team makes you successful."

Although the spa has limited space for retail, Tepper makes the most of it by selecting products that aren't readily available elsewhere. Some of her more recent finds include non-scented animal-print candles from a company called Zodax, beautifully packaged sugar lip scrubs from Sara Happ, aromatherapy products from Fruits and Passions, and more. "I don't like baskets so I'm getting creative as far as getting beautiful wine boxes to package bottles of bath oil and really doing something special for gift ideas," says Tepper.

The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire
The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire

An oasis of luxury, the spa is an ideal retreat just steps away from Rodeo Drive. "What we have here is truly spectacular," says Tepper. "This is the place you want to come to in the L.A. area if you want to spa."

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