Great Expectations

A Beverly Hills makeover generally pulls out all the stops, and the recent $7 million renovation of The Peninsula Spa at the Peninsula Beverly Hills was no exception. Necessitated by the spa's growing popularity, the expansion included a dedicated skin therapy room and relaxation area with a view of the Hollywood Hills. Designer Darrell Schmitt, who with the late James Northcutt came up with the original design for the hotel, created the concept for the new spa. Wanting to keep the look consistent with the Peninsula's classic design, he incorporated clear glass, limestone, and mosaic-style tile work.

The spa may sport a crisp new look with French blue fabrics and white Calacatta marble, but not everything has changed. For instance, the spa staff still prides itself on its unwavering commitment to guests. "Primarily, what sets us apart from our competitors is the level of service that we provide," says spa director Andrea Gray. "We really try to deal individually with guests from the moment of booking all the way through their spa experience. We try to give them a sense that we know exactly who they are and what they need." Even before they arrive, the staff is busy anticipating their visit. "We are always trying to personalize the service by speaking to them by name and providing special amenities to them based on their needs." For example, if a guest mentions that the spa sandals never fit, a staff member will locate sandals in an appropriate size and present them to the guest upon arrival.

Women can kick back before and after treatments in the mosaic-tiled sitting area in the locker room.
Women can kick back before and after treatments in the mosaic-tiled sitting area in the locker room.

According to Gray, it's all part and parcel to catering to the Peninsula's demanding clientele. "As a hotel, the Peninsula offers a five-star standard of service, and we in the spa endeavor to do the same," says Gray. That means providing extras like answering every phone call within three rings. "What guests are looking for is that Peninsula feeling, which is an unbelievable standard of service where their every need is not only met but anticipated so that they don't even have to ask for it because it's already there. They're expecting the highest quality treatments, the highest quality products, as well as the highest level of expertise from our estheticians, therapists, and nail technicians. I think when you're coming to a place like the Peninsula you have a right to expect that and certainly that's what we provide."

A host of wet room treatments are available to refresh and rejuvenate.
A host of wet room treatments are available to refresh and rejuvenate.

To achieve and maintain such a high level of service, the hotel requires that employees undergo a rigorous interview process. Before being offered a position on staff, each therapist must submit to four or five interviews. According to Gray, this is to ensure they have the right personality to deal with demanding clients. "It also screens out those not willing to go the extra mile," says Gray. Those who make the cut are generally considered the cream of the crop. The spa employs 30 massage therapists, many of them veteran therapists, some of whom have been there nearly 14 years. The rest of the staff is composed of seven estheticians, seven front desk coordinators, seven spa attendants, six nail techs, and a couple of personal trainers. They all help the spa function smoothly, particularly on busy Saturdays when the spa can max out at 105 guests in a day.

The relaxation room features a soothing water wall that puts guests at ease.
The relaxation room features a soothing water wall that puts guests at ease.

Beyond exemplary service is the staff's dedication to providing a customized experience. "Guests don't necessarily want to look at six to eight cookie-cutter facials," says Gray. Instead, they want something designed specifically for their needs at that moment. "Exclusivity is a key word for us," says Gray, noting that the spa is one of the only ones in North America to carry the Dubai-based Shiffa product line. The all-natural organic skincare line provides the basis for two of the spa's signature treatments. The newly introduced Peninsula Signature Pedicure ($155, 75 minutes) is a luxurious experience that includes 15 minutes of foot reflexology and uses gemstone oils from Shiffa. The popular Precious Ruby Massage, Vitality ($385, 2 hours) includes a dry brushing of the body, an exfoliation, a body mask, a massage, a facial, and a scalp treatment. Most of the products used include essence of rubies and essential rose oil. The spa is also one of the few locations in the area to carry products from the Somme Institute. "We have clients who call us from other areas of the country to reorder the product, and we ship it out to them because they can't find it where they are," says Gray. Not surprisingly, the Hydrating Vitamin Infusion Facial ($195, 30 minutes; $285, 60 minutes), which uses Somme Institute products, is the spa's most popular facial.

The front desk is an inviting sight for arriving guests.
The front desk is an inviting sight for arriving guests.

Gray's biggest challenge to date is keeping up with the demand for services. According to her, this is also a blessing in that guests are responding to all that the spa has to offer. Says Gray, "It's really about exclusivity, customization, and service."

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