Aficionados of International Orange, a longtime San Francisco day-spa retreat named for the color of the Golden Gate Bridge, now have a rejuvenating reason to cross it and expand their wellness horizons with the opening of International Orange Marin (Larkspur, CA). The sleek new 6,000-square-foot oasis is located on the second floor of the Marin Country Mart and across the San Francisco Bay from its Pacific Heights predecessor. It features 11 treatment rooms, a retail boutique with a dedicated In Fiore shop, an indoor relaxation area, men’s and women’s locker rooms with saunas and steam rooms, and a private outdoor deck with views of the ferry terminal and Mt. Tamalpais.
According to owner Melissa Ferst, the new outpost is twice as nice, incorporating the appeal of the original 3,000-square-foot location with an austere yet elegant update. “IO is known for simple luxury,” she says. “With Marin, we wanted to keep the design and the foundation of the brand and elevate it. IO SF has an almost monastic quality to it, with its white walls and wood floors. It’s minimalist. The second location is equally minimalist, with unadorned white walls, light reclaimed teak, and sustainable cork flooring.” The relaxation lounge features simple yet stylish James Perse furnishings, as well as a freestanding Malm fireplace. The treatment rooms, one of which is outfitted for couples, are similarly understated, featuring a few candles and ceramic bowls with flowers placed under the face cradles of the treatment tables. “It is clean and simple to allow guests to go inward without distraction,” says Ferst.
The menu is also refined, featuring a concise selection of skincare and bodywork. “From the very beginning, we wanted to keep our menu simple,” says Ferst. “We saw other spas that had seven-page menus, and we didn’t want to do that. It’s about the work you are getting in the room, not all the stuff around it. We realize that our clients sometimes want treatments that are more intense, but we are not going in that direction. We do give active treatments within the confines of taking care of the whole self and relaxing. Coming here is not about getting poked. It’s more of an experience.” As such, Ferst says guests gravitate to the IO Signature Massage ($120, 45 minutes; $130, 60 minutes; $190, 90 minutes), a Swedish-based massage integrated with techniques such as acupressure, Thai, and Shiatsu, and the IO Signature Facial ($175, 75 minutes), a comprehensive deep-cleansing treatment including manual exfoliation, a mild exfoliating peel, extractions, an advanced facial massage, and a specialty treatment mask. Also popular is the Deep-Tissue Massage ($130, 45 minutes; $140, 60 minutes; $205, 90 minutes) and the dynamic IO In Fiore Facial ($205, 75 minutes), which Ferst says has become a “cult favorite.” It involves a multiple-step treatment process that includes a brightening peel, a mineral-rich mask, and signature sculpting
techniques using In Fiore products that are concocted with sustainably produced ingredients. International Orange has garnered much acclaim throughout the years from loyal guests, including celebs like Molly Sims and Julia Roberts, for its memorable offerings. As a result, product selection is a vital part of the process. In the new location, as well as the original flagship, Ferst says she and her team are quite discerning. “We look first for high quality, natural, and non-toxic products that deliver results,” she says. “We believe in rituals, and our products must reflect this. So, we really want to understand the story behind the brands. Above all else, we are committed to ingredient integrity, aesthetics, performance, personality, story, and exclusivity.” Equal attention is paid to the retail offerings beyond the skincare and bodycare lines. Due to limited space, a discriminating hand is also used when choosing lifestyle selections for the boutique, and Ferst says that some of the spa’s best finds come from fairs that showcase artisans, like West Coast Craft and the Echo Park Craft Fair.
To maintain such high standards, Ferst says she works hard to cultivate a dedicated and talented team of 50 employees between the two locations, many of whom have been with the original spa since it opened 16 years ago and many other 10-plus-year veterans. Also important is the robust marketing strategy, which involves website, email, and social media campaigns. “We have a very strong e-commerce business and sell memberships, gift certificates, and weekly specials, which we make very enticing,” she says. “They range from discounts on spa services to online product promotions to our popular Spa Dollars.” Also contributing to the spa’s bottom line is a membership program that offers a discount on specific monthly services, plus additional savings on other treatments and retail products.
While membership does have its privileges, the luxe new haven is appealing to members, longtime IO fans, and newbies alike, making Marin County the hot new healing spot in the Bay Area. “It offers all of the sophistication of San Francisco and attracts a cultured, discerning audience, which is the IO client,” says Ferst. “It’s really the only destination outside of the city that balances the metropolitan energy of San Francisco with the relaxed vibe of the suburbs.”
Owner: Melissa Ferst
Spa Operations Manager: Alice O’Rourke
Opened: April 2016
6,000 square feet; 11 treatment rooms
Cost of Spa
IS Clinical, In Fiore, Josh Rosebrook, Kahina Giving Beauty, Kjaer Weis, May Lindstrom Skin, Pursoma, RMS Beauty, Sircuit Skin Cosmeceuticals, Sun Potion, Suntegrity, Vintner’s Daughter
Living Earth Crafts, Luzern Laboratories, Millennium Systems, Monarch Cypress, Olivia and Jess
James Rosenfield, Marin Country Mart (Larkspur, CA)
Matt Dick, International Orange (San Francisco)