Luxury Squared

IN THE LATE 17TH CENTURY, WILLIAM PENN DESIGNED FIVE "GREEN" squares as quiet places for residents to enjoy relief from the excitement of urban life in Philadelphia. Undoubtedly, the City of Brotherly Love has since become a bustling metropolis, making any peaceful spot a special find. Providing a modern sanctuary in one of these historic squares, the Adolf Biecker Spa/Salon is nestled on the third floor of the five-diamond Rittenhouse Hotel in Rittenhouse Square, once considered home to the city's Victorian-era aristocracy.

 The Adolf Biecker Spa/Salon is located in The Rittenhouse, a historic hotel situated on the lush Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philadelphia.
The Adolf Biecker Spa/Salon is located in The Rittenhouse, a historic hotel situated on the lush Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philadelphia.

Those who are lucky enough to find the spa get a taste of the good life while inside. The Aveda-concept facility is the first full-service spa in the area and the first to offer a Vichy shower room, according to spa director Monique Bertsch. Originally opened in September 1996, the spa added a 2,300-square-foot wing in April 2005 due to a high demand for services. Three new massage rooms, a facial room, a second women's locker room, relaxation lounge, a Nail Sanctuary, and the Vichy shower room were added.

The 10,100-square-foot Adolf Biecker Spa/Salon also offers a range of salon services, such as cutting and styling, coloring, waxing, nailcare, and makeup. In addition, it features a health club, which accommodates 450 members who have access to spa and salon services as well.

The reception area  is decorated with   eco-friendly bamboo.
The reception area is decorated with eco-friendly bamboo.

Even with the expansion, the 5,500-square-foot spa area remains on one floor, making it a favorite for groups. "We recently had forty attorneys from a law firm do a spa day," says Bertsch. "Being on one floor, a large party [like that] can stay together. There's easy access to the facilities and not a lot of moving around."

Smaller groups, such as bridal parties, are also easily accommodated at the spa. Lunch is offered by the spacious pool area, and guests often mingle in the relaxation room or get group manicures and pedicures in the private Nail Sanctuary. This area features four stations complete with Italian leather recliner chairs and a pipeless system that mitigates distracting noises and adds to the earth-conscious decor of the spa. The green design also boasts bamboo floors and walls, ceilings made of recycled newspaper, and natural stone. For an added touch of luxury, Italian-imported lavender glass tiles accent the eco-friendly setting and make up the walls and ceilings of the water therapy room.

The Nail Sanctuary incorporates decorated glass bowls instead of a conventional water system with pipes.
The Nail Sanctuary incorporates decorated glass bowls instead of a conventional water system with pipes.

However, the spa's focus on luxury is translated in more than just the atmosphere. According to Bertsch, the spa focuses on servicing a luxury market. The clientele is made up mainly of local high-end professionals, ladies who lunch, and hotel clients. "I think they are looking for a high level of customer service, a clean facility, and experienced technicians," Bertsch says of the spa's guests. "They like to be catered to."

High-end pampering is definitely a priority when developing menu items, as well. A popular new treatment is the Spring Body Renewal ($110, 60 minutes), a combination of a wrap, scrub, scalp treatment, facial, and massage.

Clockwise from top: In the relaxation lounge, guests can sip complimentary Aveda Comforting Tea or cucumber-lemon water and snack on fresh fruit; quality equipment and personal training options are just some of the health and fitness club benefits; guests can upgrade any body treatment with the Vichy shower for $15.
Clockwise from top: In the relaxation lounge, guests can sip complimentary Aveda Comforting Tea or cucumber-lemon water and snack on fresh fruit; quality equipment and personal training options are just some of the health and fitness club benefits; guests can upgrade any body treatment with the Vichy shower for $15.

Bertsch also says clients look for consistency in their spa services. "When a client comes in for a service, they expect the treatment to be the same as the last time," she says. "If a service is performed differently or left out, the client may think they are losing out on a particular part of the service and may not be satisfied."

Bertsch has also found that retail plays a major role at the spa. She adds, "Best results from products are obtained through continued use." This is made easy, as the spa only carries Aveda products.



Always looking forward and trying to keep up with the needs of her clientele, Bertsch meets regularly with her staff to discuss the spa's direction. Future plans include an increase in advertising. "Because we are on the third floor of a hotel, we have no street signage or visibility, so most of our clients learn about us through word-of-mouth," says Bertsch. "One of my goals is to educate locals about our existence and our services." With such a positive response already from current guests, Adolf Biecker looks to remain quite the urban oasis.

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