Making Spa Magic

(Spa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando)

Home to a startling array of theme parks, Orlando is perhaps considered one of the happiest places on earth by many children, families, and the young at heart. Now, spa lovers’ relaxation dreams are coming true, thanks to the recent debut of the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando (FL). Though the hotel itself is located within the gates of Walt Disney World Resort, making it an ideal home base for Disney-files, spa-goers will find a serene escape from the magic—and mayhem—of the Mouse House. Instead, the 13,000-square-foot sanctuary is inspired by the lush Florida Everglades. 

As such, the spa is highlighted by shades of pale green, sand, and taupe, featuring a reception area with a moss-green natural-stone desk with a custom white-plaster backdrop of native birds in their natural habitat. Overhead, fiber-optic light fixtures resembling grasses sparkle with soft green and lavender petals. The motif continues in the relaxation lounges, where colorful large-scale mosaics pop against a neutral palette of driftwood tones and pearly shell and rock crystal accents. Also adding to the all-natural appeal, the locker areas open onto private outdoor terraces featuring whirlpools and lush landscaping. 

The 18 treatment rooms further carry on the Everglade inspiration, with each named for a native bird and featuring dark tile floors, white millwork accents, and branch chandeliers. Among the highlights are Merlin, which features floor-to-ceiling windows; the Osprey couples’ suite outfitted with a shower, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a bubble-finished accent wall; and two private bungalows—Anhinga and Spoonbill—which are ideal for couples or those seeking more privacy and offering views of a serene landscape of twisting trees along a waterway.

Even the men’s and women’s relaxation lounges transport guests to the steamy Everglades—but with a rather decadent twist, thanks to the cool Bradford Experience Shower. There, guests can sample different variations of water flow, from an Arctic mist with a refreshing stream of cool water to an invigorating body spray to an island storm, which features cool rain incorporated with sounds of thunder and lightning flashing overhead. The shower includes nine body spray massagers, four overhead misters, a full-color changing LED light system, an audio system, and an aroma-injection system to combine aromatic essential oils with water vapors.

But it’s not just the stunning setting and Everglades inspiration that sets the spa apart amid a busy marketplace. According to spa director Derek Hofmann, the services and the team are what truly make the spa stand out. “Our treatments are exclusively ours and remarkably effective, and our professional spa team was hand selected from the best of the best that Central Florida has to offer, as well as Four Seasons alumni transferring to us from our highly heralded sister properties,” he says.

The growing spa team is currently composed of 45 members with varied experience levels who can perform up to 300 services per day. “We have some industry veterans of more than 10 years, upon whose experience we rely, as well as talented and eager newcomers to the spa industry who emerged as top talents in their modalities at an early stage in their careers,” says Hofmann.  “We are an eclectic and diverse bunch who complement each other and our spa very well.”

The menu is also eclectic, with a variety of services that cater to a range of guests who visit the spa, from weary park-goers to golfers to sun lovers (and over-indulgers) to those celebrating special occasions to kids. There’s even a service that calls upon the benefits of several of central Florida’s indigenous ingredients. La Floridian ($225, 80 minutes) incorporates grapefruit, jasmine, and sugar cane and includes a full-body exfoliation, a moisturizing wrap, a massage, and a warm oil scalp treatment. What guests seem to have in common is their willingness to embrace the unique variations on classic therapies that are central to the menu. Among the most popular is the Sticks and Stones Massage ($165, 50 minutes; $330, 1 hour 50 minutes), a spa exclusive that incorporates sculpted basalt stones and birchwood massage sticks; Cupping Detoxifying ($160, 50 minutes; $240, 80 minutes), a circulation-boosting massage and cupping therapy; and technologically inspired facials, like the Rejuvenating Oxygen Facial ($275, 50 minutes) and Geneo 3-in-1 Facial ($275, 50 minutes; $325, 80 minutes), which includes an exfoliation and a powerful infusion of healing ingredients into the skin. “We’re also seeing a demand for our Magical Moments, which are fun, whimsical princess and shining knight makeovers for our youngest visitors visiting the Disney theme parks,” says Hofmann.

Though the spa is proving to be quite popular, Hofmann and his team continue to work to keep the spa top of mind. Resort guests learn about it via in-room iPads, pre-arrival notifications, in-room collateral, reader-board messaging, and an in-room video. Locals have been enticed with special promotions, like a recent one offering them pool access with the purchase of an 80-minute spa service. And plans are in place to enhance the spa’s fitness offerings, add nutritional options, and delve into more unique integrative therapies. But Hofmann thinks he and his team are poised to be the region’s top escape for many years to come. “We are a brand-new and stunning physical property with the best team of spa professionals in the Sunshine State performing exclusive therapies from premier treatment lines,” he says. “This sets us apart as best in class.”

Owners: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Silverstein Properties, and Dune Capital

Spa Director: Derek Hofmann

Opened: August 2014


68% female; 32% male


13,000 square feet; 18 treatment rooms


Amala, Body Bliss, CND, IS Clinical, Intraceuticals, Kérastase, Natura Bissé, Pino, SpaRitual, Turo Men


Bradford, Gharieni, Intraceuticals, Lenox, Living Earth Crafts, Life Fitness, Matrix, Monarch Robes, Pollogen, Rogue Fitness, SpaSoft, Takara Belmont, Viora, Yeah Baby


EDSA (Orlando), HKS Architects (New York City), and WTG Design (Chesapeake, VA)


Pam Anderson, Anderson Miller Ltd. (Chicago)


Natural Resources Spa Consulting (New York City)