Putting on the Ritz

REPUTED TO HAVE MORE MILLIONAIRES PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER city in Florida, Naples attracts its fair share of wealthy spa-goers. Many flock to The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, where they're privy to gorgeous views of the Gulf of Mexico and given free reign of the property's three-mile white-sand beach, part of what is commonly referred to as Paradise Coast. The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples, a major draw to the resort, is a welcoming oasis of epic proportions. The 52,000-square-foot spa is a study in Roman-inspired grandeur with its signature three-story atrium, mosaic marble floors, and tumbled stonework.

Resort guests make up approximately 75 to 80 percent of the spa's clientele. The rest are either locals or members of the spa. There is a $40,000 non-refundable fee plus yearly dues of $1,600 for individuals and $2,700 for couples for a lifetime membership. Benefits include access to all spa facilities as well as an introductory spa service per member and an introductory wellness/fitness package. Members are granted use of a private member or guest locker and also receive 20 percent off spa services and 10 percent off retail products. In addition, 12 complimentary personal training sessions are included each year. Members also receive preferred reservation service, complimentary valet parking, and more. Membership is capped at 250. Although local visitors are free to take advantage of the spa, the locker area is reserved exclusively for hotel guests and members.

A grand staircase with intricate scrollwork leads to the spa's spacious reception area.
A grand staircase with intricate scrollwork leads to the spa's spacious reception area.

Offering the exemplary customer service for which The Ritz-Carlton is known, the staff caters to the most minuscule details in the treatment room, such as making sure blankets on the beds are heated, the music is cued appropriately, and any oils used are warmed before application. According to spa director Michelle Kelthy, most of the spa's guests are interested in relaxation and results. "They don't want fluff anymore," says Kelthy. "Instead, they're looking for something to refresh and revive them."

Left: Guests can soak in the hydrotherapy pool, which features a cascading waterfall. Top right: The relaxation area provides a comfortable place for guests to unwind. Bottom right: Local vendors are invited to display their wares in the reception area.
Left: Guests can soak in the hydrotherapy pool, which features a cascading waterfall. Top right: The relaxation area provides a comfortable place for guests to unwind. Bottom right: Local vendors are invited to display their wares in the reception area.

In creating the treatment menu, Kelthy sought to capture the indigenous flavors of the area. "I wanted to tie a ribbon between the garden and the sea," says Kelthy. She accomplished that by bringing together a variety of fragrances and products into the mix. The spa's signature treatments best epitomize the sense of tropical locale Kelthy was striving to achieve. For example, the Mimosa Extravagance ($145, 50 minutes) incorporates Florida's most popular fruit with the use of mandarin orange body scrub and mists of orange blossom essential oil. A popular treatment with guests, it is designed to treat tired and thirsty skin.

The couple's room is a picture of serenity.
The couple's room is a picture of serenity.

Another well-received treatment is the Intuitive Massage ($230, 80 minutes), which is personalized by the therapist using a range of techniques, such as Swedish and hot stone massage, to achieve the client's desired result, be it relaxation or muscle relief. "Most people make decisions all week long and just want us to figure out what they need," says Kelthy. The spa also recently began carrying Prada Beauty, a line of high-end skincare products from the Italian fashion house, and introduced a series of Prada treatments, which include The Prada Exfoliant Visage ($275, 90 minutes), The Prada Radiant Visage ($275, 90 minutes), The Prada Reviving Visage ($375, 90 minutes), and The Prada Replenishing Body Facial ($275, 90 minutes).

Left: Cooking classes that showcase healthy spa cuisine are popular among guests. Right: The spa features a state-of-the art fitness center, a popular draw for its 250 members.
Left: Cooking classes that showcase healthy spa cuisine are popular among guests. Right: The spa features a state-of-the art fitness center, a popular draw for its 250 members.

The spa has 100 estheticians and massage therapists on staff, approximately 60 percent of whom work full time. According to Kelthy, staffing is her greatest challenge on account of the high cost of living in Naples. Many therapists can't afford to live in the area, and there is a great deal of competition for those who do. Staffing remains a priority, however, as the spa receives approximately 350 bookings in a typical day. Providing additional incentive to visit the spa, Kelthy entices guests by inviting individual local vendors to display their products on Saturdays. Recently, the spa showcased a line of essential oils and a collection of jewelry.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples (Naples, FL)
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples (Naples, FL)

As for the future, Kelthy intends to continue tweaking the menu. She is planning to introduce a bamboo massage in November. Also on the agenda are a variety of retreats focused on detoxification and yoga, as well as a girlfriend's getaway. At The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples, exceeding expectations is the order of each and every day.

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