Retro Revival

Palm springs yacht club (psyc), the spa at the Parker Palm Springs Hotel in Palm Springs, CA, has set sail with a fun, retro spin on spa-going at its newly renovated, nautical-themed 16,500-square-foot facility, which reopened in October. "To stand out as the best and most unusual spa in the valley, we decided to go with a nautical feel," explains spa director Ursula Longo. "It is a fun place where guests feel comfortable. We may be landlocked, but you can never call us dry."

The spa was designed with a crisp blue-and-white color scheme that suggests sea-themed fun and the frivolity of the American yacht and country clubs of the 1950s. The spa's creators were adamant about cultivating a retreat that embodied none of the serious Zen-inspired philosophies of many of today's modern spas. This is most evident in the spa's tongue-in-cheek name, which makes little sense considering its desert location. "Contrary to most spas that are very solemn, we have fun and take ourselves less seriously," says Longo, who goes by the title "commodore" rather than spa director.

In spite of the laid-back mentality, extensive planning went into the renovation of the spa, and the goal of making it both hip and comfortable was imperative. The spa features 16 treatment rooms, as well as separate men's and women's areas to allow for "clothing optional" relaxation. Guests are also encouraged to extend their spa experience and spend the entire day at PSYC participating in group fitness activities like croquet, pétanque, outdoor yoga, tennis, and more in between their treatments and their enjoyment of the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, outdoor patios, saunas, and steam rooms.


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The nautical theme is carried out beyond the design through a focus on hydrotherapy and marine-infused treatments. Saline relaxation pools, Whirlpools, and hydrotherapy are important elements of the spa, which offers Watsu ($135, 60 minutes), as well as a variety of other hydro-focused modalities. Additionally, marine- and algae-based Phytomer products are used. The Essential Relaxation Scrub ($135, 60 minutes), a sea scrub infused with essential oils collected from the Mediterranean coastline, and the Champagne of the Sea Cocoon ($135, 60 minutes), which envelops the body in bubbling sea mud to ease muscle tension and mineralize the skin, are just a sampling of the ocean-themed treatments available.

Hormeta and Yon-Ka Paris products are also used in treatments that go beyond the sea and into the desert, such as the Cactus Flower Massage ($135, 60 minutes; $200, 90 minutes), which uses moisturizing extracts from desert cactus flowers; Desert Stone Therapy ($135, 60 minutes), which uses river stones collected from the American West; and the Desert Sea Wrap ($135, 60 minutes), which incorporates regional minerals infused with desert sage oil and a variety of other essential oils.

Also popular are the spa's packages, most notably The Goldfinger ($200, 120 minutes), which reflects the resort's reputation for high-class elegance. This decadent session uses gold as an ingredient in every step, kicking off with a moisturizing body scrub followed by a body mask gel that is infused with gold dust. After a golden milk bath, guests are massaged with bronzed dry oil and brushed with gold flecks. Many guests also partake in the Day at the Yacht Club for $400. They can opt for the "Jump Start" version of the day, which includes an hour of tennis, yoga, or personal training, a 30-minute hydrotherapy session, a 60-minute Custom Massage, a 60-minute facial, and lunch, or the "Restore & Relax," which includes a sauna, steam, and swim, a 60-minute wrap or scrub, 30 minutes of reflexology, a facial, a 30-minute Hydrojet massage, and lunch.

Longo says she and her staff stand behind all of their treatments, not as life-changing experiences but as therapeutic relaxation sessions. "We believe in the quality of treatments, not the quantity of treatments," she says. "We don't promise it will change your life, but you will feel better when you leave here."

Currently, spa guests run the gamut from high-profile celebrities and savvy spa-goers to spa virgins who are intrigued by the PSYC concept. At its busiest, from December to May, the spa team, which includes 40 full-time and 15 part-time employees, can handle up to 140 treatments per day. Still, Longo says her staff makes it a priority to make each visitor feel relaxed, special, and not rushed. "Our staff does an excellent job in promoting all of our treatments on a one-to-one basis," she says.

The spa also offers memberships ($2,000, one year; $1,200, six months), which include unlimited use of the spa's facilities. Members also receive 10 percent off of spa treatments, personal training sessions, and Pilates and yoga classes. Most visitors, however, simply partake in á la carte treatments.

No matter what the treatment or membership option guests select when they visit, the mentality at Palm Springs Yacht Club is decidedly laid back, relaxed and sometimes silly, which suits Longo just fine considering she believes it to be the reason the spa is so beloved by its guests. "We want people to come here and relax, have fun, and feel better when they leave," she says.