The Royal Treatment

Overlooking the Hudson River from one of Westchester County’s highest points, Castle Hotel & Spa (Tarrytown, NY) has long served as a romantic getaway, conjuring up images of America’s Gilded Age. Built before the turn of the 20th century by General Howard Carroll, a respected newspaperman, playwright, and businessman, Carollcliffe, as it was once known, was designed to resemble Norman fortifications in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Designated an historic landmark in 1981 by the town of Tarrytown, the castle was later transformed into a luxury hotel, complete with a gourmet restaurant. In 2013, it underwent an extensive renovation, which included the introduction of Thann Sanctuary Spa. Known as an oasis of tranquility, Thann spas are found in Australia, Finland, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The $11-million spa made its debut following eight months of construction.

Although a Thai-themed spa might seem an unusual fit in a medieval castle, the popular brand was chosen for its reputation for luxury. Jiro Sato, president of Sankara Hospitality Group, also liked that the spa would be the first of its kind in the U.S. According to him, he wanted to provide an unparalleled atmosphere of total guest satisfaction.

Setting the stage for a memorable experience, the spa is housed in a simple yet sophisticated building. A curved stone wall guides guests to an opening that leads to a sheltered interior courtyard. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the lobby and reception area overlook the courtyard and contrast with the stone exterior. Incorporating natural materials, subtle colors, and minimal details, the contemporary design relies on warm tones and soothing light to induce a state of calm. Guests also benefit from the private and quiet atmosphere, created with the use of architectural screens, protected views, and acoustical isolation. In addition to a spacious relaxation lounge with views of the wooded grounds, the spa also features separate men’s and women’s locker facilities, a women’s relaxation lounge, a fitness room, a wellness room, and eight treatment rooms, one of which is a VIP suite with a deep soaking tub and a private outdoor gazebo.

While the spa’s ambience certainly encourages guests to relax, it’s the treatments that truly do the trick. Offering a host of services based on the art of natural therapy, Thann seeks to awaken the senses. One of its most popular treatments is the Thann Sanctuary Signature Massage ($185, 90 minutes), which blends traditional Thai massage with other Asian healing techniques to relax the body through stretching and deep pressure. Another signature experience, the Nano Shiso Therapy ($255, 2 hours 10 minutes), includes either a 60-minute Thann Aroma Lymphatic or Swedish Massage with the healing properties of  nano shiso, an antioxidant extract that is combined with rice bran oil. As one would expect from a Thai-inspired spa, there are several Thai offerings, such as Traditional Thai Massage ($200, 90 minutes), Thai Massage with Herbal Compress ($280, 2 hours), and Thai Aromatic Massage ($285, 2 hours). Guests may also take advantage of a variety of facials, each of which includes a 30-minute Detoxifying Lymphatic Facial Massage, a Hand and Foot Massage during mask treatment, and an application of Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 with nano shiso and white tea extracts.

The spa uses only Thann, a range of natural hair and skincare products. Some of the line’s key ingredients are moringa oil, rice bran oil, and shiso extract. According to spa director Ryoko Ado, the unique ingredients promote the concept of Thann and help it stand out from the competition. “From arrival to departure, both in the treatments and the hospitality offered, there are lots of eastern influences to make the entire spa experience different from others,” says Ado.

One such influence is in the training the staff received at the Thann spa academy in Bangkok. Ado, along with three therapists, went there to learn the spa’s various treatment protocols. “The training was for seven weeks to learn seven treatments,” says Ado. “By being in Thailand and being able to feel the Thai culture while having this training, therapists could better learn how to connect and create harmony with body, soul, and mind to heal guests.”

Five full-time massage therapists, two part-time estheticians, and one full-time esthetician allow the spa to accommodate 35 guests each day. With those luxury-seeking guests the spa’s main priority, Ado and her staff are focused on giving them the treatment they deserve. If that isn’t incentive enough to visit, spa-goers may appreciate the unique opportunity to experience a Thai-themed spa in a medieval castle.

Owner: Sankara Hospitality Group and Spa Sana

Spa Director: Ryoko Ado

Opened: September 2013



80% female, 20% male



8,700 square feet; 8 treatment rooms



aromatherapy, Ayurveda, body treatments, couples’ treatments, facials, fitness, hand and foot treatments, massage, outdoor treatments, reflexology, yoga



Thann Sanctuary Signature Massage  ($185, 90 minutes)



Thai Aromatic Massage ($285, 2 hours)






Agilysys Visual One, Comfort Soul, Cybex, Thann



Gettys (Irvine, CA)