The San Francisco Treat


Last year, the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco celebrated its 25th anniversary. In honor of this major milestone, the hotel is providing its guests with the gift of wellness, courtesy of the new 8,000-square-foot The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco. Though the hotel has always offered guests access to a spectacular array of sightseeing options—Nob Hill, Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, and more are within walking distance—this new addition, which opened its doors in October, provides them with the perfect way to round out a visit to the City by the Bay.

Designed using warm, natural colors and subtle Asian details, the third-floor oasis blends seamlessly into the rest of the hotel using a palette that reflects the natural beauty of the San Francisco Bay. The walls feature richly textured mocha-hued coverings accented with illuminated golden tones, and the interior is further accentuated with museum-quality art pieces that are on display, including a six-foot statue of Kuan-Yin, the goddess of mercy.

As with all Mandarin spas, guests receive a welcoming cup of tea upon arrival and are invited to exchange their shoes for slippers. They are then directed to one of four spa suites, all of which include a private rainforest shower and changing room. Three of the suites—Tranquility, Pearl, and Golden—are for individual treatments, while the Harmony Suite is ideal for couples. “Our suite concept is unlike any other spa I have seen or experienced in the city,” says director of spa Kristy S. Whitford. “Every suite has a private shower room complete with a rain shower and marble finishes for the ultimate in privacy. Upon arrival, our guests are welcomed to their private suite to relax and to be rejuvenated. Our therapists are multi-licensed, allowing for facials and body treatments to be completed in the same room so there is no need to be moved from one area to the next.”

The Mandarin tradition continues with the Signature Spa Therapies, which are services developed with the help of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and aromatherapy experts, reflecting what Whitford says is a “distinct approach to wellness that incorporates both eastern and western influences into the treatments.” Among the highlights are the Oriental Essence ($175, 50 minutes: $250, 1 hour 20 minutes) massage, the Oriental Harmony ($620, 2 hours 50 minutes) scrub and massage performed by two therapists, and Time Rituals ($375, 1 hour 50 minutes; $525, 2 hours 50 minutes), in which guests work with their therapists to select services that best serve their needs. “We also incorporated some wonderful treatments that speak to our busy and bustling location in the city’s Financial District with treatments such as the Deep Sleep or Red Eye for the business person,” says Whitford, who adds that the spa also recently introduced a few Signature Journeys that use ingredients that can be found in the Bay area.

Nailcare services using SpaRitual products are performed in the specialty nail treatment room, and a series of results-oriented Beauty by Mandarin Oriental skincare services and treatments for new moms and moms-to-be round out the menu. So far, the biggest challenge has been enticing guests to try out the nail treatments. “There are numerous nail salons located throughout the city, but we strive to be the location offering the highest quality and healthiest nail treatments,” says Whitford. “We have passionate technicians who truly understand proper nailcare, and we use the finest products. Our services are carefully designed and have long-lasting effects.”

No matter what service they choose, it is this type of dedication that appeals to the typical Mandarin guest, whom Whitford describes as “worldly” and “seeking an incomparable, high-quality spa experience.” To attract hotel guests, every member of the Mandarin team, not just spa personnel, is an advocate for the new retreat. “Due to the extensive training provided at our spa pre-opening, we have had incredible support from our colleagues in all departments of the hotel,” says Whitford. “We have also ensured that every colleague has had a chance to walk through and attend training sessions to understand our variety of offerings.” Spa-centric key cards, spa menus in each room, and a reservations team that speaks about the spa to guests during the room reservation process also keep it top of mind for hotel guests.

Locals are carefully catered to, as well. In fact, San Franciscans currently make up the majority of the spa’s clientele and were introduced to the spa through a major public relations campaign that included a series of opening events to target audiences and media partners. Other local marketing moves included introductory spa offers and packages and an extensive advertising program.

Regardless of whether guests come from near or far, Whitford believes the spa will continue to thrive because of the incomparable guest experience she and her team provide. “We are fortunate our guests trust in our expertise,” she says. “We are not just a luxury spa—we also care about the wellbeing of each guest, and we want to help them live a happier and healthier life.” For all these reasons and more, it’s easy to see how the spa will encourage more and more clients to leave their hearts in San Francisco. 


Spa Director: Kristy S. Whitford

Opened: October 2012

Client Base

60% female 40% male



8,000 square feet; 5 treatment rooms



aromatherapy, body treatments, chromatherapy, couples’ treatments, facials, fitness, hair and scalp treatments, hand and foot treatments, massage, nailcare, prenatal services


Signature Spa Service

Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa Therapies ($450, 1 hour 50 minutes)


Most Expensive Offering

Oriental Harmony ($620, 1 hour 50 minutes)


Product Lines

Aromatherapy Associates, Private Label, SpaRitual



Chadsworth & Haig, Living Earth Crafts, SpaSoft, TechnoGym, Zendals



Hathaway Dinwiddie (San Francisco)


Interior Designer

BAMO (San Francisco)