Seaside Sanctuary

 

More than a decade ago, Monastero Santa Rosa (Salerno, Italy), a monastery built in 1861, was given a new lease on life thanks to a chance viewing by Bianca Sharma, an American who caught sight of the abandoned building from the sea while cruising by on a friend’s yacht. Enchanted by the crumbling and dilapidated structure, she purchased the property and set out on an 11-year journey to restore it to its former glory and fulfill her dream of opening a boutique hotel and spa on the Amalfi Coast. As if the inspired cliff-side setting with panoramic views wasn’t enough, Sharma was also adamant that the hotel feature an equally stunning spa. Debuting a little more than a year ago, Monastero Santa Rosa Spa is now captivating guests with its legendary heritage, exquisite architecture, and exclusive product line.

The spa features two single treatment rooms and one couples’ suite, which is considered a spa within a spa. The vaulted space also includes a rasul, a steam room, a manicure and pedicure relaxation lounge, grooming space, and a garden terrace. Spa-goers may also enjoy alfresco treatments in the spa’s outdoor treatment garden, which overlooks the Gulf of Salerno and boasts views of the Amalfi Coast. For those who want to take advantage of the Roman tradition of bathing, there is a thermal suite constructed within the historic monastic spaces that connect various heated rooms through arched entryways. From a vaulted tepidarium with pomegranate- infused whirlpool footbaths and heated mosaic loungers to a domed aromatic steam room, the thermal suite features a rock sauna, a crushed ice fountain, a hydrotherapy pool, and experiential showers. “From the outset, spa consultant Neil Howard wanted to draw upon the unique integrity of the convent’s character, not to follow a pre-determined formula that a branded spa would impose upon the space,” says spa manager Francesca Speroni. “Howard Spa Consulting’s adeptness in creating spa concepts to enhance the integrity of place and ongoing work with premium hotels fit well with Sharma’s philosophy. This approach allowed the building to ‘tell’ him what best suited it, joining spaces together to create a flowing experience.” In addition to the vaulted ceilings, ancient stone walls, and other architectural details, the spa’s chosen product line, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, also adds to its sense of place. “I was first introduced to this product when I began to consider incorporating a spa into the development of the hotel,” says Sharma. “At that time, Santa Maria Novella was not interested in working with hotels, just retail. During the long process of developing the property, the company’s philosophies changed, and we are now fortunate to have the wonderful relationship between us.”

Because the product line was founded in the 14th century in Florence by Dominican monks, it seemed an ideal fit for the spa. “Using Italian plants and flowers renowned for their healing powers as traditionally grown on the grounds of monasteries and convents, the Santa Maria Novella product line complements the Monastero Santa Rosa Spa perfectly,” says Speroni. As only the second spa in Italy to use the exclusive line, Monastero Santa Rosa Spa benefited from the relationship the product company forged with The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze Spa in Florence. “That success made it possible to approach them again to find out if we could work together,” says Sharma. After Howard and she toured the factory with Santa Maria Novella’s commercial director Gianluca Foà, a handshake confirmed the new partnership, followed by a more formalized agreement. That’s when Beverley Casely-Hayford of Howard Spa Consulting began conceptualizing the menu. With treatments that are exclusive to the spa, the menu is defined by services that also convey a sense of place. Most popular is the Candle Massage ($215, 80 minutes), which incorporates an aromatic powder scrub of iris or bitter orange to soften the skin followed by a relaxing massage with Santa Maria Novella candle wax, which is made of pure plant oils and emollient butters. Guests are given the candle and its ceramic candleholder at the end of the treatment so they may recreate the experience at home. Other decadent treatments include the Iris Drizzle Hydrating Body Wrap ($161, 60 minutes), which involves warm iris oil drizzled over the body with a blend of iris powder to nourish the skin while the scalp is massaged; and the Polline Hydration ($161, 60 minutes), a facial that relies on a regenerating cream formulated with pollen and extra virgin olive oil to moisturize the skin. A limited menu of treatments is available for those who aren’t guests of the hotel.

With three full-time therapists, one part-time therapist, and a full-time receptionist, the spa is busy helping guests to relax and enjoy the ambience. “People do not necessarily come to the Amalfi Coast to spa, as they generally come to sightsee, enjoy long walks, and shop,” says Speroni. “Therefore, to see a spa of such high caliber perhaps may come as a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, as spa-ing has become part of the inter- national market, everyone loves it and can’t get enough. The spa is an unexpected welcome to their stay.”

 

Owner: Bianca Sharma

Spa Manager:

Francesca Speroni

Opened: May 2012

Client Base

55% female, 45% male

Most Represented Countries

U.K., U.S., Italy

Space

5,000 square feet; 3 treatment rooms

Offerings

body treatments, chromatherapy, couples’ treatments, eyelash and brow tinting, facials, hair and scalp treatments, hammam, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, massage, nailcare, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, reflexology, salon services, waxing, yoga

Signature Service

Candle Massage ($215, 80 minutes)

Most Expensive Offering

Amalfi Blue ($505, 3 hours 45 minutes), which includes a Pomegranate Foot Bathing, a Santa Maria Novella Facial, an Aromatic Powder Scrub, a Spa Life Massage, and a choice of a manicure or pedicure

Prodcut Lines

Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Perron Rigot, SpaRitual

Equipment

Ghariani, Proforma, Protel – Selz, Selina, Technogym, Thermarium, Zendals

Architect & Interior Designer

Jane Goff, Goff Associates (Hampshire, England)

Spa Consultant

Neil Howard and Beverley Casely-Hayford, Howard Spa Consulting (Surrey, England)

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