No trip to Palm Beach is complete without a visit to The Breakers, the beloved grand dame hotel that has been hosting the rich and famous since it first opened in 1896. Over the years, the legendary oceanfront property has undergone updates to maintain its star status. Most recently, it upped the ante with an $8 million spa renovation. “At The Breakers, we strive for continuous improvement throughout all areas of the resort, and when it came time for a soft-goods renovation at the spa four years ago, we took a step back and asked, ‘How would we build this if we were starting over today?’” says spa director Amy Retay. “With the support of our ownership, we decided we should take the spa experience to another level with a complete redesign of the existing footprint. The result was the opening of an entirely new spa this past November.” Highlights of The Spa at The Breakers include the addition of a salon for hair and nail services, an indoor-outdoor coed lounge, ice fountains in both the men’s and women’s locker rooms, and a Gharieni quartz treatment bed. Designed by spa consultant Sylvia Sepielli of Sylvia Planning And Design (SPAd), the spa incorporates the resort’s Italian Renaissance style and draws inspiration from its oceanfront locale. The soothing white and blue color palette captures the spectacular beachside setting.
While the lavish decor certainly adds to the spa’s appeal, it’s the staff, made up of 85 employees, and its tenure that Retay credits with helping the spa stand out from the competition. “We have 10 people who have been here since the spa welcomed its first guests in January 1999, and 24 of our team members—career-licensed massage therapists, nail technicians, and estheticians—who have been here more than 10 years,” she says. “It’s unusual for a service provider to stay with a spa for that length of time. I believe one of the qualities that sets our spa apart is our team’s lifelong commitment to the industry.” According to her, both hotel guests and club members benefit from the staff’s skills, as they have a direct impact on the efficacy of the treatments and services they experience.
In updating the menu, it was important to keep the spa’s typical clientele in mind. “While we welcome visiting local guests, a majority of our clients are hotel guests and club members,” says Retay. “Our discerning clients are spa enthusiasts who are knowledgeable and educated about both treatments and product lines. Spa is a part of their lifestyle whether they are at home or traveling, and it’s our goal to continue to exceed their expectations with a superior level of client service and elevate their expectations with the small details they discover during their time with us.”
According to Retay, a creative approach was used in putting together the menu, which was designed around three brand partners: Erbe, Osea, and Tammy Fender. The lines were chosen because they rely primarily on organic and natural ingredients and also reflect the spa’s four inspirations: the ocean, touch, botanicals, and tradition. Erbe, an authentic and handcrafted Italian skincare and bodycare line with custom formulas dating back to 16th-century Italy, gave the spa exclusivity, as it is the first and only U.S. location to feature Erbe treatments. Osea was a natural fit with its marine-based formulations, and Tammy Fender, a Palm Beach-based line of custom-blended botanical and holistic products, filled the local niche. “A routine spa-goer will find our spa menu to be unique, as we worked directly with the owners and founders of our brands to create a curated menu built around the individual product lines versus specific treatments,” says Retay.
Another consideration was corporate social responsibility, and the fact that each of the product lines’ owners share a similar passion for doing good. “We care deeply for our team members, our guests, our community, and the environment we collectively share and sought partners that reflect our principles,” says Retay. In addition, each retail purchase is packaged in a custom FEED bag designed for the spa. Proceeds are then donated to organizations fighting hunger nationally.
Although the spa can handle up to 490 clients in a single day, the weather can play a significant role when it comes to bookings. Unfortunately, sunshine isn’t always a friend to Retay and her staff. “While a beautiful sunny day is wonderful for a beachgoer, every spa loves the rain,” says Retay. “Our guests have so much to choose from, including a half mile of beach, four swimming pools, two golf courses, and a collection of boutiques, so I need a rainy day every now and then. However, when the sun is shining, our spa guests can enjoy spending time lounging in our outdoor courtyard.” Thanks to the spa’s fresh new look, it’s certainly guaranteed its place in the sun.
Owner: The Breakers Palm Beach
Spa Director: Amy Retay
Opened: January 1999
Renovated: November 2015
20,000 square feet; 17 treatment rooms
Erbe, Essie, Gucci Nail, Living Proof, Osea, Shankara, Tammy Fender
Belvedere, Gharieni, HydroCo, Living Earth Crafts, Maletti,
Jeannine Rohtla, interior designer, Peacock + Lewis Architects (North Palm Beach, FL)
Interior Designer & Spa Consultant
Sylvia Sepielli, SPAd, (Sedona, AZ)