The Sweet Smell of Success

There are some brands that endure the test of time, and Guerlain is certainly one that has only gotten better with age. Founded in 1828, The House of Guerlain got its start when renowned chemist Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain opened his legendary perfume store on 42 Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Captivating members of high society with its timeless fragrances, the family-run company went on to produce such classics as Jicky, L'Heure Bleue, and Shalimar. One of the oldest perfume houses in the world, Guerlain was acquired by LVMH, one of the world's largest luxury goods conglomerates, in 1994. Today, the company is once again making news thanks to its innovative line of skincare products and luxury spas. Boasting a long history in the business of skincare, it opened its first Institut de Beauté on the Champs-Elysées in 1939. More recently, Guerlain has benefited from a strategic partnership it formed in 2003 with Spa Chakra, a global luxury spa network, to develop and manage the company's spas.

 Prior to all services, guests are treated to a complimentary 15-minute footbath in the tranquil relaxation lounge.
Prior to all services, guests are treated to a complimentary 15-minute footbath in the tranquil relaxation lounge.

The most recent outpost of the celebrated spa, and the first to debut stateside, can be found at The Regent Bal Harbour (FL), the North American flagship for Regent Hotels & Resorts. Located in one of South Florida's ritziest enclaves, just north of Miami, Bal Harbour serves as the perfect backdrop for the luxe Guerlain Spa. Drawing on Guerlain's rich history as one of the oldest perfume houses in the world, the spa itself pays tribute to its fragrant past. Upon check-in, guests are asked several key questions, one of which is how they prefer to wear their fragrances. Their responses then help the staff to determine a fragrance that best suits them. That particular scent will then be used in various ways throughout their time at the spa. In fact, it comes into play immediately as part of the 15-minute complimentary footbath that each guest receives. Putting them on the path to relaxation, the footbath also provides therapists with the perfect opportunity to administer a Self-Assessment Questionnaire to learn more about the guests and the issues they want to address.

Those looking for total relaxation certainly won't be disappointed, as virtually no detail has been left undone in creating the ideal environment. Because an otherwise seamless experience can be ruined by a visit to a noisy locker room, the spa has taken it out of the equation. Instead, guests are taken to one of the spa's 15 treatment suites, which is theirs to enjoy for the duration of their treatments as well as an additional 15 minutes. Complete with changing areas, showers, vanities, various toiletries, and jewelry boxes for guests to place their valuables, the treatment suites provide a private retreat in which guests can freshen up after their treatments. The spa does have a men's and women's locker room for guests who prefer to arrive early or stay late to take advantage of the steam and sauna facilities.

Guests are given an indication of things to come by the welcoming reception area.
Guests are given an indication of things to come by the welcoming reception area.


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According to spa director Michael Perez, the spa is designed to provide guests with a carefree experience. Another way in which the spa seeks to create a thoroughly relaxing setting is by taking out any guesswork related to the bill. Instead, a service charge is automatically built in, and staff members aren't allowed to accept gratuities. "We gather as much information from guests as we can upon check-in so that once their experience begins, they can just disengage and not have to worry about anything," says Perez. "We secure their method of payment, and if they drove in, we validate their valet ticket and ask approximately what time they would like their vehicle to be waiting for them."

The spa fits well with the luxe paradise that is Bal Harbour, FL.
The spa fits well with the luxe paradise that is Bal Harbour, FL.

For many spas, a measure of their success is the number of guests served in a typical day. According to Perez, at Guerlain Spa, the amount of time a guest spends in the spa is a much better measure. An enticing treatment menu with a host of cutting-edge facials, indulgent body treatments, and more encourages guests to linger. Each treatment is also customized based on the clients' responses to the Self-Assessment Questionnaire. Reflecting the high-end nature of the clientele, the spa's manicure and pedicure offerings are taken to the next level with a purifying mineral bath, gentle exfoliation, paraffin therapy, cuticle repair, hydrating hand or foot massage, and application of polish. Transformed into a lavish experience, the Complete Hand Therapy ($165, 60 minutes) and the Complete Foot Therapy ($165, 60 minutes) are priced substantially higher than typical manicure and pedicure services because they go beyond what is usually offered.

The oceanfront locale  makes Bal Harbour an ideal destination for a relaxing getaway.
The oceanfront locale makes Bal Harbour an ideal destination for a relaxing getaway.

According to Perez, the spa's most popular treatment is the Guerlain Impérial Massage ($165, 60 minutes; $250, 90 minutes), which pays tribute to Eau de Cologne Impériale, one of Guerlain's legendary fragrances. A four-handed version is also available ($330, 60 minutes; $495, 90 minutes). Another signature standout on the menu is the Exceptional Orchidée Impériale Treatment ($390, 2 hours), a luxe facial that works to detoxify and invigorate the skin. It utilizes the Guerlain Méthode, which was first introduced at the original Institut de Beauté. Continuously evolving, the Guerlain Méthode targets the muscles to help firm skin, the lymph and blood passageways to improve circulation, and the nerve endings to encourage relaxation. It also works to aid in product absorption. The idea behind the Guerlain Méthode is to achieve glowing and healthy skin by relying on human touch as opposed to any ancillary aesthetic equipment. That same philosophy is evident throughout the menu.

The spa's central water feature adds a soothing decor element to the spa.
The spa's central water feature adds a soothing decor element to the spa.

Opened only since March—the tail end of Florida's high season—the spa has yet to experience what is bound to be its busiest time. As a result, Perez expects to double the number of spa employees before the year's end. For the time being though, the spa employs approximately 30 staff members. To keep the reception staff's focus where it should be—on the guests—the spa employs a reservation team to handle phone calls and schedule appointments. This also allows the reception staff to provide more assistance to guests and take a more active role in promoting retail. According to Perez, most spas net 12 to 15 percent retail profit in their first year. Guerlain Spa, however, is already netting 17 percent. Perez credits this to the fact that retail sales are tied to the results guests experience and their desire to continue reaping the rewards with a prescribed homecare routine. He expects that number to rise as the spa continues to make improvements due to ongoing training and role playing.

While it's true that the spa benefits from its location in The Regent Bal Harbour, which Travel + Leisure recently ranked as one of the top 30 new hotels in the world, the hotel's modest size means the spa must rely heavily on local clientele. In fact, locals make up 50 percent of the spa's client base. As the weather becomes more bearable, both hotel guests and locals can look forward to poolside cabana services, as Perez is focused on capitalizing on the property's oceanfront location. He also intends to add a bath menu for the in-room suites, which will undoubtedly appeal to hotel guests.

To help market the spa in-house, Perez sends a hand-signed letter welcoming guests upon their arrival with an invitation to enjoy a personal tour of the spa at their convenience as well as the Director's Special, a promotion that varies based on what's happening in the spa. Recently, Perez offered guests a complimentary 30-minute upgrade to any 60-minute treatment. Hotel guests are also given a scented teddy bear at turndown with an attached note from the spa with information on the Guerlain fragrance used to spritz the bear. Perez also sends a daily email to those who have visited the spa thanking them and offering a special promotion, oftentimes a complimentary treatment upgrade, on their next visit. It's an offer too good to refuse for those who want to experience the carefree existence that Guerlain Spa promises. And if that's not enough to entice them, then the sensational scents certainly will.

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