Located in a picture-perfect setting on the shore of Lake Geneva overlooking the Alps, the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, has been exceeding the expectations of guests for nearly 150 years. That's not an easy task, considering the hotel's guest book includes those who are accustomed to the finer things in life, such as Coco Chanel, Gary Cooper, Cindy Crawford, and Richard Gere. It has also served as the site for several major events, including the signing of the armistice ending the war between Italy and Turkey in 1912 and the coronation of King Hussein of Jordan. Through the years, the hotel has undergone a number of changes, including a $74 million renovation in 2000, but it has maintained its original opulence, offering guests impeccable service in an extravagant setting. Last December, the hotel added the 15,000-square-foot Cinq Mondes Spa, the final step towards providing the ultimate experience in indulgence and luxury.
Top: Like the rest of the spa, the Patio, where guests await treatments, is minimalistic and serene. above: An exterior view of the Beau-Rivage Palace shows the spa and outdoor pool area.
Selecting the Concept
When choosing a spa concept, the Cinq Mondes philosophy seemed the obvious choice, according to spa manager Egli Stamatiou. "The combination of a spa like Cinq Mondes, rich in tradition and ceremony, matched with a hotel like the Beau-Rivage Palace is a perfect fit," says Stamatiou. "Both share common values, like the respect of tradition, the attention to detail, and the need to provide authentic and impeccable service." The Cinq Mondes concept was created by Jean-Louis Poiroux for the flagship spa in Paris and is now found in luxury destinations worldwide. It incorporates ancient health and beauty rituals using Ayurvedic, Balinese, Japanese, North African, and Taoist techniques. The result is an eclectic menu that offers guests a wide variety of treatments to choose from, the most popular being the Royal Ritual from Siam ($217, 90 minutes), which includes an Aromas and Flowers Japanese Bath, Purée de Papaye Radiance Scrub, and a Balinese Massage. "The treatment menu comes directly from the original Cinq Mondes Spa in Paris," explains Stamatiou. "The objective is to bring together treatments and massages from five great ancient cultures to help the client discover a unique sensorial experience. Furthermore, it regroups the best traditional beauty recipes that have been revised by cosmetologists to respond to the specific needs of modern-day clients."
Clockwise from above: The spa's traditional hammam was created with glass mosaic tiles and is equipped with a chromotherapy system; the Relaxation Area features beds facing a window with views of the French Alps; the indoor pool area also boasts breathtaking views.
The decor of the spa also mirrors that of its Parisian counterpart. "It is minimalist, without being cold," says Stamatiou. The lime-green, off-white, and prune accents add color in the spa to stimulate, not overwhelm, all five senses. Large bay windows throughout the facility allow natural light to stream in and offer guests views of the gardens and outdoor pool. "The combination between the old, classic, neo-baroque style of the hotel and the new, contemporary style of the spa was done with a lot of harmony and taste," says Stamatiou.
The Aromas and Flowers Japanese Bath can accommodate one or two guests.
The spa features nine treatment rooms, including the Suite Félicité à deux, a spa suite with a Japanese bath, a private hammam, and a garden, reserved for couples, friends, and clients who want a totally private experience; two Suites Pluie de Fleurs, featuring Japanese baths; and a Promenade Pluie Tropicale, a walk-through shower that sprays guests with hot and cold water of varying pressure. The Promenade, which is exclusive to Beau-Rivage, was designed to slowly adjust the client's body temperature when he or she walks out of the hammam or sauna. Guests who want to take a dip can choose between the indoor and outdoor pools. There is also a full-service gym that offers views of the lake and the property's surrounding gardens.
Choosing the Staff
Although the spa employs 28 full-and part-timers, it is still not yet staffed to accommodate its full capacity. "It is not always possible to have all the rooms busy at the same time because we do not have enough qualified therapists," explains Stamatiou. "Most therapists come from a beauty salon background, which does not necessarily correspond to the requirements and expectations of a five-star hotel." Also, the spa requires that all employees speak fluent French and English. The international staff comes from Cyprus, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Tunisia.
All Cinq Mondes products are produced with respect for the ancestral recipes on which they are based.
Lack of staff is an issue the spa is trying to address, considering the number of visitors to the Beau-Rivage Palace, which features 169 rooms and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. In addition to hotel guests who are looking for an exceptional spa experience, local clients can purchase memberships to the spa. Says Stamatiou, "Our clients are really looking for a place of total relaxation combined with the tradition found in our rituals and treatments." —Nanci McArdle