Appealing Apothecaries

Personalization has long been a buzzword in spas, and one of the most enticing ways clients can customize their experiences is by concocting their own wellness potions as part of apothecary experiences that are popping up at spas. “With the craze of customized dining experiences like Chipotle and Cold Stone Creamery, I could see that people love to have it their own way, and I thought, ‘Why couldn’t we apply this same concept to someone’s spa experience?’” says Paul Heslop, owner and chief care officer of Salt of the Earth, which offers a customizable Blend Bar experience at a number of spas, including Grand Spa at The Grand America Hotel (Salt Lake City). There, a therapist assists guests in blending a full-size body scrub in the treatment room prior to their treatment, the remainder of which is sent home for personal use.

Debi Bridges, public relations representative for The Waldorf Astoria Spa at The Boulders Resort (Scottsdale, AZ), believes that “personalization is a key factor in the luxury spa experience—spa guests love creating something they made themselves.” At The Waldorf Astoria Spa, guests rave about the Aroma Blend Bar ($30 to $40 per person), which allows them to create their own custom blend to suit their personal intentions with a portable system from Sedona, AZ-based Body Bliss. Each individual intention is paired with a scent and encoded into a defined formulation that reflects the essence of the aromatic oil. The therapist then blends the unique recipe of oils and presents the product to guests in an eight-ounce jar of Shea Butter Lotion or Bath Soak or  a 10-ounce Body Scrub.

L’Auberge de Sedona’s L’Apothecary Spa (AZ) takes the trend to heart, as well. There, guests can visit the apothecary blending station, created with the help of Katie Hess of Lotus Wei, to select ingredients and supplies to design their own bath soaks and body scrubs infused with elements found in Sedona, including juniper, piñon pine, rosemary, and more. “I believe the blending experience is so popular because guests are fully engaged in a unique, creative process that utilizes most of their senses,” says spa director Catherine Powers. “They decide whether they want to make a body scrub or bath soak then select organic herbs by smelling and seeing them. They choose which mortar and pestel they want to use and can then name their creation and write it onto the jar label. It is a  completely personalized,  sensory experience.” 

Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (FL) offers a Scrub and Polish Bar ($50), where guests visit a mixologist to help them blend a signature body scrub. Spa Ojai at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (CA) allows clients to create a custom perfume or other personalized product during a Custom Blending Class ($120, 90 minutes) at the Artist Cottage and Apothecary. The Ritz Carlton Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island (FL) even hosts Blend Bar events, during which guests pay $65 for a fun party where they create a Salt of the Earth blend and take home two sets of personalized products. This option has added nearly six figures to the spa’s bottom line in the past year, according to Heslop.

Indeed, this trend is a windfall for spas and makes for a wonderful memory for spa-goers. “I feel as though retailers and spas have major opportunities to create better experiences for their guests from top to bottom in their businesses. Those opportunities extend far beyond designing new visual, textural, and personalized touches, but more importantly create new categories of spa experiences, new channels of revenue, and ways to improve in their spas,” he says. ”Personalization and customization are key in building a strong connection guests have while they are in the spa and on the property. Intentional-based aromatherapy gives guests what they want, how they want it, and the desired results they are trying to achieve.”­