The sweetest ingredient in spas these days is honey. “It is a trusted ingredient in skincare, because it has antimicrobial and humectant properties,” says Barbara Close, founder and CEO of Naturopathica. Driven by the farm-to-treatment-table movement, spas have embraced a host of bee-related ingredients, including bee pollen, bee propolis, beeswax, bee venom, and royal jelly, thanks to the skin-saving benefits they provide. From soothing inflammation to stimulating the production of collagen, these buzzworthy ingredients are proving to be star players in many products and treatments. In fact, they’ve become so popular that many spas are introducing on-site beehives and sweetening up their menus with a variety of bee-related services.
At Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Mayakoba (Mexico), guests reap the benefits of the resort’s two Melipona beehives, which produce two to three liters of honey per year. Historically used in the region and incorporated into Mayan rituals, Melipona honey, shown to inhibit bacterial growth, comes from the stingless Melipona bee. Honey in the Heart ($189, 60 minutes) relies on the sticky substance and involves a nourishing honey body mask, a rainforest rinse under a Vichy shower, a relaxing massage, and a sip of honey. “The Melipona honey we use in the treatment comes from one of the 120 beekeepers who still live on the Yucatan Peninsula, supporting Fairmont’s promise to help the local community,” says spa director Roselia Flandes. According to her, the honey produced onsite is combined with honey from other local hives and used in the spa’s custom treatments.
Even urban spas are tapping into the honey trend with rooftop apiaries, such as the one found atop The Waldorf Astoria New York. Thanks to its worker bees and the honey they produce, guests can take part in the Milk, Haute Honey & Rooftop Herb Manicure ($60,
60 minutes) and Pedicure ($80, 50 minutes). The treatments infuse rosemary from the rooftop garden into a lemon-sugar scrub to exfoliate the skin before hydrating it with an application of Top of the Waldorf Honey.
Producing honey onsite gives spas the ability to source their own ingredients, which is a key selling point for many. It also has the added advantage of supporting a popular cause—saving honeybees, which have experienced a sharp decline in recent years. In some cases, including the Fairmont Mayakoba, it also provides an opportunity to give back to the local community.
Fortunately, spas needn’t possess their own hives to capitalize on this popular trend. Instead, they have numerous product lines from which to choose. For example, Guerlain’s Abeille Royale line relies on royal jelly, which is rich in amino acids and helps fight the signs of aging. Various Plantogen products also incorporate healing manuka honey, which is produced in Australia and New Zealand. What makes it so special is methylglyoxal (MGO), a naturally occurring compound guaranteeing antibacterial activity. Plantogen may have developed the first manuka honey facial protocol, but today, it’s just one of many promoting the sweet nectar. Hot for honey and other bee-licious ingredients, spas are providing a wealth of sweet offerings, such as serving organic honey with tea, retailing beeswax candles and soaps, and introducing spa-goers to their bee-keeping operations. Turns out, you can catch more bees and more clients with honey, making it a sweet addition to any spa’s bottom line.