Journey to Harmony

Auberge Spa at Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa RicaCapturing a sense of place, Auberge Spas, like the collection of luxury boutique hotels, resorts, and residential properties they’re found in, are designed to reflect the natural beauty of their surroundings. Their strong connection to nature only adds to their appeal. Here, Karen Ray, director of spas, shares how the brand’s spas have led the charge toward becoming more eco-friendly and how they seek to offer a truly memorable experience.

What is your company’s overall mission statement? 

A: Each Auberge Spa interprets the best of its natural surroundings, its true sense of place, to deliver an authentic experience with revitalizing and unique treatments that integrate pleasure and healing. 

What sort of training do you offer spa management to help them achieve your company’s mission for its spas?

A: Integrating pleasure and healing with unique treatments is a theme that our spa managers and directors discuss throughout the year in our monthly conference calls. Each manager in turn provides coaching and training to his or her staff on creating indigenous spa menus that focus on our company’s mission.Calistoga Ranch

What sort of education and training do you offer brand-wide to your spa team? 

A: As a collection, we demonstrate our commitment to training by allocating money in
our annual spa budgets to partner with outstanding instructors in the spa industry. Training enlivens the spirit of our teams and keeps their work fresh and current. We feel our commitment to education is vital to enhance skills, broaden knowledge, and create enthusiasm. In addition to product training by our vendors and skill training by various instructors, our lead therapist and I visit our resorts to provide treatment and standards training. 

In what ways, if any, do the spas strive to be eco-friendly?

A: Our spas were the launch point for our Planet Auberge Program more than a decade ago when we began with the simple mission of recycle and reuse and fostered its growth into a full-fledged environmental program for our entire collection of resorts. The spas strive to be eco-friendly in many areas including the use of green cleaning products, donating our used linens to shelters and animal organizations, sourcing our spa products locally, and creating many of our treatments in our spa pantries. 

What do you do to keep your spas at the forefront of industry trends and development?

A: I attend the annual ISPA conference, read industry articles, visit as many spas as I can when I travel, and network within the industry. We strive to be an industry leader that creates trends. Many spas watch us.  

What do think your clients want in a spa experience, and how, as a company, do you meet those needs?

A: Our guests come to us anticipating that the quality of treatment, the sincerity of service, and the overall spa experience is going to exceed their expectations. They want to retreat, release their cares, and be totally indulged in an amazing environment. Many of our guests enjoy spa treatments all over the world and judge their experience with us based on a very high level of sophistication. Our spa culture is to train our employees on exceeding expectations from their first day of work and reinforcing standards training each and every day. 

What sort of elements do you maintain brand-wide, and how do your spas honor their varied locales?

A:  A sense of place is found in all of our Auberge Spas, as we create spa menus with products and treatments that fit each region. We spend a great deal of time focusing on the elements of each location to determine how we can create an experience that honors the culture and provides a true representation of what the region feels like from a spa perspective.

Do you work with specific spa brands across your portfolios?

A: Most of the spas in our collection partner with True Nature Botanicals for skincare and work with Tara Spa to create many signature body products. One of our equipment touch points includes our warming drawers for guest robes and keeping all things warm. Our guests love the special touch of putting on a warm robe at the end of their treatment. It certainly creates the ahhhh factor.

Do you offer certain treatments and experiences across the brand?

A: We launched our Auberge Anthology collection of signature treatments a few years ago in all of our spas to reinforce our mission of the healing power of pleasure. The treatments include the Auberge Attunement ($250, 75 minutes; $300, 90 minutes),
the Auberge Head to Toe ($300, 90 minutes; $400, 2 hours), and the Best of Auberge Facial ($300, 90 minutes). Our spas are distinguished by a sense of belonging in the surrounding land and culture, a strong connection with nature, and a firmly held belief in the healing power of pleasure. The Anthology collection embodies these principles in three treatments designed to deliver powerful results.

What do you think is your company’s most distinctive spa and why?

A: This is a hard question for me to answer, as it’s like choosing your favorite child. I believe they are all so beautiful, each with a unique sense of place. Auberge du Soleil has a magnificent view of the Napa vineyards from the hillside spa pools. It’s spectacular. Calistoga Ranch is secluded in a wooded canyon of oak trees with a creek rushing past the spa during the winter months. The sound of the creek is an incredible backdrop for the spa. Our most recent addition, the Auberge Spa at Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa Rica, has a spectacular indoor pool, beautifully appointed lobby and treatment rooms, and a relaxation room that will surely lull guests into a deep state of tranquility. 

What is the most exciting spa in development and why?

A: VieVage Napa Valley is slated to be one of our largest spas. It will be on a beautiful site that’s bordered by vineyards, rolling hills, and views of the Mayacamas Mountains. It will add a new dimension to the spa experience in Napa Valley. Development begins this year.

Number of spas in the portfolio: 6

Number of spas in development: 4

Number of spa employees, brand-wide: 150+

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