Keeping it Real

Though clients have always flocked to spa services using ingredients that are indigenous to the region, the trend today is taking authenticity up a notch. In fact, one of the major shifts identified at the recent Global Spa & Wellness Summit was dubbed, “Authenticity in Overdrive,” where clients are becoming insistent on discovering experiences they can’t receive elsewhere. “Increasingly, it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the experience,” says Peter Greenberg, CBS travel editor and a speaker at the Summit. “There is a growing desire to find the heartbeat of a place and culture.”

Spas are embracing this trend on a global scale. At Laucala Island (Fiji), a private island resort and former coconut plantation, nearly a quarter of the island is covered in coconut groves. The coconuts are culled from the trees and used extensively throughout the resort, including in services at the spa. They form the base for products used in several body scrubs and massages and for the welcome footbath scrub, and the virgin coconut oil is incorporated into soaps, body lotions, hair masks, facial cleansers, and more. “In the South Pacific, the coconut palm is the tree of life, supplying food, building materials, and medicinal and beauty products,” says general manager Andrew Thomson. “The coconut serves as the backbone for Laucala Island. It is the most versatile of fruit on the island and is used to make anything and everything, so when guests are able to taste, smell, touch, and feel it, they are really getting to experience an important part of the island.”

Local ingredients also play a part at The Well Spa at Miramonte Resort & Spa (Indian Wells, CA). There, the spa staff relies on fresh ingredients from the property’s herb garden and lemon trees and mixes them with fresh olive oil from nearby Temecula Olive Oil Company for the Farm-to-Table Body Scrub ($120, 45 minutes). At The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz, NY), witch hazel plants grown on property are used in the “Mohonk Red” Facial ($170, 75 minutes), while fine crystal grains quarried from the resort cliff are blended into the “Shawangunk Grit” Mineral Body Treatment ($185, 80 minutes).

And for an exotic taste of homegrown healing, guests at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Amman can experience the Nabatean Treatment ($177, 90 minutes). This ritual features a scrub using indigenous olive oil and a massage using warm Arabic oud oil, which is distilled from agarwood. Meanwhile, guests can “Relax Awhile” at Fern Tree Spa at Half Moon, a RockResort (Montego Bay, Jamaica) with the Jamaica Bush Bath ($55, 25 minutes). During this soothing soak, fresh-picked herbs, roots, and leaves, including arrowroot, chive, leaf of life, lemongrass, rosemary, and more, are blended together to offer what spa director Dwight Zieman calls “a truly natural, local, and traditional Jamaican experience.”

At Koro Sun Resort (Fiji), the most popular service at the Rainforest Spa is the Banana Wrap ($250, 2 hours). Performed outdoors in the midst of the rainforest, the treatment uses leaves from locally grown banana trees, as well as locally gathered avocado, coconut, and papaya. According to Merlyn Ellis, director of sales and marketing, this type of service is designed to engage guests and create an unforgettable experience, which is the driving force behind this trend. Says Ellis, “You don’t need to tell a visitor that this is authentic, because they will feel it, and they will know that such engagements are genuine.”