A Polished Image

Nail services are one of the fastest-growing segments in the beauty industry today. Innovative equipment and formulas make it easier than ever for spa-goers to use nail art as a form of self-expression, thus attracting clients of all ages. With more than 17,000 nail salons in the U.S. today, according to census data, it’s important to not only attract clients but to also keep them coming back. A well-thought-out nail area can enhance a client’s experience and overall opinion of a spa. “Your nail area is an extension of your business and should reflect your brand,” says Noel Asmar, founder and CEO of Noel Asmar. “Creating an interesting and professional treatment area enhances the experience for your clients and improves your business.”


Feet First

Many spas are replacing traditional plastic basins or drop-in sink bowls with more lavish and interesting options. According to Albert Kim, marketing director at J&A, glass bowls are becoming increasingly popular, because they look luxurious and are easy to clean. While these bowls look great, Kim warns that they can crack or break from day-to-day activities like a technician dropping a hot stone or a client standing on top of the bowl with their full weight. It can be expensive to fix or replace these bowls. At The Spa at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, guests soak their feet in elegant imported custom glass-mosaic treatment bowls for a pampering pedicure, while guests at The Spa at Fearrington (Pittsboro, NC) sink their toes into handcrafted galvanized metal tubs that reflect the spa’s bucolic atmosphere and surroundings.

Seating Arrangements

A common sight in many nail spas is a series of pedicure chairs lined up next to each other. Today’s spas, however, are using pedicure seating as a way to enhance the look and experience of the facility and its nail services. Custom pedicure benches, for example, are becoming increasingly popular, but according to Kim, they can be expensive and also most likely do not offer the shiatsu massage option that many spa-goers have come to expect. “Also, depending on which vendor you’re working with, finding parts and maintaining these benches may be an issue,” he says. Cornelia Spa at The Surrey (New York City) features a bench-style pedicure station that is tucked into the wall like a private alcove. There, clients sit and relax with comfortable pillows and sip on their choice of citrus-infused water, the spa’s signature pomegranate-ginger-papaya tea, or prosecco, according to spa director Jonathan Rosa.

At Dallas Beauty Lounge (Bridgeville, PA), guests can receive pampering fit for a king or queen while sitting in hot-pink pedicure thrones. The pedicure chairs were custom made by a boutique furniture shop in California, and the pedicure bases were custom made by Michele Pelafas Design to create a space that was both glamorous and modern. “Our hot-pink throne chairs and silver-glitter wallpaper were the perfect way to make our clients feel like they are royalty, even in Pittsburgh,” says owner and operator Dallas Sauers. By opting for stylish pedicure thrones, the nail lounge sacrificed some comforts offered with traditional pedicure chairs, such as an adjustable seat and height and an electric massage. And although the pedicure bases were custom made to fit the chairs, clients sometimes find it difficult to get in and out of the throne, but according to Sauers, “the sacrifice of functionality is well worth it for the style.”

Similarly, at Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (Manalapan, FL), guests sit in pedicure thrones that have a blood-red damask backdrop and a back shelf that is decorated with gargoyles and 17th-century French statues of courtly figures. “Our nail area is a decidedly sexy one,” says spa director Catherine Warren.

Meanwhile, The Spa at Fearrington encourages clients to sit back and relax in plush armchairs, reminiscent of those found in a living room. “The Spa at Fearrington’s tranquil, bucolic setting is reflected indoors, as well,” says Daneen Eaton, spa consultant and merchandising manager at Dovecote Style. “Soft, cloud-like color envelops guests in a blanket of calm, while comfy, oversized linen-covered pedicure chairs paired with farmhouse tubs continue the organic aesthetic.”

Spas looking to create a modern, tech-friendly vibe can opt for the T4 Concepts & Design iSpa chairs, which are individual podlike pedicure chairs equipped with iPod controllers in each booth so the guest can choose the music they listen to while getting their nails done. What’s more, the chair’s conical back prevents the music from bothering other clients.

According to Karen Raasch, sales and marketing director at Continuum Pedicure Spas, it’s important to design your spa’s nail area to reflect and enhance its atmosphere, as well as its target clients. “Focus on the clientele you want to attract, and add components that would cater to this particular market segment,” she says. At Hammer & Nails (Los Angeles), for example, dark wood furniture, steel fixtures, and dim lighting create a vibe that help male clients feel comfortable while receiving nail services. What’s more, oversized leather chairs and personal 32-inch flatscreen televisions positioned above each chair allow each client the ability to have his own remote and set of headphones. Custom-made tables, which are positioned between each chair, boast product trays, male-minded books, and cell-phone charging docks. “The chairs are oversized, extra wide, and positioned several feet apart from each other to give men the privacy some need to feel comfortable discussing sensitive foot health concerns,” says owner Michael Elliot. “The chairs are not pedicure chairs, but designed to look like a chair one might find in a home’s ultimate man cave.”


A Show of Hands

Spas are also getting creative when it comes to manicures. In addition to plush seating options available at many spas, nail tables and nail bars are a fun alternative to traditional manicure stations, as they create a friendly atmosphere, often take up less space, and are cost-efficient, says Caroline​ Edimo​, general manager and marketing coordinator at The Garden Spa & Beauty (Miami). When designing the manicure space at Dallas Beauty Lounge, Sauers wanted a manicure table that would recreate that circle of friendship, so she opted for a custom-made table by California-based Beauty Salon Furnitures. The acetone-resistant circular table has plenty of storage for tools and accessories, it provides clients with an easy way to chat with each other during services, and it looks great, but Sauers admits that with the current design, there is wasted space in the middle of the circle. “It has a great look, but if you have a small space to work with, then this option would not be the best,” she says. “We are working on having a circular polish rack to put in the middle to make grabbing our Gelish polish easier.”

In addition, benches are not just for pedicures these days. Guests at The Spa at Trump at Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago can sit back and relax on a comfortable bench while receiving a manicure in the spa’s nail boutique complete with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. “Having the manicure bench is nice, because we do a lot of groups including bridal parties and friendship getaways,” says assistant spa director Kendra Rice. “The bench creates a close feeling for the guests. Aesthetically, it also looks very modern and clean and is easy to maintain.” Rice discloses, though, that the bench can create a tight fit when nail technicians are getting their guests and themselves set up for treatments.


Chat Room

In addition to nail stations that easily allow clients to chat with each other while being pampered, drying stations and waiting areas are another aspect of a nail lounge that can enhance the client’s experience. Unlike many spa services, like facials and massage, where privacy and quiet are essential, nail services are often a social event, which is why the addition of a nail lounge or relaxation area can benefit a spa. “A comfortable nail lounge to chat or have coffee would encourage clients to stay longer,” says Sammy Gharieni, founder and CEO of Gharieni Group. A nail drying and relaxation area can also serve as a separate nailcare-exclusive retail area offering a selection of nailcare products, as well as flip flops and pedicure socks, for example.


Portable Pampering

Many spas, like Exhale at the Gansevoort (New York City), offer clients rooftop and poolside nail services to allow clients to be pampered while relaxing or enjoying a breathtaking view. To accommodate requests for these services, spas must purchase portable manicure and pedicure equipment that can be easily transported. Noel Asmar’s portable pedicure bowls, for example, make it easy to perform services wherever and whenever a client desires. “With the option to plumb or not, our bowls allow a variety of options for nail area design,” says Asmar. “When the client has their bowls plumbed, it means they have instant access to fill and empty as they wish, but they are committed to their current pedicure station design, and they are no longer able to take their treatments on the go.” The lightweight and portable bowls enable technicians the option to travel to spa parties and perform outdoor treatments. On the other hand, it requires that nail technicians also need to carry or fill the bowl, which might be considered a downside to some.

Also, spas that offer nail services but don’t consider them to be a main source of business can benefit from recyclable liners and portable equipment. “For new spas starting out, it makes it much easier to get up and running when you’re not plumbing pipe and waste lines everywhere, trying to pass inspection, and dealing with the costs of plumbing it,” says Joe Ryan, creative director for Kayline by Wahl, developers of the Kayline by Wahl Skate Kart Mini, a portable pedicure storage unit with side and rear storage options.


In the Mood

When designing a nail area, it is important to remember that most spa-goers visit for relaxation, as well as treatments, so the tranquil mood should continue into the nail area. Relaxing music, a sense of privacy, and soothing decor are all ways nail areas can be an effective extension of the spa. “Nail salons typically have many pedicure chairs and nail stations crammed next to each other,” says Kim. “Plus, nail salons want to increase profits and efficiency and cannot afford to create a private environment as the overhead is too much. That alone creates a niche that spas can fill. Spas are already providing a relaxing and private environment—the same should be applied to the nail area. Make it into the most relaxing experience possible.”

The 350-square-foot Deborah Lippmann Salon at Miraval Resort & Spa (Tucson, AZ), for example, was designed by Clodagh, the same renowned design firm responsible for Miraval’s Life in Balance Spa. “The Deborah Lippmann Salon at Miraval, as well as the resort’s acclaimed Life in Balance Spa, embrace the mantra ‘Life Enhancing Minimalism,’ through a stunning, natural design aesthetic that seamlessly blends in with the resort’s unique desert surroundings,” says spa director Grant Bruce. Both spaces were created using natural materials to mimic the resort’s serene desert surroundings in order to create a soothing oasis with a minimalistic design that blends in, but doesn’t distract, from the picturesque Arizona landscape. “We wanted to focus more on simplicity rather than opulence, and we did so by utilizing natural materials and sophisticated furnishings set in a neutral, textural palette to create a tranquil respite,” says Bruce. “The key was finding the right balance to make the salon experience feel luxurious while mirroring the beautiful simplicity of the Arizonian desert. The result is a calming spa atmosphere where guests feel at home and fully taken care of by their talented and highly trained nail technicians.”

The serene surroundings at Miraval ensure that guests feel relaxed throughout their nail services and leave the salon feeling rejuvenated and more in tune with the desert landscape that surrounds them. It also benefits the technicians, because it fosters creativity, as they are able to look out the windows and be inspired by the dramatic colors of the natural materials and surrounding desert, says Bruce.

While it is important for the nail area to reflect the ambience of the rest of the spa, Edimo recommends that spas keep them separate. “The nail area should allow for low conversation and laughter, so try to break up the space as much as possible to keep your massage and facial rooms quiet and relaxing,” she says. The Spa at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills transformed a standard guest room into a full-service manicure and pedicure spa. The Nail Suite was designed by Southern California-based designer Raad Ghantous & Associates and draws its inspiration from the rich, infused energy of art, creativity, and elegance that is a big part of the experience of Los Angeles and the hotel itself. “We really wanted to be respectful of the aura and uniqueness of this particular property and pay homage to its heritage and owners’ personal family history,” says Ghantous, principal and senior designer. “We wanted to have the design seem so timeless that it immediately seamlessly fit into the fabric and soul of the resort. We looked at accomplishing lavishness and seductiveness through a layering of textures and stimulation of the senses while providing a welcoming and warm contemporary haven.” The Nail Suite features 17 large handcrafted, polished stainless starburst chandeliers with multicolored, cut glass, jewel-toned smoked-glass diffusers, which create a lavish, yet relaxing ambience, while all-glass custom floral-pattern-etched manicure tables pay homage to the floral business background of the ownership’s family-business history.


Grand Design

When adding or redesigning a nail area within your spa, it’s important to consider your brand, as the area should be an extension of the spa in order to keep clients in a relaxed mood. “Having a strong brand identity is key in defining the direction for a redesign in the nail area,” says Asmar. “Know your demographic, then build outwards. Find a color palette that works for your brand, be creative, and find ways to express your individuality through seating and accessories. The key is to make your clients feel comfortable, relaxed, and happy with their treatment so they keep coming back for more.”

Discover the innovative offerings available from these companies, which are sure to leave clients—and their fingers and toes—looking and feeling good.—Jessica Morrobel


1. Amber Products The Manicure Pod: This lightweight and multifunctional unit incorporates an LED  light; a paraffin, massage stone, and lotion warmer; and serum holsters to create customized manicure treatments utilizing each heating compartment. It can  also be used as a stand-alone unit or within an Amber Smart Bar. www.amberproducts.com

2. Continuum Pedicure Spas The Maestro: Complete with cherry wood veneers and hand-cut and -sewn upholstery, this pedicure chair features integrated lumbar support, an adjustable headrest, a chair recliner, and back-and-forth movement to reduce physical stress and enhance the pedicure experience. It also includes two removable foot massage rollers. www.mycontinuum pedicure.com

3. Gharieni PediSpa: Ideal for facial, haircare, makeup, manicure, and pedicure treatments, this reclining chair is electronically adjustable and can be swiveled  90 degrees to both  the right and left. The unit is also equipped  with programmable memory positions,  which allow all five motors to move in sync to the desired positions. www.gharieni.com

4. Living Earth Crafts Copper Bowl Roll-Up Foot Bath: Featuring a removable footrest pad upholstered in a water-resistant fabric and a durable splashguard cover, this portable rolling pedicure cart includes a copper pedicure bowl with a fold-down handle for easy transport and a shelf for product placement. www.livingearthcrafts.com

5. Oakworks Clodagh Libra: Designed to convert from a pedicure chair to a massage bed, this integrated table contains a built-in pedicure bowl and storage shelf, a powered backrest, adjustable armrests, multifunctional controls, and an electric sliding seat. www.oakworks.com

6. Touch America Breath Pedi-Lounge: Created as a multipurpose relaxation lounge, the ergonomically shaped Breath Pedi-Lounge moves with a gentle rocking motion while easing the body into a reclining position. It  also features a locking system and knee cushions to make pedicures, facials, and reflexology treatments more comfortable.  www.touchamerica.com