Now that spas are requisite amenities at resorts and hotels, the next generation of the spa is moving directly into the guest room. Luxury hotel chains like Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton and Mandarin Oriental, along with independent resort and boutique hotels, are installing sleek, spa-themed rooms.
Different from standard rooms and suites, spa rooms offer pampering bath features like steam showers, saunas and color therapy tubs. Many incorporate treatment-room furniture like massage tables, and bring the gym into the guest space with workout equipment.
"It's a lot like the bedding wars of the hotel industry when consumers were demanding comfort," said Lynne Walker McNees, president of the International Spa Association, which identified "living at the spa" as one of the leading trends in a 2007 report. "Travelers want to take time to step away after racing from place to place, to have calm and an opportunity to relax."
When the spa consultant and designer Sylvia Sepielli travels, she tries to avoid the pitfalls of the road: unhealthful food, late hours and lapses in her fitness routine. Guided by her own habits, Sepielli designed her first spa-oriented hotel rooms at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, (602) 840-3610, www.royalpalmshotel.com, in Phoenix.
"Everything in the rooms supports a healthy lifestyle," Sepielli said of the Royal Palms' new spa villa and six new spa suites, which opened in February and have massage tables, yoga mats and dumbbells. Colored lighting aims to balance chakras, and each evening guests receive a 15-minute neck and shoulder massage, after which the therapist draws a bath or runs the steam shower. Rates for these suites start at $339.
Ready for relaxation
The most ambitious proponent of spa rooms, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, plans to install them at all new Park Hyatt and at some Grand Hyatt hotels, its two highest priced brands. Hyatt first tested the concept in 2004 with the opening of Plateau, a 14-room spa floor in the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, (852) 2588-1234, www.hongkong.grand.hyatt.com, featuring soaking tubs, massage futons and, in some rooms, steam baths.
The Mandarin Oriental, Miami, (305) 913-8288, www.mandarinoriental.com/miami, unveiled 16 "spa lifestyle rooms" in January, touting wellness in their air purification systems, special cleaning procedures, yoga mats, wellness balls, dumbbells and healthful snacks, including dried fruit and green tea. "We felt we had a health enthusiast staying here that would appreciate the spa concept within the accommodations," said a spokeswoman, Alexandra Wensley. These rooms start at $520.
For now, Mandarin Oriental has no plans to replicate the concept at other hotels, but elsewhere the trend is taking off. At the recently restored US Grant in San Diego, (866) 837-4270, www.usgrant.net,, services from a local day spa are offered in every room, but the six deluxe spa rooms, which start at $649, function as live-in retreats. They have infinity tubs with color therapy lighting and generous marble showers with six to 12 shower heads.
The JW Marriott Desert Ridge, (480) 293-5000, www.jwdesertridgeresort.com, in Phoenix has opened six spa rooms, replete with Kashwere robes, battery-operated tea lights, candles, air diffusers and yoga mats. Rates start at $619.
In October, the Half Moon Resort in Jamaica, (876) 953-2211, www.halfmoon.com, will open a new 68,000-square-foot spa in a complex that includes six beachfront spa suites. Each will have a "personal studio" that can be used for treatments or fitness, rain shower heads and color therapy soaking tubs. Rates from $990.
And when it opens next spring, the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, www.ritzcarlton.com, near Palm Springs, Calif., will offer 18 spa suites with private access to the spa, aromatherapy scents and outdoor living space where guests can practice yoga or have a massage.