27 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
Sign up for FREE ezine

Spa Business
2019 issue 4

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Crystal palace

New Opening

Crystal palace

A gem-themed spa brings some sparkle to the new Four Seasons Philadelphia which is housed in one of the tallest buildings in the US. Senior spa director, Verena Lasvigne-Fox, tells Lisa Starr what makes it such a significant opening

Lisa Starr, Wynne Business
Lasvigne-Fox has been managing spas at Four Seasons for 12 years
Four Seasons occupies the top 12 floors of the 60-storey Comcast Center, designed by Norman Foster
This ‘spa in the sky’ offers a haven of wellness which has been inspired by the healing power of crystals
More than 700 pounds of gems have been used to decorate the spa
This is a flagship property for Four Seasons
Signature therapies include an anti-pollution facial and warm crystal massage

There’s a dazzling new light in the sky over Philadelphia, and this one will be shining brightly for years to come, both literally and figuratively. It’s the home of the sophisticated Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center – a 1,121 ft, 60-storey skyscraper in the heart of the city that’s been designed by the world-famous Norman Foster and is one of the tallest buildings in the US.

The 219-bed hotel, complete with two restaurants from award-winning chefs, is a flagship, world-class facility for the group. It takes up the upper 12 floors of the building and at the top is a crystal-themed spa with more than 700 pounds of gems embedded into the walls, seven treatment rooms, an infinity pool offering amazing views and a fitness centre created in consultation with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak.

Longtime Four Seasons spa leader Verena Lasvigne-Fox is steering the ship, having arrived at her lofty post two years ago while the hotel and spa were still under construction. With 12 years’ spa management experience under her belt, the German native moved to Philadelphia with her husband and two children after stints overseeing Four Seasons spas in the Seychelles, Marrakech, and the renowned George V in Paris. Here, she shares her high expectations for ‘the spa in the sky’.

How would you describe the spa and how involved in the design were you?
It features an ambience of elegance, with sleek and modern décor, highlighted in warm tones of birch wood, metallic finishes and the spectacular artistry of fresh flowers by the world-renowned florist, Jeff Leatham. Our spa consultant Sylvia Sepielli completed this before I arrived, but the spa concept and menu development were left all for me... a wonderful playground, a chance to create something unique, exciting and healing. For me, it was very important to give the spa an identity and a soul, and I developed a concept around crystals. Many ancient healing traditions utilise crystals, yet they also underpin the technology of today – this building is the headquarters for telecommunications company the Comcast Corporation. It’s clearly a yin and yang, the idea of high-tech versus high-touch.

How does the crystal theme manifest itself?
Crystals are present in our spa through different touch points like our signature therapies and crystal-enhanced water. All seven treatment rooms are named after a specific crystal, which is used in the décor – we have over 700 pounds of gems embedded in the walls – each has a singing bowl and also aligns with a chakra point with appropriate artwork and colours. The third eye and crown chakra rooms are used for aesthetics, and the heart chakra room is used for couple’s treatments.

But there’s much more to the spa experience than that and all of these details could go unnoticed and unremarked upon. They simply help to create a space in which optimal wellness and healing can resonate around and within the guest.

What are the most exciting treatments you offer?
I love the Warm Crystal Massage, which costs US$195 (€175, £151) for 60 minutes, as it allows you to indulge in a full body massage while experiencing the healing properties of warm crystals and their respective oils: anti-stress, regeneration or harmony. In performing this holistic treatment, the therapist will adapt the pressure to best soothe your tired muscles, creating a very pampering experience, and concluding with gifting the guest with a crystal to take home.

I’ve also become addicted to the 75-minute Crystal Anti-Pollution Facial, which starts at US$395 (€355, £307).

Dr Burgener Switzerland has created an anti-pollution collection exclusively for us which has cosmetic credibility and is ideal in an urban environment like Philadelphia. This treatment incorporates the scrub, which I love – it’s unique, and a day cream.

We’ve had incredible feedback from our guests on these products and treatments.

What aspects of the spa are you most proud of?
First, I must mention my dream team of 29 therapists who are so passionate and committed to providing personalised experiences to our guests. I’m extremely proud of every single one of them.

Also, the unique elegance of the spa facility with its infinity edge pool on level 57. With a 30ft high ceiling, guests can admire expansive, panoramic Philadelphia views along with an invigorating swim or tranquil dip, and they can soak in the sunlight or gaze at bright city lights.

Additionally, the supportive brand partners that we’ve selected: Dr Burgener Switzerland, Dr Barbara Sturm for darker skin tones, Vitaman for male customers, May Lindstrom Skin’s organic line and Côte nailcare. I also want to highlight, our crystal healer Rashia Bell from The Cristalline, a specialist crystal interior design and lifestyle company, whose knowledge and expertise has added a whole different level to our experience.

How’s the spa performing so far?
We’ve only been open for two months, but our target audience of hotel guests as well as the local community have already created such an incredible demand for the spa, that we’ve begun hiring additional therapists. Plus we’re already booking 15 per cent of our appointments through online sources, without even advertising.

We’ve been very successful with our treatment enhancements, such as our 30-minute microdermabrasion, gold firming mask or LED light therapy sessions, adding an average of US$31 (€28, £24) to more than half of our therapies. Our team really believes in them and their ability to deliver a better result for the guest.

Retail sales currently make up 18 per cent of revenue but I expect that to grow to 30-40 per cent. My vision for our lifestyle boutique was for guests to browse through an exclusive collection of curated items – from crystals and jewellery to designer swimwear – for themselves and others. Our spa products are the most popular, representing 70 per cent of retail sales.

How important are spas and wellness to Four Seasons?
Wellness isn’t just about appearance or feeling good, it’s about restoring and maintaining balance, physically and mentally.

Four Seasons’ appointment of Harley Pasternak as global fitness advisor is an indicator of how committed our company is when it comes to wellness. From the beginning, Four Seasons as a company has supported Global Wellness Day, as we strongly believe that raising awareness for living a well life is important. 

A luxury hotel without a spa is a rarity, and today Four Seasons is one of the largest luxury spa operators in the world. Our spa allows guests to immerse themselves in a haven of wellness and serenity, inspired by the healing power of crystals, and experience pure bliss in the clouds.

Originally published in Spa Business 2019 issue 4

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd