Tips & Advice

  • Setai Spa – a Post-Holiday Treat for the Senses

    Setai - Entryway




    In October, India K. Robinson, aka “Spa Bunny” – MPA, interviewed Robert D. Henry (RDH) regarding the Setai Spa in lower Manhattan, NY. Asked what RDH enjoys most about designing spas, Bob Henry said, “Spas allow us to create an experiential journey for Guests integrating all the senses…


    Below is Spa Bunny’s article which she graciously gave us permission to share with you.





    In the middle of a bustling financial district, I looked for the branded flag that identified the entrance to the Wall Street sanctuary known as The Setai. Hidden within a residential building, The Setai Club & Spa resides on the 3rd floor and welcomes you with warm hues of red and tan, dark woods, tiled walls, and an air of seduction.


    With a welcome as warm as the decor, I was escorted to the locker room to change into my robe and slippers. I wandered the softly lit corridor to the heat experience area, which was dark and mysterious, as if you were far removed from any city and hidden within your own private lair.


    Setai-Treatment Room
    My therapist, Erica, soon came to retrieve me for my “suite experience” with a Polynesian Spa Ritual. I entered a gorgeous room, which included an oversized marble soaking tub, rain shower, plush treatment table, and gorgeous Italian glass tile work.


    The ritual commenced with a yummy drink called the Yumberry Elixir (no seriously, that’s the name), which I was told is packed with Vitamin A, C, and E, is anti -inflammatory, and lowers bad cholesterol. I then enjoyed a sand, salt, and coconut shell scrub enriched with Tahitian vanilla extracts and Monoi oil, a rinse in the shower, a White Lilly Lagoon bath soak, and ended with a restful full body massage with Bora Bora sand pouches (which I was able to take home with me).


    The scents transported me to an exotic island, and the spa music made me feel like I was the star of my own Broadway show. Somewhere in between the island and Broadway, my own snort awoke me from my slumber. My skin felt radiant and smelled amazing, as I floated in a daze to my next destination.


    The Setai is unique in the fact that not only is it an exclusive amenity within a residential building, but they also open their doors to non-residents as a day spa.


    Confessions from Robert D. Henry Architects

    at the Setai Spa Wall Street


    Robert D. Henry Architects


    Following my treatment, I had the pleasure of chatting in the Setai Tea Lounge with the architect behind The Setai, Robert D. Henry.



    Mr. Henry’s love affair with spas started 18 years ago, with his first project being the Mar-a-Lago Spa in Palm Beach for Donald Trump and Marla Maples. I wanted to learn more, and asked Mr. Henry to share more of his confessions:



    What do you enjoy the most about designing spas over other types of architectural projects (i.e commercial, residential)?


    Spas allow us to create an experiential journey for Guests integrating all the senses. It is our specialty and focus and influences all our other projects. We are doing a number of homes with wellness as a focus, enhancing the quality of life for the Owners. Robert D Henry Architects


    Where does your design inspiration come from?


    Wellness research and practitioners; I’ve had more than 300 spa treatments all over the world.


    What do you feel is the most unique design feature about The Setai as compared to other spas you’ve designed?


    The East meets West fusion associated with the Setai brand. Mysterious, sensuous and exotic, an escape from the everyday…other-worldly.


    Were there any design considerations that had to be accounted for with the spa being primarily in a residential setting as opposed to say a hotel spa?


    The aesthetic was brought through from the Lobby to the Amenities and Residences.

     Robert D. Henry Architects

    What will the spa of the future look like?  


    Our next generation of spa projects will establish new experiences with our projects for the Mandarin Oriental in New York and the new signature spa for Ivanka Trump’s Washington Hotel.


    Robert D. Henry recently debuted a new line of signature spa furniture at the 2016 International Spa Association Conference in partnership with SALT Chamber and Touch America.



    H.I.S Agency, LLC
    India K. Robinson, MPA
    President & CEO


  • Graton Resort and Casino Spa

    Graton Resort and Casino Spa - Robert Henry Station Casino Group is a TJE Development and Management company for the Federated Indians of Graton. Rancueria’s Graton Resort casino will debut the $75 million resort expansion on November 15, 2016 in Rohnert Park, California. As part of the expansion, guests will be able to enjoy the addition of a 10,000-square-foot spa.


    We had the opportunity to collaborate with the Friedmutter Group, an architectural design firm that specializes in hospitality and gaming facilities. Our goal was to design a “best in class” new spa and salon that addresses California’s local market, as well as their hotel and casino guests.


    The spa consists of (10) treatment rooms and (2) “signature” thermal suites. The suites are tranquility rooms that foster relaxation while Graton Resort and Casino Spa - Robert Henry containing steam, sauna, a hydrotherapy pool and a snow chamber.


    The snow room is adjacent to the heat treatments, creating a thermal circuit, inviting guests to oscillate between hot and cold treatments at 5-minute intervals. This circuit boosts the immune system and revitalizes energy levels. Both the men’s and women’s changing areas contain these invigorating signature thermal suites.


    The interior decor blends a warm set of materials, including teak woods, exotic marbles, and stone. The reception rotunda is adjacent to a 200-square-foot retail boutique. The front features an exotic onyx stone “welcome desk” where you can purchase all of the spa and salon amenities featured in Graton’s treatments.


    Graton Resort and Casino Spa - Robert Henry The spa treatment rooms integrate indirect lighting to creating a relaxed environment with an accent wall featuring teak millwork and beautiful “ocean blue” mosaics. The salon boasts a nail bar with 4 individual custom stations along with a “social pedicure room.”


    The Graton Spa provides a calm sanctuary, the perfect counterpoint to the energized casino and  dynamic hospitality venues.




    Robert Henry

  • Robert Henry Signature Spa Furniture & Salt-Inhalation Booth to be Unveiled at ISPA, Las Vegas – September 13-15th

    Robert Henry Signature Spa Furniture + Equipment Line:


    Please contact me if you will be attending ISPA so we can set-up an appointment for you to test drive our transformative spa furniture at the Touch America booth #238.


    What does the spa market need? Touch America spa furniture manufacturer Stewart Griffin and I asked each other that pivotal question.


    The “uber spa” design of the pre-economic downturn was too large, too expensive, and lost touch with the client’s needs. Some facilities can’t even afford to do spas any longer. So, Stewart and I set about reverse engineering these design dilemmas, offering new solutions. We decided this could be an opportunity, especially in the hotel segment, to create a dual-purpose piece of furniture that functions as a day lounger but can then be transformed into a massage table right in the guest’s hotel room.


    The name of this clever innovation?


    Robert D Henry Furniture Line - Concierge, and Masquerade.

    Robert D Henry Furniture Line – Concierge, and Masquerade.

     The Masquerade.


    To accompany that, we have designed a spa push cart—that integrates all the necessities to provide the spa treatment service—called The Concierge. It includes:


    — A portable rolling spa cart containing a hot towel warmer that can also be used for heating stones for hot-stone massage therapy;

    — A series of compartments, drawers, and a tray for all the various massage oils that are required in a treatment regimen; and

    — A magnifying lamp that can be used for giving facial treatments.



    Robert D Henry Furniture Line - Zero-G Lounger, Concierge, and Masquerade.

    The Concierge, and Masquerade.


    The process would go like this: The guest books an appointment online with a therapist or calls the “virtual spa” from the hotel room. The therapist arrives at the guest’s room with the spa push cart and proceeds to convert the lounger to a treatment table and administer the spa treatment. Rather than the guest getting up and leaving a spa at the end of a session and walking back to their hotel room, after the massage, the guest can just relax in the lounger or fall into bed.


    The Masquerade and The Concierge creates a “spa without walls.”


    Another furniture design opportunity that was missing was an affordable ergonomic lounger for relaxation rooms that could be used both indoors and poolside. So we designed a lounge chair called The Zero-G Spa Lounger.


    Robert D Henry Furniture Line - Zero-G Lounger, Concierge, and Masquerade.

    Zero-G Lounger, Concierge, and Masquerade.


    We experimented with a number of different prototypes to get the ideal curvature that really cradled the body. We use a stretch-band technology that comes out of the fitness environment. These bands provide the perfect body support that distributes weight very evenly, feeling like zero-gravity. We designed a headrest that is not just a bolster, but more carefully contours from the upper spine into the neck, and stimulates the suboccipital muscle group at the base of the skull. This stimulates endorphins and provides additional soothing comfort! 


    This branded spa-furniture line, suited for both hospitality and home markets, will debut at the Touch America booth #238 at the upcoming ISPA Conference and Expo in Las Vegas from September 13-15th.


    Salt-Inhalation Booth
    Please contact me if you will be attending ISPA so we can set-up an appointment for you to experience the healing benefits of the Salt Booth.


    Robert Henry Signature Spa Furniture + Equipment Line: Self-Inhalation Salt Booth

    Self-inhalation Salt Booth


    Our new therapeutic Salt Booth will be unveiled this year at ISPA (visit SALT Chamber booth #728). People have long recognized the curative effects of breathing in the ocean air and bathing in the ocean for the wellness benefits. We are working with Leo Tonkin from Salt Chamber on designing a salt booth, for both commercial and residential use.  


    Salt Therapy, known as Halotherapy, works by inhaling dry, micro-ionized, pure sodium chloride particles from a Halogenerator in a relaxing salt booth. Wet Salt, provided by the ocean, is already saturated, whereas Dry Salt (pure sodium chloride), inhaled while relaxing in a salt booth, is far more effective in helping people with respiratory diseases and skin conditions. The Dry Salt allows for its natural benefits of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and moisture absorption to detoxify the respiratory system. Salt Therapy is 100% natural. The benefits provide relief for people suffering from allergies, asthma, bronchitis, colds, COPD, psoriasis, eczema, acne, swelling and inflammation, stress and fatigue.


    Our design for the Salt Booth is strategically about the same size of a typical shower. It has a tempered-glass door and two side-view light panels. Users will be able to comfortably sit down, relax and read, or listen to music using their iPod via a built-in docking station, all while gaining health benefits in a 10-15 minute session!


    Hope to see you at the upcoming ISPA Conference and Expo in Las Vegas from September 13-15th.

  • Washington Spa Alliance Symposium 2016 (Event Recap + Video)

    On March 22, 2016, the Washington Spa Alliance held its 6th Annual Symposium in Washington, DC. The subject of the symposium was The New Language of Spa and I was a featured speaker on the topic of The New Design Language of Wellness.


    The video below contains excerpts from that speech covering a brief history of the spa business since 1990.  At that time building bigger and better was the rule, but in doing that we lost touch with our client base.  Since then we have made a shift away from the typical spa to something larger, which is wellness based and can benefit everyone.


    The video briefly covers some wellness design initiatives that we have completed or are currently working on. These include:


    WeWork Wellness – New York City

    Palm Integrative Health – St Louis, MO

    Jumeirah Hotel –  Guangzhou, China

    Governors Island – New York, NY

    The Spa by Ivanka Trump- Washington, DC


    All of these projects prove that Design plus Wellness Equals Profit. I hope you enjoy the video.



  • 6th Annual Washington Spa Alliance Symposium

    I’m excited to announce that on March 22, 2016, I will be speaking at the Washington Spa Alliance which is holding its 6th annual symposium and luncheon. The topic of the symposium is The New Language of Spa. The event will be held at the National Press Club, a private club for journalists and communications professionals in Washington, DC, which has been a Washington institution for more than a century.

    6th Annual Washington Spa Alliance Symposium

    Old Post Office, Washington, DC (


    I was asked to speak on our “new design language for wellness”, focusing on Destination, Hotel, Medical and WorkPlace Wellness. I will be sharing innovative case-studies that will impact the spa and wellness industry.


    WeWork Wellness – New York City


    WeWork is an incredibly successful collective office environment providing flexibility and dynamic options for its “community of office nomads”; we are delighted to be collaborating with them on a workplace wellness prototype that will provide a timely amenity to their existing rich culture of business not-as-usual collective.


    Palm Integrative Health – St Louis, MO


    Palm – (personalized advanced lifestyle medicine)  is located in St. Louis, Missouri by founder Dr. Lauren Munsch Dal Farra. We integrated our evidence based design within the project. Of utmost importance was a welcoming “wellness garden” that we located at the heart of the project. There is extensive research that supports how “nature-nurtures.” Views of gardens and nature provide a faster recovery time for patients and they request pain medication less frequently when they have a view or are allowed to engage w/ nature.


    Jumeirah Hotel –  Guangzhou, China


    In Guangzhou, China, we are doing a 15,000 square foot wellness facility and spa for the Jumeirah group.  With this project, we are trying to create signature treatments that will resonate and are particular to place.  With the Chinese population’s unique concern regarding pollution, we designed salt inhalation rooms that address the poor air quality. The salt inhalation helps asthmatics as well as those with other pulmonary conditions.


    Governors Island – New York, NY


    This project is a destination spa on Governors Island for QC-Terme.  This is an ambitious European style project that incorporates indoor and outdoor pools.  The experience can fill a full day of activities from body work and massage to facials and taking the waters with European Kneipp therapies.  Hydrotherapy pools both indoor and outdoor, will offer extraordinary views of Manhattan.


    6th Annual Washington Spa Alliance Symposium

    Trump family members (L to R) Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump break ground at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. (


    The Spa by Ivanka Trump- Washington, DC


    The final project is a signature flagship spa curated by Ivanka Trump.  We collaborated with WTS spa management, in our role as architects + interior designers.  Ivanka wants to introduce a unique positioning within spa and wellness.


    Ivanka, at the groundbreaking ceremony said:


    This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redevelop one of this country’s most historic buildings and we will spare no effort to ensure that the hotel, once completed, lives up to the legacy and integrity of the iconic landmark.[1]


    These projects, each a different type with different attributes, will contribute to our new New Language of Spa and Wellness in the coming years.


    6th Annual Washington Spa Alliance Symposium

    With Guest Speaker, Robert D. Henry

    Tuesday, March 22, 2016

    9:00 am – 7:00 pm


    The National Press Club

    529 14th St. NW, 13th Fl

    Washington, DC 20045




    [1] “Spa People.” Spa Business Digital Magazine. Cybertrek 2016, 2016. Web.


    Robert Henry