Wellness Watch

  • The Spa of the Future

    Photo Credit: Copyright: 1971yes / 123RF Stock Photo

    Photo Credit: Copyright: 1971yes / 123RF Stock Photo

    Technology is changing the way we do everything at breathtaking speed, and the spa experience is no exception. But tech is not the only thing affecting change in the industry. Shifts towards mindfulness and a focus on personal “wellness” outside of the medical sector are also drivers of change.


    Spa Executive Magazine delved into some of the research and technological developments and spoke to some of the people who are both driving and predicting these shifts about what spas of the future will look (and smell and sound) like a few years from now.


    These people are:


    • Robert Henry, Owner, Robert D. Henry Architects
    • Dr. James Canton, CEO, Global Futurist
    • Aaron Nicholson, Co-Founder and CEO of Studio Transcendent


    Here’s what you need to know about spas of the future

    Photo Credit: Copyright: bernardbodo / 123RF / Stock Photo


    “Wellness Architecture” was identified as one of the 8 Wellness Trends for 2017 and Beyond at the 2017 Global Wellness Summit. What does this mean? It means sustainable, “living,” and responsive buildings with pristine air quality. It means focus on acoustics, light, temperature, scent, and biophilic design.


    The spa environment will move in this direction as people develop more of an understanding of the impact of environment on health and well being. This includes both measurable pollutants and more esoteric factors like the psychological and physiological response to stimuli like sound and scent.


    Architect Robert Henry says, “Imagine integrating all the senses into an experiential journey for guests. The more senses you can engage to create the surrounding experience, the more committed it is to your memory. Ideally, you want it to be all favorable. We delve into the psychology of space.”


    Spas will become places to seek out human connection


    Photo Credit: Copyright: bernardbodo / 123RF / Stock Photo

    Photo Credit: Copyright: bernardbodo / 123RF / Stock Photo


    “You can get a massage or a workout in your home, but you won’t get that shared experience unless you’re sweating alongside someone, or relaxing and sharing stories in the waters,” says Henry. “I think spas are going to create new kinds of social experiences to compete with the home environment. We’re seeing a lot of spas that are fashion-forward regarding this, and that address those socialization needs with communal pools, saunas, and hammams that take a larger audience into account—and that create something memorable, as well as Instagrammable. It’s visual and experiential.”


    Henry also believes that our reliance on technology and automation has the risk of “dehumanizing” us.


    And so, he says, “The high touch in spa and having people touch us on a human level—whether it be physically, emotionally, or psychologically—is going to become even more important.”


    Your manicurist might be a robot


    Photo Credit: Copyright: sarah5 / 123RF Stock Photo

    Photo Credit: Copyright: sarah5 / 123RF Stock Photo


    Your manicurist might be a robot—but people will still want people.


    Guests will seek out humans to provide specific services, while others will be automated. In the somewhat distant future, as booking becomes increasingly automated and software takes over much of the minutiae of CRM management, spas may find themselves without a need for front desk staff. A 2013 report from Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne at Oxford University stated that receptionist is among the job most likely to be automated in or around the next decade or two, with a 96% likelihood of automation. Perhaps surprisingly, manicurists and pedicurists were also at a high likelihood—95%—for automation in the same time frame. Massage therapists fared better with a 55% likelihood of automation, despite the recent development of massage robots. People will still want to be touched by people—but we won’t need them to do our nails.


    Allowing James Canton to have the last word, the futurist warns that spa leaders should start prepping for his Human 2.0 scenario now.


    “I think spa leaders should get out in front of this, and understand that the consumer marketplace is going to be shifting and changing. Millennials will be living perhaps a decade longer than the boomers and at least five-seven years longer than Gen Xers. So, you could end up with middle age being in the 70s. And I don’t think any spa leader is ready for that today.”


    Spa Executive Magazine is published by Book4Time, the world’s most innovative spa, salon, wellness, and activity management software. Learn more at Book4Time.com


    To view full article click here.



    Upcoming Event: Meet Robert D. Henry

    2017 ISPA Conference & Expo

    Mandalay Bay – Las Vegas, NV

    October 16-18, 2017



    Session Title: Design Trends That Bring Clients and Revenue

    2017 ISPA Conference & Expo

    Mandalay Bay – Las Vegas, NV

    Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Time: 8:00 – 9:00 am


  • Lifestyle by Design

    {3:48 minutes to read} Have you ever met someone whose design dialogue + brainstorming gets you both so excited that you welcome every opportunity just to get together and share that dynamic energy?
    Barbra Littman in study



    Our collaboration with Barbara Littman—a true design diva—and our team produced some of our best work.



    Recently, Barbara Littman passed away, but her enduring passion for design and how she integrated design—including fashion, interiors and architecture—into her daily life remains an inspiration.


    I met Barbara after she decided to formally pursue architecture. She already had a degree in interior design, yet yearned for more. She had the tenacity and brilliance to pursue an architectural degree at that point in her life (dare I say 50 years old).Barbara Littman - Residence Upon her graduation, I had a chance to really get to know her; I invited her to assist me while teaching an overseas program in Venice. Barb put forth a riveting presentation on Carlo Scarpa’s Olivetti showroom located in St. Mark’s Square, an architect that she had admired. The students were jazzed!


    She later approached me, during the height of the financial meltdown, to work with her on an apartmenta penthouse that she and her husband, Lenny, bought in New York City. At that point, she was a grandmother and felt she earned the right to design a ‘dream space’ in the sky and chase her muse.Littman Louise Nevelson She wanted to surround herself with everything that she collected and loved about design. She had furniture by Ron Arad, Ettore Sottsass, and Michele De Lucchi, and artwork by our favorite artist, Louise Nevelson.


    We began to collaborate on the interior design; her only requirement was to make it reductive and modern. We came up with a spatial design that celebrated the reason theyLittman Living Area purchased this particular apartment: the bright light and city views. I suggested a fashion runway that took you from the front door, up a stairway, bringing you to the rooftop sculpture garden. It was a simple axial procession of entry-path-goal.


    Barbara’s personal design aesthetic is restricted to black and white, with an occasional shade of gray. Littman EntrywayThis prescriptive pallette encompassed everything she pursued: Fashion + ID + Architecture.
    I encouraged her to bring a little color into her life! So we chose an accent wall that divided the private from public space; the circulation armature that led you to the upstairs rooftop garden. I suggested an acid yellow. “Are you insane?” was her reply. After she left the site that evening, I had the painter hit it with a brilliant Van Gogh yellow. The next morning I got a phone call: “You jerk, I love it!” Later in her New York Times interview, she described the color as a really unexpected pleasure, introducing a strong statement that was both powerful and yet calming.


    For her, it was a “lifestyle by design.” She remains an inspiration to her students, colleagues, and collaborators, and continues to inspire all of us to chase our muse!



    Robert Henry

  • Melding the Urban Spa with the Resort Spa

    {2:40 minutes to read} In the January/February 2017 edition of Professional Spa and Wellness, Bob was interviewed regarding the topic of urban spas. The question being asked was: What are the different challenges you face when designing an urban spa vs.a resort spa in natural settings?


    Melding the Urban Spa with the Resort Spa

    Nestling into a beautiful natural setting – Amelia Island Plantation – Resort Spa

    “In a resort setting, nature provides the solution; you can just go out and take a walk and relax in an inspired, natural garden setting, ‘nature nurtures.’ In an urban environment, we try to recreate the calm that nature naturally provides as best we can for guests,” he says.


    “In the design of urban environments, it’s all about getting the guest to relax and drop their shoulders down, changing up their frenetic energy and allowing them to just let go and unwind. City dwellers really need relaxation and the sooner you can alter their energy from stressed-out to blissed-out the more successful the spa experience will be,” Henry says. He adds: “[At Robert D Henry Architects] we’re really conscious of designing spaces that soothe and nurture guests, we create transition spaces, where clients are brought a warm chamomile tea and then asked [what they really desire from their spa visit].”


    Melding the Urban Spa with the Resort Spa

    The urban spa welcome – Mandarin Oriental, Miami

    “Especially in urban spas, the challenge is to transport guests to another world, replacing their hectic urban [environments] and stress and replace it with a cocooning nurturing space.  


    Henry, whose firm is currently working on the redesign of the pool at the Mandarin Oriental New York, says that lighting is pivotal. Consider the Mandarin’s global traveler,  “We’re [focused] on helping that guest re-calibrate their circadian rhythm and adapt to the new time zone they are in. We integrated special lighting that produced a cooler blue wavelength in the morning, that energizes the guest, while in the evening, that lighting transitions over to an amber wavelength, creating a more peaceful, restful environment,” that produces melatonin for the guest, calming them down and preparing them for a restful sleep.


    Melding the Urban Spa with the Resort Spa

    Rendering of the pool renovation proposed for Mandarin Oriental, New York


    Designing a Spa in a beautiful natural context is easier than trying to recreate that same “wow” factor in the urban spa. Mother nature does all the work, in those bucolic settings, Henry says. “As designers and architects, it’s often when we’re given the more difficult problems to solve that real breakthroughs occur.” The design of an urban spa provides just that challenge.


    Robert Henry

  • 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