Almost everyone by now must have heard about St. Maarten's latest, high-class The Westin Resort, nestled in the lush hillside of Dawn Beach. But not many are familiar with the plush pamper haven tucked inside. Behind the resort's walls, on the third floor, hides the divine Hibiscus Spa that offers an experience fit for a king or queen.
There's nothing Spartan about the spa at The Westin Resort. The 10,000-plus square foot Hibiscus Spa, the largest on the island, has been turned into the ultimate pamper area, where a friendly team of all-round certified spa therapists work their magic in surroundings that can only be described as supreme luxury. The spa oozes "serenity," from the soft lighting throughout the complex to the cascading water feature in the stunning relaxation area. The tranquil facility is decorated in soothing earth tones, accentuated by dark wood, lavish furnishing and hardwood floors. In the reception area a pleasant fragrance of fresh, dewy blossoms permeates the air. "It's the signature Westin scent," says Carola Dijkhoffz, the spa's manager. "It's piped throughout the lobby and common areas in all Westin hotels around the world. It is supposed to evoke a feeling of calm and it is part of delivering an arrival experience. Once Westin clients enter the lobby, they are greeted by the smell and they know they are home “The scent has become so popular that customers demanded it for themselves. The Westin now sells White Tea diffusers as well as other items of the White Tea fragrance so that guests can also infuse their homes with the White Tea fragrance.
Once guests have been welcomed in the reception area, they are led to the dressing rooms where they are wrapped into a warm robe and strapped into massage sandals. The rooms are divided into women’s and men's section, each featuring secured lockers, posh shower cabins, a steam room and a sauna. The rooms are fully stocked with grooming amenities, including scented shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, combs, deodorant and hairdryers. Before you start your treatment you can relax in the spacious relaxation room with comfy lounge beds that surround the canning water feature. Here you can enjoy bottled water, juice and freshly cut fruit, while listening to soothing music or reading one of the available magazines. "It's a place for quiet contemplation. Some guests can spend hours away relaxing or reading a book," adds Carola. The real pampering happens in the adjoining 13 treatment rooms, four of which are specifically designed as aesthetician rooms and one is designed for couple's massages with side-by-side massage tables. The spa menu boasts signature massages, including Hot Stone massage, Four Handed massage and Lymphatic drainage massage amongst others. Prices start at US $70 for 25 minutes. Full body rejuvenation comes in detoxifying, slimming and firming body wraps and masks, a tropical body polish and hydrating body butters. The body treatments can be combined with the unique Vichy shower treatment - a treatment bed that features seven shower heads that are meant to hit the seven chakras of the body. A great addition to any massage treatment you choose at the spa.
Best of both worlds
The Hibiscus Spa features the well-known product line Decleor, which provides a powerful palette to enhance well-ness and beauty. The European line uses aromatherapy and the most active extracts of aromatic plants, fruits and essential oils for skincare. It's completely natural, without synthetic fillers and fragrances, and the effects are very powerful. Additional to Decleor, the spa also showcases a small selection of a Caribbean themed product line, called "Island Pure." The main active ingredient is Aqua Cacteen, a pure extract from the indigenous "Prickly Pear" cactus, of which the extraction process has been designed by a Swiss Laboratory. The products, with range from body scrubs and butter to shower gel and massage oil, are full of vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, flavones and minerals and are infused with fragrances from the fruits and flowers of the Caribbean islands. The skin specialists are more than happy to advice you about the various products from Decleor and a personal prescription can be made on request.
The super facial
The highly-skilled team of 14 treatment specialists has additional training by Decleor. "We've got a wonderful staff. They are all highly certified and experienced and each has her or his own, unique approach," adds Carola. She asked me to be my own judge by inviting me for the spa's signature treatment, the 80-minute Hibiscus Expert Facial. While my designated therapist John made the last-minute preparations, I wondered what possibly he all could do to my face that would take almost take up one and a half hour. Apparently a whole lot as I was going to discover... John, who is from Colombia, was charming from the beginning. He said not many spa goers are comfortable with a man handling their beauty business. "Are you kidding? The best professionals in the world of beauty are men," I said. "That's probably because we have to work twice as hard to proof ourselves," he replied. From our conversations I found out that John was an eager learner, having followed numerous courses and upgrading and I could sense he had a true passion for his work. I was confident I was in good hands. Each treatment is personalized, based on individual requirements. While John was examining my face I couldn't help but noticing how super comfortable the treatment bed was I was lying on. It was extremely soft and warm; it almost felt better than my own bed. As I found out later this US $4,000 piece of spa furniture is state-of-the-art equipment, with an internal heater/ cooler, and can be automatically adjusted to any seating/ reclining position. Pure decadence! As I was enjoying my comfortable position John came with the verdict: my face was in dire need of deep-cleansing. I was positive he was referring to my zillion blackheads that had been appearing lately.
After a wonderful hand massage and a facial cleansing, John applied an exfoliating cream with a facial brush. That wasn't enough to get rid of my impurities, so he continued manually. With a bright light over my face John gently went to work, leaving no impurity untouched. If I had any worries about leaving the spa with a reddish and slightly swollen face, he assured me that the following products would clear my skin up and I could be certain I would walk out with a healthy glow instead. The last part of the facial included a balancing mask and while it was drying, I was treated to a nice foot massage. After a last touch of eye cream I was given a mirror to see the results. Although I could still see minor red spots, I was in awe of the smoothness of my skin and yes, like John said, my face was glowing! He did such a great job -1 was instantly hooked.
Although a fresh face can be enough to look vibrant, if you want to go the extra mile you can also get your nails done in assigned manicure and pedicure room, featuring two hydrotherapy stations with whirlpool jets. Feet and hands are gently exfoliated and hydrated with a mask or paraffin wrap followed by a lingering massage. If you look for an opulent experience in relaxation and rejuvenation, the Hibiscus Spa provides therapeutic results. Don't hesitate to pay them a visit for a tour, or give them a call to get more information on their summer specials. The spa is located on the third floor of The Westin Resort in Dawn Beach. Call 543-6700 and ask for the Hibiscus Spa.
Article Tuesday June 5. 2007
Health & Beauty / The Daily Herald