Why the Mental Health and Spa Connection Is Stronger Than Ever

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The Naturopathica spa off Sixth Avenue in Manhattan was never intended to be a quick, one-stop shop. Pre-COVID, residents of the Chelsea neighborhood dropped by for free meditation classes before and after work and first dates found a new alternative for the “let’s grab a drink” default via the essential-oil classes. Facials were on the same popularity scale, for those lucky enough to grab a spot on the always-packed schedule. 

This spring and summer proved to be equally as busy as its East Hampton Spa and Healing Center opened back up for business with a complete rebrand—one that was specifically intended to go beyond the typical self-care angle in what can only be described as “uncertain” times.

“This is our flagship spa location, so it was important to us to honor the heritage of the brand and space, while also infusing a fresh perspective on holistic wellness offerings and what that means to our clients,” stresses Devon Lodge, executive director of Spa Sales & Marketing. “Our spa, our treatments and the design had not changed in quite some time, so this was the perfect year to do so [the redesign started early 2021 through Memorial Day weekend]. Post-COVID, not only has the design and spa elements been completely reimagined and rejuvenated, but so have our client offerings.”

While Lodge is quick to point out that the brand’s philosophy and purpose is (and always will be) to appeal and cater to as many people as possible with various needs, he says that the “reimagined treatment offerings combine advanced technology with high-performance herbs and ancient mental wellness practices such as aromatherapy, meditation and energy alignment to create an overall integrated approach to an individual’s well-being for their skin, body, and—especially—the mind,” which includes a decided shift to focus more on mental-health support.

“While we do not have licensed psychologists or psychiatrists on staff at our healing center—and this should not be a substitute for one—our treatments are crafted to address and promote a holistic mediative wellness approach,” he says. “For example, we use aromatherapy inhalation to calm the mind entering into a service and use a mediation at the end of the service for clients to enter back to the present moment—it’s all part of each client’s well-care journey.”

To that end, the spa is also working with partners such as Vie Meditation to create customized meditation journeys for clients, with an overall push on building practices for clients that care for the body and mind, inside and out.

“We help to provide a customized treatment journey to promote mental health for our clients,” Lodge says. “We also proudly support NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and advocate for mental health throughout our spa services and through events throughout the year. Clients can have a transformative treatment experience at our spas that covers all aspects of their self needs. We are seeing that meditation can happen anywhere, it can be a Zoom class, a five-minute break via an app, or a tool to even help your children fall asleep. It only makes sense to bring this wellness modality into our space for our clients and are thrilled to integrate this into our healing treatments.”

A solid example from a long-time spa-goer: “We have one client who offered that they have seen a psychiatrist for two thirds of their life,” Lodge shares. “As they said to us, ‘I see my psychiatrist every three weeks, get massage or facial every other week, and meditate and medicate every day. This works for me to enjoy life, focus on my work, and be ever mindful of the needs of others.’ Our clients are in control of their ‘wellness journeys’ and what that means to each of them—and we are here to provide the holistic modalities that are a part of their overall journey to help enhance both physical and mental well-being.”

It’s the customization factor that’s also been fueling guests at Malibu Beach Inn to step back into the spa and, likewise, expect the option even in a hotel that hasn’t always had one.

“Following COVID, travelers searched for hotels/resorts that focused on personalized wellness experiences,” Laura Willens, director of sales and marketing, says. “We feature the exclusive services of CURE Daily Spa, created by a doctor, which offers vitamin B12 shots and hydrating IV treatments in-room, which grew in popularity throughout the pandemic.”

In addition to the existing CURE services, the Inn—which doesn’t have a true “spa,” but has always given guests access to facials, massage and an overall vibe of relaxation—has also forged a new partnership with The Mindry, a local meditation studio in Malibu. The service allows for guests to choose between two offerings, Energy Healing and Guided Meditation or Guided Meditation with Sound Element, both designed to promote more balance and harmony, and it’s proven to be especially popular even pre check-in.

“We are continuing to see our guests prioritizing their wellness,” Willens says. “And that now includes mental health and well-being.”

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