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An icon reborn

Fairmont has premiered its North American flagship in a stunning renovation of the iconic Century Plaza hotel. Rianna Riego went to visit


With the reimagination of its new-age glamour, the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles has been preserved as the centrepiece of a US$2.5bn (€2.4bn, £2bn) redevelopment that includes residential, retail and hospitality. At its heart is a 14,000sq ft, nine-room spa – designed by architects Yabu Pushelberg.

During a stay 10 years ago, it felt dated and dark, but the transformation of this property is impressive – the entrance alone, with its 23ft (seven metre) sculpture ‘Laura’, created by Spanish artist Juame Plensa – is the perfect calming welcome.

Venturing through a light, open-air lobby with floor to ceiling windows – a living green wall, a floating fireplace and a water feature further set the mood.

I was a little disappointed to find the spa was on the level below – I thought spas had finally emerged from being relegated to the basement? But fortunately, my dismay didn’t last long.

As I entered the spa, I was greeted by a sensory welcome of zen-inspired hues of greys and blacks, anchored in grounding materials such as stone, wood and glass to create a warm, inviting ambience.

The arrival experience was seamless. I checked in for my treatment on a tablet and asked how they were storing my confidential information. They advised it would populate my Book4Time profile and be kept for a year.

Spa sanctuary
I was given a tour of the salon and biohacking room, where you can experience a number of options to stimulate healing. Spa GM, Magdaleena Nikolov, considers this the centrepiece of the wellness programme. It’s powered by partnerships with Dr Oz, NuCalm, Three Sages, Oakworks, Sandoval Aromatics, Hyperice and Eight Sleep.

The locker area gave a ‘house of mirrors’ impression I think was meant to make it feel more spacious. Vanities and showers were well appointed, although the latter was so dark, you could hardly read the labels on the mini toiletries. Like many new spas, signage was minimal, so I wandered around a few times before figuring out where I needed to go.

Next stop was a co-ed waiting area with comfortable seats, beautiful artwork and a thoughtfully-curated selection of chlorophyll water, teas and single-serving dome dishes of dried fruit with nuts.

My therapist, Freddie, collected me promptly before I could get too relaxed. The treatment room was a generous size with private washroom and toilet and the Lemi bed was dressed with Nolapelli sheets, designed to care for your skin and hair while you lie on them.

Face down I felt the perfect amount of heat from the bed and as I was getting comfortable with the face cradle, Freddie produced a vial of orange blossom/ylang ylang essential oil to begin my 90-minute Sunset Signature treatment.

The promise of this ritual is to restore and renew with a full body massage utilising a desert succulent body mask formulated by LIlFOX that’s meant to create an energy shift.

Throughout the massage, my senses were treated to orchestrated inhalations of various aromas corresponding with the chakras, including Moroccan cedar and vetiver for the base, neroli, clove and black pepper for the heart and pink grapefruit and bitter orange for the head.

I found the last a little ‘sweet’ and almost distracting, although the crystal eye mask helped keep me in the zone. Otherwise, the binaural beats of the music curated by Three Sages, the synergistic blend of aromas and touch, the comfort of the sheets and the bed left me relaxed.

Hot-cold therapy
Freddie escorted me back to the lounge, after the treatment, where he sat me at his favourite spot with a tray of warm horchata and dark chocolate. I certainly didn’t expect this, and although it was such a simple personal gesture, it added the missing element in the entire sensorial journey that was masterfully curated to address not only sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, but also connection.

Thoroughly impressed so far, the next stage in the journey was to indulge in the essence of spa – salus per aquam – in the private hammam-inspired hydrotherapy area reserved for females. Craving warmth, the Klafs Sanarium was first on my list – especially as Fairmont was the first operator to bring this multi-purpose sauna to North America at a previous project.

This sauna has five settings and on the day, it was operating as a Finnish Sauna which controls humidity levels to 10 per cent. When used as a steam bath, humidity levels sit at 69 per cent, so it would have been the perfect post-treatment enhancement to my treatment, opening my pores and allowing the nourishing oil to sink in, rather than drying my skin.

In keeping with the tradition of hot-cold contrast therapy, I headed next to the experiential rain shower which was programmed to offer either a warm tropical rain rinse or cool Arctic mist. I chose the latter, but the canopy from which the mist emanated was positioned about 10ft (three metres) high – two feet higher than normal, so it took a while to cool off and feel totally drenched.

Next was the aromatherapy steamroom, which is very well designed, with privacy, lighting and seating comfort accounted for. Steam was ample, and lighting was dim enough to see someone but not view them totally. Space was generous enough to allow for sitting and lying.

Floor and ceiling pitch was just right, so nothing was dripping on your head or pooling on the floor. I was enjoying it so much I didn’t realise the lovely product on my skin was dripping off, so decided to dry myself naturally in the Himalayan salt room.

Much as I wanted to linger, I wanted to avoid rush hour traffic more, so headed home feeling so relaxed I could hardly be productive the rest of the day.

Modern sanctuary
The Spa at the Fairmont Century Plaza has definitely lived up to its promise of being a sanctuary amid the bustle of Los Angeles.

By preserving the healing traditions of spa and delivering it in a more relevant modern-day setting, Nikolov has laid the foundation for a comprehensive programme that will set the trend and permeate the DNA of hospitality wellness.

photo: Rianna Riego

"I was given a tour of the biohacking room which spa GM, Magdaleena Nikolov, considers the centrepiece of the wellness programme," – Rianna Riego

A seven-metre-high sculpture ‘Laura’ sits at the entrance Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The hydrotherapy area is the heart of the wellness offering Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The redevelopment includes residential, retail and hospitality Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
Treatment rooms have Lemi beds and Nolapelli sheets Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The new facilities include a gym, and a biohacking room Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The design combines a modern, global feel with nostalgic, elegant grandeur Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
Credit: Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2022 issue 2

View issue contents

Leisure Management - An icon reborn

First person

An icon reborn


Fairmont has premiered its North American flagship in a stunning renovation of the iconic Century Plaza hotel. Rianna Riego went to visit

Fairmont Century Plaza has had a US$2.5bn revamp Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
A seven-metre-high sculpture ‘Laura’ sits at the entrance Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The hydrotherapy area is the heart of the wellness offering Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The redevelopment includes residential, retail and hospitality Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
Treatment rooms have Lemi beds and Nolapelli sheets Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The new facilities include a gym, and a biohacking room Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
The design combines a modern, global feel with nostalgic, elegant grandeur Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ
Photo: Fairmont Hotels and Resorts/CPZ

With the reimagination of its new-age glamour, the Fairmont Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles has been preserved as the centrepiece of a US$2.5bn (€2.4bn, £2bn) redevelopment that includes residential, retail and hospitality. At its heart is a 14,000sq ft, nine-room spa – designed by architects Yabu Pushelberg.

During a stay 10 years ago, it felt dated and dark, but the transformation of this property is impressive – the entrance alone, with its 23ft (seven metre) sculpture ‘Laura’, created by Spanish artist Juame Plensa – is the perfect calming welcome.

Venturing through a light, open-air lobby with floor to ceiling windows – a living green wall, a floating fireplace and a water feature further set the mood.

I was a little disappointed to find the spa was on the level below – I thought spas had finally emerged from being relegated to the basement? But fortunately, my dismay didn’t last long.

As I entered the spa, I was greeted by a sensory welcome of zen-inspired hues of greys and blacks, anchored in grounding materials such as stone, wood and glass to create a warm, inviting ambience.

The arrival experience was seamless. I checked in for my treatment on a tablet and asked how they were storing my confidential information. They advised it would populate my Book4Time profile and be kept for a year.

Spa sanctuary
I was given a tour of the salon and biohacking room, where you can experience a number of options to stimulate healing. Spa GM, Magdaleena Nikolov, considers this the centrepiece of the wellness programme. It’s powered by partnerships with Dr Oz, NuCalm, Three Sages, Oakworks, Sandoval Aromatics, Hyperice and Eight Sleep.

The locker area gave a ‘house of mirrors’ impression I think was meant to make it feel more spacious. Vanities and showers were well appointed, although the latter was so dark, you could hardly read the labels on the mini toiletries. Like many new spas, signage was minimal, so I wandered around a few times before figuring out where I needed to go.

Next stop was a co-ed waiting area with comfortable seats, beautiful artwork and a thoughtfully-curated selection of chlorophyll water, teas and single-serving dome dishes of dried fruit with nuts.

My therapist, Freddie, collected me promptly before I could get too relaxed. The treatment room was a generous size with private washroom and toilet and the Lemi bed was dressed with Nolapelli sheets, designed to care for your skin and hair while you lie on them.

Face down I felt the perfect amount of heat from the bed and as I was getting comfortable with the face cradle, Freddie produced a vial of orange blossom/ylang ylang essential oil to begin my 90-minute Sunset Signature treatment.

The promise of this ritual is to restore and renew with a full body massage utilising a desert succulent body mask formulated by LIlFOX that’s meant to create an energy shift.

Throughout the massage, my senses were treated to orchestrated inhalations of various aromas corresponding with the chakras, including Moroccan cedar and vetiver for the base, neroli, clove and black pepper for the heart and pink grapefruit and bitter orange for the head.

I found the last a little ‘sweet’ and almost distracting, although the crystal eye mask helped keep me in the zone. Otherwise, the binaural beats of the music curated by Three Sages, the synergistic blend of aromas and touch, the comfort of the sheets and the bed left me relaxed.

Hot-cold therapy
Freddie escorted me back to the lounge, after the treatment, where he sat me at his favourite spot with a tray of warm horchata and dark chocolate. I certainly didn’t expect this, and although it was such a simple personal gesture, it added the missing element in the entire sensorial journey that was masterfully curated to address not only sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, but also connection.

Thoroughly impressed so far, the next stage in the journey was to indulge in the essence of spa – salus per aquam – in the private hammam-inspired hydrotherapy area reserved for females. Craving warmth, the Klafs Sanarium was first on my list – especially as Fairmont was the first operator to bring this multi-purpose sauna to North America at a previous project.

This sauna has five settings and on the day, it was operating as a Finnish Sauna which controls humidity levels to 10 per cent. When used as a steam bath, humidity levels sit at 69 per cent, so it would have been the perfect post-treatment enhancement to my treatment, opening my pores and allowing the nourishing oil to sink in, rather than drying my skin.

In keeping with the tradition of hot-cold contrast therapy, I headed next to the experiential rain shower which was programmed to offer either a warm tropical rain rinse or cool Arctic mist. I chose the latter, but the canopy from which the mist emanated was positioned about 10ft (three metres) high – two feet higher than normal, so it took a while to cool off and feel totally drenched.

Next was the aromatherapy steamroom, which is very well designed, with privacy, lighting and seating comfort accounted for. Steam was ample, and lighting was dim enough to see someone but not view them totally. Space was generous enough to allow for sitting and lying.

Floor and ceiling pitch was just right, so nothing was dripping on your head or pooling on the floor. I was enjoying it so much I didn’t realise the lovely product on my skin was dripping off, so decided to dry myself naturally in the Himalayan salt room.

Much as I wanted to linger, I wanted to avoid rush hour traffic more, so headed home feeling so relaxed I could hardly be productive the rest of the day.

Modern sanctuary
The Spa at the Fairmont Century Plaza has definitely lived up to its promise of being a sanctuary amid the bustle of Los Angeles.

By preserving the healing traditions of spa and delivering it in a more relevant modern-day setting, Nikolov has laid the foundation for a comprehensive programme that will set the trend and permeate the DNA of hospitality wellness.

photo: Rianna Riego

"I was given a tour of the biohacking room which spa GM, Magdaleena Nikolov, considers the centrepiece of the wellness programme," – Rianna Riego


Originally published in Spa Business 2022 issue 2

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