The Leisure Media Company Ltd
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The Leisure Media Company Ltd

Urban spas

La Samaritaine

LVMH has deployed some of its most prominent luxury brands to create a world class spa, beauty and wellness offering at La Samaritaine in Paris, as Karen Maxwell reports


Located in the heart of the French capital, the newly renovated La Samaritaine department store was reopened recently by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron – a testament to the significance of this iconic landmark building on the banks of the Seine.

Now owned by luxury goods conglomerate LVMH – the company behind of a vast portfolio of brands from Chanel and Dior to Louis Vuitton and Moët – La Samaritaine has been extended to create 70,000sq m of floor space with the building of a vast glass-walled addition by edgy Japanese architectural firm Sanaa.

The original building has also been sympathetically restored to highlight its Art Nouveau features, which include a magnificent staircase and atrium, peacock frescoes and enamelled lava panels on the façade.

Sanaa were also responsible for the installation of a statement glass roof with Eiffel-style iron frame which oversails 20,000sq m of luxury retail space, 12 gastronomic ‘concepts’, 15,000sq m of offices and what is reportedly Europe’s largest beauty retail floor, which covers the entirety of the building’s 3,400sq m footprint.

The pièce de resistance, however, is a 72-room hotel – Cheval Blanc Paris – which comes complete with luxury Dior Spa, fusing multiple LVMH brands in a single development.

This is Cheval Blanc’s first urban location and follows on from openings in Courchevel, St Barts and The Maldives. Further properties are planned for Beverly Hills and London as LVMH takes Cheval Blanc into more urban locations.

Huge investment
LVMH poured nearly €500m (US$587.5m, £425.6m) into the project during the building’s controversial 15-year overhaul, with the entire site now being managed by LVMH subsidiary, DFS Group.

La Samaritaine had been a staple of the Parisien retail scene since its opening in 1869, serving the mid-market until its closure in 2005. Its reinvention as an icon of luxury, designed mainly for the super rich has angered some local people, with black paint being sprayed onto the building’s facade during its opening weeks during protests about wealth inequality.

Reports from Paris indicate that the store is quieter than expected – partly due to the absence of wealthy travellers to the French capital and partly due to pandemic pressures. However, LVMH is taking a long-term view of the investment, so this is not thought to be of immediate concern – especially as the luxury market appears to be riding out the pandemic better than many other sectors.

Spa Cinq Mondes à la Samaritaine
LVMH also reached outside its own brand portfolio in creating the spa and wellness offering at La Samaritaine, issuing a tender for the creation of a second spa on the beauty retail floor which was won by French brand Cinq Mondes.

Founded in 2001 by Jean-Louis Poiroux and Nathalie Bouchon-Poiroux, Cinq Mondes now trades in 35 countries, with the new Spa Cinq Mondes à la Samaritaine being the brand’s second location in Paris.

The design is by Suprem Architectures, with each of the seven treatment rooms – including one for couples – having a backlit feature wall reminiscent of Art Deco stained glass.

Poiroux told Spa Business all facilities – including the hammam, double exfoliation room and private relaxation areas – have been conceived to create an immersive healing journey in the heart of Paris.

Spa rituals including massages, scrubs, wraps, facials and hammam treatments draw on global healing practices from Japan, India and China, while an exclusive treatment called The Great Ritual from Okinawa lasts 50 minutes and includes a traditional Japanese kobido facial and amma back massage, costing €124 (US$147, £106).

The new spa also has a 100sq m boutique showcasing Cinq Mondes beauty rituals and skincare range.

The Dior spa
This is Dior’s first standalone spa opening for nearly 10 years and is thought to signal a renewed interest in the spa and wellness sector by the brand.

The entire spa pays tribute to the life and work of celebrated couturier Christian Dior, with the layout – from the curved marble staircase to an evocative Parisian ‘salon’ – celebrating landmark moments in the history of the brand. An interactive mirror above a cosy fireplace screens the latest fashion shows, while the spa boutique offers exclusive Dior/Cheval Blanc product collections.

The six treatment suites have private white onyx bathrooms and opulent finishes. Among these the rose and gold-decorated Bonheur suite features two massage beds that rise from the floor during treatment for a weightless experience for two; the avant-garde New Look suite has been designed specially for the six-hand Couture Dream massage; and the Sauvage suite – with its alpha quartz massage bed – evokes a natural environment.

The standout feature is its 30m swimming pool – reportedly the longest hotel pool in Paris – which is finished with waves of hand-made mosaics by artist Michael Mayer and is overlooked by secluded rest areas with oversized loungers.

The opulent ambience is down to design by architect Peter Marino, who previously worked for LVMH on Louis Vuitton stores in Los Angeles and London, Chanel stores in New York, Seoul, Namiki Ginza and Istanbul and a Dior flagship in Seoul – as well as being on the team for the upcoming Cheval Blanc Beverly Hills.

The spa’s gym, with kit by Technogym, Peloton and Rogue, has a private personal training studio where training sessions can be viewed on a big screen. The gym is available to hotel guests and a limited number of members, who pay a rumoured €9,000 a year for use of the select facility.

The mix is completed by a Rossano Ferretti hair salon located close to the Dior Spa reception where the stylists are personally mentored by the Italian hair icon.

The treatments
Dior’s beauty ambassadors combine techniques such as Dior Tissue Massage and Sensorial Awakening with technology to provide bespoke experiences for guests.

Three classic treatments are inspired by Dior’s Prestige and L’Or de Vie skincare lines which harness the power of the Rose de Granville – a flower which is hand-picked twice a year for its regenerative properties – and extracts of the Yquem grapevine from Bordeaux vineyard, Château d’Yquem, which is also owned by LVMH.

A Sapphire Crystal Micro-Abrasion treatment uses Dior technology for a programme of customised and booster treatments.

Expert Protocol facials for men and women at the Dior Spa include active hydration, deep purification, radiance detox and cell rejuvenation, with 30-, 60- and 90-minute options, while ‘Happiness Shots’ can be added to chosen treatments and include Head in the Stars, Relax Back, Irresistible Lips and Velvet Hands – all lasting 30- to 45-minutes.

Happy Occasions is an extended programme of treatments, including Baby Showers, Sports Transformation, Happy Bouquet, ‘Cheval Blanc Sunday’ and the lavish ‘Grand Ball’ option, which includes a body massage, facial, hair styling and make-up treatment and costs €795.

Dior Spa’s signature treatments:

Sublime Revelation

A restorative massage using semi-precious stones with Dior Prestige Le Micro-Caviar de Rose delivering 22 regenerative micro-nutrients

Couture Dream

Two therapists and a hair stylist work on the face, hair, hands and feet simultaneously

Sensorial Choreography

Four-handed massage in a dedicated suite

Singular Interlude

Bespoke Dior Sensorial Awakenings massage

Precious Energy

Semi-precious stone massage and Dior facial

Treatments are delivered by beauty ambassadors, using Dior products / photo: matthieu salvaing / Parfums Christian dior
Dior Spa at the Chevel Blanc Paris Treatment Menu Prices @ 2021

• Signature Treatments – €220 for a one-hour Couture Dream to €560 for a one-and-a-half-hour, four-handed Sensorial Choreography experience

• Sapphire Crystal Micro Abrasion facial is €260 for an hour’s treatment and €360 for one-and-a-half hours, while a 30-minute booster treatment costs €150

• Exceptional Treatments – Dior Prestige High-Precision, L’Or De Vie Miracle and Dior Prestige Ultimate – for face and body treatments up to two hours – are priced from €350 to €450

• Expert Protocols – for face and back – range from €120 for a 30-minute Irresistible Lips treatment to €330 for Cell Rejuvenation

• Happiness Shots are priced from €90 for a Hot Quartz Ritual to €150 for a 30-minute, body-specific Sensorial Awakening

• Body Massages range from €120 for 30-minutes to €290 for a one-and-a-half-hour treatment

• World Massages include Shiatsu, Thai, Ayurvedic and Tui Na techniques, priced from €240 for one hour to €310 for one-and-a-half-hour treatment

• Happy Occasions packages start from €530 for the three-hour Sports Transformation to €915 for a five-hour Grand Ball massage, facial, hair styling and make up treatment in the couples’ Bonheur suite

Guests can choose from a selection of 48 different treatments / photo: matthieu salvaing / Parfums Christian dior
Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris: First person
Ghislain Waeyaert, editor-at-large of Spa Business magazine, shares insights from his recent visit to the Dior Spa, Paris
Ghislain Waeyaert at Dior Spa in Paris / photo: Ghislain Waeyaert

From the warm welcome I received from the beauty ambassadors as I stepped into Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris, to my exquisite treatment and the gracious farewell on my departure – I had an exceptional experience. The customer service was exemplary, as you would expect with Dior. I was greeted by spa director Sophie Levy Kraeme who – like the other staff members – was impeccably styled in her Dior uniform. She’s considered to be a French spa expert and certainly understands how to deliver a luxurious experience, having previously worked at Cheval Blanc Courchevel.

Sophie led me through reception to a comfortable armchair in the opulent beige and rose ‘Parisian’ salon and I was taken through an iPad-accessed diagnostic questionnaire which included simple, uncomplicated questions about my age, health and areas I wanted the therapist to focus on during my treatment.

Treatments

I had an extensive list of no less than 48 enticing treatments to choose from, which had been carefully curated by Sophie and her team, and decided on the one-and-a-half-hour Precious Energy signature treatment which I was told has been designed to ‘promote positive energy and inner wellbeing’.

My Dior ambassador guided me to the Bonne Etoile suite. She was extremely professional and explained the preparation etiquette and checked the room temperature and my music preference before leaving me to undress.

The bed linen was embroidered with a classic Dior quote: ‘Deep in every heart slumbers a dream’ – very apt for this luxurious experience and as I lay on the treatment bed, the ceiling lit up to reveal Christian Dior’s ‘lucky star’, showing my personal horoscope in lights – a unique feature within this particular suite.

My ambassador seemed exceptionally well trained and showed a natural aptitude for customer care. She examined my face and suggested a deep cleanse before my chosen treatment. This involved the energising use of semi-precious stones – rock crystal, yellow quartz, labradorite and agate and a slow back, arms and stomach massage, followed by a relaxing facial.

This started with a traditional thermo-heating mask and followed by a facial massage using dermatologically-tested, high-performance professional products and my personally-chosen fragrances from Dior’s ‘garden of flowers’.

I’ve had many massage and facial treatments over the years and this was one of the best I’ve ever had

She explained the treatment process, the stones’ effects and the product benefits and regularly checked my comfort throughout. Her expertise regarding treatment protocol, technique and product knowledge was exceptional and I have to say I felt fantastic afterwards. My skin felt light, bright and revived and the Dior floral-fragranced products, which is unusual given the prevalence of unscented products these days, were delightful.

Afterwards, she left me to get dressed and handed me over to a colleague who offered water and a selection of teas and escorted me back to reception – through the boutique – where I enjoyed looking through the range of Bains de Dior purifying mists and Solutions Professionelles – which included active formulae exclusively designed for Dior Spa.

The verdict

In my opinion, the whole experience was superb. Each treatment has been very well designed and presented within the brochure – although the treatments are expensive by Parisian standards – my treatment cost €350 Euros for the hour and a half, while an average range for the city is €150-180.

However, I’ve had many massage and facial treatments over the years and this was one of the best I’ve ever had right across the board – spa ambience, therapist expertise and attention to detail, plus the quality of the products and my post-treatment feeling of wellbeing throughout my body. I left Dior Spa Cheval Blanc Paris with a big smile on my face!

Ghislain Waeyaert is co-founder and president of bbspa_France

A treatment room at the Dior Spa / photo: ghislain waeyaert
The spa has a well-stocked boutique / photo: ghislain waeyaert
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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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