There’s a reason the huge fish tank in the waiting area at Koi Spa is filled with the luminous orange fish for which the spa was named. “We selected the koi for beauty and tranquility,” says spa director Kathryn Herrmann. Research revealed that in Asian culture these fish symbolized other positive traits such as peace and luck.
The spa’s East-meets-West philosophy embraces Swedish and Balinese massage, and everyone who works there, Herrmann says, works “from the heart.” From massage and mud treatments to exotic body scrubs, Hermann says, clients have an “experience that transforms them.”
The staff offers clients fortune cookies with messages they create themselves: “An understanding of mind, body, and spirit leads to a healthy life,” “Discover a new sense of serenity and a renewal of beauty.”
I’m lucky enough to experience the Koi philosophy for myself with aesthetician Belia Pareja, who says she loves people, and it shows, as she administers the 50-minute Eminence of Hungary Organic facial.
I’d never had a facial, and it was fully as hedonistic as I expected it to be. It’s entirely sensual, with a complex mix of aromas from herbs to flowers and fruits, temperatures from cool cucumber to deep steam and hot towels, and textures from rough seeds to smooth gels.
I’m greeted by Belia and escorted to the treatment room.
She asks me to remove my shoes and shirt and put on a cozy, cotton wrap.
Belia escorts me onto the facial table and I opt for the bolster to be placed under my knees.
The lights go down and relaxing music comes up.
She assesses my skin and chooses Eminence of Hungary products that will address my specific skin care issues (dry and sensitive—no surprise there).
The facial begins with an application of a warm, moist towel dampened with oils of lavender, cypress, and rosemary, to “stimulate the senses.”
The skin is thoroughly cleansed with stone crop gel wash. Stone crop is a Hungarian plant that is believed to contain healing and calming oils. A light application of coconut milk cleanser is also applied to gently clean and hydrate my skin.
A soothing spray of stone crop hydrating mist is applied to soothe my skin. The mist reportedly restores the ph balance (acid/alkaline) of the skin.
Belia begins the exfoliation process, the key to vibrant skin, she says, as it unclogs pores, minimizes fine lines (can’t do anything about the deep ones!), and evens out skin color. She uses a pear and poppy seed microderm polisher, which contains granules that exfoliate dead cells to achieve “clarity and luminosity.”
Then Belia performs an uplifting massage done in a circular motion from the chin to the forehead for one minute, including the neck and shoulders. She has a magic touch that practically puts you to sleep.
Using esthetic wipes she removes granules and dead cells, which should give a luminous glow to the skin.
A warm application of steam is applied to my sensitive skin.
This is followed by a facial massage with creamy mint and cucumber soufflé to soften and bring circulation to the skin—again a fall-asleep experience.
Extractions are performed to remove debris from clogged pores (commonly known as whiteheads).
A stone crop masque is then applied for “cooling, healing, calming, and pigment lightening.” It feels like a cool, soothing mask.
While the masque is working its magic, a five-to-10-minute hand and arm massage is performed with stone crop body lotion.
The masque is removed with warm towels and Eight Greens Youth (good luck with that!) Serum is applied. Made with yucca extract and flaxseed, it is known as a “lifting and regulating serum for breakout-prone and hormonally imbalanced skin types.” It is designed to penetrate deep into the dermis to “tighten, brighten, and plump up the skin tone.”
The treatment ends with an application of stone crop hydrating mist to seal in the moisture.
I was offered a cool glass of water infused with cucumber, lemon, and orange, and a homecare sheet is prepared listing the products, their main ingredients, and action on the skin.
These products are placed at the check-out desk for the client to purchase if she wants to continue the treatment at home (though without Belia’s wonderful touch!).
I’m invited to schedule a follow-up appointment to assess the progress of the treatment. Budget permitting, regular facials would be a truly enlightening experience.
I can’t think of a better gift for someone you love.—Kate Rounds Koi Spa