Reawakened Sanctuary at So SPA Auckland

Opening August 2013, the global So SPA by Sofitel concept has found a home in the Pacific. Ashleigh Sharman visited the new-look day spa at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour.

Dedicated to restoring beauty and balance, So SPA’s commitment to wellbeing focuses on holistic principles that combine ancient wisdom with modern expertise — where personalised treatments and spa journeys awaken the senses and re-energise.

“Rest, relaxation and rejuvenation; this truly is the spa’s philosophy,” says Assistant Spa Manager, Rona Crawley of the So SPA concept, launched in 2009, where a selection of therapies are categorised similarly to a French gourmet restaurant menu.

“The treatment menu is designed for ease of personalisation and to suit specific wellness needs. Starters last 30 minutes and services include body scrubs and wraps; Mains are luxurious 60-minute treatments such as facials and massages; and Desserts are express, quick fix treatments such as those for the eyes,” explains Rona, whose team deliver results with two brands; one French and one local.

Sofitel NZ STORYThémaé takes inspiration from the Japanese tea ceremony and harmonises it with French cosmetology. All products contain the four types of tea: white, black, red and green, providing different yet beneficial properties across facial and massage treatments that hold the same protocols worldwide. Plantogen hails from New Zealand and contains active Manuka honey, known for its healing properties, and other local plants and ingredients to deliver an authentic local experience.

For added local flavour, the Auckland So SPA menu also includes a Healing Manuka Honey Facial with New Zealand Manuka honey; a traditional Greenstone Massage using greenstone believed to possess intuitive healing and harmonising properties; and the Maori inspired Ataahua Beautiful Body Treatment.

“These are not brands that clients are likely to have heard of. We find we have to explain them and clients then fall in love with either of the philosophies. Having a local range is great for tourists from further afield but we also have local guests who visit the hotel for a weekend or on special occasions and for them, the choice is often Thémaé.

“I joined as part of the opening team in March 2013 and had never worked with either brand yet it is a unique offering for the spa, something new to inspire clients. There is interest there as retail is fairly steady. Guests love the smell of the products and want to keep a memory of the spa with them,” Rona says.

Welcomed into a bright reception area, guests are shown to change rooms containing a steam room and sauna (recommended before and after treatments), with accompanying facilities including swimming pool, Jacuzzi and gym. The journey downstairs transitions guests into the next spa zone where they will begin their wellness experience.

Sofitel NZ RelaxA consultation area is flanked by a cosy relaxation zone fitted with signature So SPA beds, two double treatment rooms, a large single treatment room and a Jacuzzi bath in addition to a manicure/pedicure room and separate waxing room — all harnessing a variety of textures that blend local artwork and innovative modern design.

“So SPA’s around the world are recognisable in that they all have the same logo and colourings. The reception area tends to be light and open and the relaxation areas similarly feature Sofitel’s bed-style chairs. They can however vary property to property with furnishings and décor that reflect the spa’s location. The brand is quite young so there is room for growth and change but there are distinct elements that tie the concept together globally,” says Rona.

A new spa is always cautious to announce trends yet for some months the ratio of in-house to external guests has remained consistent at 60/40 with 80/20 the female to male split. Sofitel colleagues in Queenstown however have noted 60/40 as their gender split — a trend that Rona attributes more to the spa’s Auckland location than any marketing push since launch.

Sofitel NZ Welcome“We have a relatively small team for the moment, of three to five staff, as the spa grows to accommodate its opening hours of 10am-8pm daily. All staff perform treatments and all need to be qualified in all offerings with external or train-the-trainer sessions. My background as a casual therapist at East Day Spa Auckland and extensive experience at Sheraton Edinburgh’s One Spa and on cruise ships made it easy for me to transition to the So SPA concept,” she adds of Auckland’s latest arrival.

Located in a serene and tranquil wing of Sofitel Auckland, So SPA then is a discreet retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily activities that is guaranteed not only to enhance a guests’ experience but add to the vibrancy of the well-established Auckland spa scene.

SIGNATURE TREATMENT – So Rejuvenating Facial Treatment
A luxurious blend of products combines harmoniously with the latest French skincare techniques to help restore a youthful complex all within a 60-minute treatment.
SIGNATURE TREATMENT- So Exhilarating Body Massage
A euphoric and soothing body massage, this 60-minute treatment uses signature techniques that shape and tone the silhouette.

So SPA Auckland, Viaduct Harbour, Sofitel Auckland 

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