A peek inside: Eau Spa - Need Ritzy pampering without a long drive? Just say spa: Manalapan

By Mary Thurwachter

Classically elegant and newly renovated — to the tune of $100 million — the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach has an extra reason to celebrate this month. Its $30 million addition, Eau Spa, opens at last. The hammering has stopped, the paint has dried, the furniture has been thoughtfully arranged and now it’s time for guests to “pause, play and perfect.” That “three-P” philosophy is evident throughout the 42,000-square-foot spa with an emphasis on sensory experiences with touches of wet and whimsy and blended with Baroque designs with strong modern accents. Eau Spa guests can pause to light a candle and send it sailing into a large copper Wishing Well and relax on a waterfall bench allowing the cascading water to massage their shoulders. Another option: lazily swinging from a wire basket chair as their toes stir up little waves in a shallow pool. They can belly up to the scrub and polish bar, where a mixologist stirs up a personalized blend of aromatic herbs, gritty sea salts and soothing oils. Spa director Amal Elbahnasawy refers to this as scrub couture.
“You can experiment with the mixture and discover a perfect combination of skin detox and polishing, resulting in a customized body cocktail they can play with in the bath lounge and later bring home to ensure the Eau Spa experience lingers even longer,” Elbahnasawy says.
When it comes to play, spa customers will find plenty of opportunities, from playing chess or singing in the showers to finding themselves surrounded by thousands of stars, the result of a disco ball on the ceiling in the steam room. Any of the spa’s 19 villas can be customized to the taste of the customers. Color therapy through LED lighting defines wall colors with shades outlined by ancient cultures that evoke specific moods, says Elbahnasawy. Blue tones are used for those looking to relax (pause); red for those interested in energizing (play); and gold for those seeking balance (perfect). Results are also achieved through choices of oils, aromatherapies and musical selections.
Choose lavender aromatherapy and dreamlike music to relax; pick tart lime aromas and upbeat lounge music to energize; or select rosewood aromatherapy and mellow jazz if you’re seeking balance. Twelve of the villas come with outdoor gardens and three villas are designed with couples in mind. Oversized tubs, rainfall showers and lavish gardens with herbs and orchids are all part of the décor. Specially designed wine glass chandeliers, at $40,000 apiece, will sparkle in the men’s and women’s relaxation areas.
A pretty, full-service salon offers six chairs, including a master chair for special occasions and weddings, as well as manicure and pedicure stations for more pampering. The fitness center, only open to hotel guests (for now, at least; this may change) offers a complete state-of-the-art workout center with exercise equipment, kickboxing, spinning and step classes, as well yoga, Pilates and meditation. But don’t be surprised if you’re offered a cupcake.
You’ll have plenty of time to work it off on the elliptical! Come for a treatment and you’ll be tempted (and welcome) to lounge around all day in a thick, white, hooded terry robe and slippers, says public relations director Christine DiRocco.
Eau Spa’s focus on water — “eau” in French — encourages guests to relax and enjoy ancient spa rituals in a spontaneous setting, says Simon Lewis, owner of the Manalapan hotel.
“Our vision for Eau Spa was centered on the guest’s sensory awareness and ability to be present,” he said. “Eau Spa is about letting yourself have a good time in a completely carefree and open environment, not necessarily a sacred place where you have to whisper.”

Box: A private ribbon cutting for Eau Spa is set for 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11. “Pause, play, perfect” specialty cocktails will be served, along with hor d’ oeuvres. Beginning March 12, the spa will be open to the public from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, with treatments beginning at $40. For reservations, call (561) 540-4960.

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