A spot of retail indulgence is one of life’s great joys, so why should it stop when you are lying down enjoying a massage? Jo Foley looks at spas with their very own shops
It all began with the unguents – those oils and lotions which anoint your body during any number of spa treatments. We loved their texture and smell so much we wanted to take them home with us.
And then there were the candles, and the incense, the lavender pillows and even the robes, not to mention the yoga gear and the CD offering everything from Buddhist chants to splashing wave sounds. So a whole new retail division opened up with the growth of spas.
Take one of the originators – the Banyan Tree group. Indeed, they were the first to offer oils and incense sticks. Now, in each of their resorts, they have their own Gallery – a sweetly scented, softly lit Spa Shop.
The largest is to be found in their flagship spa in Phuket but the stores in both the Maldives and Bangkok are pretty good, too. On offer are everything from teapots (well, how else are you going to pour your lemongrass and ginger tea?), candle holders, incense sticks and oil burners to a host of accessories like notebooks, diaries, essential oils and massage oils.
Their best seller throughout is the special Banyan CD, although the batik yukata (a unisex cotton robe with matching slippers) is catching up fast. And, while the whole point of a spa is to send you home relaxed, you don’t have to worry if you forget to buy your favourite candle as all the merchandise is available online from www.banyantreegallery.com
One spa group that has taken shopping to a whole different stratosphere is Champneys. Not only do they have shops in each of their spas selling everything from swimwear and candles to their own bath and beauty products, but they now have shops on the High Street in places such as Guildford, Enfield, Bath and Brighton.
Their raison d’�tre is still as day spas, and the treatment rooms are either inside or upstairs, but customers come in through a shop selling all their products – and some highly desirable make-up accessories such as brushes, slides and pads.
If you cannot make it to any of their High Street stores and have fallen in love with their Oriental Body Lotion, you can even find it at larger branches of Sainsburys or online at www.champneyscollection.com
For some of the best yoga and exercise clothes, as well as the coolest resort wear, just pop along to the shop at either Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos or its sister property Cocoa Island in the Maldives, where a former John Galliano assistant has designed a seriously chic collection.
Best of all are the hair and bath products which are now sold online as aficionados around the world refuse to bathe or shampoo without them. While there is now a range of different products, the original Invigorate is the hot favourite.
You can also find simple little sandals and slippers as well as trays of desirable jewellery – which gives a whole new meaning to crystal therapy.
One of the most chic spas on the planet is the Cinq Mondes at the Beau Rivage Palace, Lausanne. There are only seven outlets of this French spa experience worldwide and they all stock and use only one product – their eponymous Cinq Mondes collection, which has some of the best potions and lotions for bath, face and body.
If you never try another thing on your body, the Body Butter is like being smothered in silk. Apart from beauty and spa products, their only other offerings are room sprays and candles.
The shop takes up one spacious corner of the spa and everything is on display in the distinctive opaque glass and mulberry shades. For those of us who cannot get to the spas (notably their flagship boutique in Paris), the products are now available in Selfridges in London
Mandarin Oriental are busy working on a whole new collection of spa products, exercise and yoga wear as well as little silk separates, cashmere shawls and glittering rocks.
However, if you head to the shop in either of their spas in London or New York, you will still be enticed by what is currently available, with soft shades and even softer fabrics for T-shirts, wrap tops and two styles of trousers which are so well made and well cut they have a life outside the gym and exercise studio.
If you’re looking for designer glitz, then possibly the best spa shop of the lot can be found at One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of specially commissioned caftans, bags, sandals, even jewellery from such names as Christian Louboutin, Matthew Williamson and Anya Hindmarch.
You won’t find such offerings anywhere else as they have all been specially commissioned for the resort. Best of all is the Capsule Collection which can be ordered in advance and await you in your villa, so you do not even have to bother packing.
The collection for both men and women offers everything from silky slip cocktail dresses to T-shirts and chinos, as well as belts and underwear. Depending on your budget and needs, the collection can cost anything from �400 to �2,500.
But then there are so many delicious things in the shop that, even if you do order the collection, you will invariably want to supplement it with a piece of jewellery, extra bikinis or sarongs. It has even been rumoured certain swish yachts drop anchor nearby so the girls on board can go shopping – so different from the number 9 bus!