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SPAS


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worldwide, as well as serving on the board of key spa associations including Global Spa Summit and The International SPA Association (ISPA).


View from the top


Andrew Gibson, Global Spa Director, MOHG


“As the hotel and spa are located in the centre of Barcelona on one of the best shopping streets, they offer an excellent escape from the day’s shopping and a true urban retreat for the city. The spa is clearly one of the most valuable assets for the hotel, since it’s one of the few hotels in Barcelona with a pool, fitness area and luxurious treatment spaces. “I think the best treatments are to be taken in the suites, where the spa team is able to provide the best combination of treatments for the guest and to allow the guest to experience the full complement of services that Mandarin Oriental provides. I would recommend our Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa Treatment since it is customised to each individual. Based on principles of TCM, combined with aromatherapy, the treatment is not only relaxing but has a therapeutic value.”


Spanish fan Beyond the hotel’s entrance lies a feast of stylish spaces, from the cocktail chic of Bankers Bar, glistening with original money boxes and keys; through the white simplicity of Blanc restaurant in the deep atrium at the heart of the hotel; to the sophisticated hum of guests relaxing in the exotic Mimosa Garden behind the hotel. In totality, Mandarin is a showcase of award- winning designer Patricia Urquiola’s sleek Spanish style, with that all-important Oriental twist that guests have come to love and expect. Yet the most intriguing part of the design is the sizeable, 1,000sqm spa facility, already rapidly gaining a golden reputation of its own.


As I head for the spa to meet Spa Director


Virginia Lara for a tour and to discover how her elegant space is shaping up after one year, I note that gold and amber hues are definitely back as the accent of choice throughout this hotel. I step into the spa lift, which allows guests direct access from their rooms to the spa in the bank’s former vault, and my nose tells me I’m heading in the right direction as the unmistakable aroma of essential oils envelopes me – revealing that celebrated British aromatherapist Geraldine Howard and her team have been working here to develop Mandarin’s distinctive, own-label products (see ‘Partner for Success’ overleaf).


european spa | www.europeanspamagazine.com


Golden reputation


Initially I’m surprised by the darkness of the spa’s interiors, in comparison with the white and golden hues of the rest of the hotel where Urquiola has accentuated the wonderful Mediterranean light through design. But as I use the spa’s facilities as a guest, I begin to appreciate the simplicity and elegance of the black ceilings, which cocoon you without being claustrophobic – so often the case with basement spas lacking natural light. I’m also struck by the use of so many natural materials, adding to the illusion that no surface seems quite complete. It really does feel like another world. “Patricia Urquiola conceived The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona as an intimate and minimalist space, markedly modern in style with Oriental touches,” explains Virginia Lara on our tour. Along with her 14-strong international spa team, Lara runs this spacious facility with great pride. “Our spa is a unique space in the centre of Barcelona, offering our guests such a sensory experience,” she reveals. “I love to see the faces of


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