Whenever I travel, I always try to set aside enough time to experience at least one notable spa within the area I am touring. Several years ago, while on vacation in the Maya Riviera, I visited a beautiful Oriental Express Hotel that did a superb job incorporating traditional Mayan healing and wellness rituals into the therapies they offered. Blending the indigenous cultures, traditions and modalities of one’s location into treatments that produce interesting and original experiences using ancient, centuries-old methods gives the guest a unique and  memorable experience.

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”
Pearl Buck, The Joy of Children, 1964
– US novelist in China (1892 – 1973)

So there I was, enjoying amazing Mayan therapies each more pleasant than the last, and yet, when I left for home several days later, the one treatment I couldn’t stop thinking about was the only one not of local origin! Simply put, the Hot Poultice Thai Massage is like a dream. The bouquet of aromatherapy oil & herb filled poultice cradles you like a baby while you float into the most tranquil, peaceful and meditative state.  Of course, a treatment with origins half a world away & hundreds of years of history is never easy to get just right and often can end up costing spa owners far more to source than they end up returning. Nevertheless, I knew this was something that had to be shared with the rest of the Complexions community and so made the decision to go ‘all in’.

From Wanting to Having the Hot Poultice…

After returning home, I attended  a spa show in New York City to see if I could find a provider of the poultice I experienced. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly depending on how many trade shows you’ve attended), I did find several outfits that happily offered “similar” and/or “comparable” products but in the end, when it comes to putting together a new treatment at Complexions, I’d rather not offer it than cut a couple corners. Which isn’t to say that the path to a place on our menu is overly daunting for those committed to top quality therapies & experiences – your product simply has to demonstrate clear wellness & health benefits for our customers and A-level marks in each of the following:

  1. The class, consistency, integrity and reliability of the source ingredients.
  2. The ability, experience and “authenticity” of the instructors who will be responsible for the training of our staff.

Why so rigorous? As with most of our investments, when it comes to new product and treatment decisions, my strategy has always been to minimize/eliminate as many upfront ‘risks’ as possible. Squaring down the above typically takes care of 90% of what goes into an excellent spa experience.

The Importance of Keeping it Authentic…

One of the most important responsibilities I have is stewarding the trust my customers have built up in Complexions for never compromising on value or taking any liberties with the marketing behind or reasoning for the treatments and services we offer.  If we can’t find either the local indigenous product  someone to train the exact technique, then we will not compromise the experience.  If we put it on our menu, it has to be offered with  accuracy.

There’s something magical in the experience of a faithfully reproduced therapy born from an ancient (and sometimes extinct) civilization – a wisdom and grace that’s difficult to express but easy to feel. It’s what separates deeply-seated primordial therapies from other more modern forms of healing & wellness. In the case of our Thai poultice, if either the prai or kaffir lime were to be sourced from somewhere other than Thailand, than the service simply isn’t “authentic” and would not have been labeled as such. Thankfully, I was able to secure the ingredients by virtue of our relationship with Coola Organic Products and so moved onto the second hurdle – training.

I searched high and low to find an educator. Finally, I decided to call the spa director in Mexico and discuss my desire. She was very kind and offered me the contact information for the educator that they used in Mexico. After discussing her teaching style & schedule at length, I offered to pay for her to come to Complexions and train our therapists in the magical art of Poultice.

Today, I am happy to say that this continues to be one of our most popular services. Not only do our guests appreciate its authenticity they can be assured they are getting. In fact, they are experiencing the same quality of service as if they were in Thailand getting a Samunprai, Hot Poultice Thai Massage. In the resort that I experienced this treatment for the first time, I paid close to $300.00 for, we only charge $154.00  because of our location. We are not in a big metropolitan city that can support that price tag, but our guests, can receive the same uncompromised quality of service as if they were at a 5 star resort