Spas: Getting Even
Tense flights, knotty security lines, nagging electronic devices: By the time travelers arrive at a destination, they are less in need of pampering than they are desperate for an antidote to travel itself. Georgi Akirov, an Israeli hotelier, has a vision for spas—a concept that provides relief and more, restoring the modern traveler in body, mind, and spirit, and in the end, he says, "teaching people how to live better lives."
His first Akasha Wellbeing Center opened last year at the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem. The 10,000-square-foot urban retreat is clad in limestone and offers an array of treatments—including several designed to address guests’ emotional needs through balanced meditation, breathing technique, and energy healing. "Treatments are designed to relax and inspire people to lead balanced existences," says Akirov, who has opened a second Akasha center in Amsterdam and plans to debut a third in London by the end of the year. "Balance is our alchemy."
In Jerusalem, Akirov worked with Lissoni Architects of Milan to develop a serene, luxurious environment divided into four themed spaces: water, fire, air, and earth. The vast spa is based on the healing properties of water, with a maze of elevated slate paths winding over flowing streams and past blue-lighted chromotherapy rooms. Soft music and incense float through a Watsu pool area, two hammams, and five massage rooms. Spa treatments, such as a 90-minute experience called the Four Elements ($155), expand on the theme: A three-minute body mask of warmed sesame oil from Jordan precedes a hot-stone massage, an invigorating Japanese Watsu water massage, heat reflexology, and full-body reiki.
Because balance is the goal at Akasha, spa treatments are countered by the fire element of the gym and weight-training room, which features energizing red and orange lighting and equipment such as resistance-based Kinesis machines. Air is represented by instruction in yoga, Pilates, spinning, and kickboxing. The staff includes dozens of expert instructors: professional trainers in varying athletic mediums, and massage therapists trained in Sweden, Turkey, China, Thailand, and Israel. Finally, the Organic Bar—earth—serves light dishes, such as quinoa salad and carrot-ginger juice, prepared by dietitians.
There is also, however, a fifth element. Akirov genuinely wants to make guests feel better, and Akasha offers individualized programs aimed at emotional health. A frazzled traveler might combine a Pilates session with meditation, lifestyle coaching, and an organic snack—an experience that, according to the company, "represents a celebration of the senses and creates an ‘energy field’ that makes one feel relaxed, safe, welcomed, and loved."
What a relief.