By  on October 26, 2007

In spa-savvy Los Angeles, the new Spa at Equinox West Hollywood had to somehow set itself apart.

So the 8,000-square-foot spa, which was officially unveiled Thursday, went with a slowly emerging trend on the spa scene — a traditional Turkish hammam.

The hammam — a Middle Eastern version of a steam bath — features three curtained-off marble slabs atop which clients can have body polishes, seaweed and mud wraps and salt scrubs. The temperature in the spacious gray-tiled room, which is for both men and women, is set to 95 degrees, and features less steam than a traditional steam room.

Vance Soto, spa director of Spa at Equinox West Hollywood — an upscale fitness club that is one of 40 branches nationwide — said early indications are that the hammam is a considerable draw for local spa-goers.

"It's a huge selling point," he said. "Body treatments are more effective because the warm atmosphere makes the products go straight into the skin, and its benefits are significantly increased. Even though it's a communal space, it's great for relaxing and detoxifying."

The facility is located one floor above the hip fitness club on prime Sunset Boulevard, and was converted from a space that used to be a restaurant. It almost wraps completely around the building and holds six massage rooms, one couples' suite (complete with a flat-screen TV), a yoga room and manicure and pedicure stations. The entire place is done up in contemporary colors of beige and brown, accented by touches like smooth wood footstools and sky blue walls.

It has a separate entrance, something Soto said helps the spa have "its own feel and vibe."

The aesthetic of the place is clean and modern, reflecting what Equinox aims to be all about.

"Equinox is known for being a contemporary, hip and modern club," said Soto. "We didn't want to strive too far from that. We wanted something that was warm, but still in the Equinox taste."

The spa is open to nonmembers; Soto also added that another key selling point was the fact that guests could come in for a single treatment, and basically stay for a Pilates or yoga class, to use the hammam or to relax on the patio with its outdoor shower and deck chairs."They can make a day of it for the cost of one treatment," said Soto.

Since its soft opening a few months ago, the most popular treatments include the Equinox Solstice Massage, which can be for 50 or 80 minutes, and which uses aromatherapy and a technique similar to Swedish massage. A Hydra-Deluxe 80-minute facial is among the more sought-after face treatments, incorporating LED red-light processes and lymphatic drainage massage. Treatments range from a starting price of $20 for face waxing to $500 for a two-and-a-half-hour Couples Interlude package. The top-price Deep Pressure massage is $175 for 80 minutes and the most expensive facial is the 65-minute Dramatic Pore Cleansing for $145.

Soto said the new facility is the second-largest spa in the Equinox group, underscoring the company's desire to be an all-round fitness and well-being brand.

"We want to focus on being a lifestyle brand, and to offer almost a one-stop shop approach for everything to do with health and well-being," he said.

He is planning to expand the small retail offering in the spa, which currently encompasses nine brands, including teeth whitening brand Go Smile, The Art of Shaving and French skin care brand Yonka.

"We hope to be able to offer up to 12 brands and increase the number of stockkeeping units in each one," he said.

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