Byline: Sarah Harris

LONDON — London’s second Urban Retreat is set to open at Harrods, and it’s going to be bigger and more varied than its sister in Covent Garden. The new beauty destination, which is scheduled to open by summer 2003, will be designed by George Hammer, who built the first Urban Retreat and who successfully brought Aveda to the U.K.
Hammer said his goal was to give the new Urban Retreat a younger, more modern feel than the current spa at Harrods. And, of course, it will be built with the Urban Retreat philosophy. “It’s about the luxuries of life, not sports cars or big houses but time, space and comfort. It’s not my intention for people to rediscover luxury, but to remind them,” Hammer said.
The new space will have 36 treatment rooms, including the first and only Creme de la Mer suite, Europe’s first Bobbi Brown makeup studio, an Aveda concept salon, an Elemis spa and a 5,000-square-foot banya, or Russian wet spa. “The idea is for the banya to be a social spa, a place to hang out with friends, that’s not too quiet or Zen,” said Hammer. There will also be retail space: 2,000 square feet will be dedicated to potions and lotions from all the leading names in the industry.
Construction for Urban Retreat is costing $7 million, and will span 25,000 square feet on the top floor of the Knightsbridge store.
The mission is to attract a younger clientele but without alienating the existing customer. “It does need to be different, and something that people won’t necessarily expect to find at Harrods, I don’t want to make it traditional but at the same time I don’t want all chrome and coldness,” Hammer said.
What Hammer has planned is very different from Harrods’ existing hair and beauty salon which has a shop feel, complete with carpet and pine fixtures. Urban Retreat will have walls of paneled oak and polished lava flooring. “I like a solid architectural look, there will be something very collective about Urban Retreat, like a great meal, the best are always cooked simply — you start fluffing about with things and it becomes too contrived,” Hammer said.
Hammer wants to create exclusive memberships, too. For $7,000 a year, a platinum membership will entitle women to beauty treatments all year round. “The logistics haven’t been worked out yet but there will be numerous membership packages and gift vouchers,” Hammer explained.
One thing is for certain and that’s the color of the Bentleys. “I’d like to hire a fleet of them to pick up clients, but they’d have to be baby blue. I like baby blue. Green would just be too Harrods,” Hammer said.
Men’s grooming, which will be located in the basement of Harrods in the former men’s barber shop, will consist of three treatment rooms where they can indulge in manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials and massage. Or get a cut and blow dry by legendary barber Peter Smith, whom Hammer describes as a “class act.”
Even children get their own spa. In an attempt to stop the tears, kicking and screaming, Hammer intends on keeping the little ones entertained. “I want to fit a photo booth that prints out stickers, and install mini-arcade machines so they’ll want to come back.” Situated in the middle of the fourth floor toy department, the question is will they ever want to leave?

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