Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

The Spa at the Four Seasons: luxury in the city

If I had my way, I think I would go live at the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence. But failing that, and as I already live in Florence so can’t really justify checking in to a five star hotel, there is a way for us members of the general public (or guests of other hotels in town) to get in to the most desirable garden, pool, gym and spa in town. With a day pass to the pool or an appointment at the Spa, which recently opened up to external guests, you can feel like a princess at least for a while.

Spa entrance – photo used by permission of the Four Seasons Florence

I was invited to try out a new facial treatment with Rephase products and technology that The Spa at the Four Seasons currently offers in worldwide exclusive. My day started by being welcomed to The Spa by smiley, particularly gorgeous staff who accompanied me to the change facilities and assigned me a locker equipped with a digital lock. Already here I was in heaven, for this posh bathroom is rather nicer than my own, with marble and mirrors, plush robes and towels (even a bathmat), chilled Panna mineral water, and custom-made products of every sort from Officina Santa Maria Novella (everything from cream deodorant to mouthwash and of course wonderful shampoo and conditioner).

I might have hung out here longer but was anxious to go sit by the gorgeous pool, one of those greenish coloured pools that doesn’t smell of chlorine, with my glass of mineral water flavoured with a slice of orange.

Here too, I had to make a difficult decision: enjoy lounging on the ‘beach chairs’ which have a thick soft mattress covered in custom towels (why does my beach not have this??!) or test out the heated pool…

Yes, i opted briefly for the pool

Time came for my facial appointment and I was shown upstairs to the very luminous space dedicated to spa treatments. This space is unusual because if you think about it, often spas are in hotel basements or are grotto-like, even the nicest ones. This one has large windows that give on to the garden, though of course the treatment rooms have dark blinds. My consultant, Barbara, told me about the new products they carry from Rephase, a cosmetics line that is only available in pharmacies (only one in Florence carries it), made with a combination of natural ingredients and biotech advances. Now they have also developed machinery to compliment and apply these products, and this is the first Spa in the world to have it.

Rephase products – photo used with permission Four Seasons Florence

I look at the machine next to the treatment bed and it looks kinda like an ultrasound. To be truthful, I am not sure how it works, but I like the effects! After cleansing and inspecting my face, Barbara pronounced by skin exceptionally sensitive and thin, with veins close to the surface and extreme sensitivity to the sun. Lucky me. My mom has always said as much and berated me for any sun exposure, but it’s hard to live in Italy and be called ‘mozzarella’ when you show up at the beach all white. Anyway, for Barbara, this mozzarella was not at all a negative, but something to guide her choice in what products and technologies to apply in the following 45 minutes.

The ultrasound, uh, i mean Rephase machine was switched on and I felt a cool sensation as my skin was being actively oxygenated, methodically going over each part of my face and neck. There were three phases to this application, after which Barbara handed me a mirror and switched on the lights. Now, I am not a big believer in skin treatments (the most i do is wash and moisturize) but I tell you that I could visibly see one side of my face looking more firm – essentially like I’d had a big collagen injection so I no longer had dark bags under my eyes! Thankfully she did proceed to do the other side of my face to match, and then applied some wonderfully light moisturizing cream. Here is a photo of me directly afterwards. As you can see, I look 20 years younger than my real 50… just kidding. I am 37 and look young for my age.

The Rephase facial is available in various declinations which the ladies at The Spa can certainly explain to you properly, each designed for a different purpose, and customized to your skin type. This is not your average facial but, especially if done repeatedly, could practically replace cosmetic surgery. I, of course, will grow old gracefully and naturally, but a little touch up like this sure helps. A week after the treatment I can still very much see the positive effects, which I have been extending with the various Rephase samples that were chosen for my skin type. I’m not sure if it is due to the facial, but someone I met put me in my mid twenties this week.

After my treatment, I had lunch at the poolside Trattoria al Fresco with some girlfriends who were also enjoying facials that day. The hotel has recently updated the menu of this restaurant, which now has an outside pizza making area and serves a full menu regularly, as well as hosts theme nights on special occasions. As is par for the course at the Four Seasons, service is impeccable, and everything is delicious, from the bellini’s with fresh peaches to the assortment of breads down to the decadent desserts.

There’s no need to hide it: service at this level does not come cheap. I had a marvelous day – in fact I wish I could have stayed longer. The Spa at the Four Seasons is something to be set aside for a special treat – maybe in preparation for your wedding day, to celebrate an anniversary with your sweetie, or as a treat while on holiday in Florence (if you’re staying somewhere more budget, you could enjoy this luxury at least briefly). A day pass to the pool costs 80 euros per person, but you can stay there and in the garden for as long as you want, not to mention use way more towels in a few hours than you would in more than a week at home. It’s an oasis in the city, like going to the beach, except without the traffic and car costs, heat, ombrelloni too close together and annoying Italian children with their water guns. The Rephase facial treatments start at 290 euros, while there is also a range of treatments done with the Florentine all-natural brand made by Santa Maria Novella.

To book spa treatments, call 055/2626631 or email spa.firenze@fourseasons.com. Plan your stay at www.fourseasons.com/florence.

Disclaimer: I received the service described in this post without cost, but all impressions in this review are mine.

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.