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Spa at The Carneros Inn: Winner of the 2004 Best Spa Massage Award

In February 2004, SpaTherapy.com's sister site MassageToday.com began publishing Spa Ratings, a periodic column in which two professionals (dubbed the "massage mice") not affiliated with the spa industry anonymously reviewed and subsequently rated spa massage services. As enthusiasm for Spa Ratings grew, so did Massage Today's vision for the feature. If we were going to publish spa reviews and ratings, why not also reward the spa with the highest score? This is how the Best Spa Massage Award and SpaTherapy.com came into being ("Massage Today to Launch New Web Site, Annual Award." Dec. 2004, www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/12/03.html).

Massage Today and SpaTherapy.com are pleased to announce that the recipient of the First Annual Best Spa Massage Award is Spa at The Carneros Inn in Napa, California, whose superior services and massage treatments received a perfect score. Following is the spa's rating and review, and an interview with Jeannie Jarnot, spa director at The Carneros Inn.

Rating Criteria & Points

Reservations Desk (5 points) - Based on the helpfulness, friendliness and promptness with which the task was handled.

Waiting Room (5 points) - Based on general ambiance and cleanliness.

Changing Room/Locker Room/Showers (5 points) - Based on amenities, atmosphere and cleanliness.

Massage Room (5 points) - BNased on ambiance, cleanliness, lighting, music/sound, aroma, and temperature, as applicable.

Massage Table (5 points) - Based on comfort, linens, and bolsters/support devices employed.

Massage (75 points) - Based on whether appropriate questions were asked of the client; technique and pressure; time allocation; response to client needs, requests, questions and feedback; use of massage oils, lotions, devices and aids; proper draping technique; relaxation/therapeutic effect of massage; water/refreshments offered; overall attitude of the massage therapist; and final impression.

Ratings are assigned based on the overall score as follows: Excellent (95-100); Outstanding (90-95); Very Good (85-89); Good (80-84); Average (70-79); Below Average (50-69); and Poor (0-49).

Spa at The Carneros Inn, Napa, California - 100 points: The massage mice evaluated four massages. The massage therapists and professionals at Spa at The Carneros Inn met or exceeded the rating standards in each category. The reservations process was helpful, friendly and prompt. The client was interviewed at the time reservations were made as to desired pressure and prior injuries, which streamlined the waiting room experience.

The waiting room was pleasantly decorated with comfortable chairs, and clients were offered a choice between lemon-infused water or iced tea. Changing rooms were clean and had lockers and well-lit showers; clients were offered the use of a wet and dry sauna. The massage room was spacious, tastefully lit, nicely decorated in white and beige tones, and maintained at a proper temperature. Music during the massage was soothing and set at an appropriate volume. The massage table was spacious with a comfortable face cradle, and bolsters were used throughout the massage. High-quality linens were used and proper draping techniques were employed throughout the sessions.

The massages treatments, two conventional and two stone massages, were of the highest quality. For the stone treatment, 46 smooth, round, balsite stones of different sizes were used. The stones were heated and used in different ways to assist the massage. The session started with the client face-up with heated stones placed along both sides of the spine. The therapist used smooth, heated stones for deeper pressure in some areas; warm stones were placed in each of the client's hands and on the stomach chakra. The relaxation and therapeutic effects of the stone massage were remarkable, and the four massage sessions focused on the client's issues that were brought up in the original reservation interview. Additionally, the massage therapists requested feedback during the massages and adjusted techniques as necessary.

Aromatherapy was offered, as were aroma options for both the massage and relaxation-facial oils. Following the treatments, the clients were offered scented water and iced tea. These four massages made an outstanding impression and each had long-lasting effects. This is precisely what the spa massage experience could and should be.

Interview With Jeannie Jarnot
Spa Director at Spa at The Carneros Inn

Spa Therapy (ST): Congratulations to you and your staff on receiving the Best Spa Massage Award from Massage Today and SpaTherapy.com.

Jeannie Jarnot (JJ): We are very honored to have been selected by Massage Today as having the best massage. We are so proud of our bodyworkers and recognize the incredible talent they possess. It is a true gift to be a massage therapist, and we are so proud that you have recognized our gifted staff. Thank you.

ST: How long have you been the spa director at The Carneros Inn? What is your professional background?

JJ: I was the pre-opening spa director and have been here since June 2004. I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where resort life was all I knew. I knew when I was very young that I wanted to work in the hospitality industry. I studied hotel management at Cornell University. I started out in food and beverage, and quickly realized it wasn't the healthiest department to be working in. I really wanted to make a difference in people's lives and found that it was possible in the spa industry.

Sometimes you actually have the opportunity to help someone. I began as the assistant spa director at The Norwich Inn and Spa in Norwich, Conn. I then moved to the West Coast where I became the assistant spa director at The Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley, Calif. Next, I became the spa director at The Sports Club/LA Splash at The Four Seasons in San Francisco. Finally, I moved to wine country to be in beautiful Carneros.

ST: What do you find most rewarding about being the spa director at The Carneros Inn?

JJ: In general, I love creating a positive, healthy work environment. It is where I feel I get to make the biggest difference for people, my staff. I love that we make people happy all day long. We are in the business of making people feel good...what could be better than that?

ST: What typical challenges do you face?

JJ: Everyday is a challenge. Managing so many different types of people, your peers, upper management, the corporate office, the spa attendants, the front desk agents and the therapists. You need a different hat for each group. It keeps you on your toes, that's for sure.

ST: What direction do you think the spa industry will take over the next few years?

JJ: I think resort spas will level out. They need to be really well versed in the basics. I think clients who enjoy massage are becoming more educated, and the level of education that the therapists need will increase. I think, overall, the spa goers' expectations from massage therapists will increase and they will seek out really proficient therapists.

ST: How many treatment rooms does the spa have?

JJ: Seven indoor treatment rooms and four outdoor treatment rooms.

ST: Tell me about the water features of the spa.

JJ: We are building a customized hydrotherapy tub called The Huichica Creek bath. It is a hydrotherapy tub that simulates the feeling of lying in a gentle creek, but it has therapeutic jets. The bath is lined with creek stones and will truly be a one-of- a-kind water feature. We have a spectacular co-ed outdoor hot tub seating eight that overlooks the Mayacamas Mountains. It has an infinity edge that literally pours you into the vineyards. We have a steam room and sauna in both the men's and women's locker rooms. The steam room is filled with organic herbs daily: lemongrass, sage and rosemary.

ST: What are some of your other unique spa amenities?

JJ: Wonderful Red Flower brand amenities; we feature their decadent Italian Blood Orange scent, luxurious logo robes, robe warmers in each treatment room, oil warmers in the rooms, heated massage tables, and hot towels in every massage.

ST: The signature bodywork treatments correspond to the environmental surroundings of the Inn: The Harvests, The Farms, The Minerals, and The Cellars. Are any of the ingredients used in the treatments harvested locally?

JJ: The olives from the olive oil used in the Orchard Olive Stone and Honeydew Exfoliation are grown in Carneros; the oil is processed in Carneros. The grape seeds used in the Grape Seed and Guava treatments are from the Napa region, and the goat's milk that we use is custom blended right here.

ST: Can you talk a little about some of the most popular bodywork treatments?

JJ: Our Soothing Goat Butter Wrap followed by our Warm Goat Butter Massage is one of my very favorites. Our wrap begins with a brief dry brush exfoliation. Then, we apply a warm goat cream that includes rosehip oil, goat butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil, and aloe vera infused with chamomile. We wrap you for about 20 minutes and massage your scalp and feet as the goat cream absorbs fully into your skin. We then unwrap you and pour warm goat's milk with honey all over your body. This wrap melts tensions and really prepares the muscles before a massage. Continuing the treatment with a massage is my advice.

Our new Red Flower Body Ritual Massage is a two-hour body ritual that takes place in the privacy of a guest cottage. It uses the incredible Japanese Bathhouse-inspired products developed by Red Flower, and the scents layer beautifully. It begins with a hot shower in your outdoor shower using a Yuzu and Mimosa Sea Algae Wash. It is followed by a scrub with an Ohana Gingergrass Bamboo Scrub, a buffing with a Cherry Blossom Rice Buff, and misting with a Plum Wine Soft Water Mist. Then there is a long massage with a Wild Lime Kinmoxei oil that incorporates some traditional Japanese massage strokes along with plenty of time for the therapist to give a therapeutic massage. It is amazing.

ST: What percentage of your services involves massage or bodywork? How important is massage therapy to your spa's business?

JJ: Seventy-five percent of services involve massage. Our number one treatment in the spa is a therapeutic massage - it always has been and it always will be. There is no replacing a good massage.

ST: Does the spa employ its massage therapists? If so, what kind of benefits package do the therapists receive? How are therapists compensated?

JJ: Eight therapists are on staff [as] employees. In addition to employee discounts, trading with other therapists, and meals in our family dining hall, all therapists who maintain 30 hours per week are offered a full health benefits package, vacation, holiday and sick time. They receive an hourly rate plus a treatment rate. All tips go directly to them. We add a 20 percent gratuity on all group appointments.

ST: As a spa director, what do you look for in a massage therapist?

JJ: I look for that ability to connect with a diverse clientele. I look for therapists who have a balance of Eastern and Western education, and mostly I look for therapists who truly love giving massage. Giving a massage needs to make them happy. If it doesn't, there is an ingredient missing.

ST: What have you found is the best method for recruiting massage therapists?

JJ: Having the best work environment for them to work in. The word spreads in the massage community. If you have a good work environment, they will want to work for you and you will have no shortage of good therapists applying at your spa.

ST: Thank you so much for your time, Jeannie, and congratulations again to Spa at The Carneros Inn.

Editor's Note: Read Jeannie Jarnot's article, "What Does a Spa Director Look for in Professional Massage Therapists?" at www.spatherapy.com/education/practice/jarnot.php.









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Date Last Modified - Wednesday, 17-Dec-2008 12:35:25 PDT