Walking into the front lobby of Ole Henriksen Spa gives you a sense of compactness. There are a handful of chairs in front of the wooden desk and shelves are stocked with bottles and containers of skin care products and creams. It’s not a wide-open space.
Once you go past the doors into the spa itself, you’re greeted with two hallways that have numerous rooms shooting off them, and all of a sudden, it expands and shifts before your eyes. The lighting changes from business lobby white to warm and meditative honey orange; you immediately feel plunged into some kind of hidden recess that wasn’t visible to the outside world, a cavern many aren’t aware of. It’s a drastic departure from the active bustle of Sunset Plaza.
“The goal,” says Vance Soto, Owner and President of the Ole Henriksen Spa since 2012, “is to provide a place where people can come and let go. They can get away from their jobs, their stress. They can put their phones down and just be taken care of for a while.”
Indeed, the spa has been doing just that since 1975 in its Beverly Hills location, where it stayed for more than 20 years before moving to Sunset Plaza.
Vance’s journey included ups and downs, riches and poverty, gain and loss. After losing his business and his home in the financial crisis, he was left couch surfing without adequate money to put food on any table. In the middle of that valley of life, and thanks to the kindness of a friend, Vance was treated to a day at the spa. Simply put, it changed him.
“It let me relax for the first time in a long time. I felt rejuvenated, like my vitality returned. Without exaggeration – it inspired me to change my life and make different choices,” he said.
That inspiration led to his involvement in the spa and salon industry. He saw an opportunity to transfer that feeling he had to the public. His mantra is that you can only be of service to others when you feel good about yourself. Take care of yourself, he says, and you’ll be able to take care of whoever else you want.
Revitalization is a big draw of Ole Henriksen Spa. As humans, we depend on touch for affection, reassurance, comfort, and relaxation. The highly trained experts at the spa fulfill that basic human need – and make sure you’re in a comfortable space while they do it.
There are a number of rooms that serve different purposes in the spa. Spacious locker rooms allow men and women to prep themselves, store their belongings, apply products, and view the effects of treatments.
In the middle of everything is the meditation room, a small enclosure with soft mood music on repeat overhead. The tunes seem to come from the hanging plants themselves, which are housed in glass bowls. The wall evokes classic outdoor architecture with bricks of varying size and depth, and more ferns and plants sit atop the wall, near the ceiling. Here, you can sit and spend time with yourself before or after a treatment.
In the wet room, the massage tables are situated directly next to the shower. Yet these showers are not what you’d find in any regular spa – they’re elevated high to simulate the effects of an Indonesian rain shower. This is a revisitation to nature, a reminder that water is the source of life.
Moroccan Bath Room
The Moroccan baths allow individuals or couples to sink into a soothing bath, the water of which is illuminated with deep red lights. The walls are adorned with a number of candles to give off an ambiance found in few other places. The stone exterior of the tubs is as old world as you can get, and the experience is traditional.
Treatment rooms have various tables with updated technology, massage guns, rollers, essential oils, and more. They’re used for traditional massages, deep-tissue massages, and more. Each room is private and offers a one-on-one experience to fully satisfy a client’s needs.
As with any business built for beauty and bodily care, Ole Henriksen Spa places the utmost focus on the client. Each visit involves a consultation to determine the client’s skin care routine and find out what products are being used. The body’s needs are assessed and the client’s desires are considered. Certain products are recommended based on skin condition and other factors (time of year, age, and more). Diet is also discussed, as what you put into your body has a direct effect on how the exterior looks. This type of process is holistic in a way, and the goal for each client is very simple.
Vance says, “We want our clients to leave happy. That sounds cliché, but it really is the greatest gift we can give. Glowing skin and the release of tension are wonderful, but the happiness that comes with them is powerful.”
The happiness that comes from a treatment at Ole Henriksen can last for days or weeks. Many clients schedule weekly visits, while others come in bi-weekly or monthly. Of course, because of the wide array of services, clients will try new treatments and see what they like. Treatments are customized if the team feels the client has very specific needs.
“Our needs, and our body’s needs, evolve over time,” Vance says. He also stresses the importance of maintenance – the spa is a place where clients can come to relax, but also stay relaxed.
Setting a New Standard
Ole Henriksen underwent renovations in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the closure of many businesses. Vance took the opportunity to actualize the restructuring and changes he envisioned for some time. Various rooms were updated; opaque mirrors were installed; flooring was redone; more plants were given a home. The treatments that everyone loves to get didn’t go anywhere, but rooms were certainly upgraded and updated.
Perhaps the most notable addition to the spa is not a physical facelift, but a service addition. Ole Henriksen Spa now offers house calls, bringing the experience straight to your home. Price points are higher and safety protocols are increased, but the option is available for those who want to stay in the comfort of their homes while feeling rejuvenated.
Moving Forward but Staying Put
Sunset Plaza has been the home of Ole Henriksen Spa for a number of years, and there are no plans to uproot. Other spas have come and gone; competitors have risen up and mimicked what Ole Henriksen does, but have folded thereafter. Ultimately, Ole Henriksen Spa has remained a staple fixture on Sunset because of their dedication to clients and the innovation of their treatments. Vance is constantly researching new skincare products and even has his own line debuting. He keeps an eye on the rest of the industry to see what works, what trends, what’s becoming popular, and what’s falling off. One thing is for sure – there’s something for everyone at Ole Henriksen Spa.