Insider's Guide to Spas
The lobby of Argentta Spa at The Watergate Hotel. The hotel will host the 2017 WSPA Symposium.

Hotels

Argentta Spa at the Watergate Hotel

Bernard Burt


Celebrating a return to elegance in Washington, DC, the sparkling new Argentta Spa at the Watergate Hotel will host its gala opening March 20th.  I had a preview, anticipating the Washington Spa Alliance’s annual Symposium set for the same date. Seeds of design planted on the Potomac shore have blossomed from international roots.

When the iconic Watergate hotel was built 50 years ago, spas were unknown in the city. No hotel had a spa, and day spas did not exist. Thanks to architect Luigi Moretti in Rome, an indoor swimming pool enhanced the hotel. Now his apprentice, Israeli designer Ron Arad transformed the hotel with a mix of contemporary and mid-century style.

The pool emerged as the centerpiece of Argentta Spa (Italian for silver) and sets the look of luxury.

Washington hasn’t seen anything like it. As a charter member in the 1970s, I had massages and my first aerobic exercise. There was a sauna where political debates involved celebrity journalists, and a coffee lounge for gossip. That was it.

Silver tiles reflect patterned walls bursting into bloom. Color enchants your eyes: lavish floral displays, elevators with luminous walls, sunlight streams in from above. Treatments by Caudalie add scents of Bordeaux and Champagne; natural products by red flower are selected for sensitive skin; from Switzerland comes Cellcosmet, a new generation of cellular skin care for men and women.

Washington hasn’t seen anything like it. As a charter member in the 1970s, I had massages and my first aerobic exercise. There was a sauna where political debates involved celebrity journalists, and a coffee lounge for gossip. That was it. The new 12,500-square-foot complex includes TechnoGym’s latest exercise equipment, Ghareni maincure/pedicure “thrones” and heated massage tables, and a lift in the whirlpool.

New infrastructure features salt filters in the swimming pool (eliminating chlorine odor), a spacious gym, locker rooms with steam rooms and showers, co-ed sauna, smallish lockers and heavy robes, seven treatment rooms, and a relaxation lounge.

The menu of spa services refreshes body and soul. New spa director Stephanie Rest suggested a couture facial for my first visit. After a cleansing scrub, facialist Ludmila Milic suggested Cellmen clay mask followed by herbal moisturizer. Meanwhile, hands and scalp were massaged. This two-hour experience costs $320 weekdays,$350 weekends, plus gratuity and tax. The glow lasted a week.

The Argentta Spa is central to making the Watergate Hotel an urban resort. According to director of design Rakel Cohen, members will enjoy lifestyle events. Since the hotel’s $125-million makeover by Euro Capital Properties, the legend is alive and well.

Bernard Burt

Bernard Burt

Health challenges led spa historian Bernard Burt to Canyon Ranch in Arizona, inspiring his 1986 book "Fodor's Healthy Escapes" for Random House. The co-author of "100 Best Spas of the World" (Globe Pequot), his byline has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Health, Spa Management Journal, and on Examiner.com. Based in Washington, DC, Burt is chairman emeritus of the Washington Spa Alliance and founding director of the International Spa Association.