The Interior Design Move That Adds Luxury And Always Gets Noticed
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The Interior Design Move That Adds Luxury And Always Gets Noticed

Our experts’ advice: Spring for soft colour in a glossy finish on your ceiling.

By Elizabeth Sweet
Wed, Jul 13, 2022 11:14amGrey Clock 3 min

IF YOU’RE LOOKING to put a room’s décor over the top, lacquer up, say interior design pros. The multi-layered technique yields a mirror-like finish, and when applied to a ceiling, says interior designer Mary Beth Wagner, it brings dynamism and texture to the space. “People notice an interesting detail above because, for the most part, there usually isn’t one,” said the Dallas, Texas, pro. “Most ceilings are white.” Here, Mrs. Wagner and other interiors experts weigh in on what the design move entails, and why you should consider it.

The Appeal: If you want to elevate a space and brim with decorating confidence, says Mrs. Wagner, look to your ceiling, a surface typically taken for granted. In the coming months, the designer plans to coat the ceiling of a client’s dining room in a deep-blue lacquer, with walls of pale blue Venetian plaster. As afternoons wind down in the Lexington, Ky., home of Matthew Carter, the interior designer admires the sinking sun’s reflections on the “fifth wall” of his recently repainted living room, the lacquered ceiling shown right. “It’s a little bit of drama,” he said. Mr. Carter had lived for a year with matte pink overhead, and though he loved the pale hue, “it needed a pick-me-up.” So he colour-matched the existing shade to a Fine Paints of Europe hyper-gloss (similar in colour to Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground). Its reflective sheen conferred glamour on the entire room. “Everyone comments on it,” he said.

New York City-based interior designer Elizabeth Bolognino lacquered a barely-there peach onto the ceiling of her client’s Manhattan dining room. The impact floored her. “It’s not a bright colour,” she said. “It’s more of this curious little accent, but it plays a big role.”

Both designers wax lyrical about lacquer’s mirroring prowess. During the day, reflections stretch and bend; come evening, flickers of candle- and lamplight sparkle back reflectively. Even wall art gets a boost, said Mr. Carter. “Lacquer enhances the room as a whole and makes you more aware of the backgrounds,” he said, letting art pop.

The Tips: Also known as an automotive or museum finish, true lacquer isn’t an easy fix. But the many-layered process of repeated sanding and polishing pays off. When fully cured, “it looks like glass,” Ms. Bolognino said, watery and gleaming. The technique yields more depth and “wow” than simple high-gloss paint does, said Mr. Carter, noting that some find the effect addictive. If you’re tempted to douse a whole room in the shine, stand down, he says: “It can be too much of a good thing.” Besides, it’s the contrast of painted plaster and a glossy sheen that heightens the effect.

For a larger ceiling, try an uplifting but non-oppressive pale blue, shell pink or ivory lacquer, counsels Mr. Carter. If you want to start small, consider the ceiling of a jewel-box room—a foyer bath or a hidden-away butler’s pantry. In tighter quarters, even an emerald green or saturated yellow won’t overwhelm, he adds.

The Caveats: “There is definitely a price to be paid,” conceded Ms. Bolognino. Applying a lacquer finish is an endeavour best left to a professional. In the Midwest, a 12×15 ceiling will set you back approx. $9300 (or approx. $51 a square foot), reports Mike Foley, of Chicago’s DiVinci Painters. Prices are even steeper on the coasts, he says, averaging around $90 a square foot versus $1.50 for matte. Expect mess and a few weeks of fumes. “Generally speaking, most people tolerate it well when site protection is utilised,” Mr. Foley said, referring to dust- and fume-collecting machines, among other precautions. Fortunately, most people who opt for the specialty finish ultimately feel it’s well worth the cost and tussle, said Mrs. Wagner: “It’s a conversation starter.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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