Verena Lasvigne-Fox and Rashia Bell are the new rock stars of the city’s wellness scene.
Bing! The faint sound of a bell rings out across the pool and relaxation lounge at the lofty new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia Spa (One N. 19th St., 215.419.9000, fourseasons.com/philadelphia). Spa director Verena Lasvigne-Fox emerges from around a corner cradling a heavy white bowl. Next to her is Rashia Bell, the spa’s resident crystal healer, holding a similar bowl in the palest shade of pink. Bell gently taps a slim glass wand against the bowl’s thick edge. Bing! A higher-pitched refrain picks up where the other melody trailed off. It’s a few weeks before the hotel’s Aug. 12 opening and Lasvigne-Fox and Bell are testing out the spa’s new crystal singing bowls, which will be used to signal the beginning and end of every treatment at the expansive 57th-floor sanctuary-in-the-sky.
“For me, it was very important to give the spa an identity and a soul,” says Lasvigne-Fox, who was born in Germany and has worked at Four Seasons hotels in Paris, Marrakech and Seychelles since 2003. “Crystals have an ancient tradition and are so present today.” They also have a direct correlation to the spa’s home inside the Comcast Technology Center, she says. “Crystals are used in technology, and technology is the foundation of this building. It’s clearly a yin and yang, the idea of high tech versus high touch.”
The Four Seasons team was so committed to the concept that they embedded 700 pounds of crystals into the walls of the spa. That’s where Bell, who consults with Four Seasons Hotel Downtown New York through her crystal-healing company, The Cristalline, came in. The Philly native and former Pennsylvania Ballet dancer went to work packing obsidian stones into the wall by the gym to help absorb electromagnetic frequency and calming elements like rose quartz and green calcite around the treatment rooms. Bell says the crystal craze reflects society’s collective desire to disconnect from technology and get outdoors.
“We spend less and less time with nature,” she says. “I just came back from Vermont, where I was in the mountains, and the air was fresh and it was peaceful. I can’t do that every day. Crystals are a way of bringing natural elements indoors.”
Lasvigne-Fox is quick to point out that there’s much more to the spa experience here than crystals. Guests can engage with that aspect of the spa menu as much or as little as they like. Several first-to-Philadelphia skincare brands have pride of place in the chic boutique. There’s organic salves from May Lindstrom; a suite of products for darker skin tones (another Philly first) from Dr. Barbara Sturm; and the Australian brand VITAMAN, tailored to gentleman. European guests will recognize Dr. Burgener Switzerland, a premium line crafted from natural ingredients and rooted in science that includes two exclusive products only available in Philly.
“I’ve worked all over the world,” says Lasvigne-Fox. “The Philadelphia market was an opportunity to create something new and different.”
Photography by: Photo by Dave Moser