On a recent afternoon, I found myself basking poolside as my toenails received a fiery red polish job; later on, under the Los Angeles night sky, the esthetician Camille Fields revitalized my complexion after months of neglect with a handful of Biologique Recherche products and gentle, gloved hands. No, this was not a pre-pandemic fantasy, but rather just a sampling of Ricari Reset, a three-day wellness retreat helmed by Ricari Studios’s Anna Zahn.
When California Governor Gavin Newsom halted indoor personal care services in March—and then again in July—Zahn, whose next-gen lymphatic drainage treatment has become a fast-favorite among Manhattanites and Angelenos alike, became determined to stay in business: “I was sitting there, thinking ‘Closing isn’t an option,’” recalls Zahn. Instead, she continues, “I realized that we just needed an outdoor space.” It was a lightbulb moment that led her to bring her signature octopus-like icoone machine—along with a handful of carefully chosen estheticians—for an indefinite stay at the Santa Monica Proper hotel.
The result is an artist-in-residency of sorts, except replace ceramicists with body sculptors, such as the masseuse Ruben Pietro and the Pilates instructor Katie Rayle, and painters with the likes of the Chanel-backed brow whiz Jimena Garcia—all of whom wear masks and abide by necessary COVID-19 protocols. (Add-on services, such as Iván Pol’s hi-tech tightening facial and an integrative reading with the Hadid sisters’ go-to astrologer are also on offer.) Upon check-in, guests are welcomed into their Kelly Wearstler-designed rooms with a host of pick-me-ups (think: Costa Brazil’s new detoxifying Brazilian clay bath salts and a pack of Kin Euphorics’s feel-good spritzes.)
Luxurious? Of course. But in the face of the pandemic, the experience has become downright transformative for many. “I ran into clients who were moving through their treatments with such wonder and deep gratitude for something they haven’t had for so long,” says Zahn. I can attest: After half a year of being stuck in a small apartment with my significant other, carving out the space to take care of myself—and have myself taken care of!—was nothing short of a godsend. “I think culturally we’ve relegated these services as being trivial [and] not needed, but I would argue that self-care and pleasure is necessary and worth valuing, even in the midst of a crisis,” she adds.
Best of all? As future retreats—with new lineups and new locales—are already in the works, Ricari Reset may soon be landing in a city near you (and the studio’s treatment continues to be on offer a la carte at the Proper). Staycations, it seems, just got a serious upgrade.