A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
In September 2001, Eric Fishman was far from the sunny skies of his Tampa home but nearing his light-bulb moment. Eric was checking in on one of his investments, a tanning salon in Los Angeles, when 9/11 put a halt on all flights and caused him to spend some extra time in the storefront. As days passed, he watched celebrity after celebrity stroll into the brilliant blue box that was Mystic Tan's trademark and emerge looking as though they'd spent a day on the beach or a millisecond on Mars.
Within months, Eric and his partner established one of the few Mystic Tan boutiques in Florida. The advanced airbrush technology stirred up demand and delivered 9,000 tans in the first year, with clients driving in from other towns to test the UV-free mists. Soleil Tanning Boutique now spills over into two locations, each trimmed in modern beach décor and stacked with one Mystic Tan booth and six powerful UV beds so that clients can achieve their ideal bronze.