As a trained image consultant with an MBA of her own, Venice Salon and Spa owner Tahita Doyle knows the power of appearance. "It's about having confidence," she says. Tucked within Houston's business district, Venice Salon and Spa offers a serene retreat from the bustle of the city. Understanding that many of their clients are working professionals who have limited time between meetings and executive-level karate matches that determine who gets the corner office, nail technicians quickly and expertly gussy up extremities using OPI and Shellac polishes. Meanwhile, hairstylists wield scissors, blow dyers, and Schwarzkopf salon-exclusive styling products to create new looks.
First health, then wellness–that's the goal of the medical professionals at Meridian Family Medical Associates. With its wide range of services—which run the gamut from pediatrics to geriatrics and cosmetic injections to personal injury—Meridian's practitioners first treats illness and discomfort, then guide patients to increased health through its wellness program. They also offer weight-management and nutritional counseling, aiding patients in struggles against unwanted bulk and efforts to preserve their newly slimmed silhouettes through healthy eating habits.
The bodywork experts at Health Masters Clinic of Massage Therapy are trained in a wide array of massage modalities that all share a common goal—to relax the body and shoo stress from the mind. Their services include classic Swedish and deep-tissue massage, along with myofascial release and craniosacral massage. Sports massage soothes ailments such as tennis elbow and badminton knee, while prenatal massage helps ease the aches of mothers-to-be. They also offer full-body scrubs and aromatherapy facials, which leave pores clean and noses happy.
Elan's trained aestheticians pamper bodies in sumptuous, bright confines that feature Italian-marble floors and antique furniture gathered from overseas. Plush and ornate chairs cradle clients as they unwind with sips of champagne, mimosas, or wine beneath sunlight streaming through Southeast Asian silk curtains. Each mani-pedi sinks extremities into a cuticle-softening soak, dissolving tension in preparation for an invigorating massage. Nail artists shape digit hats into flattering shapes or mathematician-attracting octagons, brushing them with a single polish or capping them with a french white accent. Scents of jasmine and rose waft into noses while hands soften under an aromatic paraffin mask. A marine-mask foot wrap, complete with warmed towels for both legs and feet, soothes lower limbs weary from standing, step dancing, or kicking horns out of the hands of obnoxious clowns. Elan also supports charity work by contributing profits from its services to missionary work in Southeast Asia.
Rumor Has It Nail Spa's staff soothes and cossets the body and skin of its clients with a selection of beautifying spa services. Patrons can treat frazzled faces with a 30-minute facial treatment, utilizing Dermalogica products to cleanse and scrub visages free of microscopic skin-cell graffiti, to extract lurking beasties (as needed), to soothe skin with a mask, and to pamper it with toner and skin protection. The Rush Hour mani-pedi option drenches dehydrated digits in an aromatherapy green-tea soak to infuse skin with concentrated antioxidants for a toned, rejuvenated feel. Fingers and toes coast on further waves of relaxation with a warm-towel service.
A collection of vibrant, abstract paintings brighten the white corridors of Urban Oasis Day Spa, where aestheticians engage in a similar curatorial enterprise during the design of their skincare treatments. Each regime for face or body starts with the client and is built for his or her skin type. Technicians use tonics from notable brands or unusual techniques, such as galvanic electrocurrent therapy, which is integrated into every facial. Dermalogica tonics exfoliate with lightweight, natural vegetable oils rather than mineral oil and hydrate with aromatic essential oils and silk proteins synthesized by Barry White's vocal chords. The team also polishes complexions with the SkinCeuticals product line, favoring a serum that earned Allure magazine's 2011 Best of Beauty Award for Best Anti-Aging Antioxidant.
The spa evokes the elegance of a gallery, not only through its modern art but also through its high ceilings and a minimalist design scheme rendered in cream. Skin becomes a canvas in private chambers, where it may be primed for display with wax, bronzer, or a critique by a Village Voice writer. For special events, the pedicure hall's porcelain foot basins can be filled with flower petals, and the shimmering fabric banners separating each throne lose their functionality and appear solely as savvy, refined decorating.