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 the 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 spray tan skin and massage muscles, while teeth-whitening kits brighten chompers.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that 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.
Planet Beach is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the services. These friendly automatons facilitate everything from hydro massages and oxygen therapy to spray tanning and luminous facials, as well as Planet Beach's signature take on tantastic UV therapy. Each machine is designed for a specific service, which makes it the ultimate expert and keeps it from developing the ability to cry. Advanced spa services, such as hydro-derma fusion, sauna time, hydro massage ($40 per session), and luminous facials ($40 per session) provide opportunities for sweating, moisturizing, and photoskinthesis.
Though the bright colors and mod furniture of South Beach Tanning’s numerous salons may tempt clients to kick back for hours, that’s not the staff’s goal. Instead, they strive to provide swift, hassle-free tans that get clients out the door quickly to enjoy the day. Each of the chain’s salons boasts a floor plan that is twice as large as the average tanning salon, which increases the likelihood that a bed will be free and therefore reduces annoying wait times. Guests can choose from five tiers of UV beds, whose successive levels beget increased bulb output and more amenities to imbue swifter, more comfortable tans. For a UV-free glow, customers can opt to hop in the salon’s automated VersaSpa booths, which guide jets of pigmented formula from head to toe in only 46 seconds to grant a look as summery as boat sails composed of stitched-together bikinis.
What would make the owner of a successful tanning salon consider selling his business to a 20-year-old upstart? Robert Paolini may have been young, but he’d earned his bronze-colored stripes; since he was 16 years old, he’d worked long hours at the salon, and his friendly manner put customers at ease. When the sale fell through, Robert put together his own business plan, gathered investors—some of whom were former tanning clients—and opened his own salon, The Hot Spot Tanning Co.
The salon has since weathered a boom in the tanning business, and Robert attributes the company’s survival to an amicable staff, who have created an atmosphere he compares to the show Cheers. “People who tan visit the salon three to four times a week, more often than they go to the grocery store,” says Robert. “They want to go where they feel comfortable.” So in each private room, tanners can stow their gear safely on sturdy shelves, hang clothing on hooks, and refresh after sessions with deodorant, makeup remover, and hand wipes.
Warm-skinned patrons slip from high-pressure tanning booths, which coax out melanin with lights designed to avert burns and lend credence to claims that one is a model in a water-wings catalog. Against the hushed hiss of a Mystic Tan booth, Robert presides over a selection of supplements, sports drinks, and shakes, and draws on a certification in sports nutrition while guiding clients through health and weight-loss programs.
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SolarTan bronzes physiques with spray tanning, UV tanning, or tan cocktails that combine the two. Custom spray tans mist patrons in formulae from Mystic HD and Infinity Sun, and UV beds—crafted by Italian brand Sportarredo—brown skin more evenly than sunbathing or sticking your arm into a paper bag. Clients seeking to intensify their glows can shop shelves for tanning lotions, crafted by brands such as Australian Gold, Caribbean Gold, and Swedish Beauty.