Celebrity Spa Ole Henriksen Reveals Renovations

After nearly two years of a pandemic and wearing masks, most of us could probably use a makeover. No one knows this better than Vance Soto, president, and owner of the Ole Henriksen Spa in West Hollywood, California. A celebrity hotspot, boasting devotees including Vanessa Hudgens, Kris Jenner, and Malin Ackerman, the pandemic was the perfect time for the spa to undergo renovations. Eighty percent of the space was completely renovated to give customers the kind of experience they’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. 

I recently spoke with Soto about the connection between interior design and relaxation, renovating during the pandemic, and remaining true to a brand through design.

A Dreamy Spa

While many people planning to renovate anything use Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration, the overall concept for the spa’s new look came to Soto in of all things, a dream. “In my dream, there was a beautiful couples suite with glowing beds and white wave walls, same with the wet rooms, and the space was much more open and lighter-toned,” he tells me. “It felt like in my dream, that a beautiful five-star resort spa and a local day spa had a baby.” 

But as dreamy as this vision was, renovating a spa requires many practical decisions. So Soto asked his partner Chris Bair, who “has an amazing eye for detail,” and the interior designer Laurence Roberts, who is also the husband of Ole Henriksen for some help. “It’s very interesting to take a space that was built from the ground up decades ago with a clear vision and then try to improve it without starting from scratch. Once you change this now— this over here stands out etc.”


The goal was to modernize the spa while maintaining the natural environment, especially because so many natural elements are used in Ole Henriksen’s services. Still, Soto wanted to remain true to his dream. “Since much of it came to me in a dream, I also wanted the couples suites for massages and facials to feel ‘dreamy’ or ‘dream-like’ and that is where the amazing white wave walls come in and the blue LED lighting accents,” he tells me.

While these spaces have a wow factor, they’re also designed to induce a state of relaxation, according to Soto. “Our therapists have also told us that working in these rooms now also gives them a huge sense of relaxation, and actually improves their mood. It’s proven that certain lighting conditions help us to relax. So our goal was to also improve the space not only for the guest, but also for our team. We are in the business of relaxation, serenity, and beauty. So, we lead our design with these pillars in mind.”

The Shower Room

The room that became the shower room was originally two separate spaces. But Soto chose to combine them because he wanted couples to be able to experience the service together. The wall features curvy white wave tiles along with blue LED lighting. “The showers over the treatment tables are unique because they are in the ceiling versus a normal Vichy shower. We wanted to create a ‘tropical rain rinse’ as if you were outside enjoying a rainstorm. Our tropical rain rinse is so popular, that even Katy Perry comes in for that, and it’s one of her favorite parts of the wet room experience,” he reveals.

One interesting design feature of the room is that guests can choose any color light they want for the accent wall. “We go with our standard blue but some guests prefer red, purple, etc,” explains Soto.

There was no detail overlooked, even down to the Living Earth Crafts treatment tables. “We really made a conscious effort to modernize and glamorize, but also wanted to keep this space functional.” 

The Facial Room

The facial rooms were among the first spaces renovated with functionality as a top priority. “You’ll notice you don’t see much on the counters and that is because everything is in pull-out drawers. We wanted clean lines and clean spaces from the client’s perspective. Therefore, everything is hidden,” says Soto.

The room also features a mother of pearl accented wall that has been such a favorite that clients have even re-created in their own homes. 

The Importance Of Lighting 

One of the most important elements when creating a relaxing space is lighting. “Ambiance and environment are massive components to creating a spa space. We wanted it to maintain the warmth but also the glow via the lighting. Everyone comments on our lighting whether it’s the lighting down the hallways or the lighting in the treatment rooms. With the advancements in LED lighting, you can really get creative and get any color or tone you prefer,” shares Soto. 

“If you think about airlines and how they have incorporated certain colors, it’s because of relaxation. The warm glow is almost fairytale-like and it never gets old. Take that component and infuse all the natural elements throughout like wood, pearl, etc. and it creates that beautiful relaxing space.”

Covid Challenges

Like any business or anyone renovating during this time period, Covid caused a variety of challenges. This is partially because the renovations were planned prior to the pandemic and started the month of the shutdown. “Everything was drastically prolonged and we had no idea when we would be re-opening. It was a very scary time and we had to open and close four times. Every time we would open [the local government] would close our industry weeks later. We were always the first to be required to close and last to be able to re-open.”

The supply chain was another issue that had to be dealt with. Still, Soto and his team did their best to maintain a positive outlook. “I believe resourcefulness and tenacity can get you very far in life. Even in a pandemic. So I went into that mindset, and we got very creative to get things done.”

The Tycoon Herald