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Management Practices

Be an Escape Artist

Stacey Soble | May 2, 2017 | 5:59 PM
A real metal key was such a novelty.
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In the afternoon, the Staypineapple's lobby hosts a cupcake reception.
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Located in the historic Burnham building in Chicago, some of the Staypineapple's rooms have the original office doors.
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With a small donation to the Humane Society, the friendly huskey Dash is ready to go home with you.
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An invitation I found hard to resist for long on a blustery Chicago evening.
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The beds were made up European style with two feather duvets.
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For those confused about how to sleep European style, the bed came with directions.
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The pineapple-colored seersucker robe came with a warning, "Don't open the door naked!"
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Wrapped in yellow with a pineapple sticker, even the toilet paper was friendly.
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Is it just me, or does life seem a little more complicated these days? Daily headlines seem louder, everyone’s expectations seem higher, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to find the balance between our professional and personal lives. Sometimes we don’t know how much we need a break from life’s stresses, until we unexpectedly find ourselves enjoying one.

That happened to me during a one-night stay at boutique hotel with a funny name—the Staypineapple in Chicago, Illinois. Honestly, I booked the night on Expedia because it was one of the least expensive hotel rooms with a high rating in an area where I needed to stay. But as it turned out, every moment of my stay reminded me to slow down and enjoy the journey.

When I checked in, the front desk attendant handed me a real metal key and invited me to enjoy coffee and the afternoon cupcake service. My room was small, but brightly lit and welcoming with a modern gray décor punctuated with lemon yellow.

Everywhere I looked the room spoke to me through its own quirky sense of humor. An oversized pillow on the bed was embroidered with a pineapple and the phrase “Sleep with Me,” while a friendly stuffed Husky pup invited me to take him home with a donation to the Humane Society. The bed came with instructions—a placard walked me through how to sleep European style with the double duvet comforters that promised to remind me of my childhood blankie. And, the yellow Seersucker robe came with a warning-- “Don’t answer the door naked!”
With each delightful discovery, I found myself slowly unwinding and losing myself to the experience. And, that’s the exact reaction you want each client to have when they visit your salon.

While judging this year’s SALONS OF THE YEAR we discovered a plethora of thoughtful touches that create a welcoming experience for salon and spa clients. There were VIP rooms with private entrances, color bars that invited guests to the creative process, personal touches like purse hooks and phone-charging outlets at stations, outside terraces where clients can enjoy lunch with a view, and photo areas where the newly styled can capture and share their great new looks.

Thoughtful interior design encourages clients on an experiential journey. Take the Champagne Nail Lounge in Los Angeles, California. Owner Tommy Le gave designers Soheila Adl and Elizabeth Troitsky at AT Design specific directions that he didn’t want his resulting salon to resemble any other nail salon, but really wanted the design to transport clients into a lush lounge where women would gather for high-end cocktails.

Through a whimsical sense of humor, clients discover subtle references to champagne bubbles in the lounge’s design. The glass used in the reception desk encases sparkling bubbles, and the backdrop behind the desk suspends chrome spheres on vertical strands. Wood dividers with a reversed bubble pattern help separate the nail area from the reception space, and the Maya Romanoff wall covering features larges circles. Throughout the space, a palette of amber and soft lavender further communicate the elegance of champagne.

We were impressed with this 1,500-square-foot nail salon’s ability to elbow its way out of the pack of gorgeous salons and spas to capture its place as Third Runner-Up. So much so, we decided to give them an additional title, 2017 NAILS Salon of the Year, in honor of our recently formed sisterhood with NAILS magazine.

We trust our SALONS OF THE YEAR will take you on a few design journeys, and maybe even encourage you to examine your space through your clients’ eyes and discover ways to heighten their experience.

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