Tucked away in coastal Georgia is the 4,000-acre Hampton Island Preserve, an elite, members-only club known for its multimillion-dollar homes as well as its commitment to nature preservation. To keep the private island serene, only 163 home sites are available, and the island’s members must uphold strict ecological guidelines. So, it would be only appropriate that when it came time to add spa facilities to the private club, they would fit in seamlessly with the island’s character.
In 2005, the preserve hired Lydia Abernathy Mondavi, a spa consultant and founder of The Abernathy Group, to develop the concepts for the spas. After working for Ralph Lauren’s cosmetics and beauty division for a decade, Mondavi joined an Atlanta spa as the executive director of sales, marketing and operations.
“I immersed myself in the spa business, then went into my own consulting firm after five years,” she says. In the years since, she’s been the creative force behind some of the world’s foremost luxury spas, including The Retreat Spa in Palm Springs, California, and Villa Lucia Vorno in Italy’s Tuscan region.
From the planning stages on, Mondavi was determined to create a sanctuary that would both tell the story of the island and surpass the high expectations of the club’s members. “You visit Hampton Island and the land really speaks to you,” she says. “The development of Hampton Island is very focused on preserving the land and giving back, so it would just not fit to build a gigantic, traditional spa. Instead, we created smaller destination spas nestled around the island.”
The first of the small spas opened this year. The Farm House Spa, designed to resemble a quaint barn complete with large barn doors between treatment rooms, is furnished with antique stools, tables and grain bins that store herbs to be used for treatments.
Each room has a private porch and a tub overlooking a waterfall and an organic spa garden from which nearly all the herbs and botanicals for treatments are harvested.
“We can hand-harvest them, or the client can harvest them with us so they can learn about herbs and botanicals,” explains Mondavi. “We crush them right there with a mortar and pestle.”
Virtually all treatments at the spa are made with organic ingredients and custom-tailored for each guest. “When the chamomile is in season, the chamomile milk and honey mask is popular. The treatments are based on what is growing at the time,” says Mondavi. “Hampton Island was once part of the rice plantations, so we do warm rice and sugar scrubs as well. Treatments like that really go back to the culture of the island.”