Inside the São Paulo Spa That Honors Brazil’s Diversity (and Has an Insane Crystal Room)

a room with a table and chairs
Inside the New Asaya Spa by GuerlainAndré Klotz
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Driving from a busy city street to a mural-lined wall, a crush of tropical trees and an outdoor library is a VERY good way to enter a hotel. I’ve come to Brazil to see a spa, first, and São Paulo, second, but it’s quickly apparent that I could easily hole up in the former for days before stepping foot outside to take in the latter.

The Rosewood Hotel is the first in a planned development known as Cidade Matarazzo, named for the family whose Italian-born patriarch was once the richest man in Brazil and who owned the property until it was purchased by French entrepreneur Alec Allard. The entry leaves you at a restored neoclassical maternity hospital, then a lush greens-covered industrial structure by Jean Nouvel. Interiors by Philippe Starck are made exclusively with Brazilian marbles and woods.

a building with a tower
The Rosewood São Paulo consists of two primary buildings, a restored maternity ward and a tower by Jean Nouvel.COURTESY OF ROSEWOOD

There are nods to the origins of the building at the rooftop pool, which is covered with pale green and white tiles by Sandra Cinto that look like sea creatures but, upon closer inspection, are artistic interpretations of…the uterus. Indoors at the Bela Vista Bar, the walls look like childlike sketches, but in actuality are frescoes depicting an imaginary world conjured by Virgílio Neto that took two months to complete on-site.

There is SO much happening at this hotel—three restaurants, two pools, a chapel with Vik Muniz stained glass, an art gallery, residences, and a cocktail lounge with a rotating cast of bossa nova and lounge musicians (on the night I visited, we saw Bê Lourenço, who was a contestant of the Brazilian edition of ‘The Voice’)—that it has become a draw for locals as well as visitors. The night we saw Lourenço, Blink-182 was staying at the hotel for Lollapalooza, and I just missed bassist Mark Hoppus giving an impromptu concert to fans on the street.

a pool in a courtyard
The Emerald Pool, with chairs perched in the water.André Klotz

There is all of that, and then there is the Asaya Spa by Guerlain, a hidden yet slyly sprawling jewel tucked below the hotel rooms. There is no check-in desk, which gives the feeling of wandering into a private wellness retreat. The treatments themselves feel distinctly fancy with nods to Brazil throughout, beginning with the varied wood tones and bronzed ceilings, which were chosen to represent the country’s diverse population; and colorful patterned furniture by Delpine Sanoian that punctuates the neutral decor. Services start with a cacao ceremony and end with a shake of a pau de chuva, a rain stick that is filled with seeds and sounds like a jungle downpour. They are made by the indigenous Pataxó people in the state of Bahia, and available for purchase, along with beaded bracelets and other very Brazilian items like Adriana Degreas swimsuits.

a room with a bed and a couple of large wooden doors
Heated marble beds and sauna, as well as a steam room and jacuzzi, are connected to the locker rooms.André Klotz

Among the most unique treatments is one that is almost the most curiously named: Brazilian Feathers. It began with my masseuse Nila covering my eyes while I was lying down, and waving black Guerlain fans doused with various Aqua Allegoria perfumes under my nose. After inhaling Herba Fresca, Granada Salvia, and Bosca Vanilla Forte I selected Herba Fresca, which meant that it would be the scented oil applied during treatment. Feathers are a theme that runs through the spa, but the namesake massage was actually a “ballet of brushes” that looked more suited for makeup than body. The feeling of these dense, soft bristles lightly going up my legs felt like a gentle introduction to a tranquil but deep treatment that was ideal after a night spent crunched up on the plane. Nila ended by noticing blisters on my feet and met me after treatment with a lemon-honey infusion and a stack of band-aids—spa directors, take note! This level of genuine care for your guests is how it’s done.

a room with a couch and chairs
The private spa suite. André Klotz

The scale of the spa, with its seven treatment rooms (including a riotously patterned tatami mat) feels accessible and personal. There is a private suite that is almost like a miniature of the spa, with a jacuzzi, sauna, lounge and access to two of the spa rooms. As Ana Flores, the elegant Wellness & Spa Manager, gives us a tour, she points out custom wallpaper by Arteo - Estúdio de Design Iconográfico that at first looks like delicately veined marble, but instead, it is female bodies in various positions of repose, which makes sense because, as she puts it, “We work with bodies.”

To that end, there is a membership for local residents, and later this year, plastic surgeon Marcelo Araújo will open an office at Cidade Matarazzo, which will take up an entire floor. It will be linked to the spa, creating lots of possibilities for specialized treatments pre- and post-procedure.

a room with a table and chairs
The Crystal Room, with 400 white quartz crystals lining the walls. Here, private one-on-one meditation and reflexology treatments are held.André Klotz

The pièce de résistance of the spa is undoubtedly the Crystal Room, lined with rows of Brazilian white quartz in the shape of pointed towers. A mirrored ceiling makes the 400 crystals appear to go on for ages. Here, there is just enough room for an Eames-esque chair, where reflexology and meditation happen.

“There are spa hours,” says Flores. “But if a guest wants a massage at 2 a.m., we will figure it out.”

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