In Paris, sometimes even after true love strikes, les amants may live separately for years. Such was the case for designer Christian Dior and the historic Plaza Athénée. Enchanted by the hotel and its exclusive clientele, Dior opened his first boutique in 1946 a few doors up on Avenue Montagne and soon made the Plaza his second home. He did business in its salons, took his meals in its restaurants and had massages in its suites. Now, 60 years later, with the opening of l'Institut Dior the first ever hotel spa created by Christian Dior Parfums the old lovers "have finally moved in together," as Plaza Athénée spokeswoman Isabelle Maurin puts it.
Down a wide spiral staircase from the grand Plaza lobby, l'Institut Dior has installed a vast array of galleries and cubicles dedicated to repose, beauty and luxury. The décor is quintessentially Dior: diagnostic plasma screens stand alongside Louis XVI-style medallion chairs, and a single blown-glass water droplet is suspended over a mosaic-lined decorative pool.
But this spa works its magic with far more precious liquids than water. In softly lit, marble-floored treatment rooms clients can experience the Institut Dior's take on vinotherapy, which purports to harness the rejuvenating antioxidant properties of the grape. The 120-minute l'Or de Vie treatment ($670) uses creams made with the sap of sauvignon vine shoots from Château d'Yquem. After further indulging themselves with an anti-jet lag treatment ($260), taking a steam in the white-and-gold-tiled hammam, and settling into a leather divan in the hydrangea-scented relaxation room, guests may find that they, too, have fallen in love with the Plaza.