The best thing about this chain spa, tucked away inside the chic Fairmont Miramar hotel in Santa Monica, is its focus on total wellness.
A self-described "mind-body" spa, Exhale serves up all the traditional spa treatments—facials ($145-$225), massages ($130-$150), mani/pedis ($30-$55), waxing $20-$80)—but then enhances its menu with fitness offerings such as core fusion ($25 single class), yoga ($22 single class), private training and stretching classes ($109/60mins). Mind-body style energy treatments include accupuncture ($150/60mins), reiki ($135/60mins) and vibrational therapy ($150/60mins). And coaches are available to guide guests through nutrition and wellness goals (initial consultation $190, follow-ups $150/60min). Even fertility programs ($250 for a 90-min initital consultation, $135 for 30-min follow-up sessions), accupuncture for weight loss (starting at $340) and bridal bootcamps (unlimited classes + a variety of perks, starting at 6 weeks for $680) are available.
Although set inside a luxury hotel, a visit to Exhale is decidedly less about the sort of posh frills one would expect from, say, the spa at Montage Beverly Hills or the Peninsula. The staff here is efficient and friendly, but not fawning or overly solicitist. The therapists are down-to-business. The basic Exhale True facial ($145/60mins) starts with a cleansing and moisturizing—accompanied by a steady stream of nurturing steam—followed by extractions, an eye-opening rehydrating mask and more moisturizing that made our skin feel perky and glowing (and no puffiness) all day long. While waiting for various masks, lotions and potions to soak into our skin, the therapist took the extra time to rub lotion into our tired feet, hands, neck and shoulders.
In January 2013, Exhale reopened its airy, mirrored yoga studio. The compact but light-filled studio boasts hardwood floors and all manner of yoga apparatus. The scene is casual and one can expect to work out with hotel guests and locals alike, with a mix of fitness levels—which is great if you want to tune into your own personal strength and not be distracted by perfectly coiffed gym bunnies.
The fitness center, lockers and treatment rooms at Exhale are arranged across different hallways, so there is some moving in and out of your robe and workout gear in public spaces, but for the most part it's an area of the hotel you'd only go to if in the midst of spa-ing and working out. The locker room is tidy and tight, with a steam room and sauna, and a comfy co-ed waiting area serving fruited water and tea.
Exhale offers a variety of spa memberships that allow guests to indulge in unlimited classes, use of the hotel's fitness center and other perks, starting at $150 per month with no enrollment fee.