Spa Day…at the Mall

By Jenny S. Rebholz

Photos by Alec Zaballero, TPG Architecture


In this era of reinvention, it’s not surprising that developers are looking for ways to redesign, repurpose and renew the enclosed mall. With the town center concept in mind, developers are evaluating a variety of mixed-use solutions that improve quality of life while breathing value back into these properties. Terms like “retaildential complex” and “retailtainment” are being used to rebrand these properties as they are repurposed to become urban centers with offerings that attract a multigenerational audience.

The key component to the success is offering a mix of amenities that provide a reason for consumers to come back on a regular, even a daily, basis. An example of this success is the “day resort” concept, Spa Mirbeau, which was introduced at the Crossgates Mall in Albany, N.Y.

New York-based TPG Architecture worked alongside the Mirbeau Inn & Spa founders to translate their French-themed destination resort into a local sanctuary for guests to easily escape the day-to-day stresses of life.

“Shopping centers nationwide are looking for new tenants with non-traditional formats to bring new energy to their previously one-dimensional retail mix,” says Alec Zaballero, managing executive, TPG Architecture. “Spa Mirbeau is exactly that: a hybrid concept blending retail, wellness, food and beverage, and services with a dedicated core client base that visits on a regular schedule.”

The existing 17,000-sq.-ft. space included a former big-box shoe brand, a gym and a secondary mall entry with a massive vaulted skylight. “In laying out the complex plan for the multifunctional Spa Mirbeau space, we positioned a bistro and a large outdoor-inspired entertainment space with plunge pool directly under the skylight—creating a courtyard concept within that space,” Zaballero explains.

The team translated the essence of the brand’s destination experience and the familiar French-country look and feel into this day spa concept. The featured guest amenities include 14 tranquil spa treatment rooms, sauna and steam rooms, a meditative resting area, and studios for spinning, fitness and yoga. Guests also have access to the spa’s “aqua terrace” with a pool lounge and bar area. A retail boutique completes this full-service experience.

This location is the first of its kind, a prototype that the founders hope to replicate regionally to help drive business to other retail shopping centers.

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