Say 'Ahhhh'

The Ritz-Carlton's Spa Gets a Long-Planned Update

The 20,000-square-foot spa was renovated for the first time since the hotel opened in 2001.

By Megan McDonald May 1, 2024 Published in the May-June 2024 issue of Sarasota Magazine

The Ritz-Carlton's 20,000-square-foot spa just underwent a six-month upgrade.
The Ritz-Carlton's 20,000-square-foot spa just underwent a six-month upgrade.

When Sarasota's Ritz-Carlton opened its doors to the public in 2001, it ushered in a new era of luxury for the city. Over the years, the hotel has expanded its reach outside of downtown Sarasota and into other areas with its golf club in Lakewood Ranch and its beach club on Lido Key.

Still, the heart of the Ritz is its downtown hotel, which is kitted out with coastal-inspired rooms, grand event spaces, the popular Jack Dusty restaurant and a 20,000-square-foot spa, which recently underwent a major transformation for the first time since the hotel opened. (The makeover was delayed significantly by the Covid-19 pandemic.) The spa’s previous heavy and dark wood accents have been replaced with textured wallpaper, ambient lighting and delicate millwork. Instead of carpet, there’s now gleaming white marble flooring with geometric tile patterns that make the space feel light, bright and open. Treatment rooms are named after native Florida flora and fauna (for example, the Magnolia Room) and, in addition to 50-minute services like massages and facials, there are now 100-minute options, too—an increase from the previous limit of 80 minutes.

“People tell me, ‘Oh, I can never go back to an 80-minute massage!’” Kristine Wolfert, the hotel’s spa director, says with a laugh.

The spa's bright new reception and retail area.
The spa's bright new reception and retail area.

After a six-month buildout, phase one of the new spa opened last November. Phase two, which will open in quarter two of this year, involved the creation of separate men’s and women’s steam rooms, saunas and vitality pools. Healing Waters, as these spaces are called, came from an uptick in requests for treatments that focus on overall wellness as opposed to just aesthetics.

“We’re seeing more requests for body scrubs, and we created a cold plunge experience,” Wolfert says. At press time, Wolfert was also working with her team to create a recommended circuit for guests using the Healing Waters spaces, with signage directing them to each area and information about the benefits of each.

The spa also offers facials using products from the local skincare line LaFlore, which incorporates live probiotics into its products; HydraFacials, which use LED light therapy and other cutting-edge technology; and manicures and pedicures with moisturizing masks and paraffin wax. There are also dedicated prenatal services, as well as plenty of treatments for men.

Above all, Wolfert says, it’s most gratifying for her and her team to see the response from guests. “We have residents who come in and say, ‘I still can’t get over how beautiful it is,’” she says. “And I sometimes say that to myself, too.”

The new pedicure room at The Ritz-Carlton.
The new pedicure room at The Ritz-Carlton.

The Deets

Total Buildout Time:

Six months

Total Square Footage:


Number of treatment rooms:

17 (one more than the previous spa)

Most Popular Treatment:


Most Popular Massage:

Deep tissue

Most Popular Facial:

Signature live probiotic treatment

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