New spa at St. Pete’s Sundial combines luxury with affordability

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A new salon and spa opened at The Sundial plaza in downtown St. Pete that epitomizes one of America’s most iconic beauties. The Marilyn Monroe Spa | Glamour Room combines both luxury and affordability to provide what founders say is what the blonde bombshell herself would have wanted –for everyone to feel wonderful.

During a Grand Opening Friday night, the more than 3,000 square foot salon opened its doors to 87 confirmed guests and some others just happening to walk by. They offered free “mini” services, including quick hairstyles, polish changes, massages and makeup application. The room was full and noisy with prospective clients, but even through the noise the spa’s mix of tranquility and pizazz was palatable.

“We want to make sure there’s something for everyone,” said product specialist Gina Berry. “That’s what Marilyn was all about. She wanted everyone to feel wonderful.

The salon, decked out in larger than life sized portraits of Marilyn Monroe, has cool gray flooring throughout with serene slate colored walls. Accents of red are seen in some of the photos and subtle décor. The music varies by room. In shared spaces, like the hair styling stations and manicure tables, play something a little more upbeat. Both areas have the stations connected to help encourage clients to mingle and have fun.

“We wanted it to be a little more social in parts,” board of directors chair and founder Al Weiss said.

There’s also a room for pedicures. Plush leather lounge chairs attached to bubbling foot baths line two sides of the room. They call the chairs “nap and nails” because most people who choose to have manicures and pedicures fall asleep in the chair. Those services are for the gentleman too. Weiss says about 20% of services are on men.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man not fall asleep in one of these chairs,” Weiss said.

Just around the corner are private rooms for massages, facials and waxing services. Those rooms feature similar décor with dimmed lights and soothing instrumental spa music. Rooms can adjoin for couples massages or stay separate for privacy.

All of the products used in Marilyn Monroe Spas are organic and made by the company. A full line of facial products, lotions and nail products can be used in services and purchased for home use. The Marilyn Monroe nail polish line is even completely vegan.

“All of our products are Natrue Certified,” Berry said. “It’s the highest certification because Natrue is a non-profit so it’s not like you can just give them money and be certified ‘organic.”

Berry explains that many organic products only have to be 25% organic to use the much sought after label. The Marilyn Monroe Spas products must be at least 75% organic.

Some of their products include citrus lime, rose and chamomile. All of the lotions are created to be soft and light weight so they moisturize without feeling sticky.

All of the stylists have top-notch experience. Kini Stephens taught at a beauty school for three years. Prior to that she was a stylist in Tennessee working for the country music industry. She’s styled hair for stars in the Country Music Awards and worked for country music icon Taylor Swift’s record label.

“I’m so thankful to be here because what I missed was the glamour of Tennessee,” Stephens said.

She looks at her work as art. Stephens wasn’t always in the beauty industry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in adolescent clinical psychology and was working through a graduate program when she started going to beauty school. She took a year off to care for her grandmother and finished the program during that time. Stephens never went back to her graduate program.

“There was this salon called Salon FX near where I lived,” Stephens said. “Everyday as a kid we drove past it and I always said I wanted to work there.”

Despite her parents’ objections, Stephens eventually did work in that salon as her first step in the career she loves.

“My favorite thing is complete transformation,” she said. “I love watching someone walk in looking one way and then leave looking completely different.

The salon offers “Little Star” services for children under 11 at a discounted rate so moms can enjoy pampering with their little girls. They also offer group services for parties and special events.

Stephens said there have even been surprise parties where husbands load the salon up with Hors d’oeuvres, wine and champagne. The Glamour Room doesn’t serve wine or champagne, but guests are welcome to bring their own.

The salon has been open for about a month. They’re open 7-days a week and have been booking up fast. The Sundial location joins a short, but growing list of Marilyn Monroe Spas nationwide. There are spas in New York City, Maui, Monterey Bay, Miami and Orlando. There are three different types of spas: the Glamour Room like the St. Pete salon, which offers full service, smaller nail lounges that offer nail services and some massages and facials and resort spas that add extra pampering like wraps and hydro services.

Marilyn Monroe Spas are priced slightly above some run of the mill salons, but stay competitive. Manicures run $20 with opportunities to “pump it up” by $5, $10 or $15 for add-ons like exfoliation, gels or shellac and nail art. Waxing is $20 per service with the individual price dropping as guests add extra areas. Facials run $45-$105 and massages $40-$85. A cut and blow dry is $50 and highlights run from $60 up to more than $120 depending on how many foils are used.

The salon offers a rewards program called Mad about Marilyn. It’s $30 a month and gives guests an extra $3 on that each month. A complete list of services and prices is on their website.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.