Carlo Laiso, the beverage manager at The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, where fresh, healthy juice is being paired with face and body treatments as part of the Spa Bar experience, is also being billed as a "juice sommelier".
The spa with its own juice bar
Carlo Laiso began squeezing his own juices as a young boy growing up on Italy’s Amalfi coast surrounded by fragrant lemon trees and vines bearing sweet, ripe tomatoes. As a youngster he would often visit the orange groves of Sicily, where he befriended growers and pickers and began to hone his craft. That’s how the 36-year-old beverage manager at The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, where fresh, healthy juice is being paired with face and body treatments as part of the Spa Bar Experience, also became a juice sommelier.
So, a juice sommelier. Is that a thing now?
Juices can be as varied and as exciting as great wines, and my passion is experimenting with unique flavour combinations of fresh juices. As with wines, people have different preferences in terms of taste; one guest may prefer a very sweet juice such as green apple or watermelon, and another may go for a more sour taste such as lemon. It is part of my craft to understand these preferences and provide a juice that appeals to their taste-buds, while perhaps creating a new flavour combination that they have not tried before. To me, creating a great juice with the perfect balance of flavours is an art.
It seems as though juicing is having a real surge in popularity at the moment. Why do you think that is?
There has been a move towards healthier juices, made from natural ingredients, rather than juices made from concentrate and containing added sugar, which has undoubtedly increased their popularity. At The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC Spa our fresh juices are all made from fresh fruits, which we blend together to create unique flavour combinations.
What prompted the move to pair specific juices with spa treatments?
Our aim is to create memories and experiences that will stay with our guests, so the idea behind the Spa Bar Experience was to create a completely new spa concept for our guests to enjoy and remember, and to provide a holistic well-being experience at the same time. The idea is that the juice nourishes on the inside, while the range of tailored treatments nourish on the outside.
How do you go about choosing the juices and what goes in them?
There were two main considerations when I was creating the juices for the Spa Bar Experience: flavour balance, and choosing ingredients with well-being benefits that complement those of the matching spa treatments. For example, Fruit & Veg is a combination of orange juice, carrot juice and celery. In terms of taste, the orange provides the sweetness, against the more neutral flavours of the carrot juice and celery. Because carrots are rich in Vitamin A and oranges are rich in Vitamin C, both are great for rejuvenating the skin, helping to protect it from sun damage and preventing dryness. The Spa Manager recommends guests pair these juices with a complementary skin-buffing facial, the Age Recovery Cure, or the Rose Cocoon Wrap, a nourishing full-body cocoon.
Any ingredients that veer towards relaxing, rejuvenating, etc?
For the Spa Bar Experience, we have created six juices that fall into the categories of Relax, Revive or Rejuvenate. The ingredients in each drink were specially selected to provide well-being benefits in these specific areas. For example, on the menu under Relax is Red as a Berry, which contains beetroot and cranberries. Beetroot is packed with magnesium, which eases muscle tension and helps to reduce stress and anxiety, while cranberries are rich in Vitamin C, known to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. Therefore, we suggest that guests pair this juice with a relaxing signature massage, or a bespoke -facial.
What is the most important aspect of making a good juice?
You should start with good-quality, ripe, fresh fruit and if mixing flavours, choose between two and five. Balance is key – combine sweet fruits with sour fruits to create the perfect flavour combination, and increase the emphasis on either sweet or sour, depending on taste preferences. I mix the fruit in a blender to obtain a smooth consistency and then serve without ice to guarantee maximum flavour.
• The Spa Bar Experience launches Saturday at The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC. For reservations, call
04 372 2777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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