THERE’S a new beauty parlour in town and it’s set the bar sky high. Buff, an Umhlanga salon that focuses solely on manis, pedis and waxing, likens itself to a trip down the rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland.

It’s an apt comparison for a venue that includes a life-size Betty Boop; a naughty cupboard stocked with lace restraints and sex toys; retail points offering irresistible impulse buys; a vintage-style digital jukebox; a men’s area called The Workshop; a pretty pastel spot for tweens; an American-style soda counter serving gourmet doughnuts and coffee, and discreetly placed waxing rooms, each with a TV to distract you from imminent pain.

For over a decade Debbie Davidson and her daughters, Kim Davidson and Tracy Gielink, have had the design zeitgeist firmly in their grip.

Teremok, their award-winning boutique hotel, with its distinctive touches, and their Teremok spa, which is determinedly vibrant in contrast to the clinical white of mainstream facilities, remain the gold standard in service, indulgence and style.

For the three women the bottom line has always been what they themselves expect as customers. “We wanted a décor-driven environment,” says Gielink. “If you are going to sit still and have your nails done for two hours, you need it to happen in a spot with soul. We are unapologetic about beauty and beauty starts with a smile.”

They spent three years planning the venue. “We have created an environment that would be at home anywhere in the world, you could be in LA or New York,” adds Gielink.

“Miracles performed daily,” says the treatment brochure, and no amount of cotton ball light hangings, Frida Kahlo wallpaper or pink flamingos deflect from the serious side of the business: premium products only, says the trio, from the acetone to the wax to the conditioning cuticle remover.

“We test our products ourselves and we only sell what we are happy to use.”

Buff is an Essie flagship salon, the only one in the country, and the Essie manicure stations, which were brought in from Italy, were expensive. But it was worth it, says Gielink.

“The experience it gives the client is top notch. We’ve never comprised the experience for the bottom line.”

The Boulevard, 19 Park Lane Umhlanga Ridge, 087-287-9878