Experience the restorative power of naps, ear candles and being beaten with leaves.
Tue Jan 25 2011
Photograph: courtesy of Beljanski
Yelo Spa: 20/20 Reflexology and Nap 315 W 57th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-245-8235, yelospa.com). Regularly $60. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking to receive $10 off this treatment through Feb 28.
Inside this colorful, futuristic spa, I was given tons of options to customize my 40-minute reflexology-and-nap session. Things kick off with a complimentary cup of hot tea, then I filled out a form to choose my noise-cancellation soundtrack (offerings include ocean waves, jazz, jungle sounds and more) and one of five aromatherapy scents. Next I entered a podlike room, where I reclined in a comfy leather zero-gravity chair that elevated my knees above my chest to slow my heart rate. A massage therapist dimmed the lights and kneaded my feet using reflexology techniques, Alchimie lotion and soft cloths. After 20 minutes, she left the room and I was left in a blissful state to relax—and hopefully fall asleep (a cashmere blanket was draped over me to increase the snuggle factor). When it was time for the 20-minute power nap to end, the lights come back on slowly.
Best part: The foot massage relieved tons of stress, and a hot-towel wipe-down ensured they weren't left slimy.
Why it's worth it: This service is ideal for busy midtown workers who can sneak away for a lunch-hour power nap or end-of-day wind-down session. Those with sleeping problems may also find the treatments helpful (especially if done in a series) to tackle insomnia or calm a racing mind.—Lauren Levinson
Beauty and Youth Salon and Spa: Ear candling 17 W 8th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-463-0246, beautyandyouth.com). Regularly $25. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking to receive 20 percent off any service through Wed 2.
Don't panic when the small side of a long, thin fabric-and-wax candle is inserted into your ear canal and promptly lit. Your technician will be watching diligently as it burns, cutting snippets off the top as necessary. The purpose: to use the enclosed smoke to suck out toxins, wax and any other gunk that's been building up, in the process helping to clear sinus pressure.
Best part: I had a cold the day of the procedure, and my upper neck and the area below my ears below my ears felt better afterward, and a lot of sinus pressure was eliminated.
Why it's worth it: My ears, which often itch and ring after I swim, haven't been acting up since the treatment. And once Oksana showed me the amount of dirt that was extracted, I realized that cotton swabs can do only so much.—Rachel Sokol
Beljanski Wellness Center: 30-minute infrared sauna treatment 150 E 55th St between Lexington and Third Aves, sixth floor (212-832-6800, beljanskiwellness.com). Regularly $40. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking to receive 15 percent off regularly priced single treatments (no packages) through Feb 27.
This toxin-banishing treatment will leave you with a radically new understanding of what it means to sweat. After climbing inside a narrow infrared tube set atop a standard massage table, I lay back while nearly every drop of water fled my body. A glass of tea or icy water followed by a cold shower (conveniently located in an adjacent room so you don't have to wander the halls all red in the face from the sauna's heat) successfully revived me.
Best part: The center's spacious shower is outfitted with an array of heads that hit you from every direction, and includes a small seat, which came in handy, given how dizzy and in need of revitalization I was following the treatment.
Why it's worth it: Though the intense heat was challenging, the cleansing effect and focused meditation (having been singularly fixated on the temperature) left me with a healthy glow and a sense of mental clarity.—Sam LaCroix
Wall Street Bath and Spa: Platza 88 Fulton St between Gold and William Sts (212-766-8600, wallstreetbath.com). $30. TONY deal Bring a copy of the TONY write-up to your appointment for 20 percent off all massages through Feb 27.
I was ushered into a 194-degree sauna, ordered to lie facedown on a bed of towels and promptly whacked on the back with warm bundled oak leaves. Between rounds of thumping, my expert therapist applied pressure to different areas of my body with his hands or the leaves on different spots. About seven minutes later, it was time to rinse in an ice-cold shower and repeat. Though it sounds wacky, the age-old European treatment opens your pores, releasing toxins from the body. The whole experience lasted less than 15 minutes and was surprisingly relaxing.
Best part: Spa onlookers, who were warming up in the sauna while all this was happening, touted an 18-year platza veteran with a thick Ukrainian accent as the best in the business. He lived up to the hype.
Why it's worth it: There's a required admission price ($32.50) regardless of what treatment you get, but that little bit of additional dough provides all-day access to the spa's heated junior Olympic swimming pool, cold plunge pool, steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna.—Melody Serafino
Forest Hills Spa: Platza Oak Leaf Treatment 59-21 Calloway St between 59th and Otis Aves, Corona, Queens (718-699-1919, foresthillsspa.com). $35.
Following a soak in the hot tub, I headed into the sweltering Russian steam room to start my treatment, which began with intense pelting of my body with water from heated oak leaves. My body loosened up, but the heat left me a bit flustered—to which my massage therapist reacted by dumping a towel soaked in freezing-cold water across my body (not an uncommon experience for this type of treatment). At the end, the remaining freezing water was dumped over my body, and I was instructed to lie down for ten minutes.
Best part: The succession of temperature changes leaves you feeling energized and loose, like you just finished a vigorous exercise class.
Why it's worth it: Being surrounded by the plethora of foreign-speaking staff and clients evokes an authentic, international ambience, but for a much smaller price tag than you'd face with a jaunt to Moscow.—Annemarie Dooling