Spas for any situation
The best spas for a girls' day out, romantic getaway, all-day escape and more.
Mon Jan 23 2012
Photograph: Mark Wieland Photography
The Peninsula Spa: Deep Tissue Experience
Massage therapist Carly Clark began my 120-minute reprieve from chaos with a ginger-and-sea-salt foot buff, followed by a quick sensory test (comparing various scents on cotton pads and my own skin) to determine which aromatic lotions and oils would suit my needs. From there, she transitioned seamlessly through four treatments: a circulation-stimulating dry brush that used cactus bristles to slough off dead skin; an exfoliating body polish, which refined my epidermis with apricot kernels, aloe vera and spearmint; a balancing facial cleanse and red-clay scalp mask; and a tension-obliterating full-body massage combining body joint-mobilization techniques with the deep-tissue modality.
Best part: Booking a treatment that lasted for at least two hours granted me access to the rooftop pool and fitness center, which encompasses a full weight room, machines and a group-class studio. (The locker rooms are even stocked with tees, shorts and socks to borrow, in addition to plush robes and slippers.)
Why it's worth it: Everything at this serene retreat—from the eucalyptus-infused steam in the thermal suite to the plush, adjustable relaxation-room beds—invites you to shut off your brain and luxuriate.
212-956-2888, peninsula.com. Regularly $550. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking this treatment on a weekday (Mon–Fri) for 25 percent off through Feb 10.—Sarah Bruning
- 700 Fifth Ave at 55th St
Setai Wall Street: Signature massage
You may find yourself avoiding the Financial District unless you live or work there, but the one-hour signature massage at this sleek spa is worth braving the crush of commuters for a midweek appointment. Spa treatment manager Manny Ramirez spoke with me about my problem areas and inquired about any injuries. He confidently worked the tension out of my body, often quietly checking in about the pressure, the temperature of the table and my comfort level.
Best part: I thought my lower back was the real trouble, but Ramirez took account of my sore leg muscles, burned out from running, and smoothed the tension away with a series of rhythmic techniques.
Why it's worth it: Depending on your time constraints, the signature massage can be booked for 30, 60 or 90 minutes, and warm-stone ($55) or aromatherapy treatments ($25) can be added on based on your needs. You're welcome to hang in the tea suite after your treatment for as long as you'd like (herbal drinks, truffles and a selection of pretty art books await), and patrons are also free to access the Aqua Grotto, featuring eucalyptus-infused steam, a Jacuzzi and sauna.
212-792-6193, setaiclubnewyork.com. Regularly $185. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking or at appointment for 10 percent off any treatment through Feb 8.—Sharon Steel
- 40 Broad St at Exchange Pl, third floor
- Price band: 4/4
Tucked inside the Plaza Hotel, this wine-and-grape-obsessed spa's new "beauty under an hour" treatments are far from rushed. You can choose from a selection of four options that feature combinations of wraps, facials, manicures and bikini-waxing. I opted for the Vine Reset, which stars a detoxifying clay wrap infused with lemongrass. While the wrap set, I lay on a toasty warm table as my technician massaged my scalp.
Best part: After she showered off the clay, my arms, back, legs and stomach received a layer of revitalizing Caudalie lotion (saturated with the antioxidant benefits the brand is known for). My skin felt nourished and stayed smooth and bright for days afterward.
Why it's worth it: Any treatment here defines splurge, and each of them are carefully and professionally executed with exquisite, high-quality products.
212-265-3182, caudalie-usa.com. $230. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking or at appointment for 10 percent off any treatment through Feb 25.—Sharon Steel
- 1 W 58th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
- Price band: 4/4
The jovial receptionist greeted me with a petite cup of the spa's signature mountain berry tea and a warm washcloth laced with the spa's earthy signature Quintessence fragrance (ginger, mandarin, frankincense and juniper), which helped me settle in after a taxing day. My facialist, Patricia Walsh, cleansed and lightly massaged my mug before carefully inspecting it for blemishes, blackheads and other signs of distress. Since I had "remarkably clear skin," she focused on hydrating the parched areas and toning the rest with organic Amala products: First came a gentle exfoliating skin polish, then an ultrasonic exfoliation (like a traditional crystal-based microdermabrasion but without visible signs of irritation), a firming microcurrent-based ocular treatment (the equivalent of a nonsurgical eye lift) and a moisturizing mask. When my time concluded, I emerged radiant and refreshed.
Best part: Before my appointment, I had just enough time to kick back in the heat-experience lounge, which boasts an amethyst-crystal steam room, rainforest shower and oxygen vitality pool.
Why it's worth it: Throughout my facial, Walsh expertly wielded the spa's CACI machine, a new high-tech device that serves a multitude of functions. In this instance, it retrained my beleaguered eye muscles and allowed the hydrating serum to purportedly saturate 4,000 times more deeply than if the aesthetician used her hands alone.
212-805-8880, mandarinoriental.com/newyork. 50 minutes: Mon–Fri $225; Sat, Sun $235. 80 minutes: Mon–Fri $340; Sat, Sun $355. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking or at appointment for 10 percent off any treatment through Feb 25.—Sarah Bruning
- 80 Columbus Circle, (at 60th St)