NEW YORK CITY is home to so many spas your head'll spin just trying to make a decision on the fly on which one to visit. They run from high end to low brow, medical, pleasure (no, we don't mean happy ending...), detoxifying, indulgent... all of them exist within the space of one little island. Recently we visited a newish hybrid green-medical Spa Merge on 57th. It's attached to hotel West 57 in an unassuming store front sandwiched between a Duane Reade and the lobby. The spa manager and most of her staff are from a well-known local spa on the Upper East Side and thus the spa has garnered a slew of loyals who have followed them to this corner just a block south of Central Park and we can see why.
It's an odd space with which they've been inventive. The relaxation room is a slim after-thought of a space that is separated from the bustle of 57th by just a plate of glass and sheer curtain. It's actually rather interesting to watch the foot traffic outside but not entirely relaxing. Once you're through the front door, the lobby opens up to the left where the spa's products are on display and sale (Naturopatica, Colorescience, Natura Bisse, Skinceuticals...) There you'll find the nail stations and the opening to a dimly lit hive of rooms off of a long and winding hallway. Once tucked away in my room (not unlike the rooms in Chicago's Spa Chakra) with a robe and slippers, a mug of coffee and chocolate-dipped Madeline (cookies? My kind of spa) were brought to me while I awaited Emma.
Russian Emma took me into a therapy room with a bit of a psychadelic light show going on... all red and green silhouettes playing on the walls from the lights in the tub I was about to step into. First stripping down (and opting out of the hideous dignity-stripping paper panties and bra and nude-phobic state-siders use), I stepped into the tube of tepid water. Rosa had covered my mane in a J. F. Lazartigue hair mask so both my body and hair were taken care of. She alternated rubbing my shoulders, neck and feet until the jets stopped. After toweling off and wrapping back up, we wandered to chamber two for the rest of the B5 Full Body Paraffin Wrap, a treatment that is not for the claustrophobic but wonderful for anyone else who's dry of skin. It was a full-body paraffin treatment -- you gently lower yourself onto a spa bed (with edges) covered in foil and filled with a pool of hot paraffin and then are swaddled in the foil blanket (with the sweat-inducing, skin-softening paraffin) on top of which is placed towels... some more towels and a blanket! It's hot, it's hard to move but, boy, did my skin feel amazing afterwards. Warm, yes. But soft. Very very soft, which was welcome after winter months full of dry, itchy, taut skin.
Next, the wunder-therapist Hiroko (who trained in her native Japan) gave me a Hydrotone Facial (plus a bit of the Diamond Massage with the Natura Bisse Diamond Cream). It was almost two hours of heavenly extractions (afterwards not a blackhead. in. sight... for ages), an amazing alpha hydroxy peel (that tingled like mad), massage, more massage, micro-currents (this spa is home to 1 of only 4 special micro-current machines in the US) and some great skin plumping lotions that left me with a poreless, radiant complexion. It was one of the best facials I've had. Due to the spa menu? Sure, partly. But I think it might have been due to Hiroko too. The lady knows her stuff and is a wealth of beauty knowledge (we talked for ages about beauty in Korea).
The Hydrotone Facial was off the hook (thank you, Hiroko), full-body paraffin makes you very soft, the brands they use/sell are pretty fabulous, they give you cookies, the therapists don't mind customising things a bit, the treatment list is extensive, it owns 1 of only 4 of this micro-current machine available in the US.
The space isn't super-duper luxe (small clock with cord hanging down the wall in the tub room, etc.), but it is a spa that's more about making you look beautiful, not making the spa super beautiful (that said, it's still pretty nice) AND it's still new meaning it's definitely a work in progress.
There aren't any prices online (Why, spas? Please put your prices online!) but we can tell you:
- B5 Full Body Paraffin Body Wrap (75 minutes for $165)
- Hydrotone Facial (75 minutes for $225)
Spa Merge, 102 W. 57th Street, NY, NY 10019 (646) 484-4104
And they're participating in Spa Week THIS WEEK so get in and try them out!