An Urban Cocoon

By Sandra Ramani / September 14, 2011

The last time I was at the spa at The Peninsula in New York City it must have been the mid-1990’s, when facials were being performed by noted esthetician Cornelia Zicu (who went on to open the celebrated Cornelia Day Resort, and is now a chief creative officer for Red Door Spas). But even back then the facilities were a little threadbare, so I was looking forward to seeing the two-floor space after its recent much-needed, top-to-toe renovation. Re-opened this January, the new The Peninsula Spa by ESPA is an urban cocoon boasting 12 treatments rooms (including one spacious private couples suite), locker rooms outfitted with a mosaic-ed aromatherapy steam chamber, and a pent-house-level gym, pool, and hair salon. The décor, beautifully executed by Alexandra Champalimaud & Associates, is made up of organic materials, nature-inspired forms (like tree stump chairs) and a palette of warm ambers and cinnamons, which help to make it one of the most relaxing spas I’ve visited in a while. Seriously, I fell asleep—twice.

After changing, guests are escorted down one of the many dimly lit hallways to the Asian Tea Lounge. If you’re having one of the two-hour Peninsula Ceremonies, this is where you will pause to enjoy some tea and a snack before moving on to your room for a welcoming foot ritual. Five of the offered Ceremonies are signature services from various Peninsula hotels; the Jade Hot Stone Massage comes from Beijing, the Yang Soother from Hong Kong, and the Thai Inspired from Bangkok. Unique to New York is the Deep Tissue Experience, an intense massage incorporating body rocking, neuro-muscular techniques, an Oriental head rub, and lots of warm scented oil to melt tight muscles. It’s not the most soothing of services—there’s a lot of serious release work going on—but chances are you’ll sleep well, and early, later that night.

More immediately relaxing is the Super Active Calming and Soothing Facial, one of the newest ESPA treatments. Therapists wrap guests up in blankets on an adjustable heated table, then begin the service with a ping on a copper bowl. Active ingredients and rose quartz crystals are used to hydrate and soothe skin, while a series of feather-light massage strokes—some barely brushing the face—gently stimulate circulation and strengthen capillaries. After any service, guests enjoy unlimited time in the relaxation lounge, which is outfitted with several plush, adjustable beds topped with Frette sheets, down comforter, and oversized pillows swathed in terry cotton. Next to each one there’s a personal reading light and a pair of headphones to plug into the house music system (choose from four channels), while nearby there’s a spread of dried fruits and nuts and coconut water. Not that I indulged, of course: minutes after pulling up the comforter, I was out like a light.

Sandra Ramani

Sandra Ramani

Senior Contributing Editor at Organic Spa Magazine
In addition to serving as OSM’s Senior Contributing Editor, writer/editor Sandra Ramani covers travel, wellness, and lifestyle topics for such publications as Travel + Leisure, Robb Report, Premier Traveler, AFAR, Bridal Guide, Elite Traveler, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is also the author of “Day Trips from Dallas / Fort Worth,” now in its second edition. Recent assignments have found her sleeping in the Sahara, hopping helicopters in New Zealand, and making this new friend in Bali.
Sandra Ramani

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