Big Apple Spa – Experience the Best Day Spas in New York City

Planning a visit to NYC? In the midst of deciding what Broadway show to see, where to shop, sleep, and eat, don’t forget a little pampering. A visit to a day spa is a perfect way to unwind and indulge during your stay. But there are countless day spas in the city. How do you tell which day spas are the best? Following are a sampling, including spas for the budget-minded and extravagant luxury spas.

One of the true originals, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa on Fifth Avenue still commands a loyal following. The Red Door’s celebrity colorist brad johns defines color from around the world. Botox, Restylane and Juverderm services have recently been added and are performed by plastic surgeon, Dr. Bryan G. Forley, voted one of the “Best Doctors of 2005” in New York Magazine. Guests may enjoy their classic 50-minute massage for $105.

An exquisite day spa tucked away on the sixth floor of Takashimaya, the luxury Japanese department store on 5th Avenue, Barbo at Takashimaya is an intimate spa, featuring only two treatments rooms, and no plans to expand. While the products in the spa are from the German line, Barbor, the treatments themselves have an Asian influence. The Sea Creation facial ($250) is one of the spa’s most popular treatments – designed to regenerate the skin and boost cell energy. Make sure to order tea service after your service at the Teabox Cafe where more than 48 different types of tea are available.

Located on Broadway, Bliss Soho has been voted Conde Nast Traveler’s “Best Urban Day Spa.” The flagship spa was created by Marcia Kilgore in the 1990s. The atmosphere mixes a modern, tongue-in-chic approach to grooming with a vast menu of facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, body treatments, and more. There are two other locations at East 57th Street and Bliss 4 in W Hotel.

Hailing from the Peninsula Hotel, Cornelia Zicu is a star esthetician who now owns her own spa. Cornelia Day Resort is located in midtown and is the first in NYC to have a watsu pool massage treatment. The watsu takes place in warm-waist-deep water. The spa’s specialized watsu pool is heated to the exact temperature as the body. Because of the pool, the treatment is relatively unusual to the city.

Boasting a “wet lounge solarium,” Great Jones Spa, located in Manhattan, features hot tubs, cold plunge pools, and saunas, which are available to guests up to two hours prior and one hour following spa treatments. Their 60-minute Swedish massage is offered for $130.

Offering affordable serenity in Manhattan, Haven, located on Mercer Street, is a cozy neighborhood day spa with a hospitable environment. Services include body therapy, facials, hand and foot therapies, waxing, and massage packages. One-hour Swedish massages run $115, while the “80 minutes in Haven” facial treatment ($150) leaves guests glowing.

For those who are seeking more than just a pampering treatment, Juva on 56th Street is a medical spa offering therapies which tackle issues such as sun spots and acne. Under the medical supervision of Bruce Katz, M.D., the Juva products used during treatments provide long-lasting benefits with mineral essentials and surpass normal spa techniques.

Designed to impress the most jaded spa goer, Juvenex combines Asian, European, and American spa remedies which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Walking through its doors, guests are transported into another place with unusual saunas, plunge pools, and the Jade Igloo – made from 20 tons of semi-precious stones. The spa is open to women only, daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and for couples during the evening from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Go for something truly unforgettable with a visit to the Spa at Mandarian Oriental, affording great views of Central Park and featuring amenities such as the “Heat Expereince” rooms. Considered one of the best hotel spas in New York, services are pricey, but luxurious. Bamboo, natural stone and gold leaf set the tone for an amazing Manhattan spa experience that focuses on rebalance and an enhanced sense of well-being. The spa’s latest addition is the Thai Yoga room, designed especially for their exclusive Thai Yoga Massage.

Grand Mayan Resort – Riviera Maya

The Grand Mayan Resort lies along a stretch of beautiful white sand beach between Cancun and the picturesque fishing village of Playa del Carmen. Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya this exclusive resort provides a window into ancient Mayan history amidst tropical beauty and modern amenities.

The Grand Mayan Resort itself is built around a manmade lagoon situated behind a low dune beyond which the crystal blue Caribbean Sea beckons. You can spend the day relaxing on the beach or exploring the waters offshore on a Jet Ski, water skiing, or take in the pristine underwater views through a snorkel mask. If a day trip is in order then one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, is the perfect way to spend the day.

If you want to do more than just relax on the beach then the Grand Mayan has plenty to offer. Cancun and its active nightlife and club scene are short ride away. Or spend the day shopping along Playa del Carmen’s two mile long walking mall known as the Avenida Quinta (Fifth Avenue). This nearby tourist destination offers a seemingly endless street of bars, restaurants, shops and hotels.

Grand Mayan Resort – Accommodations, Dining, Golf and Spa

The Grand Mayan Resort boasts three classes of rooms; the Grand Master Room, the Grand Suite and the Grand Master Suite. Let’s take a quick look at what each one offers.

The Grand Master Room encompasses six hundred and three square feet and features an LCD television, a bathroom with two sinks, a marble shower and separate bath tub. Each room has a balcony with tropical views and enough room to hold 2 adults and 2 children comfortably.

The Grand Suite is one thousand two hundred and ninety five square feet of luxurious living space. It has a separate bedroom and a living room with small attached kitchen and dining table. Each suite has balcony with a private plunge pool to cool off in after a day of fun in the sun. Both rooms feature an LCD TV with enough room for 6 people.

The Grand Master Suite is a true tropical palace. It boasts one thousand eight hundred and ninety eight square feet to truly relax in. This two bedroom palace features two separate bathrooms, a balcony with a plunge pool and all the features of the two smaller rooms. It will easily accommodate 2 adults and 6 children.

All three classes of rooms feature traditional Mexican décor and native woods. Art work from local artisans is featured throughout each room. The friendly staff will keep your room clean and stocked with all the necessities and at the end of the day their turn down service will see you sleeping luxurious comfort.

The restaurants at the Grand Mayan Resort offer a wide variety of choices depending on what guests are hungry for. If formal sit down dinners are your thing then Gong or Tramonto are the place for you. Gong features Asian cuisine made from the finest of ingredients while Tramonto offers the best of American and Italian cuisine.

For more casual meals Café Del Lago is the place to be. It offers an outdoor buffet style dining experience surrounded by a tropical lake and gardens. Frida’s grill is another buffet style dining experience offering authentic Mexican food and beverages. Both offer nightly entertainment as well.

For quick meals, snacks and beverages on the go there is the Balche Pool Bar, Brio Health Bar and Deli Jade.

After eating your fill and relaxing in your comfortable room it may be time to play a round or two of golf. The Grand Mayan Resort features the El Manglar golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus’s design company. This 18 hole course blends beautifully into the tropical jungle that surrounds it making for a truly unique golfing experience.

A day at the Grand Mayan Resorts Brio Spa & Fitness Center can be the perfect way to unwind and relax. Release all your tension with a relaxing massage, body treatment or facial. Get in an invigorating workout in the gym, take in a spinning or Pilate’s class, or stretch tired muscles in the yoga room. When your workout is over take a steam in the sauna or relax in the Jacuzzi. The Brio Spa & Fitness center has everything you need to make your time at the Grand Mayan Resort truly special.

Grand Mayan Resort – A Vacation in Paradise

This Riviera Maya Resort is the perfect vacation spot for families looking for beach side fun or couples looking for a romantic rendezvous. It offers something for everyone looking for a vacation along a beautiful stretch of white sand beach.

Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa

This iconic resort, on Penang Island, off the Malaysian coast, reopened September 28th after a 21-month rehab, much needed after 33 years of action.

I wanted to check out the ‘love of life and its pleasures’ that Rasa Sayang means, but the usual one-night stand had to be extended since I arrived at 10pm and left at 6.30am. As my car drew up after the 45 minute ride from the airport, I was met by a posse of absolutely charming employees and taken upstairs to room 2522, on the fifth – top – floor. May we take your photo? Gosh, how would this look, after such a long day.

Once alone, I quickly ordered room service, unpacked and, hey presto, dinner arrived. For a simple salad and pasta request I got a wheeled table with white china and crispest white linens, highlighted by an old-gold ikat mat that matched the orchids. The napkin was stylishly folded through a striped shell napkin ring. Dishes were covered metal hats that could have been designed by Philippe Starck – and the al dente penne, liberally covered in what seemed like a no-calorie ‘cream’ soy sauce with baby asparagus bits, was totally delicious. Designer baths, hinting at the elixir of youth and wellness, are complimentary, and a rose petal and pink French clay special had been drawn in the marble bathtub that was sexily out on my balcony. I slunk into it, hoping there were no Peeping Toms around, wallowed marvellously, and collapsed into bed.

In the morning I had a good look around my room, a 680 sq ft Premier category in the Rasa Wing, the super-luxury category of what is now a 304-room resort. The space flows, from marble foyer to marble bathroom, with one glass wall (with blind) looking into the bed part of the main room, which is divided by a ten-foot work desk with lots of electric sockets and speedy wired broadband – there is wireless in public areas, including gardens. The bed is like a mass of white clouds, its bed head a wall of silk panels in the room’s colours, namely golds, persimmon, soft brown. The mini bar comes with a blue martini shaker, the wall-set flat-screen is Philips, the safe has a little box for jewellery, and the notepaper has my name on it. Light switches are all labelled (someone has a lot of common sense, here).

Through the all-glass wall fronting the terrace, I could now see how fabulous the grounds are. Nine of the trees on the total-30 acre estate are protected rainforest species, apparently over a century old. The newly-landscaped walkways and immaculate lawns include a circular arena for weddings. The wing has its own curvilinear salt-water pool – down one S-shaped wall, you can swim past 27 small horizontal water jets into a water protuberance (like the sticking out part of a jigsaw piece) which is a vitality pool. Beyond are shady lawns with wood lounge chairs and tables. Beach concierges bring you discreet wireless bells: ring, and someone comes running, or perhaps cycling, to take your order. Beyond this is the sandy beach, which from later this month will have a full dive centre.

My wake-up run took me around all this, and the executive (that is to say bijou) golf course, and pair of tennis courts, and the neighbouring, more-casual, Garden wing of the hotel. I looked back up at the Rasa wing’s roofs, each of which is built in typical Minangkabau style, like two big open books, spine up, the whole then sprayed with dark brown paint. I admired the clever layout of balconies which means no-one can in fact see anyone having their outdoor baths.

The theatre-style breakfast buffet, in Spice Market, was copious, with fabulous juices-to order, and Greek-type home made yogurt and exotic

fruits. There is Malay hot if you want it, or Chinese, English, Japanese, or anything: all serving stations are decorated with mammoth sculptures of brightly-coloured spices from a local merchant. There is a good gym but most guests, who were predominantly European during my stay, prefer to spend the day outside, being energetic but in the main lounging in a private area somewhere in the grounds. This is a resort to get lost in, if you want. Rasa guests can also lounge in their lobby, which serves complimentary-everything day and evening long. There are 550 employees for the whole resort, and every one seems to know every guest’s name: perhaps the arrival photos are used as aide-memoirs.

It was fortunate that I had a reservation at CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, which appears to be doing thriving business from both sexes. Even getting there is an experience. You hardly realise there is a winding meter-wide walkway that, shielded by a tall bamboo walls, wraps around that curvilinear pool. After 60 steps I found myself in a ten-sided Tibetan house, topped by a giant bell. I was led to Namshe, one of 11 ‘homes’ in the adjacent ‘spa village’. Inside, a foyer led to full bathroom one side, the treatment room the other. Beyond, shielded by an eight foot stone wall and more bamboo, was an outdoor tub for two. My feet were washed, my face was treated, my feet massaged while the mask set. Delicate bells awoke me (a treatment is a great place for a quick shut-eye).

Back in my room, butler Syed had returned my laundry, in a big brown leather box, with interior compartments, each laundered item individually wrapped in crisp tissue paper. The bowl of whole fruits, under a gauze hat, had been replenished. It was time for dinner at the Feringgi Grill, where couples seemingly anonymous by day have been transformed by smart-casual shirts for him and mostly sleeveless-long frocks and quite a lot of jewellery (hers). Walls here are old bricks, the carpet cranberry, table linens white. Add candelabra bearing three twisted gold candles, and mottled green display mats produced by a local glass blower, and view into the night garden or, looking in, across to the kitchen. There is lots of table-side service, with real flambés performed with theatrical panache. Regulars head straight for the beef, mostly Australian. 60% opt for the kobe-style wagyu, which is three times the price of merely grain-fed. Rasa Sayang attracts the value-seeking connoisseur rather than the quality-less penny-pincher.

My bed had been turned down, and my photo, taken the previous night, stood in a souvenir leather frame with the hotel’s name on it. Clever. No wonder there are so many repeat guests here. The night was all too short, room service breakfast arrived with enough of that yogurt to keep centenarians living for many more decades. Downstairs, still pre-dawn, GM Arbind Shrestha – surely the only Nepalese-American GM in the ultra-luxury hotels industry – waited. Well, he said, I am a hotelier. This is my job, and passion. Butler Syed was also there, and he came with me all the way back to the airport.