With the focus on merging the elements of science and nature through skin care lines such as Skin Ceuticals and Naturopathica, Spa Merge (www.hilton.com) opened earlier this year in the West 57th Street by Hilton Club, a new boutique hotel/time share concept in mid-town Manhattan
Located just down the street from Fifth Ave. boutiques and drawing a local clientele of 25-65 year-old female business executives, Spa Merge offers a full range of treatments from body scrubs and detoxifying wraps, glycolic lactic peels, spray tans and Vichy showers, to Vitamin C facials and mani/pedis.
Muscles tight from hunching over a laptop and working out at the gym, I opted for their Fusion Massage, a relaxing 90-minute signature treatment that combines elements of Swedish, deep tissue and aromatherapy massages.
After checking in with the receptionist, I was led past a lavender-hued mani-pedi area made semi-private with draping of gossamer sheers. The ultra-modern spa does not have sauna or steam room facilities but they do offer a $30 Hydro Tub Bathing Ritual, a 15-minute turbo Jacuzzi experience helping to relax muscles prior to a treatment.
I followed the receptionist down a candle-lit corridor towards one of nine treatment rooms – each of them private suites that also serves as an individual relaxation/change room.
The room is small but large enough for a shower with room to change and a place for post-treatment amenities such as make-up remover, hair gel and hair brushes.
It is here that guests are offered robes and slippers and invited to relax and enjoy a selection of Tazo teas. I sat down on the massage table, downed the “Zen” and slipped between toasty microfiber linens warmed with a wool fleece heating pad.
After a few minutes, my therapist entered into the room and introduced herself. As she prepared a small dish of lavender aromatherapy oils, she explained the treatment. One benefit of this Fusion Massage, she says, “is its adaptability to client needs using a combination of different massage techniques.”
Ninety minutes later, deeply relaxed to the point of almost drooling into an illuminated bowl of aromatherapy oils set on the floor under the face cradle, I was saddened to be carefully awoken.
Basking in post-massage relaxation is one of the best parts of getting a treatment, yet here in the treatment room, I had a hard time prolonging the relaxation. Lacking comfy lounge chairs, there was nowhere to sit but on the treatment table. So there I sat, feeling rather awkward, sipping a shot of cranberry juice and nibbling on a slice of shortbread cookie brought to me by the therapist following the treatment.
While clients are encouraged to use the privacy of their individual spa suite for post treatment relaxation, there is a shared lounge area. Decorated in cool tones of lavender, grey and white, the space is intimate, but pleasant and help-yourself offerings include orange-infused water, trail mix, fresh Granny Smith apples and a selection of specially-ordered purple M&Ms (selected, it seems, to match the décor) to snack on. There is no reading material offered…so if curling up with your favourite fashion mag is part of your spa ritual, BYO Vogue.
Julia Dimon is a freelance writer and co-host of the TV show Word Travels. For more from Julia, go to: www.traveljunkiejulia.com.