Beauty

By Maria Fernandez

So, the days are getting shorter, it’s cold outside, and it’s only a matter of time before snow starts to fall. Let’s face it, winter is not the most pleasant time. Unlike our fair weather friends, we can’t fly south for the winter. We can, however, hop in a taxi and make our way to Acqua Beauty Bar. Why you ask? Acqua has given us a reason to ¼ come in out of the cold. With their Winter Warming Package, you’ll be pampered and spoiled, and left feeling warm and toasty from your head to your toes.

The 2 ½ hour experience begins with your choice of one of three sixty minute body treatments. You can choose from the Toasty Cocoa Treatment, Winter Warming Body Treatment or the Herbal Poultice Massage. My pick was the Toasty Cocoa Treatment. This was my first time getting a massage, so I wasn’t sure what was in store for me. After checking in to Acqua, I was greeted by Kim, my masseuse. She led me into the room were my body would be in her tiny hands and she would massage my troubles away. The room was lit only with votive candles and there was soothing music piping through the walls. I was left to disrobe and slide under cool, cotton sheets.

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Kim returned a few minutes later. She asked me which area(s) she should concentrate on, and then she began. I could smell the scent of pure melted cocoa butter and as she started rubbing, massaging, kneading and pulling I could feel myself falling in to a deep trance. She did not leave one joint or muscle unattended. From head to toe, literally, she concentrated on every part of my body. It felt so good, for a moment there, I fell asleep. When she started focusing on my legs, and then feet, Kim placed hot stones down my spine and in my palms. Talk about leaving you toasty inside and out!
Once the muscles in my back turned to putty in her hands, she asked that I turn over so she could concentrate on my neck, head, hands and shoulders. At that point, I was so relaxed I could barely move. I managed to turn over and she began applying pressure to my temples and back of my neck. Sadly, after again almost lulling me to sleep, Kim placed some hot, steamy towels on my arms and chest and she quietly left the room so I could dress. It took a few minutes, for me to gain the strength or will to get up, but I managed because I knew that another treat awaited me at Acqua.

After getting dressed, in a haze, I made my way out to the lobby where Hannah was waiting to lead me to the pedicure chairs. Acqua has six giant pedicure chairs, which just beg for you to sit on them. I hopped right up, rolled up my pants and turned on the chair. As my back was being hammered, my feet were being pumiced, massaged and then soaked in warm soapy water. All the ache from wearing those oh so uncomfortable shoes that we women wear was being soaked away.

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While Hannah was working on my feet, nail specialist Carmen decided to start on my manicure. I’m not sure if this is standard practice, or if they were running behind, but I was more than willing to have my hands spoiled at the same time my feet were. My polish was removed, cuticles trimmed and my nails were shaped perfectly. Simultaneously, my hands and feet were being exfoliated with a brown sugar scrub. Ah, I felt like I was in heaven. If only this could last forever. After the scrub was rinsed off, they both applied propoline cream and started to massage it in to my weary hands and feet. Both my legs and feet were left as smooth as ¼. well a baby’s butt! My hands and feet were dipped in paraffin wax. Filled with whole buckwheat seeds and an aromatherapy sachet, cozy chenille mittens, and booties were slipped on. The secret to the mittens, is that they not only keep you warm, they will heal dry, cracked hands, and feet, with heat and moisture. I put my head back to relax and prayed I could stay at Acqua forever.

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Once Carmen and Hannah came over to remove the booties and paraffin, they then expertly polished my hands and feet. OPI Matador Red is a great perfect red holiday color and Essie Waltz is a sheer white that goes with anything (surprisingly, despite the abuse I give my feet the pedicure is stil in perfect condition!). I was ushered to a table with fans were my feet and hands were rested to dry. As I sadly, got up and prepared to leave the staff from Acqua I took a coconut body wash and lotion so I could could continue the pampering at home. Ok, so maybe I won’t have people waiting on me hand and foot, but at least I can give myself a treat. I left the spa feeling like a brand new woman and I must say that Acqua has made a regular out of me (I have already scheduled my second massage)!

Just in case you don’t have the time, or during the Christmas season, the extra spending money to get yourself pampered at Acqua Beauty Bar, they offer tips on how you can treat yourself at home. Here are a few pointers, that might cure those winter blues:

First, try heating your body lotion by submerging the bottle into a sink full of hot water. It will warm up while you are in the bath or shower. Now you don’t have to try and get the cold lotion to blend into your goose bumps; heated and soothing, the lotion will moisturize and warm. Second, place a warm blanket underneath and on top of you in bed to keep your own body heat close to you all night long. Finally, use a turban wrap made of micro fleece when coming out of the shower. There’s nothing like dripping wet hair to completely reverse the soothing effects of a hot shower. A micro fleece wrap will absorb the water instantly, not only warming your whole body, but also cutting back on ten minutes of blow-drying time.
Acqua Beauty Bar is located at 7 East 14th Street between Fifth Avenue and Union Square West. Appointments can be made by calling 212-620-4329. They offer a wide range of services and you can check them all out on-line at www.acquabeautybar.com.

Originally published December 2005
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