By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
The word ceremony is defined as a formal act or set of acts performed as prescribed by ritual or custom. An exclusive Peninsula Ceremony is one ritual every New Yorker needs to follow – religiously. I had the immense pleasure of having the Deep Tissue Experience at the New York Peninsula Hotel’s luxurious Spa by Espa. The ultimate goal: relaxation. And all the ingredients were there to help me achieve just that.
It is always recommended to arrive at your spa appointment early, so as to take advantage of the spa facilities. But at the Peninsula Spa by Espa, it might as well be a requirement. In true New Yorker fashion, I arrived in barely the nick of time, drenched from a torrential downpour and worried about leaving my one year old with his rather frazzled grandmother for more than a couple of hours. So, you can imagine my initial sigh of exasperation and frustration when I was pleasantly welcomed by the calm, soothing voices of the Peninsula staff. Fortunately for me, the staff didn’t get caught up in my own stressed out nervous energy, but rather stayed the course and led me on a journey to total bliss.
The Peninsula Spa by Espa is a contemporary and inviting space, immaculately designed with the warm tones and textures of nature. Even the fitness room and indoor pool area (which guests of the spa can enjoy for the day when one receives at least 2 hours of treatments), make you feel as though you’re in woodsy lodge; and yet, you can still enjoy an unforgettable view of 5th avenue and Central Park. Asian, Ayurvedic and European philosophies inspire the Espa approach, as well as their exclusive skincare products. At all of the Spas by Espa (which exist throughout the US and internationally), one can expect a holistic spa experience, where luxury meets spirituality.
Each of the Peninsula Ceremonies begins with a Tea Ceremony to be enjoyed in the cozy, dimly lit relaxation lounge. I was asked to choose amongst three unique teas by responding to each scent. I surprised myself by opting for the citrus blend rather than their signature Rose tea. After Margarita brought me to the treatment room, I started to relax a bit more while enjoying the relaxing foot ritual (a soak in hot water with a gentle foot massage and exfoliation). I was then asked to do another ‘scent-test’ and choose the products to be used during the 2 hour Deep Tissue Experience. Personally choosing one’s treatment products is a luxury, if not unheard of at most spas and yet, here, it seemed to be a given. Such a simple yet brilliant concept! Though I initially felt a bit of pressure to choose the perfect scent for my ‘experience’, I enjoyed each step of the treatment on a deeper level as a result of my having to choose the products myself.
Couple’s Private Spa Suite
The ceremony officially began with the sound of a chime, and as I breathed in the aromatherapy oils from the bowl beneath me (I was face down on the massage table), I felt my body release….and Margarita hadn’t even laid a hand on me yet! She began with a dry body brushing which tickled at times but generally felt wonderful (I often prefer the scratch of an exfoliation to a massage). A full body exfoliation followed by a facial cleanse prepared my body head to toe for the therapeutic massage. Since I couldn’t pinpoint one particular area of tension, Margarita decided a general Swedish massage would be ideal for me.
Following the relaxing but results producing massage, I experienced what is known as body rocking and rotational movements in which Margarita would rock and stretch my normally inflexible body. The combination of these techniques along with the massage helped center and align my body and mind. But I think I attained the highest level of bliss during the 15 minute-long scalp massage…though let it be said – I wouldn’t give up the first 105 minutes of the Deep Tissue Experience for anything. I felt tingly and pleasantly lightheaded when I heard the sound of the chime again, signifying the conclusion of the treatment. I then headed to the women’s locker room where I enjoyed the aromatherapy steam room and their signature ice fountain and indulged in a lengthy rain shower.
At the beginning of the ceremony, I was asked if I wanted to feel relaxed, energized or balanced at the end of the experience. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t decide on what I wanted. But it didn’t matter; somehow, I managed to feel all three.
The Peninsula Spa by Espa
700 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street
New York, New York 10019
Until the end of the year (through December 31st, 2009), spa-goers can enjoy a full day of pampering for $250; included are two treatments, lunch, yoga and core classes, full use of the facilities, and two ESPA products to take home.