Spa

By Susan Romero

Where do Jessica Simpson and other celebrities go for their spa treatments? When in New York City, several stars get pampered at the La Prairie Spa. We thought it would be great to find out if these high-end treatments are really worth it. The La Prairie Spa did not disappoint, and for those who like their spa treatments to be relaxing, this place is nothing short of hedonistic.

The second floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel is dedicated to the cozy, luxurious spa that uses La Prairie products in its treatments. I booked the 90-minute caviar facial with caviar eye treatment, incorporating La Prairie’s signature caviar products. Upon arriving at the second floor, which must be reached by key card access only, I stepped out of the elevator and was warmly greeted by the receptionists.

This may seem like a small thing, but I am no stranger to spas and this was unequivocally, the nicest welcome ever. I imagined I was a VIP client who had just arrived in a limousine. One of the receptionists escorted me down a carpeted hallway, to a curtained area; behind which was a marble floored changing room, replete with La Prairie products and other amenities. I was shown the steam room and shower area, with private doors and aromatherapy sprays.

Next, and very impressive, were the white painted wooden door lockers with personal codes, large enough to fit a Louis Vuitton Neverful GM bag without a squeeze. Clearly, women or at least someone with women in mind, designed these lockers. I was already in heaven when the receptionist asked if I would like a glass of champagne. Yes, I must have left this earth, because I was in bliss.
I changed into the thick white terrycloth robe, and sat in the lounge with my champagne to wait for the treatment. The lounge itself looks more like a small boudoir sitting area, with a chaise lounge and blanket, and two stuffed, upholstered chairs. I sipped my champagne and noticed the water, ice tea, fruit and croissants available on top of a small chest of drawers.

Two other women were in the lounge, one waiting for treatment and the other relaxing on the chaise after having a treatment. That was something new to me. Do you really need to relax more after having your treatment?

Soon someone emerged from Room 5, an esthetician dressed in black. She went to the water and filled a glass, which I presumed was for her to drink. Instead, she stood by the closed door to treatment room 5 and waited. Wow! This was for her client, not her. When the client emerged, fully dressed in head to toe Chanel, including handbag, she shook her head, “No water.” Wow, again.

Within minutes, the same esthetician with the Chanel client, introduced herself to me as Carolina. She had a wonderful, discreet, non-intrusive manner, which appealed to me. The treatment room was tiny but immaculate, and dimly lit. A large signature La Prairie leaf was positioned on the white sheets of the treatment table. Carolina told me to undress and get under the sheets face up. She asked if I had selected my music for the treatment? When I said I hadn’t, she came back with a menu of music. Wow, yet again. I selected the Classical Relaxing Music category, but was unsure what it would be like. Carolina said, “We can change it if you don’t like it.” I’m sure people do that all the time.

I relaxed under the sheets and waited for Carolina to return, which she did instantly. There is really no waiting here. Once the facial began, Carolina gently wrapped my hair in a gauze band. She covered my eyes to turn on the light and inspect my skin, which she said was “beautiful.” Flattery will get her everywhere, as if I needed anything else to win me over now. Lights back off and Carolina began to work her magic on me.

After removing my make-up, Carolina massaged my face and décolleté area. She began steaming my face with a light steam not positioned right on my face, and not too hot. Before I knew it, Carolina began working on my feet by exfoliating and then using hot towels and moisturizer, followed by plastic wrap and a heated foot covering on each foot. She did the same treatment on each hand and arm until I was nearly floating off to sleep. I did book a facial, didn’t I?

Carolina returned to my face and began mild, painless extractions, followed by more facial massage and a caviar mask. Although I wasn’t covered in actual caviar, the cell rejuvenating properties of the fish eggs sank into my skin. Caviar has vitamins A, D, B1, B2 and B6 which helps increase collagen production and hydrates the skin. While the mask seeped into my skin, Carolina massaged and moisturized my décolleté area further and then placed a warm towel under my neck and on my shoulders for the duration of the mask.

Somewhere along the way my eyes were given a lift with the La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Lift cream treatment. Much of my time in treatment room 5 is a blissful blur as I listened to classical music and felt the constant touch of Carolina’s gentle, yet firm hands from my earlobes (yes, she massaged them too) to my toes. She never left the room.

When my treatment was over, I was so limp I felt drugged. When I came out, Carolina must have thought I looked like I would pass out and she said I could sit down on the chaise lounge. I did, and she covered me with the blanket and put an aromatherapy neck pillow around my neck. Of course, I also had the water that was waiting for me. I must say, I understood why one might need to relax after these treatments. It was almost too relaxing, if that is possible.

Back in the dressing room, I spoke with a young woman who preferred to remain anonymous. She told me that she visits this spa once a month because it is always consistently good. At other spas you never know what you will get each time. She said she would rather come to La Prairie less often, and know it will be good, than go elsewhere more frequently. She loves Carolina, and always books appointments with her, although everyone is good.

I know that I am hooked on La Prairie. My skin looks firmer, smoother and younger, and if relaxation is your goal, this is the place to go. But it should come with a warning: May cause drowsiness. Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery after!

La Prairie at the Ritz-Carlton Spa is located at 50 Central Park South, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10019. Contact the spa at 212-521-6135 or visit their website at http://www.ritzcarlton.com, and look under Spa.

Originally published July 2011
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