By Mary Corradino
After years of frequent spa ventures, I am thrilled to share my heavenly experience at Cornelia Day Resort. I will begin by listing the numerous “firsts” for me at this luxury oasis on Fifth.
– Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was to my liking, and for a high maintenance spa perfectionist like me that’s saying a lot!
– The results from Cornelia’s hair products are so phenomenal that I get a compliment every time I use them. I rushed back for a purchase the very next day. I’ve been a loyal Fekkai follower for years so finding something I like even more was a huge surprise.
– I’ve been told by those who know me well that they had never heard me rave about a spa experience. One guy friend said “look at her eyes glow,” as I animatedly described my facial to a great gal pal. What can I say? It’s the luxuries in life that get me psyched!
– I just booked 5 more treatments in 2 weeks for myself and 2 friends. After all, it’s only right to share the wealth with my nearest and dearest!
Have I convinced you yet to try this truly divine spa?
What? You say you need more evidence.
Coming up, but I should start from the beginning.
It’s 6:00 p.m. on one of those sweltering July days in NYC. I felt and looked like road kill resulting from two nightmarish work weeks and a dreadful summer cold. To add insult to injury, I was leaving for the Bahamas the following day, dateless, for my ex’s destination wedding. He still thinks we’re friends, and on good days (this isn’t one of them) we are. Naturally, I was having a big ol’ pity party as I headed up to 52nd and Fifth to make my facial appointment at Cornelia Day Resort.
I had heard great things, and the brochure is “to die for” so despite the urge to reschedule due to my aforementioned mini dramas, I arrived on time, but clearly not at my best. The staff was efficient and gracious, and they didn’t seem to notice my disheveled, forlorn appearance. I would soon discover that 5-star service and luxury weaves its way through every aspect of this most outstanding haven in the heart of midtown.
I digress only for a moment to give you a point of reference. “Spa…ing” is my biggest weakness in life. I have traveled extensively on all the continents that matter, and lived in NY most of my life, so I seek out spas everywhere and indulge often. My sister tells me I am the target demographic and should consider volunteering for a spa focus group. Do they really have those? If so, count me in!
Now, most of the time my spa experiences and treatments are good ones, but if I am going to come clean with you, I have always found something lacking in each and every spa I have visited. To me, visiting a spa should be about suspending reality, immersing oneself in beauty and luxury, and turning body and mind over to a skillful technician with a masterful touch. Tall order, I know, and I suppose that is why all to this point have fallen short. I expected Cornelia to be excellent, but frankly, I also assumed I would find something lacking. I have thought about it long and hard for two weeks and can only find praise and admiration for the woman who created such a spectacular experience.
Cornelia Day Resort surpasses destination spas in its beauty, opulence, attention to detail and technical skill of staff. I highly recommend Cornelia to men as well. Your guy will find plasma TVs, wireless Internet and a barber shop. You will both be in heaven. And if all these accolades have made you leery of the prices, they were surprisingly competitive; any premium paid is more than fair when you factor in all the extras and the overall experience.
I would like to share a bit of history and a few more specifics. Romanian-born Cornelia Zicu had such a strong following from her time at the Peninsula that she started this spa. Her mantra is “touch,” which you will find at the heart of each service, product and even the décor. And while touch is the sense most emphasized, I promise you that all your five senses will be stimulated and satisfied. Let me expand.
As you pass through reception, notice the waterfalls gently cascading to a pool covered with floating fresh orchid blossoms. Be sure to leave extra time for the boutique which is filled with lovely one-of-a-kind items. As you are escorted through the spa, the walls beg to be touched. They are exquisitely made with hand cut, hand glazed Moroccan tile and imported Venetian plaster. Sky lights abound, bringing the outdoors in. And the treatment rooms are perfect, from the lighting to the lambs’ wool blankets that grace each table, designed especially for Cornelia by Alex Begg & Company. The Salon, Barber Shop and treatment rooms are state of the art with customized sliding mirrors and chairs designed in Japan by Kita. And I have only touched on some of the many visual pleasures that await you!
There is none, but for the music you request from the 10,000 song iTunes library. Each treatment room is equipped with a laptop for music, or if you prefer, ask for an iPod, courtesy of Cornelia, to help you relax in the outdoor gardens. As for the therapists looking for conversation (my pet peeve), the staff here knows better and will take your lead.
Cornelia believes in the restorative powers of honey and imports some of the best in world. Each treatment begins with a delicate taste to soothe the spirit. And for those of you who can linger, and you will want to, the café menu will not disappoint.
Enhance your treatment with essential oils and try Cornelia’s divine products, inspired by natural botanicals and Romanian tradition; they smell yummy and work even better.
And finally, TOUCH.
Where to begin on a facial that was, by far, the best I have ever experienced? Cornelia believes in customizing every treatment since individual needs are different. The aesthetician and her assistant catered to me, simultaneously working on my face, hands and feet for the entire hour. There wasn’t a minute in which four hands were not skillfully caring for my tired skin and muscles. The bed is designed with a built-in footbath, and I immediately felt the fatigue sliding out of my body as the warm water soothed my work-weary legs and feet. The facial and massage were expert. I will let you discover all the wonderful layers of this “must have” treatment for yourself. Suffice to say, that my skin is very white and sensitive, and I usually leave a facial with my head bowed low (I swear, the red spots aren’t contagious!) Not so, with Cornelia’s careful approach and training. My skin was clear and luminescent. I felt luxurious and relaxed and was looking much perkier, no small feat considering my state at arrival!
I now imagined myself dressing quickly and catching an 8:00 p.m. train home. I hadn’t even begun to pack for my long weekend away. I arrived in the ladies lounge and realized all the lockers looked the same. I didn’t remember which one was mine, and then I saw my name neatly typed and placed in the name plate of my locker, illustrating once again that no detail is overlooked in this paradise.
The clock was ticking, but I decided to take a quick peek at the other amenities and found myself surprised yet again. The lure of Cornelia’s eucalyptus steam room and showers were impossible to ignore. I typically prefer showering at home (high maintenance, again, I know), but Cornelia’s facilities were so beautiful, clean and enticing, they looked too good to pass up, and they delivered. I gladly missed my train for a steam; it would help my cold, I reasoned. And then I discovered spacious, private areas to shower and dress, a rain shower, excellent water pressure (weak water is another pet peeve) and Cornelia’s signature products which I can no longer live without. The shampoo, conditioner and lotion were beyond all my expectations, and I knew I would be back for more. The products unequivocally deserve their very own write up so stay tuned.
And so, dear reader, my story ends the very next day in Nassau. It was 6:00 p.m., and I arrived at the hotel looking quite radiant (if I do say so myself) sporting my flawless Cornelia skin and shiny hair. Imagine my surprise and catty delight when my ex introduced me to his bride and she had an awful, red pimple on her chin. Hmmm, maybe I’ll introduce her to Cornelia or maybe not!
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