By Kate OConnor
Located less than an hour outside New York City in New Canaan, Connecticut, Aetheria Relaxation Spa is the ultimate suburban oasis. In fact, the Latin translation of Aetheria is heavenly, and a heavenly experience is what you get the minute you walk through the door.
According to owner Elizabeth Gans, “our philosophy is simple – to provide an unparalleled spa experience in a calm and soothing atmosphere. Whether your pleasure is a massage, a facial, a botanical body treatment or an entire day dedicated to all of the above and more, we can offer you a slice of tranquility. Regardless of the length of your visit with us, you will emerge feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to return to the world.”
Aetheria Relaxation Spa in New Canaan, Connecticut
I have to admit that the idea of hopping on an 11:00 am train last Saturday did not sound so relaxing. I kept thinking to myself as I listened to the incessant buzzing of my alarm clock, “I live in Manhattan. Why am I dragging my hung-over self all the way to Connecticut for a spa treatment?” But then I remembered that I was going to lose my facial virginity. Despite a lifelong obsession with beauty products and spa treatments, I have avoided facials at all costs. I am cursed with the most sensitive skin humanly possible. To put it into perspective, my first attempt at hair dying left me with an allergic reaction so severe that only prescription steroids would reduce the swelling. And since I don’t live in Afghanistan, when it comes to my face (the only part of my body that cannot be easily covered), I generally take a prudent approach. However, after speaking with Elizabeth Gans I decided to throw caution to the wind.
The train dropped me in New Canaan at noon, leaving me with just enough time to leisurely walk through the center of town to the spa, which is about 5 minutes from the railroad station.
The moment I arrived at the historic Victorian home occupied by the Aetheria Relaxation Spa, any anxiety or stress I had began to melt away. The simple, yet chic interior décor and hospitable reception staff made me feel right at home. Natalie, my facialist, was a gem. Her calming and confident demeanor immediately put me at ease and I completely forgot about my sensitive skin. As she led me to the treatment room, Natalie explained that all of the products and services were prepared with pure, organic ingredients.
The Deep Cleansing Facial was an eye opening (or should I say pore opening) experience. After a gentle exfoliation, I was treated to a botanical steam designed to open the pores. While she waited for my pores to expand, Natalie placed a soothing cucumber compresses on my eyes and performed a hand massage. Then it was extraction time! Her approach to pore cleansing is gentle and natural. I was pleased to learn that Natalie doesn’t use metal extraction tools, just her fingertips that are covered with tissue to protect the skin. This was followed up with an organic treatment masque and facial massage. The final step in my pore purification was the application of a concentrated serum designed to infuse my skin with nutrients. I am addicted. My face has never looked or felt better. And although Natalie told me that my skin was young and in good condition, she did suggest trying the Glycolic Peel Facial Treatment Enhancement in the fall.
Even the check-out process at Aetheria is designed to be stress-free. An 18% service fee for the therapist is built into the price of the treatment and the staff makes it clear that additional gratuity is neither necessary nor expected. Recreating the experience at home is a breeze because your therapist provides samples and a list of products that are available for purchase in the spa boutique.
On my way back to the train station, I decided to grab a bite to eat and pop into a few boutiques. Rosie, an adorable gourmet cafe, on Elm Street is the perfect spot for a coffee, pastry, paninni or salad. One word of caution, it was nearly impossible to find a place to sit down because this is a hot local gathering for suburban moms, dads and children on the weekends. Rags, a boutique well known among the preppy set, is a great place to pick up a hot new bikini or a hip dress. My final stop on Elm Street was Design Solutions. I could have spent all day in this quirky home furnishing and gift store. They carry everything from brightly colored Marimekko bed linens and WallCandy decorations to life sized UglyDolls and chic furniture.
Roger Sherman Inn in New Canaan, Connecticut
Most of us, especially New Yorkers, are absorbed in our day-to-day obligations. Whether you are full-time mother, a banker on Wall Street or a twenty-something like me, it is important to take a moment to reconnect your mind and body; and so, Aetheria has put together a variety of spa packages, including those especially designed for couples, the bride & groom, mothers & daughters, best girlfriends, expectant moms and even the gents. For some extra indulgence, plan a weekend getaway and stay overnight in the area. Aetheria recommends the Roger Sherman Inn or the Maple Inn.
A day or a weekend visit to a spa in a peaceful, suburban setting is a great way to chill out, rejuvenate the body and renew the spirit. I highly suggest heading to Aetheria Relaxation Spa for some pampering this summer. With treatments that range from Holistic Health Counseling to Infant Massage there is truly something there for everyone.
Aetheria Relaxation Spa
121 Cherry Street
New Canaan, CT
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, from 10-5 p.m. and Sunday and Monday by appointment.