By Sharon Gomes Thomas

Every other month or so, I find myself in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York, a mere three hours from the city. This quaint little town filled with beautiful Victorian homes is a stone’s throw from my parent’s home. It’s also home to Skidmore College and more importantly, the Saratoga Race Course.


During racing season — late July to early September — this sleepy town is a hotbed of activity. Flashy cars will be seen parked outside cozy restaurants on Broadway, the main thoroughfare. And forget about trying to get an appointment at the local beauty salon – every stylist and manicurist is booked, fussing over the wives of the racing elite. If you’re lucky, you might find a slot at Tips And Toes.

Tips And Toes Nail Studio
219 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Ph: 518-581-8477


This past Thanksgiving, after a hectic holiday of cooking and cleaning, Mom and I decided that we would treat ourselves to a visit to the Crystal Spa. As the town’s name implies, Saratoga is also home to about 15 active minerals springs. Back in its heyday, the likes of the Vanderbilt family used to vacation here.

The Crystal Spa
120 South Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY
Ph: 518-584-2556


As rumor goes, Cornelius Vanderbilt, while eating lunch at Moon’s Lake House, complained that his fried potatoes were not sliced thin enough for his taste. The cook at the restaurant, George Crum, was so furious that he sliced the potatoes paper-thin, fried and salted them, and sent them back out. Instead of ruining Vanderbilt’s meal, he enjoyed them immensely. So, we can thank Mr. Vanderbilt and Mr. Crum for our cellulite thighs and our many hours at the gym.


I genuinely like the Crystal Spa. It’s a straightforward spa that offers really good treatments with minimal pretense. They only offer rejuvenation treatments, like massages, facials and wraps. No beauty treatments of the mani-pedi-makeup kind. When we entered the foyer, we were greeted by the lovely aroma of lavender in a Victorian style foyer. The foyer was also filled with a large party of women who were waiting for their Rejuvenator, a special package comprising the Aromatherapy Sauna, a private 25 minute Mineral Bath, followed by a 30 minute Massage or Mini-facial. The efficient staff whisked them into their treatment rooms, with minimal fuss. Mom and I didn’t have to wait for very long for our own technicians, who greeted us with a cup of mineral water (yes, straight from their limestone Rosemary Spring), to escort us for our own half time of relaxation.


I chose to have a Mineral Bath. My private treatment room was comfortable and unfussy, with a couple of towels and soft music. A bath tub was on one side and a treatment table on the other. The tub was filled with water from the limestone spring mixed with tap water to bring it to a comfortable temperature for soaking. After 25 minutes in the mineral water, I could feel (imagined or real, I don’t know) that all the toxins in my body had miraculously melted through my pores. The minerals in the water are supposed to be therapeutic, with elements like iron, and are said to increase blood circulation and soften the skin.


When I stepped out of the bath onto the treatment table, I certainly felt relaxed. My technician came back into the room after half an hour with a warm sheet, enveloping my body. She also brought in two cool cucumber slices for my eyes. Then she left me again, for me to emerge from my restful state and change into my street clothes. At no time did I feel hurried or intruded upon. Mom had a similar revitalizing experience with her Swedish Massage in her own private room. We both agreed that our sessions were far too short. Don’t we always wish for a longer pampering session? We plan to indulge ourselves the next time with the Aromatherapy Sauna, a private 25 minute Mineral Bath, followed by a 60 minute Massage or Facial – a special package called the Crystal Experience.
Make your way up north to Saratoga Springs and the Crystal Spa.

The Crystal Spa
120 South Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY
Ph: 518-584-2556

Originally published January 2008
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