Travel

By Erika Hilson Palmer

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Maybe if I close my eyes and wish real hard, I will wake up in my room at the Plaza and all of a sudden my name will be Eloise. Well, let’s be honest, I could give two hoo-ha’s about being named Eloise as long as I have constant access to the Spa on the lower level of the hotel. I was fortunate enough to get to experience the luxe that is the Spa at the Plaza, and I’d like to share that experience with all of you…

It was a typical New York summer day – hot, humid, rainy…I had just left work, and I, as my mother would say, felt like dreck. As the elevator doors opened on the lower level of the oh-so-famous and fabulous hotel, I experienced something that only a few lucky folks have had the pleasure of experiencing in their lives, and it’s usually when they’re in the moves: background music. Yes, I had my own background music (think angelic choirs); and I, in slow motion of course, looked around wide-eyed with a big smile (think Herbal Essences lady emerging from her post herbal experience elevator ride), and then emerged from the elevator into the marbled fantasy land that is the four-year-old Spa at the Plaza. I was there to receive an 80 minute Peppermint Foot Treatment, and my battered and blistered New Yorkified summer feet couldn’t wait any longer.

I was escorted to the locker room area, which I knew had to be up to a certain fab standard, but nonetheless, Erika hates locker rooms, and I can’t help but gulp at the thought of going into one. And, release the breath, it’s all going to be OK…the locker room isn’t one of those typical spa/gym locker rooms where all you want are a blindfold and flip-flops. I would have been happy living in this locker room-and in fact tried to think of a way to make that happen. Each locker has it’s own locking system (each person using the locker comes up with his/her own code, and the lockers get reprogrammed after each visitor). The lockers all contain a pair of terry slippers and a terry robe-yep, the same kind of robe you would find upstairs in the rooms that you’ve always dreamt of snatching when no one was looking. In the center of the locker room is a gimense whirlpool-I know that you don’t necessarily know what my apartment looks like, but the whirlpool was bigger than my studio’s sleeping alcove. Yes, I could fit my bed in the whirlpool-that’s a reality check, people, I’ll be honest. The showers are all cleaned in-between each use (and fitted with floor mats, towels…the works); and the bathrooms have everything a woman may need in a pinch from tampons to a toothbrush and toothpaste. I was then escorted to the waiting room area, which looked more like a mini version of the lobby of the hotel than a waiting room in a spa.

Now, it’s my turn…I like my turn, especially when it involves an 80 minute foot treatment with a paraffin dip. I was greeted by Tina–a veteran massage therapist at the Spa, who took me into the Spa Suite for Two. All the treatment rooms are together in one corridor that is located between the men’s and women’s locker room areas. The Spa suites (for uno or dos) have private whirlpools, bathrooms, and showers. These suites are excellent because they allow for anyone and everyone to be able to come in and enjoy the comfort and yumminess of the spa services regardless of comfort levels, religious backgrounds, or whatever else may stop you from wanting or being able to enjoy a spa-that mole on your arse that no one’s ever seen-you can now still keep that a secret). Now, with all that aside, how FABULOUS is it that you and whomever-your honey, your mom, your sister-can go and enjoy the Spa together? That calls for an exclamation point…!

So, now, from personal experience, I can tell you that the Spa Suite for Two is AMAZING, and I hope you all get to experience it one day. The Peppermint Foot Treatment started with a cleansing scrub, and the paraffin dip and heat wrap (take note-there is a 50 minute Peppermint Foot Treatment that does not include the paraffin dip-but it’s excellent, and I personally feel like it is the icing on a cake-it’s just better with it). During the paraffin treatment, I received an arm, shoulder, and neck rub-enough said. I know that after the massage, the paraffin came off, reflexology happened on my feet, and peppermint lotion and oil was involved; however, I have no recollection of it cause I fell asleep. Snoring, dreaming, the works. Good reporting skills, right? Well, I suppose the fact that I fell asleep speaks for the massage itself, no?

After I got over the shock of having to wake up, get dressed, and face reality that I had to leave the spa (if any of you were curious, no, I did not find a way to be able to live at the spa, but I am still working on it), I went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth because I could, packed my bags, and sadly said goodbye to the Plaza Spa. I noticed that I didn’t have background music to accompany my exit-my 15 minutes of fame and stardom were obviously up (and I got it without being on a Reality TV program-say “no” to Reality TV and say “yes” to the Plaza Spa, is apparently the lesson of the day). This was a luscious experience that I hope to be able to enjoy again some day. The service at the Spa is impeccable, the amenities are unbeatable, and you really will feel like a queen (or should I say, Eloise) for a day.

Is there more to the Spa than just massage-goodness, whirlpools, showers, and saunas?

What more do you want, people??? There is also a health club that is apart of the Spa facilities. This is a gym that even the most exercise fearing gym-a-phobe would enjoy attending (or at least looking at). The gym is available to any guest of the hotel or to visitors (through a special arrangement with the management) for a $50 charge; and, New York residents can become members of this gym for a $1200 initiation fee and $160 per month. The gym as all of the standard cardiovascular and weight machines, but nothing about this gym is standard. All of the cardio machines are equipped with personal television screens and headsets (a fresh pair per guest and per visit). Workout clothing and sneakers are available on-hand for guests and members (fresh and clean, of course), which is perfect for visitors who forgot to pack their sneaks or busy business-folk who didn’t have a chance to pack up their gear before they left for work in the morning – or just don’t feel like carrying that shlumpy gym bag around with you all day, which is something I experience quite frequently. A beautiful mural of Central Park covers the walls behind the cardio and weight machines, which is excellent for me because, whereas I do enjoy the beauty of the park, my allergies and dislike for bugs and dirt keeps me from really enjoying exercising in the park itself. However, if you are a fan of New York nature, the Spa offers A Walk in the Park ($100)-a 60-minute tour/workout through Central Park. The gym also has personal trainers available if you need a little extra oomph getting that tuchus in gear-and I know this, cause my tuchus needs some Plaza loving to get it in gear. Well, a little bit of Plaza loving couldn’t hurt anything, right?

I had an opportunity to speak with Sandra Sadowski, manager of the Plaza Spa, and get her expertise opinion about the Spa and why it is so fabulous.

According to Sandra, the three most popular treatments offered at the Spa are the 80-minnute Aromatherapy Massage ($195.00); the 80-minute Peppermint Foot Treatment ($165 – and it really is to die for); and the Plaza Signature Facial ($190), which was just featured in Spa Finder magazine.

Every ying has its yang, and in this case, it’s paraffin dips. Sandra says that not too many people opt to get paraffin dips during their treatments because it’s not as much of a hands-on treatment. Excuse the editorial irony here, but I think that if you’re getting your hands dipped in paraffin, it is very much a hands-on treatment, and it feels damn good. So, this is Erika’s parenthetical insert of the article–don’t skip out on paraffin…it’s good for your skin, and it’s worth tacking it on to your treatment.

70% of the visitors to the Plaza Spa are guests at the hotel. There is a fairly vast age range that you’ll see at the Spa – mid 20s to late 50s/early 60s–and the male to female ratio is 50/50. Sandra mentioned that they do have a celebrity clientele, but she was unable to disclose who they were for privacy reasons. Ooh, don’t you just want to know though?? I’ll have to go back and just wait around, get a massage or two (and maybe a facial) and find out for myself. As of right now, no one under the age of 18 is allowed to utilize the Spa or heath club facilities, but Sandra and her staff are working on developing retreats for young adults in the near future. Other services that you can expect to see soon at the Spa are seasonal packages and…a four-handed massage. Book your appointment now, because I’ve already booked the first 500 open slots for myself.

And lastly, when I asked Sandra why she thought the Plaza Spa stands out from the rest of the New York spas, she said that not only is the spa itself aesthetically gorgeous, but they also offer several unique treatments that are only offered at the Plaza Spa (like the Signature Facial and the Perppermint Foot Treatment). Furthermore, Sandra noted that she tries to explore other spas in the area on a monthly basis, and absolutely no one else’s service compares to that at the Plaza Spa. I can tell you after having visited the spa, you are treated like royalty from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave, and the staff goes out of their way to make sure that every part of your spa experience is exactly how you envisioned it to be.

Oh, and I asked Sandra what her favorite treatment is: the Body Melt. Of course, the Spa’s menu only lists this baby as being 50 minutes long; however, Sandra gets the benefits of all the massage goodness for a full 110 minutes. It’s good to be the manager. Are there any positions available? Please….

For more information about the Plaza Spa, you can refer to their website.

Originally published September 2003
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