The “Journey” Uptown:
Honoring Body, Mind and Spirit at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel


This is the time of the year when I get the “blues” and my usual course of treatment has been retail therapy. Nirvana is located at 60th street in Manhattan. No, not at Bloomingdale’s post season sale…but at the 14,500-square-foot Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where the Signature Two Hour Time Ritual is an experience that transcends mere massage.

Feeling sluggish Tuesday but energetic Friday? Be assured that your Time Ritual will be a different experience, since it is designed to restore one’s natural state of equilibrium, which can shift daily. The Spa’s Time Rituals call upon traditions of Chinese, Ayurvedic, European, Balinese and Thai cultures and are performed in harmonious stages: Welcome, Purify, Nurture, Balance and Bliss. Depending on the state of body, spirit and mind at the time of your appointment, you may experience three stages or all five.

Initially, I had asked that a sports massage and chakra balancing be part of my ritual, not fully understanding that the treatment would be based on what I would need at the time of my appointment. According to Denise Vitello, Spa Director, I needed to go with the flow…of my own unique energy at the time of treatment. “Each Time Ritual is customized to the individual based off the consultation during the welcome phase of the Time Ritual. These are not basic massage techniques but advanced therapies requiring extensive training differentiating our service from all other spa massages”, she told me.

I was encouraged (but could not manage) to arrive 40 minutes prior to my scheduled treatment to immerse myself in the crystal steam room, where guests lie in hot mineral water on a suspended cushion of air while being gently massaged by hydrotherapy body jets. The hectic pace of the day had me arriving just a few minutes before my appointment.

After changing in the ultra-luxe women’s lounge, I was greeted by my Journey Therapist, Nicolette McCalman who formally welcomed me by honoring an age-old Indian hospitality ritual of washing my feet in warm water containing crystals and sea salts, to prepare me for the journey ahead. She sounded Tibetan cymbals three times and my Time Ritual was underway.

Nicolette, who has a friendly and gentle manner, was the perfect spa therapist for me; attentive and down to earth, we discussed my likes and dislikes, (not a big fan of facials and dislike claustrophobia inducing body wraps). We agreed to begin with a thorough exfoliation (Purifying stage) that utilized ESPA’s Exfoliating Body Polish, which contains soothing aloe and stimulating apricot particles ( Using ESPA Skin Brush, the process was rhythmically soothing. After “purification,” I showered; now ready to begin the “nurturing” stage of my journey. Beginning with Aromatherapy, Nicolette had me choose one of several aromatic oil blends. I chose without hesitation the ESPA Fitness Body Oil, which has an exotic clove and lavender scent and relaxes muscular tension.

She performed one of the best deep tissue massages that I have ever experienced in New York City, as well as incorporated Shiatsu, Reiki and Hot Stone Massage Therapy. Next, was an unforgettable Chakra Balancing that had such a profound effect on my spirit, that three days after the treatment I was still experiencing its effect.

Since the Chakra Balancing Therapy was the most time intensive, we did not complete all five stages of our journey. When I go back to see Nicolette at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for my next Time Ritual, I look forward to ending with the last stage of the journey. Nirvana, indeed.

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, New York
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, New York 10023
Contact: (212) 805 8880 or send an email to: [email protected]
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is open from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm seven days a week.

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