Few people would associate New York City as a place to relax and unwind. After all it’s the city that never sleeps. Yet, as Sheree Mutton discovered there's a new spa and wellness movement gaining momentum to cater for the many health-conscious tourists and residents who are in desperate need of some downtime in the Big Apple.
After a long day of sightseeing and sporadic work meetings (not to mention the lingering effects of jet-lag), there’s nothing quite like slipping on a warm fluffy robe and having a spa treatment to relax the mind and body. Following a cup of herbal tea in the tranquil Oriental Tea Lounge, I’m now waist deep in a ‘vitality’ plunge pool high above the iconic New York skyline – 35 floors to be exact – at the five-star luxury hotel Mandarin Oriental. I’m told that the soaking pool helps with aching muscles and joints; while increasing energy and improving the skin’s softness. Everything you need after a long flight!
This spa has truly earned its five-star status with its Asian oriental-inspired décor, amethyst-crystal steam chambers and beautiful relaxation areas. Inspired by ancient traditions, the spa offers a range of holistic treatments to suit your individual needs and bring balance back to the mind, spirit and soul. During the 80-minute Calm Mind Retreat treatment, which is designed to ease stress, my therapist, Jim, uses signature oils to massage my spine, shoulders, neck and face. Within 15 minutes, I already feel more flexible, relaxed and energised. So if you’re yawning your way through your New York adventure, set aside some time for this treatment. The Jade Stone Facial is also popular among guests, which promises to deliver more even-toned and glowing skin.
If you prefer an even more luxe experience, there are two spa suites, which offer greater privacy and calming areas to relax and rejuvenate. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the 75-foot lap pool and well-equipped gymnasium – both of which make the most of the spectacular skyline and Hudson River views. Guests are encouraged to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to their scheduled treatment to make the most of the facilities and prepare the body for a therapeutic experience.
The spa at the Mandarin Oriental is located at 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street New York. Reservations: +1 (212) 805 8880. www.mandarinoriental.com/newyork
For more than a century, Elizabeth Arden has been the leader of personal pampering. The iconic Red Door spas are a symbol of beauty around the world, so it’s no surprise their new Union Square spa has become a popular place for the women of New York. The spa allows modern ladies a brief escapism from their busy lives – whether it’s for an hour, an afternoon or an entire day. The two-storey, 10,000 square-foot spa in the busy centre that is Union Square is perfect for those seeking a quick beauty fix or a refreshing treatment.
Walking through the double-doors, the spa is everything you would expect from this renowned brand. A luxurious red and marble interior; featuring decorative floors and luxe lounges. After checking in at the front desk, I’m escorted down the steps, where I change into a lush robe and begin my relaxation in the waiting room with a cold beverage. This time, I opt for the Red Door Signature Massage, which is 50 minutes of pure heaven and an instant holiday lifter. My masseuse, Neisha, uses essences of shea butter cream, facial acupressure and foot reflexology for head to toe balance and relaxation.
Remember this is the ultimate refuge for those in need of pampering, so take advantage of the range of services at the spa. The experienced and friendly staff offer everything from blowouts to manicures; haircuts and facials. You can also browse and shop the Elizabeth Arden skincare and make-up lines on the top floor, with the help of professional make-up artists who can assist with the selection of products that suit your skin type.
The Red Door, Elizabeth Arden is located at 200 Park Avenue South New York. Reservations: +1 (212) 388 0222. www.reddoorspas.com
At the very core of The Peninsula, is improving the health and wellness of guests. Earlier this year, the hotel chain relaunched their wellness program across all of the 10 luxury hotels, recognising that guests staying in luxurious hotel accommodations were seeking to relax and rejuvenate mind and body. The award-winning tri-level Peninsula Spa, located on the 21st floor and above, features a selection of signature treatments that blend Asian, European and Ayurvedic philosophies. There are 11 tranquil rooms, seven of which feature private showers. A collection of treatments are available, including facials, therapeutic massages and body treatments.
The staff here are outstanding and the opulent Asian Tea Lounge is a serene place to begin your relaxing experience. The 60-minute massage truly allows you to leave your worries… and the world behind. It only takes about five minutes for the beautiful oil aromas to fill the treatment room and the knot in my shoulders to disappear. Shortly after, I completely check out. I wake to find my deep-seated tension gone and my tired muscles revitalized. Luckily, I left enough time following my relaxing massage to soak up the sun’s rays on the beautiful Sun Terrace, which is a spectacular outdoor dining area for brunch or afternoon tea.
The Peninsula Spa is located at 700 Fifth Avenue at 55 Street, New York. Reservations: +1 (212) 903 3910. newyork.peninsula.com
Where to stay
There are several hotels to stay at in New York City that will help you relax and unwind.
This hotel is truly an intimate and hip luxury hideaway in the concrete jungle. As it says on the hotel’s website; “Tribeca is a place to relax – Smyth is its living room.” Away from the busy streets of Midtown, this 100-room boutique hotel is a sanctuary of comfort, allowing guests to indulge in several artistic living spaces. There’s the luxurious hand-crafted cocktail lounge, Evening Bar, or the impressive Little Park restaurant by award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini to choose from. Both are exceptional with quality produce and friendly staff. The hotel also offers complimentary town car service – a huge plus for anyone who has their heart set on a restful stay.
The hotel is best described as being a time capsule – a cross between the old and modern New York City, which has made only the essential concessions to fit with current times. The 23-storey, 1905 landmark building still retains many of the original features and its location in the heart of Manhattan offers the perfect base to explore the Big Apple. The rooms are comfortable and super luxurious, offering dream-like views of the city and Central Park. Make sure you head to Salon de Ning – a chic rooftop bar that would happily satisfy even the Carrie Bradshaws of the city with its panoramic views of the glittering Manhattan skyline.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel with better views than the grand Mandarin Oriental at Columbus Circle. The world-renowned hotel is superior in both quality and service. With 198 beautiful rooms and 46 spacious suites, the midtown building has a prime location overlooking Central Park. The stylish décor flows from the reception and hallways into the guest rooms. The roomy marble bathrooms, combined with plush terry bathrobes and impeccable twice daily housekeeping services, will cement your stay as a truly special experience. Be sure to enjoy a gourmet meal at the hotel’s sensational Modern American Asiate restaurant, which has an impressive 3,000 wine bottle collection, while soaking up the breathtaking city backdrop. Alternatively, head to the Lobby Lounge, which serves as an unforgettable finish to a day in New York and is a great place to grab a drink and unwind.