Investigating The County's Top Spas

We did some hard-core investigating in the field: visiting the county’s top spas to find their most effective, most pampering, most luxurious treatments.


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Massage therapists at THANN Sanctuary learn their techniques in Thailand, where the Bangkok THANN spas are considered some of the best in Asia (and the world).

Sanctuary is an apt name for the ultra-elegant THANN Sanctuary Spa at the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, with its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the treetops, striking décor in soothing earth tones, and top-notch services and amenities. Indeed, the head therapists spent six weeks in Thailand before the spa opened to not only learn the THANN techniques (the expanding spa and skincare enterprise is based in Bangkok), but to pick up Thai culture and recreate it here in Westchester. Popular throughout Asia, it is the first THANN in the US. 

Not surprisingly, the most popular treatment is the Traditional Thai Massage (90 minutes, $200), sometimes called “lazy man’s yoga.” Unlike with most massages, the guest wears loose-fitting clothing, and, rather than on a table, the massage takes place on a thick mattress on the floor. The therapist then bends and twists you this way and that, making it the perfect treatment for those who know they should go to a yoga class, but would rather have a massage. Add-ons, like lemongrass and ginger compresses (120 minutes, $280 including massage) up the ahhh factor. 

To celebrate its first anniversary, THANN is offering a special deal: Book the THANN Sanctuary Signature Massage (90 minutes, $185) and the Nano Shiso Anti-Aging Facial (70 minutes, $160), and get a complimentary 30-minute body scrub.

The 8,700-square-foot facility—in a separate building from the hotel—has seven treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge, and separate dressing areas for men and women, both with whirlpool baths and steam rooms. A deluxe VIP treatment suite has proved to be a popular destination for couples, or individuals wanting more private space, and features side-by-side massage beds, a soaking tub overlooking the grounds, and a gazebo in a private garden. All treatments include complimentary use of spa facilities including the fitness room.

THANN Sanctuary Spa at Castle Hotel & Spa, 400 Benedict Ave, Tarrytown (914) 524-6392; www.thannsanctuaryspany.com


The VIP suite at THANN


The Ritz Treatment

Oh, just go ahead and make a day of it at The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton: Book a Seasonal Indulgence body scrub (Winter Solstice, Spring Awakenings, Summer Radiance, Fall Surrender; 90 minutes, $230); relax in the lounge area, surrounded by billowy curtains; work out in the fitness center; take a dip in the indoor rooftop pool; get your hair styled in the full-service salon; then top it off with dinner at 42 The Restaurant—all without leaving the building.

Two new hair treatments have recently been added to the menu of services: Sugar Shot, an exfoliating treatment for the scalp, and Sweet Shot, a conditioning treatment to protect color and nourish the hair shaft ($25 each or $40 for both). And, of course, they smell as divine as they feel. You pick one of six Zents aroma oils: Sun, Earth, Fresh, Ore, Mandarin, and Water, which is then gently massaged into the scalp. 

“Too often we neglect the treatment of our scalp and only focus on our hair,” says Cecile Chapaveyre, salon services lead. “The Sugar Shot stimulates hair follicles and improves overall circulation. The scrub and massage serves, quite literally, to relieve the tension, which promotes healthier hair growth.”  Chapaveyre recommends that women receive one of these treatments two times a month, while men can follow a less vigorous schedule. The Sweet Shot conditioning treatment begins with a massage using one of the Zents aroma oil options. The hair is then shampooed, massaged with conditioner, and wrapped in a steamed towel to allow the nutrient-rich formula to work its magic. A day of pure bliss, head to toe.

The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, 3 Renaissance Sq, White Plains, (914) 467-5888; www.ritzcarlton.com/westchester 


The serene setting at The Spa at Ritz-Carlton


An Oasis of Calm

We’ve got just three words for you: Muscle Meltdown Massage (starting at $130 for 60 minutes). A divine combo of moist heat packs and cool marble stones, it’s the No. 1 massage treatment at Oasis Day Spa. (Fitness enthusiasts might want the Arnica option to soothe sore muscles.) As you’d expect with 16 treatment rooms (including a couples’ suite) in 6,400 square feet of space, there are plenty of other treatments to choose from: wraps, hair services, tanning, facials. “Our aestheticians and clients have been blown away by our Eminence Citrus C and Kale Facial [60 minutes, $145],” says Christie Lavigne, director of skincare at Oasis. “This new treatment incorporates all the benefits of a traditional Eminence facial plus a powerful antioxidant infusion of vitamins C and E, which protect the skin and combat signs of aging, all while brightening and hydrating the skin—a perfect winter treatment.” 

While not new, microcurrent is getting a lot of buzz these days. “It’s one of those treatments that keeps coming back and is one of the most effective tools we have to lift the skin,” Lavigne says. Tiny pulses of a low level of electricity (microcurrent) trigger chemical reactions at the cellular level to boost production of natural collagen and elastin, enhancing circulation and tightening the muscles under the skin. A series of 10 is recommended, but results are noticeable after only one visit, Lavigne assures. The first treatment includes a full facial (75 minutes, $175), with follow-up treatments (45 minutes, $125) scheduled every one to two weeks. 

While it’s a bit chilly this time of year to enjoy it, we are particularly fond of Oasis’ rooftop garden—often the site of parties and special spa events—with its Zen-like charm, along with the spacious relaxation room with its selection of teas and healthy snacks. A boutique sells hair- and skin-care products, candles, clothing, and gifts.

Oasis Day Spa, 50 Livingstone Ave, Dobbs Ferry (914) 409-1900; www.oasiswestchester.com


The rooftop lounge at Oasis


Best of Both Worlds

Jonathan Adler, Eames, and Philippe Starck furnishings set a glamorous tone at Bellava MedAesthetics & Plastic Surgery Center, a lovely 3,000-square-foot medi-spa that combines medical services with decadent spa pampering. The medi side, led by board-certified plastic surgeon Chang Soo Kim, MD, offers injections, fillers, laser liposuction, hair removal, and skin resurfacing. Medical procedures like tummy tucks, facelifts, and breast enhancement are performed in an accredited on-site medical suite. Luxurious facials (Hydrafacial is the No. 1 treatment here—45 minutes, $165), massages (starting at $110 for 50 minutes), and body wraps (the sweet new mango-and-passion-fruit wrap is like a quick trip to the tropics—45 minutes, $125) are the other side of the beauty business. Eyebrow shaping and makeup services are also available.

“I think that with all the stresses in today’s world, people are taking the time to spend money on beauty and stress-relief treatments in order to feel good about themselves,” says owner Erica Breining, noting that the baby boomer market has been very good for business. “Boomers gravitate toward anti-aging treatments such as skin rejuvenation and injectables using Botox and dermal fillers. Plus we are finding that people are investing in nonsurgical cosmetic medical procedures at a younger and younger age.” 

Bellava MedAesthetics & Surgery Center, 182 Rte 117 Bypass Rd, Bedford Hills (914) 864-2140; www.bellavaspa.com

East Meets West

Hong Kong native Miriana (she asked that we omit her surname), owner of Miriana Day Spa, always has a handle on the newest—and we think best—skincare and body treatments. We were wowed several years ago with the Thai Herbal Ball Massage (90 minutes, $140), in which the guest is massaged with warm muslin-wrapped herbal balls, and the Rose Petal Dead Sea Salt Scrub & Massage (90 minutes, $140) that starts with a full-body scrub in a low-mist steam room and involves lots of warm water pouring over your body and luscious creams massaged in. New to the menu is a bamboo roller treatment (90 minutes, $140) that combines Eastern acupressure using heated bamboo stalks of varying lengths and diameters with Western-style massage. “Bamboo is known for its strength and flexibility, and the rollers cover a larger area with even pressure rather than strong thumb pressure for deeper layers,” explains Miriana. Think hot-stone massage with a larger tool, and know you will be one limp noodle at the end.

A Warm Jade Stone Hydration Facial (90 minutes, $140) is also new. “In addition to the traditional circulation and tension-relief benefits [of hot stone techniques], jade does well with just warm temperature, which is more suitable for the sensitive skin of the face,” she says. “The jade stone releases pure positive energy and preserves harmony and happiness. It is the perfect duet: beautiful face, beautiful mind.”

Indulgences of a different type are offered via strategically placed cookie jars and herbal teas throughout the spa. Bath salts, body gel, and soaps are available in the gift shop by the entry; we particularly liked the handmade organic loofah-soap that scrubs on one side, gently cleans on the other.

Miriana Day Spa, 590 Commerce St, Thornwood (914) 773-2300 ; www.mirianadayspa.com


Experience rolling bamboo or warm jade stones at Miriana Day Spa


A Grande Dame Freshens Up

News flash: Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa is losing its iconic red door, replacing it with a glass one accented in red. Collin Simpson, assistant general manager, explains: “With glass, people can see what is going on from the outside. It’s more inviting, and draws people into the retail area up front.” The rest of the nearly 5,000-square-foot space is getting a facelift as well, starting with a remodeled reception area, an updated salon and pedicure room, refreshed treatment rooms (and the addition of a ninth), enlarged locker rooms, and all new flooring. Do check out the new pedicure stations: The chairs slide back to reveal the tub hidden beneath. And the chairs have clip-on tables, so you can get a manicure (or lunch) during your pedi.

A fitting new treatment—Color4 Light Therapy Facial (50 minutes, $195)—uses LEDs in varying wavelengths to refresh your complexion, tightening the skin and helping kick those collagen–producing cells back into gear. It starts with the luxurious Red Door Signature Facial we all know and love so well, with the addition of two LED treatments. “During the exfoliation, there is a five-minute exposure to the light, followed by a 15-minute session during the mask,” says Ann Balaguera, aesthetics department lead, who notes that you can come back for a mini-service of 20 minutes of light, sans facial (30 minutes, $125). “For best results, you should have the mini service once a month.” The light is painless—it feels like a day at the beach—but be forewarned: The light is really, really bright, even with the goggles Balaguera supplies to protect your eyes. But with results like this, we will definitely be back.

Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, The Westchester, 125 Westchester Ave , White Plains (914) 840-8880; www.reddoorspas.com


The newly renovated Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa


Comfort for Body and Soul

The Divine You Facial at Branches of Beauty (90 minutes, $193) went on and on—yet we were still reluctant for it to end when the time was up. Wrapped snugly in warmed linens, heated hand mitts, a pleasingly weighted neck wrap, and an oatmeal-scented eye pillow (on top of a moisturizing hyaluronic mask), the mellow percussions of the North African desert were a welcome alternative to the typical “sounds of serenity” playlist. 

Completely customizable, the “facial” is more like an aesthetic free-for-all, with peels, microdermabrasion, and anti-aging or eye treatments included as needed—at no added cost. (Ours peaked at the reflexology part.) The treatment space, meanwhile, reflects the personality that gives this beauty haven, open since May, its spark: The Moroccan Room mimics an exotic, lavish “tent” furnished with deep red silks, a plush armchair, and the diffused glow of hanging glass-mosaic lanterns. 

But while the décor is foreign-inspired, co-owner and aesthetician Jennifer DiNoia, an Oasis Day Spa vet, makes the rest feel like home, starting with a beaming, arms-wide-open (literally) welcome. Out in the cheerful little boutique area, the vibe is casual, cozy, and fun. “We’re a little kooky,” DiNoia laughed over a Sinatra soundtrack. Under-$50 jewelry and accessories live among zebra-striped chairs and small makeup and brow stations, plus a hair station and sink (hair is an expanding area of the business). 

Also on the menu: services with the “Rolls-Royce of lasers,” and, soon, treatments specially developed for oncology patients. “We want to help people,” says DeNoia, who is passionate about educating and working with clients suffering from issues like acne. Besides leading community skincare workshops, the founders offer “a few free services a month to people in need of some inspiration and uplifting,” says DiNoia. Plus, educators, civil servants, and healthcare providers always receive a 10-percent discount off any service.

Branches of Beauty, 193 Brook St, Scarsdale (914) 713-3542; www.branchesofbeauty.net 

Angelic Intervention

Angela DeAngellis started Angelface Day Spa in Yorktown in 1995 after one too many years as an aesthetician at a shall-remain-nameless Northern Westchester salon. She’s come a long way from her windowless workspace there: Today her 21-employee facility is housed in a large Colonial in the center of town, with nine treatment rooms, a nail salon, a store that sells jewelry and gifts, a café, and three of the coziest, cushiest brown leather pedicure chairs we’ve ever laid eyes on.

Retreat to Angelface for a half-day of beauty (starting at $247), which packs into four pampering-filled hours a 25- or 55-minute Swedish massage, a Relaxation Facial, an Age-Defying Eye Treatment, a Foot Sport Pedicure, a Spa Manicure, and if you choose, lunch. If four hours won’t suffice, opt for a full-day treatment, which adds makeup and defaults to the 55-minute massage.

But you wouldn’t be wrong to go for an exfoliating body scrub (60 minutes, $105) with your choice of citrus salt or natural grape seed (a great way to perk up winter-weary skin); a massage for two in the couples-only treatment room (it has its own shower and fireplace); or—popular lately—a stand-alone Green Tea & Lemongrass Pedicure ($80), which involves massaging and scrubbing  your tired, tired feet with brown sugar after they’ve soaked in a warm green-tea bath. Of course, if it’s hot stones your back craves or extraction your forehead requires, there’s a full suite of face and body treatments on the menu. (Facials start at $75; massages at $60; pedicures at $45; manicures at $17.) Trust us, whatever service you choose will be heavenly.

Angelface Day Spa, 322 Underhill Ave, Yorktown Heights (914) 245-1084; www.angelfacespa.com   

 

 

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