Fabulous new pampering spas from New York to Paris let you de-stress in style.

By Travelandleisure.com Staff
June 02, 2009
Courtesy of Caudalíe

See the slideshow of Dazzling Spa Debuts.

How do you make The Plaza Hotel, already famous for its decadent Oak Room, its caviar-stocked Champagne Bar, and its vaunted, glass-ceilinged Palm Court (where precocious Eloise once took tea among white-gloved ladies) even more over the top? How about adding an 8,000-square-foot vinotherapy spa, where guests can soak in wine casks, get scrubbed with crushed Cabernet seeds, and indulge in sommelier-led wine tastings in between regimens?

Yes, even in today’s tricky economic climate, opulent new spas are opening up everywhere—and the Plaza’s new 14-room sanctuary from Caudalíe of Paris is just one of them.

If it seems like a strange time to be touting outrageously luxurious—and often outrageously priced—pampering palaces, Susie Ellis, the President of Spa Finder, sees things differently.

“Spas help people de-stress,” Ellis says, “and the stress level these days has ratcheted up for almost everyone.” According to research done by Ellis’s company (a global multimedia portal that helps potential spa-goers find the services they want), the number one reason why people frequent spas is to relax and reduce anxiety.

By that measure, at least, it may make a certain amount of sense for people to seek out Aqua di Parma’s new Blu Mediterraneo Spa in Sardinia, where the soothing marine-inspired treatments include sea-mineral baths with hydrotherapy jets that simulate ocean waves. Or make a pilgrimage to Kaya Kalp—The Royal Spa, in Agra, India, where calming ayurvedic treatments are doled out in a palatial compound surrounded by 35 acres of gardens and palm trees.

Such oases, says Ellis, can help ease the apprehension and tension that go hand-in-hand with today’s economic climate. And in fact, she says, Spa Finder’s research indicates that spas have moved up in importance on people’s value list.

“Spas used to be more about pampering than they were about wellness,” Ellis says. “But these days, people don’t just consider their services a luxury. They’re a necessity.”

Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa

Located in the Flatiron District's famous Plaza Hotel, the Caudalíe Vinotherapie Spa is the Paris brand’s only U.S. location. Founded by Mathilde Cathiard-Thomas and Bertrand Thomas, the spa bases its treatments on the healing and regenerative properties of grapes and grape vines. The facility has 14 treatment rooms, as well as a Vichy shower and a wine lounge, where guests are served specially selected wines and complementing small plates. Treatments include a variety of wine-themed wraps, massages, and facials, including the fresh grap manicure and pedicure, which are exclusive to the Plaza Hotel location.

Guerlain Spa

The New York outpost of renowned French spa Guerlain is located inside the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Treatment rooms are decorated in soothing neutrals and feature large windows, providing views of the city below. The spa is dedicated to providing clients with personalized treatments, and trained aestheticians provide individualized beauty and well-being profiles. For added luxury, many of the spa’s treatments use products from Guerlain’s Orchidée Impériale line. Clients can choose from a range of facials and massages, as well as waxing treatments and make-up application.

Peninsula Spa by Espa

The grande dame of luxury hotel spas in Manhattan—with a huge amount of space, to boot. This is a hushed oasis of calm, complete with a pool, ten spacious treatment rooms, and an Asian tea lounge. Splurge on one of the ESPA facials, or a Thai-inspired massage done by a therapist trained at Bangkok's Wat Pho temple.

Sense, A Rosewood Spa at the Carlyle

Located inside New York City’s Carlyle Hotel, Sense spa is defined by its glamorous, 1940’s Hollywood and art deco inspired design, created by Mark Zeff. The space is decorated in shades of black and gray and adorned with chandeliers. The spa has four treatment rooms, and clients can choose from a number of treatment options, including the Carlyle Signature Massage and the Flowers Hold Life, which includes a trip inside the Kohler DTV shower (a multi-sensory shower including light and sound). The spa has a partnership with Sisley, and many of its treatments feature products from this respected line.

Dior Institut

Bright red awnings stretched across each window of the Plaza Athenee hotel beckon visitors inside to this spa in the eighth arrondissement. The luxe Dior Institut is decorated in a white-on-white motif with grey and mauve accents, arched hallways, and sleek leather chaises. A comprehensive menu of specialized therapies, which showcase Dior’s products, is expertly executed in five treatment rooms with starry ceilings and heated marble floors, a relaxation lounge, and a fitness center, all of which provide ample space for pampering of the mind and body.

Blu Mediterraneo Spa

The first spa from Acqua di Parma is at the seaside Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. Our favorite indulgence: outdoor treatment cabanas overlooking the Mediterranean.

Kaya Kalp—The Royal Spa

A 99,000-square-foot Mughal fantasy with mother-of-pearl–inlaid floors, fruit-tree–filled gardens, and traditional ayurvedic offerings.