A New Gilded Age
Though the lifestyles of the rich and famous are splashed across reality television and the news today, New York City’s upper class was equally intriguing in the early 1900s. Among the upper echelon of this Gilded Age society was Robert Goelet, a real estate magnate who captured headlines for his high-profile friends, his multiple marriages, and his privileged lifestyle. Like many fellow captains of industry, Goelet periodically escaped from Manhattan to his decadent country estate, which he built in the style of a Tuscan villa to attract the affections of his first wife, who happened to be entangled in a torrid affair with an artist abroad in Italy. While the ill-fated marriage ended in divorce, the mansion was completed by employing some of the most touted artisans of the day to create a true European-style retreat. It became a haven for Goelet’s posh circle of friends. As the years passed, the land surrounding the estate was eventually sold, and the house fell into disrepair until its recent owners purchased the property and set out to return it to its former glory. Sparing no expense, Glenmere Mansion was painstakingly restored and transformed. It opened its doors in January 2010 to much fanfare, featuring 18 deluxe guest rooms and suites, a spectacularly restored garden, award-winning culinary offerings, and 150 acres where guests can partake in croquet, bocce, swimming, tennis, and more. The most recent addition to the mansion’s transformation is the splendid Spa at Glenmere Mansion, which extends the property’s Gilded Age aesthetic.
“We wanted the spa to feel as if Robert Goelet brought back treasures from his travels to showcase in a haven of relaxation for family and friends,” says spa consultant Mindy Terry, president of Creative Spa Concepts. “As people meander through the spa, they will find unique one-of-a-kind pieces.” The spa is truly a treasure trove of distinctive design elements, including the door at the spa entrance that was designed to replicate a church door in Spain, a European chandelier in the lobby, Moroccan light fixtures in the salon, and an Art Deco blue-lit sink in the powder room. “The Gilded Age was all about extravagance and lavish entertainment, and we wanted that feeling to continue through in the spa,” adds Terry.
The spa is certainly a sumptuous retreat. Along with a charming retail boutique and a salon, it features five beautifully appointed treatment suites, each of which includes a steam shower, a soaking tub, a changing vanity, and a private restroom. All treatment tables are heated and feature memory-foam face cradles, and the couples’ suite includes side-by-side treatment tables, a two-person steam/Swiss shower, side-by-side soaking tubs, and a fireplace. The spacious Relaxation Library entices guests to while away the day in a cozy daybed or chaise lounges while curled up by the fireplace enjoying gourmet teas and snacks. But the centerpiece of the spa is the Carrara marble Hammam and Bathhouse, which features an herbal steam room, a Swiss shower, a cool mist room, a dry heat sauna, a vitality pool, and a warm marble bellystone, as well as heated benches and a radiant heat tile floor. There, three Hammam Rituals are offered, including the Turkish Soap Massage ($195, 60 minutes), the Moroccan Purification Ritual ($195, 60 minutes), and the Journey to Shambhala ($440, 2 hours 30 minutes). Spa director Jason Scharff says the treatments have been surprisingly successful. “It is something many have never experienced, so their curiosity is piqued,” he says.
“The Hammam and Bathhouse is the perfect trophy space,” says Terry. “It offers a really opulent space that can be experienced intimately or in a group setting. This allows us the flexibility of offering parties and socializing in a spa setting or maintaining a quiet, intimate space, if desired.”
Beyond the Hammam, a variety of customizable Couture Massages ($180, 60 minutes; $260, 90 minutes; $340, 2 hours) are available in which guests can select up to three massage techniques, request specific areas of focus, and choose the appropriate pressure. They begin the treatment by visiting the Mixology Bar to create an Aromafloria massage oil or body butter that is infused with their chosen scents. Hydrotherapy soaks, body treatments, and skincare services that use products from Amala, Le Vin, Olavie, and Somme, as well as LED, microcurrent therapy, and other high-tech enhancements from Ageless Aesthetics’s renowned CACI machine are also available. All are performed by the part-time staff of nine therapists whom Scharff carefully selected from a pool of nearly 200 applicants.
Though the spa only recently opened its doors, it’s already garnering the attention of locals and hotel guests, who hail primarily from nearby New York and New Jersey but have come from as far as Europe. But this buzz is not stopping the spa team from devising ways to ensure future success. Treatments inspired by Glenmere’s Hudson River Valley locale are planned. They will change seasonally and utilize fresh, organic ingredients sourced from Glenmere’s grounds and local farms and orchards. Also on tap are spa evenings for couples, private and group yoga sessions, and ladies-only spa parties. Scharff and his team are also putting the finishing touches on a Meditation Garden, which will be an extension of the Relaxation Library, where guests can relax while listening to the soothing sounds of nature. Considering Robert Goelet’s penchant for enjoying the great outdoors while relaxing at his sprawling estate, it’s just one of many magical offerings that make the spa such an integral new part of Glenmere’s Gilded Age appeal.