American Spa MarchFrom an urban oasis in New York City to an Asian-inspired retreat in the Northwest, the two very different spas featured this month have one thing in common: Both tap into the new "spa together" trend. Whether it be a spa day for the girls or a romantic couples retreat, these spas offer their clientele an experience to share.
Top: A wall of water, which starts its journey behind the front reception desk one level above, acts as a relaxing backdrop for the thermal pool. The relaxation area lies just beyond. Below: Details from the spa.
When two 12-story apartment buildings were gutted at 29 Great Jones Street in New York City five years ago, owners Dan Levy, Bob Pollock, and Marshall Sohne intended to use the space as a men's bathhouse. It was to contain seven or eight steam rooms and saunas plus a few treatment rooms for an all-male clientele.
Details from the spa.
The general manager of Great Jones Spa, Donna Creagh—who has 25 years of experience owning and operating health, wellness, and fitness facilities—began thinking that a better business model for the space would be a day spa. Everyone agreed.
So Levy, Pollock, Sohne, and Creagh then reworked the space within its original bathhouse footprints. They eliminated some of the steam rooms and saunas, added treatment rooms, a spa cafe with ample retail space, and a manicure and pedicure area located on the mezzanine level. The result is the 15,000-square-foot three-and-a-half-story Great Jones Spa. (The top nine floors of the building became private residences.)
The VIP suite has its own whirlpool and steam shower as well as private elevator access, making it easy for celebrities to visit.
The vision for the day spa was to maintain the community feeling and "water cure" elements of a bathhouse and combine them with wellness. To keep the bathhouse feel, the spa offers a thermal hot tub, a cold-plunge pool, a huge European river-rock sauna, a eucalyptus steam room with chromatherapy—all of which are shared by male and female clients. When booking treatments, guests are encouraged to come three hours early or stay late to be able to utilize the facilities. In addition, the spa has a partnership with Anthony Salzarulo, D.C., a holistic practitioner with more than 16 years of experience. Clients can consult with Salzarulo regarding a detoxification program—similar to those offered in many of the wellness spas of Europe. A 50-minute consultation with the doctor costs $165 and includes several visits to the spa to use the sauna, steam room, and hot and cold pools as part of the treatment. Based on each client's individual needs, Salzarulo offers nutritional guidelines and recommends appropriate herbs, homeopathic remedies, vitamin supplements, flower essences, and spa services to enhance the detoxification process.
Left: After checking in, guests are led past the reception desk down the sloping hallway to the locker rooms. Right: A variety of treatments are given in the hydrotherapy room, which features a Setma tub.
In addition, the spa offers a treatment space for Brigit Krome, an experienced colonic hydrotherapist and herbologist. Krome speaks on a number of women's health and wellness panels, and doctors often refer patients to her who want to cleanse after chemotherapy, radiation, and other medical treatments that can be taxing on the body. The cost of a colonic hydrotherapy session is $140, and it includes full use of the spa's facilities.
A gourmet raw-food menu and expansive retail displays lure guests to the spa cafe
Also in keeping with the holistic mission of the spa was Creagh's choice of product lines— Jurlique, Naturopathica, Red Flower, and Spa Technologies—for the menu and retail offerings. Since the vision for the business includes clients coming in and hanging out for several hours, the menu reads more like that of a resort spa than a day spa. "We're getting a lot of couples," Creagh says, "and that's part of the bigger plan. I wanted to create something where people could do things together and have a sense of community—where people could make sounds and laugh. With a cold-plunge pool, you're bound to get some screams every now and then. I wanted the social element I found in resort spas in a day spa setting."
Top: A view from the manicure and pedicure area on the mezzanine level. Below: More details from the spa.
The spa's 17 treatment rooms; studio suite, often used by celebrities because it can be accessed by a private entrance; sauna and steam room that fit 30 and 25, respectively; and expansive relaxation area all contribute to the success of Creagh's goal. At full capacity, Great Jones Spa can host 75 clients without any one person feeling crowded. There are currently 52 employees, and once the spa reaches 65 to 70 percent capacity, Creagh expects to employ close to 100 staff members.
Above: (left) A skylight brightens the manicure and pedicure area. above: (right) Located directly outside the river-rock sauna, a shower provides convenience. Below :(left) Great Jones Spa general manager Donna Creagh. below: (right) One of the spas treatment rooms.
The spa is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 A.M. to 10 P.M. Creagh is contemplating staying open later on Friday and Saturday nights. "We're going to play with things like this," she says. "We're seeing that people aren't getting out of work early, and keeping the spa open until midnight on the weekends gives New Yorkers an additional date forum. It's a good alternative to sitting in a bar. A lot healthier." Creagh says that she does have a scattered few who come into the spa early in the mornings, particularly those who are on a detoxification program. "It's very quiet here in the early mornings," she says.
Because of its large square footage, the spa can also be rented out (while no clients are there) as a location for corporate parties, art openings, and other special occasions—which helps boost the bottom line. "A friend of mine is a location scout and came to me with the idea to allow 7-Up to film a commercial here," says Creagh. (Airing as of press time, the commercial features Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon of HBO's Sex and the City.) Creagh, who is a mastermind at not only facility management but also public relations, then contacted 7-Up's advertising agency and asked if they would be interested in throwing a pre-airing cocktail party at Great Jones Spa. They were, and Creagh made it the unofficial launch party for the spa. The fete was packed with press—Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa in addition to Davis and Nixon were at the event—helping the spa's visibility. The following day it opened for business, and clients have been streaming in ever since.
Great Jones Spa
With its trendy downtown location, expansive square footage, and holistic treatment offerings, Great Jones Spa—located in a crowded, fast-paced city whose occupants are often in need of open space, community, and rejuvenation—is poised for great success.