In Focus: Serenity Spa

New York city's flower district isn't quaint or quiet. Its wide, busy Sixth Avenue artery, flanked by flat-faced, unassuming apartment buildings and colorful flower wholesalers, brings noisy traffic, both auto and foot. Glenn and Maria Hardy decided this hectic, loud, burgeoning residential area would be the perfect place for Serenity Spa, with the goal of offering "a sense of serenity in a sea of New York craziness."

 Nail stations line Serenity Spa's front window
Nail stations line Serenity Spa's front window

Glenn, a criminal defense attorney with an MBA, and Maria, an architect, are atypical spa owners. For them, Serenity Spa was a necessary evolution in their personal and professional lives. "As an attorney, especially in criminal defense, I'm always looking for an exit strategy," Glenn says. What better exit from the rigors of law than providing relaxation for others? Maria's family owned a spa in Peru for 10 years, so she was already familiar with the industry.

The Hardys juggled location options for about a year before deciding on the 1,600-square-foot space on the ground floor of a fully rented 400-unit apartment building. Maria did architectural planning for the spa, which cost $450,000 and was completed last August. Working closely with project manager and interior designer Robert DiMeglio, of Four Seasons Design Interiors in New York City, Maria first had to address the more tedious aspects of construction—including the installation of air conditioning, heating, and plumbing—before DiMeglio could move ahead with the interior design.

Floating glass retail shelves divide the spa's main space
Floating glass retail shelves divide the spa's main space

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DiMeglio's design focus was serenity and cleanliness with an emphasis on nature. To evoke a fresh, warm feeling in the spa, DiMeglio chose cherry wood and peach tones for the main room. White tiles form a path from the reception area to the spa's three lushly colored multipurpose treatment rooms, including one wet room. The retail shelves are suspended and clear, giving the area a light and airy feel that mirrors the bay windows at the front of the spa.

The reception area
The reception area

Prior to opening Serenity Spa, Maria acted as her own spa consultant by conducting some preliminary research. "For four or five months, Maria sat in front of spas and calculated their peak and off-peak hours," Glenn says. From this information as well as speaking with friends, the couple established the client-friendly hours of 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. Monday through Saturday and 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. Sunday.

Serenity Spa's clients often add nail services to their spa treatments. Here, the spa's remote-controlled massaging pedicure chairs fill the space between the treatment rooms and manicure stations.
Serenity Spa's clients often add nail services to their spa treatments. Here, the spa's remote-controlled massaging pedicure chairs fill the space between the treatment rooms and manicure stations.

Maria also tapped into her experiential knowledge to devise Serenity Spa's menu and focus. She says that her parents' spa was always short of nail technicians. As a result, Glenn and Maria decided to offer more nail services than is typical. With less than six months in business, the Hardys see the formula succeeding in bringing clients back. "It's working already," Maria says. "You don't see this in Manhattan. Either you have a place that calls itself a spa that's really a nail salon or you have a big spa [with too few nail technicians]. Here you get everything."

A path of white tile leads clients from the reception area into the spa
A path of white tile leads clients from the reception area into the spa

Serenity Spa's comprehensive menu isn't the only thing attracting clients. The Hardys are focused on creating an atmosphere of unpretentious comfort. As spa director, Maria strives to pass this mentality on to the staff, composed of four estheticians, five massage therapists, seven nail technicians, and a day manager. "We have a philosophy," she says, then poses a rhetorical question, "How many hours do you spend at home each day, and how many at work? This is your home. You have to be comfortable." To achieve this, Maria keeps everyone on the same level. "I don't want them to feel like they're my employees," she says. "I always make them feel like I'm one of them."

A multipurpose treatment room
A multipurpose treatment room

Both Hardys are committed to that concept. Before the spa opened, Glenn decided to take nail technician classes even though his law practice kept him busy. He felt it was important for him, as co-owner, to take that extra step in case there was a shortage of nail techs at the spa. "He wanted to be very familiar with the business," says Maria. "It's pretty amazing. I said it would be kind of funny, an attorney doing a pedicure."

Serenity Spa's combination wet room and couples treatment room
Serenity Spa's combination wet room and couples treatment room

It doesn't sound so odd if one considers the Hardys's commitment to customer service. The Hardys already offer a Serenity Spa house call service, with three massage therapists on call. Maria is planning on officially adding house calls to the menu along with microdermabrasion. The couple is also thinking about developing their own product line and plan on creating more signature treatments.

Serenity Spa
Serenity Spa

It seems that, in the frenzied city of New York, more and more people are seeking the "better sense of being" that Serenity Spa provides—even when they have to rush to get it. The Hardys are more than happy to accommodate that harried lifestyle. "We'll still take clients if they come in five minutes before closing," Glenn says. "That's just Manhattan for you."

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