Grape Expectations

Americans have long held a fascination with French people's seemingly incongruous ability to drink wine, eat cheese, and stay thin and healthy. The phenomenon even has a name—the French Paradox, which was coined in 1992 by Serge Renaud, Ph.D., a scientist from Bordeaux University, after he completed a study that revealed that the French suffer lower rates of coronary disease in spite of a diet rich in saturated fats and red wine. With the help of Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, the founders of Caudalíe a skincare line and multi-spa brand based on the health benefits of grapes and grapevines, the phenomenon has moved to New York City. There, spa-goers are saying bonjour to the new Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa at The Plaza, a haven for lovers of spa, wine, and other decadent delicacies and the first outpost of the Caudalíe spa portfolio that is not located in a vineyard.

The iconic Plaza hotel is home to the new Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa.
The iconic Plaza hotel is home to the new Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa.

Caudalíe was created in 1993 after Mathilde and Bertrand met with acclaimed grape and grapevine polyphenol expert Joseph Vercauteren, Ph.D., while he was visiting Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, her family's vineyard in Bordeaux. Three years later, the Thomases created the first three products that would serve as the basis for an antioxidant-rich skincare line that protects, repairs, and revitalizes the skin. The first Caudalíe spa, Spa Vinothérapie Les Sources de Caudalíe opened its doors in Bordeaux on the vineyards of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in 1999. Spa Vinothérapie Caudalíe al Relas San Maurizio and Spa Vinothérapie Caudalíe Marqués Riscal, located on vineyards in Italy and Spain, soon followed, and Mathilde and Bertrand started dreaming of exporting Caudalíe to America.

Each of the 14 treatment rooms, including one with a soothing Vichy shower, features a sophisticated design that reflects the Caudalíe brand.
Each of the 14 treatment rooms, including one with a soothing Vichy shower, features a sophisticated design that reflects the Caudalíe brand.

In October 2008, that dream became a reality with Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa at The Plaza. There, they've created a spa that has several distinctive European elements, including the French Paradox Wine Lounge. In lieu of cucumber water and tea, this 800-square-foot relaxation area is stocked with varietals from the French, Italian, and Spanish vineyards where Caudalíe spas are located. An on-site sommelier hosts wine tastings and classes between treatments, and small plates that include indigenous cheeses, truffles, and other gourmet selections from France, Italy, and Spain are available. "It is the atmosphere and ambience of the Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa at The Plaza that sets us apart from other spas in the city," says Mathilde. "Our clients are welcomed in to escape the chaos of New York City and stay in our beautiful wine lounge with the best wine cellar. The concept of experiencing spa treatments and drinking wine is relatively new to the culture here, but we think it is important to share the benefits of the ingredients to the whole body."

The VIP room includes a signature barrel bath for vinotherapy soaks like the Red Vine Barrel Bath.
The VIP room includes a signature barrel bath for vinotherapy soaks like the Red Vine Barrel Bath.

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As with every aspect of the spa, wine served as the basis for the spa's design. The spa includes the signature design elements of all Caudalíe spas, including warm woods, dark stones, and vine sculptures throughout. Furniture conceived by Philippe Hurel was constructed with wood and warm colors that are inspired by red and rosé wines, and large photographs by Julien Oppenheim, which feature grapes placed upon the human form to celebrate the body and the sensuality of the vine, add to the wine-themed appeal. Even the spa's signature scent, Toasted Oak, invites guests to adopt a wine state of mind. Created by Mathilde and French perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, the fragrance reflects the scent of her family's workshop where wine barrels are created—almond, vanilla, and warm wood aromas waft through the 8,000-square-foot space. The spa has 14 treatment rooms, one of which includes a Vichy shower and one private VIP room that is ideal for couples and features a Vinothérapie Spa signature barrel bath where guests can immerse themselves in a grape-infused soak.

Caudalíe facials using grape-infused ingredients are popular at the spa.
Caudalíe facials using grape-infused ingredients are popular at the spa.

The treatments also provide guests with a grape escape. Caudalíe products, which are infused with antioxidant-rich ingredients culled from grapes and vines, including polyphenols, resveratrol, and viniferine, a grapeseed molecule that protects against age spots, are used for all of the services. The most popular offering is the Caudalíe Massage ($165, 50 minutes), which is customized to either relax or tone the body, depending on clients' preferences, and uses a signature massage technique and grapeseed essential oils. Other wine-infused options include the hydrating Honey and Wine Wrap ($95, 15 minutes) and the detoxifying Merlot Wrap ($95, 15 minutes), as well as a number of anti-aging facials. Body services, such as the Crushed Cabernet Scrub ($145, 35 minutes) and the Merlot Friction Scrub ($145, 35 minutes), are ideal for revealing fresh, more youthful-looking skin. Nailcare services are also popular, and the Vinotherapy Spa Manicure ($85, 60 minutes) and Pedicure ($95, 1 hour 20 minutes) were created specifically for The Plaza location. Nails and cuticles are cleansed and massaged with fresh grapes, then a Merlot Friction Scrub and an application of Vinoperfect Radiance Serum and Hand & Nail Cream follow.

But the ideal Caudalíe experience includes multiple treatments paired with several hours of relaxation time in the French Paradox Lounge, something Mathilde thinks will make Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa at The Plaza truly the toast of the town, adding "New Yorkers will undoubtedly embrace a spa experience in which they can drink wine and relax in our beautiful wine lounge while enjoying luxurious facial and body treatments."

(New York City)
OWNERS: Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas
OPENED: October 2008

55% female 45% male

8,000 square feet; 14 treatment rooms

-body treatments
-couples' treatments
-hair and scalp treatments
-hand and foot treatments
-salon services

Caudalíe Massage ($165, 50 minutes)

Di-Vine Love Ritual For Two ($965, 2 hours 30 minutes), which includes a Barrel Bath with Cranial Massage, a Caudalíe Facial, a Caudalíe Massage, and a Hammam treatment


Yves Collet (Paris)

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