Hidden away on a busy street in New York City's Korea Town is one of the most innovative new day spas we've come across. Juvenex, a 24-hour, women's only establishment, is the brainchild of owner and entrepreneur Michael Modiri, who teamed up with Korean spa guru Hyang Chang Yipak to create an exotic, healing retreat.
The two met three years ago at the Spacifically trade show in Los Angeles. "She knew spa, and I knew business," relates Modiri. "It was the perfect match." When it came to choosing a locale for the spa-either New York or Los Angeles-New York won out. "We decided to stay in New York because we wanted to be taken seriously and do it as a major player in the spa industry. If you can do it here and prove yourself, you're accepted everywhere."
The other reason they settled on New York is the temperature: It gets cold. This is an ideal setting for Juvenex's many wonderful and unique heat treatments that are more desirable in a cold environment. For example, the spa's centerpiece is its amazing igloo-shaped sauna that takes its inspiration from China. It's made entirely of jade boulders, and due to its size and the necessary safety precautions needed to secure the heavy stones, it took over a year to build. Modiri is a big believer in the healing properties attributed to jade, such as relieving the pain of arthritis, increasing blood circulation, easing sore muscles, and reducing stress. "To me, as to most Americans, jade was just another pretty stone," he says. "But in the Orient, it's known as 'the heavenly stone.'"
Above: A view of Juvenex's relaxation lounge, stocked with the owner's hand-picked books on ancient alternative healing modalities. Behind the large banquette are the lockers that contain sandals and luxurious cotton robes imported from Egypt. The staircase in the distance leads to the communal spa area that houses a juice bar as well as a glass-encased gem-shaped steam room,Japanese soaking tubs, and the spa's centerpiece, the igloo-shaped sauna made entirely of jade, as shown in the two small photographs, right. Juvenex is located on the fifth floor of a 100-year-old-plus building, hence the architects' initial reluctance to build a jade mountain, relates owner Michael Modiri, who wanted to push the boundary as far as he possibly could. The igloo ended up being a nice-size hill, weighing in at 20 tons. opposite top: The Baled Clay Sauna.
His extensive spa travels took him all over the world, including a jade mine in Korea where he purchased the stones that make up the 20-ton jade sauna. The sauna sits in Juvenex's large communal area, where there are three Japanese-style soaking tubs (often infused with sake, algae, or ginseng), a gem-shaped glass-encased herbal steam room, showers, a group of massage tables where scrubs and massages are performed, and a private hydrotherapy tub room. This is also where the "PMS treatment tea chairs" can be found. The spa, explains Modiri, takes its communal aspect from Asian spas, its clinical elements from European spas, and its architectural beauty from American spas. "We took the best from what we found around the world."
Says Dan Fryda, who served as spa consultant: "Juvenex has created a unique experience in the heart of Manhattan. Imagine a thermal spa whose genesis reaches back over two continents of Asia and Europe to deliver water and thermal spa therapies in a luxurious environment that completely shuts out the stressful noise of the city. Mike Modiri is a visionary who understands the needs of post September Eleventh New Yorkers who need a sense of grounding, balance, and beauty." What could possibly come next for Modiri? How about a men's version? He's already secured the building's second floor for just that. Stay tuned.