In a city of 60-hour work weeks and horn-happy taxi drivers, inner peace can be hard to find. In fact, peace of any kind may be the only thing in New York City that you can't have delivered. But luckily for overstressed and overworked New Yorkers, Spa Meridian—named for the system of energy channels that are the foundation of Chinese medicine—exists as an oasis of serenity and wellness just steps from bustling Park Avenue.
A Buddha in the foyer greets clients, helping them feel at peace
"In the city, everyone is always running from one thing to another," says owner Sunny Moon. "Here, we give them a place to stop running, be calm, and heal."
The pedicure area's fountain
Upon passing through the double doors, clients enter the tearoom, a celebration of Eastern philosophy and balance designed by Moon with the help of Byuck Am, a Buddhist monk. Each of the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, and water—is represented in its purest form.
A treatment room.
A polished wooden fountain anchors the room, accented by stones and foliage, and two salt crystal lamps burn just beyond, cleansing the air naturally and adding a warm glow. Here, clients can relax with a mug of Solomon's herbal tea while waiting for their treatments.
Spa owner Moon placed Asian-inspired furnishings in an alcove off the manicure area to create a comfortable setting for makeup application lessons.
When it's their turn, clients are led into the spa, passing the area where ABC's One Life to Live star Catherine Hickland teaches makeup application classes using her signature line, Cat Cosmetics. In the manicure and pedicure areas, the senses are entertained by trickling sounds from a running fountain, fragrant candles, and pedicure thrones with automated massage features and personal oxygen jets. "The pure oxygen clears the head. It's especially good for people who live in the city," says Moon.
Spa Meridian is just steps from Manhattan’s Park Avenue.
When it comes to treatments, Moon believes that they should be chosen according to each individual's needs, whether for soothing or healing purposes. "Clients usually know what they want, but they don't really know what they need," says Moon. "Our therapists can talk to the clients, touch their bodies, and know what they need." To this end, Moon prefers that clients schedule a type of treatment, such as facial or massage, and allow their therapists to design treatments for them. "I don't want my clients to waste their time or their money," says Moon. "Some people don't even need anything, but we can use the time to educate them and give them treatments that will improve how they feel."
So far, the philosophy seems to be working. "When we first opened, we relied on walk-ins," says spa director Rose Martinez. "Now, because we're so full, we have to ask them to make appointments, otherwise we can't guarantee we'll be able to take them." With a staff of 13, most of whom are full-time, Spa Meridian can accommodate up to 20 clients at a time.
Optimistic financial goals are planned for the fiscal year to come. "We expect a total revenue of close to a million by next year," says Martinez. "Then we'll be where we want to be."
Moon, however, is careful not to let business detract from her goal of helping clients. "I am a business woman," says Moon, who came to the U.S. from South Korea with only $400 and worked her way up from nail technician to spa owner. "But I don't focus on the money. I just want to keep learning and working to get better. We put so much good energy into this place when we built it, and I think people can feel that."