A view is at a premium. With floor-to-ceiling windows and treatment rooms with private patios that offer a panoramic look at the city skyline and Central Park, the 13,000-square-foot Spa Nalai at Park Hyatt New York already stands out in a very crowded spa landscape for its space alone. Add in a thoughtful treatment menu, a state-of-the-art quartz treatment bed, luxe spa suites, and an atelier-style approach to healing, and it’s easy to understand why the spa has been making headlines since it opened last fall.
Spa Nalai gets its name from the word “serenity” in the language of the Lenape people, the original tribe of Native Americans who lived in Manhattan. Not surprisingly, there are many aspects of the spa that induce a state of serenity, the first of which is the focus on privacy and a warm welcome. Guests begin their experience with a tea and amuse-bouche pairing. Next, they are ushered into one of six treatment suites, including a couples’ treatment suite, a handicapped accessible suite, and four basic treatment suites, each with a private terrace. Each suite is outfitted with its own shower, toilet, sink, and closet, which allow clients to unwind and embrace their solitude while spa-ing.
The menu was designed to offer atelier-style services that cater to each client’s wellness needs, further adding to the feeling of individualized service. Guests can select a Massage Experience (starting at $225, 60 minutes; starting at $299, 90 minutes), a Body Experience (starting at $225, 60 minutes), or a Facial Experience (starting at $240, 60 minutes; starting at $325, 90 minutes) and create their own treatment based on their current state of mind and a consultation with their therapist. “My goal was to have a spa menu that was as pared down as possible,” says spa director Amy Olthoff, who was inspired by her time with Montage Resorts and the spa menus there that are known for customization. “So many times, we see menus with more than 50 types of services listed, and it is overwhelming. I want to really hone in on the time our guests have. They are allowing us to share their time with them. Ultimately, our guests just want to feel valued, cared for, and heard. Our menu is more focused on a select offering of services focused on wellness, balance, and time.”
One of the most unique ways guests can achieve a state of wellness and balance is through the Signature Treatment ($399, 3 hours), which takes place on New York City’s first sand quartz bed from Gharieni and is based on the practice of earthing, or employing the Earth’s energy by connecting the body to natural surfaces. The service takes place atop luxury linens that are placed on the quartz and includes a scrub, a wrap, and a warm poultice massage. It also features a tasty ginger grapefruit sorbet amuse-bouche, which is concocted by the hotel chefs and designed to be refreshing and grounding. Another standout menu item is the International Series (starting at $350), which includes seasonal services inspired by Park Hyatt spas around the globe. Fall and winter, for example, featured Haute Couture ($499, 2 hours 30 minutes), which was inspired by Le Spa at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and included a body treatment, a warm jade stone massage, and a facial that incorporates crushed diamonds. This month will see the debut of a service inspired by one of the brand’s most iconic properties in Asia.
Treatments are performed using products from Carita Paris, H. Gillerman Organics, and Stemulation, which Olthoff says also makes the spa stand out. “It was important to us to partner with vendors whose products have brand recognition and are results-oriented but also have a minimal presence in New York City,” she says. Further adding to the unique branding of the spa are the charming retail offerings. Along with products from the featured lines, enticing gift and accessory items also appeal to guests, including DL&Co candles and diffusers, Chelsea Charles bracelets, Susanna Valerio clutches and cuffs, and a changing roster of items handpicked by Olthoff.
Beyond the private suites, another popular aspect of the spa is the shared spaces. An adjacent three-story aerie features a steam room, a hot tub, private changing rooms, and an indoor swimming pool with underwater speakers playing an exclusive sound track from nearby Carnegie Hall. The spa living room is another place guests like to linger. Upon conclusion of services, they can sip on one of five teas from T Salon’s wellness blend menu, including Balance with blackberry, chamomile, and peppermint; Decaf Earl Blue with bergamot and lavender; Detox with ginger, licorice, nutmeg, and turmeric; Immunity with blackberry, elderflower, honey bush, and fennel; and Sencha Gold green tea with matcha. “I wanted a variety of tea options that could complement any reason a guest is visiting our spa,” says Olthoff. Upon departure, guests are also provided with a custom-blended bath salt prepared in a small Mason jar that is made from two ounces of Epsom salt and the H. Gillerman Organics oil blend that was used in their service.
Also adding to the spa’s appeal is the spa team of 16 experienced practitioners, who Olthoff carefully selected to help her achieve longevity, customer satisfaction, and retention in a very competitive New York City spa marketplace. “I interviewed more than 150 applicants for 16 positions, and I looked for personality, warmth, passion, and a desire to make others happy,” she says. “We have a fantastic team of talented individuals who also work very well together for a shared goal to create a unique experience for our guests. Half the battle of creating a successful spa starts with recruiting—the right people in the right roles providing the right experience. We strive daily to be consistent, to deliver service that pays close attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. If the team works well together and supports and respects one another, then the operation, the service standards, and the desire to be the best all falls into place because everyone shares that same mentality.”
Beyond keeping her team on message, Olthoff is also working hard to market to both local and hotel guests. Hotel guests receive a welcome letter and a vial of Stress Remedy Oil from H. Gillerman Organics, along with instructions for performing relaxing breathing rituals in their rooms. For locals, Spa Nalai has partnered with renowned yoga instructor and fitness expert Terri Bahr to offer a physical wellness experience through its new Shanta Yoga program, which includes both private and group yoga classes for practitioners of all levels. Olthoff also created an incentive program for spa associates, hotel front-desk agents, and concierges and is networking with concierges at nearby hotels to encourage them to refer guests to Spa Nalai.
All of these efforts are done to remain true to the spa’s core pillar of serenity, which Olthoff says is promoted through “a unique synthesis of cutting-edge healing technologies, advanced beauty rituals, and ancient healing techniques to craft a deeply personalized experience.”That’s certainly a view that will ensure the spa’s longevity and keep it a New York City favorite for years to come.
Owner: Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
Spa Director: Amy Olthoff
Opened: August 2014
13,000 square feet, 6 treatment rooms
Carita Paris, Chelsea Charles, DL&Co, H. Gillerman Organics, IS Clinical, Stemulation, Susanna Valerio, T. Salon
Book 4 Time, Gharieni, Ionto Comed, SpaEquip, Technogym, TouchAmerica, Universal Hotel Supply
Christian de Portzamparc (Paris)
Yabu Pushelberg (New York City)
Krista Carucci, Benessere on behalf of Hyatt Corporate (Chicago)