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 Spas in Brooklyn are opening up and expanding at a feverish pace.

Pilo Arts in Bay Ridge and Studio 19 in Midwood are undergoing facelifts and major renovations. Cavale Tonuzi’s new spa, Tantra, is breaking ground on Third Avenue; Tapestry in Brooklyn Heights is expanding; Home Spa in Carroll Gardens is opening a second location; and Providence Day Spa in Park Slope is moving to bigger digs on Union Street. Shibumi, in Brooklyn Heights, is building a second facility in the Marriott.

So what’s behind this explosion of facials, body wraps and massages in a working class borough like Brooklyn?

Some spa owners say Brooklynites have finally become hip to the benefits spa services offer for their state of mind, their skin and their general well being.

"People are better informed now," said Robert Cavale of Tantra Spa. "They are eating better, exercising and treating themselves better overall."

Another reason for the jump in number of spas and spa clients here is that men are jumping on the bandwagon as well. Glenn Ferris, manager of Studio 19, said as many as 40 percent of his spa’s clients are men.

"There’s no stigma attached any longer to men taking care of themselves," he said. "Everyone wants to maintain a youthful appearance."

Tapestry’s Vincent Kolb says that though men have historically embraced "sports massage," he’s now finding a spike in the number of men who want facials and manicures.

All of these spas offer treatments that will help you year round, and some that are particularly essential for melting the winter blahs from your spirit and skin.

Even in winter it’s important to use a moisturizer with sunscreen, explained Sheila Brody of The Spa in Bay Ridge. Brody says in the winter, the spa uses a special cold weather cream in all of their facials and body treatments to protect clients from UV rays.

"People tend not to wear a sunscreen in winter, but rays are just as strong now," she warned.

Read on for more tips and therapies to help you take the chill out of winter.


Area Treatment Center

Known for its restaurants, trendy Smith Street is also home to an unusual brownstone spa dedicated to a holistic approach to relaxation.

Area Emporium and Treatment Center, owned by Fort Greene resident Sophia Fonseca and Williamsburg resident Loretta Gendville, has been open for just over a year, and offers a calm, quiet ambiance in which to be pampered with massage, body wraps and facials. Leg waxing, manicuring, or hair drying won’t be found at this spa, which, Fonseca said, is "all about you." Area specializes in massage and skin care.

The center is divided between two locations, a block apart, on Smith Street. The storefront is housed at 252 Smith St. and the services are performed at 275 Smith. One of the staff members will walk you from the store to the spa - a block away and on the other side of Smith Street. Clients pay in advance of treatment, so they don’t have to backtrack to the storefront.

While it may seem inconvenient to walk from one location to the other, especially in the rain or snow, there are distinct advantages to Area’s setup. In the second location, there are no jangling telephones or credit card machines.

The longer treatments, over an hour, begin with an aromatherapy footbath. The staffers call this a "grounding experience" for the clients as they fill out forms about their health and their skin care regimens.

The center features Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, a German line of products and treatments that tout the use of natural botanicals and a relaxing touch.

While more women than men use the spa, massage is popular with the men, and some go for the skin treatments, too, said Fonseca. The massage therapists can do a combination of Swedish, shiatsu and deep-tissue massage, customized to the client’s needs or wishes, Fonseca said. The most popular treatments are one-hour massages ($90) and one-hour Dr. Hauschka facials ($100).

Fonseca recommended wraps, such as the Moor wrap, ($130 for 90 minutes, or $170 for two hours) a mud-like treatment of herbs and minerals that is warmed, applied to the skin, then wrapped in warm towels, for healing dry winter skin.

The two-hour rhythmical body massage treatment ($165) is a kind of body massage developed by Dr. Hauschka that is performed with a light touch, using oils on the body and brushes on the face.

After a foot soak, the rhythmical treatment begins with warm, aromatic compresses on the face, followed by brushes swept across the forehead and from the nose out to the cheeks. On the body, Fonseca does a light massage in broad strokes. While two hours may seem a long time for a treatment, the rhythm of the strokes relax you, and can easily lull you into a nap in the allotted time. After the treatment, moisturizers are applied to the face.

Don’t expect to do any serious thinking or a workout after a treatment; I ended up a bit dazed. Though it was relaxing, for $165, I would like to have some clean pores to show off, too. (The two-hour classic Dr. Hauschka treatment does include a cleansing clay mask, pore extraction and 15-minute light massage.)

However the center is different from several I have been to in Manhattan that run clients through quickly. Perhaps they clean every pore, but they fail to tend to the spirit, or at least to relax the mind as does Area.

The cost of the treatments reflects the high quality of the oils and the length of time dedicated to each client, according to Fonseca. Every room is clean, with soft lighting and relaxing aromas of lavender, rose, sage and other soothing scents.

-Wendy Froede


Home Spa

The Home Spa on Court Street, which is going into its third year, piqued their customers’ interest when they announced the opening of a second location - in a Victorian bed and breakfast.

Currently the spa, which just underwent some cosmetic surgery inside its lobby and hallway, transforming it with a Tuscan feel, has four treatment rooms and offers facials, massages, waxing, scrubs and wraps.

Home Spa, which uses Dermalogica and its own line of products, also offers series discounts and services for kids and teens. Occasionally, the family pet, a small Jack Russell terrier named Cookie will show you some affection upon check-in.

The second location is inside the Baisley House, at 294 Hoyt St. between Sackett and Union streets in Carroll Gardens. The merger is the brainchild of two Carroll Gardens residents, Home Spa owner Debra Townes, formerly of the Susan Ciminelli spa in Manhattan, and Baisley House proprietor Harry Paul.

This second location offers an outdoor rose garden (in season) as well as a fully restored 19th-century interior.

The Baisley House, built in 1853, is a brownstone row house, featuring three guestrooms. The home has been carefully restored by Paul, an interior decorator and landscape designer.

Though Paul does open the house to Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment tours, a Home Spa experience in the bed and breakfast would be a rare opportunity to check out this work of art.

Home Spa is installing a treatment room (which will be open in the next week or so) in the house, but clients can also opt to have the treatments done in one of the guestrooms - depending on room availability and type of treatment.

For me, the master bedroom with its Oriental carpet, four poster bed, fireplace and dark paisley wallpaper offered a pleasant alternative ambiance for a 75-minute Swedish massage ($75).

A massage table with towels in a color complementing the decor was inserted at one end of the room. My massage therapist, Julie, with a homey apron tied over her clothes, gently manipulated my body from head to toe, incorporating a scalp massage, too. Home Spa uses a massage gel with essential oils to ease tension and relieve pain; the soothing scents of cinnamon and spruce lulled me during the treatment.

At the end of the massage, Julie wrapped the blankets snugly around my whole body - head to toe - and though I felt like a restful mummy, she says her less macabre clients liken the feeling to being a papoose.

Townes recommends the hot stone massage for easing the aches and tightness of winter muscles. The 75-minute massage ($115) incorporates the use of more than 50 heated and oiled "pond stones" to enhance a head to toe massage. Townes promises they will turn your muscles into "cotton candy."

The spa and the Baisley House have created a day package at Baisley, perfect for us locals and visitors. The "Day at Baisley" ($400) includes meals and teas, a body massage, a facial, hand and foot treatments and a spa product sampler.

One-night ("The Overnight Sensation") and two-night packages ("The Holistic Absolution") include meals, teas, services and lodging in a range of prices for singles, friends and couples.

And with the added bonus of a Victorian rose garden in the backyard, Townes says, "Clients can truly stop and smell the roses."

There’s more! Click here to view the rest of the article

See our Spa Directory.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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