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WINTER RELIEF

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PART III

 Shibumi Spa

Hidden away inside the Eastern Athletic health club in Brooklyn Heights, the Shibumi spa, open just nine months, is already treating its patrons to a spa experience as efficient and effective as a well-designed workout.

"Shibumi" is a Japanese word that means "harmony and balance," explains manager Patricia Scott.

The spa is underground and must be reached through the rather drab and utilitarian entrance to the health club. Behind Shibumi’s glass doors, however, the space is clean and attractive, if not very distinctive.

No doubt fed by athletes with sore muscles, Shibumi focuses on massage. But just trudging along a slushy street with arctic winds circling your neck, is reason enough to plant yourself on one of Shibumi’s four heated massage tables.

Shibumi offers a choice of massage techniques that range in length from 30 minutes ($42, perfect for lunchtime) to a decadent 90 minutes ($100). Regulars love the deep tissue massage, the spa’s most popular treatment. Scott stresses that these are serious, therapeutic massages, offered by therapists with backgrounds working for chiropractors and physical therapists.

The 30-minute treatment I had was soothing and relaxing, a perfect pick-me-up on a blustery day. Massage therapist Gina Schulz asked me about any particular pains and problems and then went silently to work. I was reluctant to get up afterwards and face the world again, a sad byproduct of any good massage.

For all of Shibumi’s focus on massage, it’s easy to overlook their diverse skin and body care services. These include luxuries like the seaweed body wrap ($80) that claims to pull out toxins and nourishes dry winter skin.

After filling out a form regarding my skin history, I lay down to a deluxe facial ($78) with aesthetician Gabriella Radziewicz. She studied my skin carefully and asked me what I wanted from the facial before proceeding.

The treatment, using Decleor products, included the usual run of steaming, extracting, facial massage and several pleasantly scented masks. Radziewicz also massaged and exfoliated my dry, neglected hands. It all felt so good that it seemed like an added bonus to find that by the next day, my skin looked clearer and smoother.

Radziewicz says Shibumi stands out for its personalized care. As a small spa with a serious outlook, it promises the kind of attention that larger, "assembly line" Manhattan spas often overlook. I certainly felt attended to, and noticed how the aesthetician never left the room during the course of the treatment.

Clients of the spa and the sports club can enjoy each company’s services. While members of Eastern Athletic get a 10-percent discount on all the spa’s services, non-members who utilize the spa get to enjoy the health club’s facilities for the day, including the pool, steam room and sauna.

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect recipe for winter revitalization.

 

Tapestry

Joan Murray opened Tapestry: The Salon & Spa in Brooklyn Heights just over two years ago, but considers the spa more of a wellness center than a beauty salon. The customer, says Murray, always comes first and should always receive the same high standard of treatment every day of the year.

Tapestry can put together any spa package you could ever dream of for both men and women - including "The Titan" ($130) an up to three-hour package including facial, sports massage, haircut and sportsman’s manicure; "Genesis" ($150) a woman’s half-day of manicure, pedicure, Swedish massage and traditional facial; and "Athena" ($300) a full-day that adds a haircut and style, spa lunch and makeover to the "Genesis" options.

Services can also be sampled a la carte. Choose from a one-hour Swedish, deep tissue or sports massage ($75).

Tapestry’s first floor is a mixture of neoclassic and cozy, with pale, yellow walls and murals of trees that make for a welcoming atmosphere. The hair and makeup treatments are handled on this first floor, which has just enough lighting for the stylists without diminishing the mood.

Facials, manicures, pedicures and massages are taken care of downstairs in the spa. Guests walk past the signature unicorn tapestry and as they descend the stairs, they’re greeted by a leopard print chaise longue, along with the aromas of calming herbs and wonderful fragrances.

Murray and her spa director, Vincent Kolb, both agree that their team of technicians are "borderline psychotic about your time" and will do everything they can to get you in for your treatment on time and ensure that the time is effectively used so that you aren’t kept beyond the promised duration of the service.

One option to fight those wintertime blues is a Tapestry pedicure. The two pedicure stations - big, beige, leather chairs - are quite comfortable and reminiscent of your father’s La-Z-boy. The spa pedicure includes exfoliation and mask ($38) and is an excellent opportunity to give a break to those wintertime toes stuffed in snow boots for weeks on end.

The client controls the heat and type of massage the chair gives, choosing between waves of massage or focus on a particular zone.

Debra, one of the technicians, gives a masterful exfoliation and foot massage, but if given the choice again, I would opt not to have my toenails filed (as it had a jarring effect). Prepare to wait an additional 30 minutes for your toes to dry.

Tapestry should be commended for its finer touches. During the pedicure, herbal tea was served to me in a gold-trimmed china teacup.

Kolb says Tapestry endorses the entire Decleor product line and says his spa chooses not to mix and match products as other spas do, referring to that as "cooking."

In the spring, the spa will utilize its outdoor garden in the rear of the spa where lunches can be ordered for clients. Kolb also says there are plans to add an additional wax room to keep up with the spa’s volume.

Another excellent way to combat the drying effects of winter head-on is a Tapestry facial.

The facial aesthetician, Melinda, always has her customers fill out a general questionnaire prior to their treatment. This gives her an idea of their regimen to date, and makes her aware of any skin problems they may be experiencing. She then begins the "aromaplasty" treatment. This includes light exfoliating, massage and cleaning of the "T-zone," (the forehead, down the nose and chin) and an aromatherapy mask. A hand and forearm massage is also part of the treatment.

Melinda plays music and burns an aromatherapy candle during the treatment. The treatment is effective and relaxing. (The only downside is that the spa is not soundproof and once in a while the mood may be broken by footsteps on the stairs or the floor above.)

Melinda was very attentive, professional and completely unpretentious. She explained the whole treatment beforehand and said that if I had any questions or concerns, to ask at any time.

After, she offered her suggestions on my daily regimen as outlined in the questionnaire, and recommended some products. The whole treatment was something I’d definitely want to experience again.

See our Spa Directory.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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