As the last episode of "Sex and the City" flickered
across TV screens everywhere Sunday, I felt obliged to pay homage
by indulging in some sort of single-girl frivolity.
My meager bank account, not to mention lack of grace, ruled out
a pair of $400 Manalo Blahnik heels. A pounding headache nixed
midday Cosmopolitans. As for an illicit romp with a partner whose
name would quickly be reduced to a pithy one syllable sobriquet
- let’s just say my mother reads this paper.
So it was off to the spa.
In some places, getting facials can be an anxiety-ridden experience,
with snotty staff and alien oily treatments.
But inside Fifth Avenue’s D’Mai Urban Spa, the newest addition
to Park Slope, all that anxiety is exfoliated away.
Owners Daniella Stromberg and Mark Abbonizio have converted a
long-abandoned fish store into a 3,000-square-foot Zen pleasure
den dotted with flowering quince tree branches and delicate orchids
that offers an array of treatments ranging from body polishes
($100) to hot stone massages ($55-$125).
After traveling the spas of the world, Stromberg fell in love
with the spas of Indonesia and decided to bring some of the tradition
and philosophy (and furniture!) back home.
The effect is tastefully simple, with wood-slatted walkways,
black rocks and delicate orchids. (Think West Elm meets yoga
After slipping into a white cotton robe, I’m met by my aesthetician
Marni in one of the spa’s three "quiet areas" interspersed
between the treatment rooms where visitors are encouraged to
relax and reflect on their pedicure or massage.
"Give it to me straight," I tell Marni as I climb onto
the Javanese table with candlelight flickering behind me.
The last time I had a facial, a Russian aesthetician in southern
Brooklyn with little patience for flattery took one look at my
(overworked and underpaid, thank you very much) skin and almost
"It is severely dehydrated and clogged," she informed
But this time around, after a year of compulsive moisturizing,
Marni says my skin is "irritated" and congested. I
considered this a major improvement.
D’mai is one of the few spas in New York City - and the only
one in Brooklyn - to use products by Hollywood skin guru Sonya
Dakar, who has treated the pretty little faces of Drew Barrymore,
Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Of course, one look at the prices of the products and you, too,
might wish you had the bank account of a Hollywood starlet.
After the skin analysis, Marni begins the "Essential Facial"
($80) with a Soya Wash - a soap, detergent and fragrance-free,
soy-based facial cleanser. And then she leads slowly up to the
"If it doesn’t hurt, she’s just playing," Marni says
about aestheticians. Marni is certainly not playing around as
she extracts oil and dirt from my congested pores.
With that much-needed unpleasantry out of the way, we proceed
through the blissful hour of sprays, creams, washes, masks and
Marni fields my battery of questions about each product like
a pro and takes time to massage my shoulders, neck and feet during
the two, yes two, masks.
"You can taste it if you want," Marni says as she sprays
a fine mist of Aromasol toner, made with chamomile, tangerine
and Dead Sea minerals.
(While it’s salty and good, not all products are equally edible,
as I learn the hard way.)
As my hour of self-indulgence nears the end, both the green tea
and blue azulene masks washed away, the natural pluck returns
to my skin.
Marni finishes off by massaging in a dollop of Omega-3 and Omega-6
fatty acids, commonly found in fish and flaxseed oils.
And then it was off to the quiet area, where I sipped some lemon-infused
water and contemplated my new, kissably soft skin.
"I just wanted to figure out a way to make people feel really
special," Stromberg says as we stroll around the spa. After
years of organizing holistic spa vacations, the Park Sloper says,
she could not wait to open up her own.
Designed as a retreat spa, Stromberg steers away from things
like anti-cellulite and anti-aging treatments. But in just two
weeks, D’Mai will offer nail services with a special Indonesian
spa pedicure using water infused with essential oils and floating
Over the summer, the backyard will also be converted in to a
lush garden with an outdoor treatment area.
While the spa opened just last week, the place is already booked.
And thanks to a healthy dose of metrosexuals (although rarely
spotted in Birkenstock-friendly Park Slope), almost a quarter
of the customers are men.
Beauty may come from the inside out, or so they say, but for
most of us, a little external help and pampering go a long way.
Of course, a Cosmopolitan and an affaire d’amour aren’t half-bad
See the Spa Directory for
more information about D’mai Urban Spa.
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010