For New York City dwellers, few things are as important to our well-being as simply getting away. Of course there are the obvious options — jaunts to the Hudson Valley or the Hamptons, but starting off a weekend of relaxation by sitting in traffic always seemed less than ideal. Instead, I prefer to search for sanctuaries in the city — whether a hidden restaurant or a quiet bar to enjoy a cocktail overlooking snowy streets — where I can retreat to at any time. My latest discovery is the Shibui Spa, a tranquil Japanese-inspired spa located in the luxurious Greenwich Hotel.
Walking into the hotel, I immediately feel a sense of calm and privacy. There are no travelers rushing about or too many staffers greeting you at every turn. Instead the concierge smiles and directs me to the spa — a short elevator ride one floor down — where when I arrive, the receptionist already knows me by name. The spa artfully blends luxury and tranquility, with a heavy emphasis on Japanese design and treatments. The focal point of the spa is a lantern lit pool (one of the largest I’ve seen in the city), which is surrounded by a 250-year old Japanese farmhouse, artfully constructed using antique Japanese craftsmanship. Here guests can lounge and enjoy tea or dried fruit before or after their treatments.
I arrive a bit on the late side, so I proceed straight to one of the treatment rooms. The Spa only has four treatment rooms, ensuring that each guest experiences privacy at every step in their spa experience. The menu offers a blend of high tech and traditional Japanese treatments. As I was feeling a bit groggy from the recent cooler front, I opted for one of the Seasonal Body Treatments, which is designed to help reawaken, prep, and hydrate skin for the season ahead. There are two seasonal options–a spring/summer treatment to exfoliate and soothe sun-kissed skin and a fall/winter treatment to warm the body and nourish the skin. I chose the latter.
The treatment begins with a body scrub of mango and shea butter and Himalayan salts to boost circulation while scrubbing away any dead skin and dry patches. My entire body is exfoliated from the shoulders to the toes and then I’m lead to the en-suite shower to rinse away the excess product. My skin already feels so much softer. Once back on the massage table, my therapist applies a thermal clay mask (to help detox) infused with winter oils (to help hydrate) and treats my scalp to a massage while the product sets. This New Yorker is completely blissed out as stress melts away with each knead. Then again it’s back to the shower for another rinse as the therapist prepares the table for a 60-minute massage. By this point I’m completely relaxed, warm, and receptive, making the hour long sweet almond oil massage one of the most heavenly treatments in recent memory.
The Japanese word “shibui” roughly translates to a beauty that is low-key and grounded, and I could not think of a better descriptor for the experience at the spa. The space is beautiful yet understated, still, and peaceful. The service strikes just the right balance between being attentive yet quiet and the experience is luxurious but uncomplicated. It’s a retreat from New York, but with all the 5-star amenities one would expect from a world class city. I leave the spa with softer, more hydrated skin — and just as important, a mind that’s multitudes more tranquil than when I arrived.
For more information and to view a complete menu, check out TheGreenwichHotel.com.