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The Peninsula Spa by ESPA in NYC

A Luxury Spa in Midtown Manhattan

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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The Peninsula New York opened the first high-profile urban hotel spa in New York City back in the '80s. In January of 2009 it reclaimed the high ground in NYC with an opulent new spa called The Peninsula Spa by ESPA. It's spread over three floors, with the entrance located on the 21st floor.

The Peninsula Spa by ESPA is BIG -- 35,000 square foot -- with 12 treatment rooms, a sun-lit movement studio, fitness center and a glass-enclosed pool featuring panoramic city views. That's one reason they call the three-story spa "an urban resort destination." Go on a video tour of the Peninsula Spa by ESPA.

One thing you'll notice on entering the reception area is that the design is dark and earthy, with hand-crafted wooden chairs and tables and a soaring wooden sculpture leading to a skylight. The idea behind Alexandra Champalimaud's nature-inspired design is that New Yorkers need to be more grounded.

Once you change into your robe, you can enjoy the gorgeous Thermal suites, which feature aromatherapy steam rooms, saunas, experience showers, and ice fountains, set against a backdrop of 24-karat gold Bisazza mosaic.

Then you're ushered to the Asian Tea Lounge, where you receive your welcome tea, macaroon, and oshibori towel in preparation for your treatment. While the attendant was gracious, I was not in love with this space because it's small, there wasn't a view, and it's co-ed. That's okay if it's large, but I was there with a man in his robe and it just felt a little awkward as we couldn't space ourselves out and there wasn't anything to focus on.

All the Asian, Ayurvedic and European treatments at The Peninsula Spa are designed by ESPA, a global spa consultancy. The actual treatments are exclusive, but I noticed that the concept of customized two-hour treatments called "Peninsula Ceremonies" are similar to the "Time Rituals" ESPA created for The Spa at Mandarin Oriental NYC.

The private spa suite features city views, and aromatherapy steam shower and whirlpool bath with chromotherapy lighting. The treatment rooms feature personalized music and lighting.

The signature Peninsula Ceremony is the Deep Tissue Experience, a therapeutic massage with a vigorous, free-flowing joint release technique. I had this two-hour experience, which began with a foot bath, and the therapist was super-strong and used Trager technique, but I felt she lacked finesse. This might have just been a case of not getting the right match between therapist and clients. The Yang Soother and Yin Uplifter helps restore balance to the body and mind.

The Spa is the first in the United States to offer ESPA's Super Active Facials, three new high-performance treatments that combine scientifically proven all-natural products with specialized massage techniques to deliver both immediate and long-term results. One of the criticisms of the traditional ESPA facials is that they're a little too low-tech and "natural" for the price. A sixty-minute "Intensive Facial" is $195 at The Peninsula Spa by ESPA, and a 90-minute "Super Active" facial is $350.

One innovation I've never seen anywhere else, and which I totally loved, was the very peaceful Relaxation Room with four screened beds. You're cocooned into a customizable, adjustable bed, given earphones and a selection of music to choose from, and you can just rest. This is wonderful, as all too often people just jump up and don't let the treatment finish.

The Peninsula Spa in NYC is the flagship spa for ESPA in the U.S. and the latest to open as part of the Peninsula Wellness program. Reservations for the Spa can be made directly at 212-903 3910.

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