Freezing? Warm up with an Ultra Luxe, Heated Facial in 5 Glorious Steps

I’ve just come back from a few sunny weeks in California, and even though I love New York, I’m not at all pleased to be greeted by 23 degrees and snow. Are you? I mean, snow is one thing when there’s skiing involved, a fireplace, “adult” hot cocoa, a robe and slippers. Brushing the salt off my boots only seems worth it if I’m headed somewhere very warm, and locally, that would be LING.

Enjoying spa life is not hard, of course, it’s just getting there in this weather. But friends, let me tell you about a treatment devised by the beautiful minds at LING (with locations both in Union Square and on the Upper West Side,) that involves a Tourmaline-powered chi infusion that warms you right up. Wherever you’re coming from, the trek is very, very worth it.

A few things you need to know:

1. Tourmaline: this crystal produces more energy than any other in the world. With the limited sunlight, the more energy we can get elsewhere, the better. This + a heat machine is used in the 20 minute treatment focused on the back, neck, and shoulders at the beginning of this luxurious facial. Consider yourself warmed and prepped.

2. Drainage + Digestion: Doesn’t sound nice, but it is. After the heat treatment enables lymphatic drainage, your LING facialist applies a papaya enzyme peel designed to “digest” any of the icky stuff — impure skin, city grime, what have you. #fresherthanyou

3. Clarity: Who couldn’t use more? Next up is an herbal clarifying mask. Detox those pores, baby!

4. Moisture: It’s the essence of wetness, you know. Given the dry winter air + your punishing radiator, hydration is key for beautiful skin. LING knows. That’s why there’s an herbal moisturizing mask with ginseng in this series of glorious facial treatments.

5. More Tourmaline: This time, it’s tourmaline for ya face. Far infrared technology + the stone’s healing energy partner to help your now supple skin absorb all the goodness of LING’s anti aging creams: Apple Stem Cell and DNA DoNotAge (ok I won’t!) Cellular Youth Extension Cream. All of this stimulates collagen growth (and keeps you getting carded forever.)

Stay warm, stay beautiful, and get more Treat Yo Self here.

The Energy Lift Facialis available at LING Skin Care Union Square (12 East 16th Street) and LING Skin Care Upper West Side (105 W. 77th Street)

How to Reverse the Effects of Aging (+ Candy Consumption) in 90 Min.

“We don’t really do locker rooms here,” Miranda said, leading me into a private treatment suite at the Plaza Athenée. You read that correctly–a treatment suite. My room has a full bathroom and sitting area in addition to the standard spa treatment room, and I’m pretty sure my entire apartment could fit into this space.

I’m at the Spa Valmont at the Plaza Athenée, which is the only spa in New York City to exclusively stock the Swiss beauty treatments. The brand’s forte is in anti-aging products and spa treatments concocted with cellular-level active ingredients in mind.

Can I live in this lobby?

First I’m instructed to shower off, using a mixture of fresh dew cleanser and cellular refining scrub in my waterfall shower. I take my sweet time here because a) I love waterfall showers and b) I sat next to a particularly pungent middle-aged man on the subway and I worry he rubbed off on me.


Anyways, once I’m done and cozied up in my fluffy hotel robe, I lay down for the full body treatment, which includes having every inch of my body covered with a body slimming serum and a body firming cream for anti-cellulite purposes. Once the lotion is on, it tingles so much that I become legitimately cold, and need two extra blankets. As someone who shakes like a Chihuahua in any climate below 70 degrees, I tell myself the cold is worth it—and that the particularly lingering frost on my thighs and butt is this lotion’s way of combating the effects of the 10 Reese’s Pumpkins I eat per day in fall.

How many products does it take to fix my face? This many. 

So, feeling like Anna post heart-zap from Elsa (Frozen reference, people) and wrapped up like a baby in swaddling clothes, Miranda gets to work on my neck and face. Over the course of the next 40 minutes or so, various creams and potions are worked onto my skin. One of which is Valmont’s Time Master–perhaps their most iconic product, which promises visible signs of anti-aging by way of a cocktail of active ingredients. While I don’t feel much younger afterward (I am a baby-faced 22 year old, after all), I can’t help but hope this will lay the groundwork for a graceful aging process for the rest of my days.

By the end of the treatment, 12 mixtures of creams, concentrates, gels, etc. have been worked onto my skin. As with anytime I’m treated to a massage / facial of any sort, I leave feeling like one of those smiling floppy inflatable men outside a car dealership. More than that though, I feel like this treatment legitimately kicked my skin back to where it needed to be over 100 Halloween candies ago. Very, very worth it. Treat Yo Self!

The Spa Valmont is located at the Plaza Athénée, 37 East 64th Street, NYC. To Treat Yo (own) Self, click here.


Hyperbaric Chambers and GTFOing of NYC: The Detox Diaries Part 2

Read part one of Sara’s adventures in detoxing from fashion week right here.

A 90-minute yoga sesh does wonders but it’s no seven hour plane ride. Call me crazy but there’s something semi-delicious about being disconnected in a metal box in the sky (no?). OK–that’s a lie, I spent a combined $54.00 on wifi and wrote at least four articles–and yet still! relaxing. No fashion week traffic, anyway.

Even though by now NYFW and LFW and MFW are passed; editors are in Paris, and I’m still fully immersing myself in the ever-expanding wellness scene, bringing you the best of the best–this time from coast to coast.

Though a barely 72 hour-technically-work-trip to San Francisco is no Cara Delevingne on the beach in Bali–it was just what I needed. I knew it was a prime detox opportunity when the folks at Luna/Clif HQ gave me the following packing advice: “Many wear yoga clothes to work.”


And since San Francisco may well have been first to emphasize health and wellness, off I went, in support of the 14th annual Lunafest, a festival of short films, by, for, and about women. Held at the Palace of the Fine Arts Theater, the film festival was great–I highly recommend hosting your own, btw.

Remind me not to pose next to the Katies of the world, those publicists for Luna by day, pilates instructor/pros by night…

Plus– I was lucky enough to be treated to some everygirl detox treats: more Soulcycle, and Drybar, two things I never say no to–especially in conjunction. P.S. Did you know Drybar has a VIP room?

VIP-Room-Flatiron-1The VIP room at Drybar

db-selfieDrybar #selfie

As does any workout class (anything in life, at all), this opportunity begged the question of what to wear. Since the DETOX is all about comfort without sacrificing style (especially in this era of insanely chic gear) I put together an outfit from Athleta–brand bestie of Luna’s specified to San Francisco.

Back in NYC, Still in Athleta: Workin’ out (and ready for rain) in chaturanga tights, Crunch muscle tank, and this lil slicka’.

Though I was back in NY, in well, a NY minute, I still felt rejuvenated. Last step of Part II: a quick pit stop (we’re talking under an hour here) to the palatial Erno Laszlo Institute in SoHo, where I popped into this hyperbaric chamber called Pure Oxygen by Pure Flow. A favorite of athletes, this little bed/tent/contraption is like a nap pod + (one of those things you never knew you needed but clearly do). 37 minutes in here (basically a cot on the inside) provides triple oxygen delivery, stimulates stem cell creation, and key words here: relieves jet lag.


On my way out, my technician told me I’d sleep like a baby tonight, and no matter how much else I do, sleep is still the key to any DETOX. See you soon for more on skin, nails, food, and exercise!


New Age Treatments Infiltrate Los Angeles Spas

The massage therapist said: "You basically have one large block of knots." To me, that meant the best way to approach my tight upper back was with an ice pick or, more realistically, a few hard, soothing punches. For her, it meant a full hour of not-so-fun exertion. While there were no ice picks or punches involved, my block of knots melted into sheets with her magic and, eventually, I reached a state of enlightenment, which was—in my opinion—a team effort. Sure, I was simply lying there as most guests do, but behind the scenes, I was manifesting a transcendent sense of relief and pushing my mind to reach a heightened sense of nirvana.

Let me explain. I had just moved to Los Angeles from New York the previous week. I bought a car, rented a one-bedroom in West Hollywood and came to terms with my new life. What I didn’t do was order my bed (or furniture) in advance, so most of my nine-hour days of being a writer meeting deadlines were spent sitting Indian-style with head gravitated toward the computer at feet-level. This back-bending (literally) dedication is perhaps typical of the hard-working Asian in me, an ethnic scapegoat I’m sure I’ll later use to excuse my driving skills. Oh, and while I’m at it, Asians often sleep on the floor, which I did for three days, without a mattress. My back was wishing I was a rich, white girl.

White girl or Asian guy, this slab of knots became explosively uncomfortable. Stretching was like half a yawn when you’re tired, ineffective and awkward. And don’t get me started on how this large block of knots actually felt like a weight on the top of my neck, compromising my otherwise naturally aligned gait. It was just mere coincidence that Exhale Spa opened at Loews Hollywood Hotel, a boutique spa chain that I had visited in New York City and remember liking. I had also taken one of the cultish Core Fusion classes that works every muscle fiber in your body. If you haven’t taken a class, know that the only thing you truly want afterward is a rub down.

So I booked a treatment.

Inside, it felt brand-new. The lobby was well lit thanks to the skylight, and the staff had that new-spa smile. Despite it only being 7,000 square feet, the spa didn’t feel cramped like new spas that have to work around old-space parameters. They really tricked it out. The changing room came equipped with a glass-walled steam room, and there’s not one but two lounges with refreshments and clove-spiced, hot-neck pillows.

But one thing I didn’t expect was the statue of Buddha at the end of the hallway, awash in blue light. It’s not really the Buddha statue that was brow-raising, but the offering just at the foot of the statue. A bowl of fruit. An actual "offering."

While this wouldn’t have fazed me had I been in, say, Korea, I couldn’t help but have a Judd Apatow moment, looking at it with wild confusion. Buddha in a contemporary spa was so LA. I had been warned about things like this.

That moment of dumb numbness, however, didn’t last long, and soon enough, unusually, I was beginning to fill with what I would like to think is zen. It overcame me with a sense of calm in a way that no other spa in New York City had ever done. Call it spiritual, call it holistic, call it "New Age" but I was buying it. And I wasn’t even on a yoga mat. It came out of nowhere, this sensation of zen, and maybe all you need is a Buddha in front of a bowl of fruit to make that happen.

I took my massage, doing things one would do during, say, meditation: seeking a higher sense of self. It somehow came naturally and, as wacky as this sounds, the massage wouldn’t have felt complete without my spiritual assistance. Yep, I went there.

Even though Exhale Spa is progressive, stylish and modern, its ethos falls back on a true holistic experience. Guests can find an array of treatments that embrace non-Western philosophies, like acupuncture, cupping and, interestingly, vibration therapy (see list below). Throw in a Buddha statue, and you have a new believer in the unfamiliar. It also turns out Angelenos are much too familiar with this kind of scene that it would be weird for there not to be a Buddhist statue under a spotlight (with a bowl of fruit offering).

The zen moment sort of disappeared after I left the spa, but I still felt knackered. And good. And restored. And that’s what health and well-being is all about, Buddha statue or not. LA’s fascination with the holistic module (organic foods, yoga, meditation) has a lot of presence and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself in a similar situation (Buddha, bowl of fruit) at the next spa outing. New Age themes in unassuming places is a concept I’m open to, if it helps dissolve the kinks in my back.

And it looks like this non-Western, spa-friendly lifestyle isn’t specific to Exhale. Check out my round-up of LA-based spas that offer treatments deemed unusual for the tourists and oh-so-common for an Angeleno.

Vibration Therapy at Exhale Hollywood

Thanks to the opening of Exhale Hollywood at Loews, the holistic-minded can restore their zen by a number of Buddha statues and some non-Western spa treatments to boot. The Vibration Therapy uses tuning forks to relieve pain, increase mental focus, and create a sense of wellbeing. It will not only target specific points on the body but your overall aura. 30 minutes for $100, 60 minutes for $150

Biomeditation at Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Spa Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is the only spa in America to offer BioMeditation Therapy. It’s an energy healing treatment from practitioner Jeannette Von Johnsbach. Like something of a superhero, she places her hands lightly on your body and activates energy flow, miraculously breaking apart blockages and restoring positive energy. 60 minutes for $175

Spiritual Readings at Chakra Spa

Chakra Spa in Beverly Hills is the only wellness facility that offers spa treatments and spiritual readings. Find out what’s in store for your future, then get a facial. Amazing. Guests can choose among a Mystic Tarot Card Reading, Personalized Palm Reading or go full monty with the Full Life Spiritual Reading. Full Life Spiritual Reading, 30-45 minutes for $85

Shiffa Precious Gemstone Treatments at The Peninsula Beverly Hills Spa

It only makes sense for the Peninsula Beverly Hills Spa to use gemstones in their treatments. Partnering with Shiffa Skincare, the spa is offering treatments that not only work with the energy of the gemstones but also with dried herbs, flowers and color therapy associated with each gemstone (diamond for balance and harmony; emerald for strength and balance; ruby for stimulation; sapphire for tranquility). The gemstones soak in respective bottled concoctions then used in massages. 60-120 minutes starting at $245

Do you enjoy exploring spas, restaurants, bars, and hotels in Los Angeles? Then check out BlackBook’s LA Guide and download our City Guides app for iPhone and Android. And subscribe to BlackBook Happenings, a weekly, non-spammy newsletter, for all the latest openings and events, delivered to your inbox every Monday. 

Toronto Opening: Shangri-La Hotel

With a “phantom” opening cleverly orchestrated in time for the Toronto Film Festival, Toronto’s Shangri-La is now prepped to welcome those not necessarily hunted by the paparazzi.

Taking up just 17 floors of a spectacular new 66-story tower, the Shangri-La’s guests are greeted by Zhang Huan’s epic, stainless steel Rising sculpture, leading to a light-flooded lobby and loung adorned with stunning Chinese calligraphy paintings. The artistic flourishes continue on into The Bar, which features 180 hand-blown overhead glass fixtures. Jean Paul Lourdes, um, lords over the intimate Bosk restaurant, which proffers Asian-influenced international cuisine. Eastern aesthetic accents prevail throughout the hotel, including some particularly extravagant repros of Chinese Emperor chairs. The Health Club features chandeliers, natural light, and a 20-meter saltwater lap pool. As close to “paradise” as the name suggests.

John Travolta Reportedly Banned from Hotel Spa for ‘Inappropriate Behavior’

Another day, another accuser! John Travolta, who was hit with a lawsuit this week related to allegations by three male massage therapists regarding inappropriate sexual advances, is now being accused of such by a fourth one, who says Travolta’s behavior got him blacklisted from the spa at New York’s Peninsula Hotel.

Using statements from Michael Caputo, a former masseur at the luxe Fifth Avenue hotel, the New York Daily News reports Travolta was banished to the spa’s "no-thigh zone" for three years in the early 2000s for "inappropriate behavior" with male massage therapists, though–following a complaint from Travolta’s camp–the ban was eventually lifted (much like Travolta’s towel when in the presence of a masseur).

So what did Travolta do at the Peninsula? Via Us, Caputo divulges some juicy (and gross, because, you know… John Travolta) details:

"Travolta would always request a man for his massage, but after a while no one would take him," Caputo shares. "It got to the point where they couldn’t find any men to take him, and they had to ban him."

According to Caputo, male employees accused the star of "removing his towel, grinding against the massage table and lifting his butt in the air."

Wait, it’s not normal to grind against a massage table and lift your butt in the air? Prudes!

Industry Insiders: Cygalle Dias, Zen Master

Ever hear of a water-cannon salute? Fire
trucks lined the runway to spray our plane with water, after landing in the Dominican Republic on JetBlue’s inaugural flight from JFK to La Romana. We headed to Casa de Campo, sugar baron Pepe Fanjul’s beautiful resort. The movie Rambo 2 included scenes on the stunning Chavon River there. Sting, Carlos Santana, and Frank Sinatra are among the many celebrities who have performed at the nearby amphitheater.
 Cygalle Dias, an entrepreneur based in New York, launched a healing spa at the resort. The spa, replete with an outdoor labyrinth and Zen gardens, is one property of a spa company that spans both the fashion and entertainment world.  

 What does your company do?
It brings mobile spas to places such as the Hamptons, and New York and London Fashion Weeks.
Who have enjoyed your spas?
Rosario Dawson in the Hamptons, Zac Posen and Charlotte Ronson in New York, and Stella McCartney in London.
Tell me a little about your connection with the Dominican Republic.

Another facet of my business is spa management. We launched a healing spa at Casa de Campo.
What do you love about Casa de Campo?

They’re pioneers in creating an all-inclusive resort. It’s 7,000 acres. It’s huge.
What’s distinctive about it?
I think the villa lifestyle is really special there. You can have your own private chef and butler.
How do you like the restaurants?
I love Le Cirque there, which is on the beach. The people that own it are really nice. They have Le Cirque in New York, too. My other favorite is La Casita, a Spanish-American style restaurant that is in the Marina. I love the view right on the water.
Tell us a bit about the spa.
My vision of the spa was to integrate health and beauty throughout the entire resort. The spa at Casa de Campo is natural, featuring organic treatments and healing for the holistic lifestyle. It features seven suites. They’re private and quite large.
What is the water ritual in the suites all about? The water plunged from 105◦ F to 59◦ F !
It’s an Oriental therapy designed from ancient times for building up your immune system. Once you get used to it — and you have to do it a lot – you get stronger health-wise because it’s stimulating both your immune system and circulation, too. And when you have another spa treatment, it is enhanced, since you’re already stimulated from the experience. I recommend the water ritual and then the steam treatment, which is a detox, so you can sweat and then exfoliate with a scrub. The spa pharmacy makes scrubs and wraps from plants and fruits on the island. There’s a labyrinth stone that’s an ancient ritual, too. That one’s for balance and to center yourself.
Who are some of the celebrities who visited the spa in Casa de Campo?
Kate Hudson, Kanye West, Johnny Damon, and Michelle Rodriguez.
We went to your Mobile Spa day at the Organic Avenue store on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Will there be another one soon?
Yes. The date hasn’t been set yet.
Tell me about what’s available at the store.
The Cygalle Organic Chamomile Makeup Remover can be purchased there. I’m into a holistic approach, and my products don’t have a lot of chemicals in them.
What are some of your favorite hangouts in New York?
I like Le Cirque. I also like Cipriani on the Upper East Side. And I like Nobu 57. And I love the Four Seasons lounge in the front of the hotel for afternoon tea and for meetings. I like Jean-Georges, too, in the Trump International Hotel & Tower. Au Bon Pain in the middle of the park is really fantastic on a nice day.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been talking to developers in New York and elsewhere. I’d like to open a spa this year. Casa de Campo took me four years to get it to the point where it is. It’s up to the Leading Hotels of the World standards now, which is very exciting.
Photo Courtesy of Richard C. Murray/RCM IMAGES, INC

Keeping Your Best Bronze

The combined tanning power of the French people and the Caribbean sunshine is enough to make your neighborhood sun bed unplug itself in shame. As vacationers head south, sunshine is always one of the indulgences of choice, and preserving that winter tan truly does have an unusual (read: psychosomatic) ability to keep you feeling warmer until spring.

The Brin family, who hails from the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy in the French Antilles, has developed a range of daily skin care products called Ligne St. Barth. It’s high-quality, plant-based care products with an exotic touch. They’re a favorite line of spas on the island, for their gentleness on freshly tanned skin, and now, the Hotel Le Toiny has launched a new signature treatment, the St. Barth Sun Downer. Using a mixture of green clay, mint, coconut oil, aloe vera, and melon mousse, it is specifically designed to sooth skin after a day in the Caribbean sun. A small boutique hotel affiliated with Relais & Chateaux, Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts, and American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, the villa suite style rooms are secluded enough to encourage the kind of creative sunbathing that can result in a surprising burn. You’ll appreciate the ingredients’ natural repairing agents and redness-alleviating properties when you’re ready in time to make your dinner reservation at their famed Restaurant Le Gaïac.