Thursday, August 27, 2009

Almost Paradise

I have to admit, when I was first approached to do a review of a spa here in the city I didn't respond to the offer. While most people would jump at the chance for some free pampering, I'm more than a bit squeamish when it comes to physical contact. ("Um, I know we're f**king, but could please try not touching me so much?") But then I got a follow-up e-mail the day after I played three hours of tennis with a bum shoulder in the sweltering New York sun and I thought, if there were ever a moment for me to embrace the idea of a massage, now's the time!

So off I went to Face to Face NYC Day Spa, which was all the more appealing when I realized it's just a short walk from my apartment in Chelsea. It's tucked away in sort of an unremarkable building -- the same one that houses my accountant -- but the second I entered the actual suite it quickly felt like a mini Shangri-La, with soft lighting, relaxing music and a pleasant receptionist who greeted me with a smile and offered me a beverage. After freshening up in the bathroom, I was escorted to my treatment room -- one of three, where 10 staffers perform the gamut of services, including body treatments, waxing, skincare, waxing and nails -- and was greeted by my masseur, Enrique Ramirez, who also happens to be the owner of the joint. I withheld my touchphobia and decided to really throw myself into the experience, directing him to my knotty shoulder blade and all-around post-tennis pain.

From there everything is a blur. Enrique is a consummate pro who knows how to hit all the right spots -- over and over again. It wasn't until it was done that he explained that I'd just gotten an Ultimate Massage (I'll say -- talk about truth in advertising), a 70-minute pleasure trip that's billed as "the best treatment for athletes or weekend warriors. The deep tissue massage is excellent for stubborn knots or tangled muscles. Will Leave you feeling revitalized and ready to face the next challenge." It felt so good, in fact, that when he periodically checked in with me to see if I was "doing OK," I was this close to not wanting to turn around and reply back to him, "I'm great. But are you OK with my gross blistered feet and bruised toe nails?" I know people in this business are professionals, but I just wish I could stop being self-conscious long enough to fully enjoy their talents. Enrique gets my full endorsement. And I'm thinking with a return visit I may finally be ready to completely let myself go.

To make an appointment, call (212) 633-0404 or visit


Sean said...

I had my first massage back in January. I'd always been squeamish about getting touched, too. My massage therapist is great, though, and he put me at ease in the first few minutes. Now I go in every three weeks. It has been a wonderful change for me. (I've still never had a mani/pedi, though! Maybe some day...)

Travis said...

I am always squeamish especially if a guy is doing it. I tend to prefer a woman, that is about the only time I would say that LOL. I know they are professionals but when I went to Nickel in San Fran and the guy is basically spreading my legs eagle I mean it is hard to relax LOL.