Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie at… Trump SoHo, New York

‘I’m not here to have rubies rubbed into my thighs. I’m here for oxygen’

Spa Junkie at… Trump SoHo, New York

Image: Jay Yeo

December 13 2011
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2

In a city so fast-paced that it can make you feel like coming up for air, there is a certain symbiosis when it comes to having an oxygen facial in Manhattan. The eight million hurried inhabitants and 13,000 screeching yellow cabs suck up the 02 supplying its 305 square miles like a tornado of energy, with one particular resident taking more than his fair share…

Donald Trump, or The Donald as he is affectionately known here, may not have secured the presidential candidacy, but his reign over the city’s skyline and his ubiquitous TV appearances and plethora of ventures have secured his place as the king of commerce – and made him the living embodiment of New York’s make-it-here, make-it-anywhere manifesto.

I’m at the Trump SoHo, The Donald’s latest Manhattan hotel, a 46-storey building soaring above Spring Street in the bustle of SoHo, a neighbourhood once reserved for bohemians and artists who, in years now long forgotten, would have recoiled at having as a neighbour the man who taught America to say “you’re fired!” with glee.

The Trump SoHo is all you would expect from the city’s most extravagant hotelier. Its imposing glassed-in, two-storey lobby is bathed in golden light and the heavy, rich furniture is signature magnate. The rooms boast breathtaking views of the Hudson and the uniquely recognisable Manhattan skyline.

On arrival on the 7th floor, however, I have to admit that I’m terribly underwhelmed by the reception. Perhaps this is in part thanks to the fact that they’d had an event on the day before, and the pool – which is the real wow factor – is closed for the winter; but, whatever the case, I’m not impressed. The retail offering in the reception area is so bad, I’m a bit shocked as I flick through the over-beaded, old-fashioned sarongs and crystal-studded flip-flops.

The Spa at Trump SoHo is positioned to offer stressed-out New Yorkers a respite from their sleep-deprived states of mind. The 11,000 square feet of decadent pampering takes in indoor and, in the summer, outdoor spaces, and is situated across two floors comprising relaxation lounges, a heated outdoor pool, the usual uninviting hotel gym (I’d really rather just go for a run on the river, or take a Bari class in SoHo), and opulent Turkish-themed treatment rooms where grit is replaced by rose petals and the sounds of the city are muted by delicate mosaic tiles.

Among the many indulgences on offer are the signature Trump Gemstone Spa Treatments, whereby diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires are coated with oils and massaged into the skin to promote calm, balance, purification, revitalisation and healing. To think The Donald may have run out of uses for his stockpile of rocks. I’d still prefer one sitting atop an engagement ring.

But I’m not here to have rubies rubbed into my thighs. I’m here for oxygen, and as much of it as I can have introduced into my polluted pores, thank you very much. The therapists at Trump SoHo follow the training of Kate Somerville, the doyenne of NASA-meets-skincare. Kate had eczema as a child, and as a result of the experience developed a skincare range; she’s widely cited as a pioneer in bringing medical and aesthetic products together. Her range works especially well on sun-damaged skin – of which there is a lot in LA – and is based on five steps: protect against sun and free radicals; hydrate; feed the skin with deeply nourishing ingredients; stimulate the cells so as to increase collagen (as you probably know, reader, after reaching 30 we stop producing collagen at the rate we used to, so it’s imperative to have intense stimulating treatments, such as laser and light therapies, that work deep into the dermis); and, lastly, detox the skin of impurities and dead cells. This she does particularly well; her exfoliators are my favourite in the whole line. I frequented her home of beauty during my stint in LA, and have twice renewed a full range of her products – something I don’t often do.

The Ultimate Kate Calm and Heal facial is a super-hydrating oxygen treatment which, according to the therapist, is a favourite with all the major celebrities – everyone from Paris Hilton to Simon Cowell. I ask if The Donald comes here for his facials. “Hahaha! Not that I know of. I have seen Ivanka [his daughter] around here, but I don’t think we service Mr Trump on this property,” she says nervously, as if there were a camera in the room and even the mention of his name outside of strict brand guidelines given to employees would be a sackable offence.

Once her jittery laughter dies down, we’re ready to begin. “I’m going to start with a triple cleanse, to ensure all your pores are unclogged; then I’m going to use the papaya enzymatic exfoliation and do some very light extractions.” Uh-oh. I tell her I have a lunch meeting at The Standard with a seriously important client, and I don’t want him to think I have just been poodling around at the beauty parlour. “I promise I will not send you out all red and blotchy. You will look glowing after the oxygen has been administered – and the red-light treatment actually helps to reduce sensitivity.”

After the calming mask, the therapist gently applies the oxygen, which comes out of a free-standing machine to which is attached a long nozzle; this dispenses the oxygen, to which vitamins and hyaluronic serum have been added.

“This treatment is really great for improving elasticity and skin tone. It also helps lift your cheeks and reduces under-eye circles; it’s perfect for having the ‘I-have-been-sleeping-for-weeks’ look on the red carpet – and it even works on your lips, which can get very dry in the winter.

“Now, just a few minutes with the light therapy, which is called Derma Lucent; the red LED light is actually micro-currents, which help the products penetrate more deeply into the dermis.” During the light treatment, she gives me a handy eye mask (looks a lot like the thick plastic goggles you get at the dentist, red and plastic; they are worn to protect the eyes from the light and are commonplace in all laser or intense light therapy), then she gets to work on my hand and foot massage.


The final results are impressive. The fine lines that grew deeper on the journey to JFK have minimised; and, as promised, no blotchy marks – my skin has the sort of glow that I can normally only achieve after one too many Cosmos at Bemelmans.

While the streets of New York didn’t make me feel brand new – sorry, Jay-Z – this treatment certainly helped me look it. But it’s a very steep price, and honestly the effects last for about two days, so not sure I will be back in the near future. But for the moment I’m going to make the most of it; with my wallet considerably lighter and a rich vitamin cocktail circulating deep in my dermis, I’m going to float down Broadway with more oxygen in my skin than my Manhattan lungs could ever hope to inhale.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.