NEW YORK — Underarm laser hair removal at a glam Gotham day spa for 50 bucks?
“Sign me up,” said the legions of hypergroomed Manhattanites taking part in the first annual New York Spa Week. Well, make that the first and last annual New York Spa Week; the special promotion, which kicked off on Monday and ends this Sunday, has been such a hit that it’s already going national.
The hot stone massage equivalent of Restaurant Week, the program was masterminded by Cheryl Reid and Cristina Castro, co-principals of C & R Media, a marketing and public relations firm serving the spa, wellness and beauty industries. Held Oct. 18-24, it offered full-length treatments from 37 metro spas for the bargain basement price of $50. (Depending on the service and venue, that could mean savings of close to 70 percent.)
According to Reid, she and Castro conjured the idea last winter but didn’t start pitching it to spas and corporate sponsors until mid-August. Once they did get rolling, however, they quickly signed 25 participating spas (an additional 12 followed), as well as a list of corporate backers that included nationally distributed spa brands such as Jane Iredale Cosmetics and Ahava Dead Sea Skin Care, as well as local businesses like Tribeca Smiles, a cosmetic dentistry concern.
To facilitate bookings, Reid and Castro partnered with Spa-Addicts.com, a trendy Web site that functions as a liaison between beauty junkies and their favorite spas. On Sept. 20, the promotion went live with a small ad on the Spa-Addicts home page. Within two days, said Reid, 90 percent of the services were sold out.
“For us at least, Spa Week has been a runaway horse,” said Richard Calcasola, owner of Maximus Salon and Spa. For the promotion, Maximus offered three treatments: Refresher Facial (usually $65); Creative Spa Pedicure (usually $60) and Cocochino Scrub with Water Journey (usually $110). “We’re all in favor of any program that drives traffic into our SoHo location,” added Calcasola, who also operates a Long Island outpost of Maximus. “And so far, this seems like a winner. We’ve been sold out for weeks.”
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Both Calcasola and Oasis Day Spa co-owner Bruce Schoenberg intend to extend the Spa Week promotion to accommodate overflow. “We have three locations, with 37 treatment rooms in total, so we have a lot more capacity than most other New York spas,” said Schoenberg. “But even with all that room, we still sold out. So we’re extending the offer. If anyone wants to take part and we don’t have availability, we’ll let them come next week. The entire purpose of Spa Week is to give people who have otherwise never tried spa services the opportunity to do so.”
At Juva Skin and Laser Center Medi-Spa, the promotion has attracted an entirely new client base. “None of the participants in Spa Week were previous patients of Juva,” said founder Bruce Katz, M.D. “They’re all new.” Both of the treatments the spa is offering — an aromatherapy facial and a seaweed body treatment — are usually twice the Spa Week price. “We’re essentially charging half price,” said Katz. “But we’re fully booked — for two weeks, in fact, because the demand has been so great that we’ve had to extend the promotion.”
Although “access for the masses” is the stated purpose behind Spa Week, there’s no denying that sample-sale savvy New Yorkers know a good beauty bargain when they see one. And next year, they’ll have — not one but two — opportunities to nab an enzyme peeling facial or Endermologie cellulite treatment on the cheap. “We’re planning two Spa Weeks for 2005 — at the national level,” said Reid. “As soon as the word got out about New York Spa Week, we immediately received calls from spas across the country.”
— Dana Wood