Much mystery remains about which retailers will make up the high-end retail landscape of the revamped Plaza Hotel, but one likely tenant is finding it hard to keep her company’s plans secret any longer.

Reportedly climbing on board the most talked about retail development in Manhattan is Mathilde Cathiard Thomas, co-founder of Caudalie, the privately owned French skin care firm, which she said is planning on opening an 8,000-square-foot day spa at the legendary space. The spa, Thomas said, will have 15 treatment rooms, a steam room and offer treatments tailored for the busy Manhattan woman. Thomas, as of press time, had still not signed a lease on the space.

Caudalie looks to be among dozens of high-end stores and boutiques in the transformed Plaza, which was purchased by Elad Properties in 2004 for $675 million. Names such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada are said to be likely retailers in the new space. A high-end gym attached to a well-known fitness coach is also said to be a tenant, sources said. The grand opening for the Plaza, which will house 250 hotel rooms and 150 condominiums, according to Thomas, is scheduled for October. A spokesperson for Elad Properties said it had no comment on whether it was in talks with Caudalie for the venture.

Thomas began contacting beauty editors on her company’s pending news when a press briefing this week on the overall project was canceled, she said.

“We need to get the buzz going,” Thomas said of contacting WWD.

Caudalie was founded in 1995 by Thomas and her husband, Bertrand. Inspiration for the line was drawn from Thomas’ parents’ vineyard, Chateau Smith Haute-Lafitte, in the Bordeaux region of France. A doctor from the area’s university convinced the couple that his patent on harvesting antioxidants from grape skins and vines would make for a marketable, effective skin care line. Subsequently, the concept of vinotherapy developed, and a new approach to antiaging skin care was born.

The new spa at the Plaza would mark Caudalie’s sixth spa space; it also operates spas in Spain, Italy, Taiwan, California and France. Caudalie makes 25 products for the face and 20 for the body. U.S. headquarters are based in Dallas but will move to New York coinciding with the opening of the spa. Caudalie is sold in 300 doors in the U.S., including Sephora, C.O. Bigelow, Bath & Body Works, Nordstrom and independently owned beauty stores. Globally, Caudalie, which is based in Paris, is sold in 6,500 retailers, employs about 260 people and operates six subsidiaries. Sales for Caudalie reached $100 million in 2006, Thomas said, an increase of 48 percent.

This story first appeared in the January 26, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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