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Shibui Spa

red flower in the spa

by Shari Mycek

Housed deep inside Tribeca’s The Greenwich HotelShibui Spa offers an authentic Japanese-inspired escape. Writer Shari Mycek goes behind the spa’s 250-year-old barn beams, dismantled in Japan and incorporated into the deep-soaking onsen.

 

Shibui, in Japanese, means “a subtle and unobtrusive approach

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Reveal your own bamboo glow at home with ohana gingergrass bamboo scrubyuzu mimosa sea algae washkinmoxei wild silk lime oil and more.

Enjoy 15% off

products used at The Greenwich Hotel by using code SHIBUISPA at check out and surrender to total relaxation.

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I’d been to Shibui Spa before, so I was prepared for the moody lantern-lit pool area with its low-to-the-ground sofas, ancient bamboo ceiling and authentic-from-Japan dark barn beams. But still, I loved hearing the story. In building the hotel, co-owners Robert De Niro (yes the actor) and Ira Drukier (iconic hotelier), enlisted master craftsmen - considered “living national treasures” in Japan  - to dismantle a 250-year-old barn there and rebuild it by hand, using wooden pegs, as the focal point of the spa.

 

In designing Shibui Spa atThe Greenwich Hotel, co-owner Robert De Niro was inspired by his own trip to Japan. A look at a traditional bathing town…

 

 

“I remember,” Spa Director Cristina Paradelo tells me as I sit wrapped in my to-the-knee blue kimono, awaiting my Bamboo Glow treatment, a spa signature. “They [De Niro and Drukier] flew in ten craftsmen from Japan. None spoke a word of English. They started working at 6 a.m. every day, and finished in just six weeks. Not one nail was used.”

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The authenticity of the spa design inspired the traditional Japanese and other Asian (Chinese, Thai) treatments for which Shibui Spa is now known. My treatment, a noted favorite of red flower founder Yael Alkalay, begins with a bamboo scrub in a private candlelit room. The treatment begins by removing my spa sandals outside the door to the treatment room, and slipping face-down onto the warmly heated massage table where my therapist, Yukari (yes, from Japan) begins a gentle exfoliation with red flower’s ohana gingergrass bamboo scrub, an invigorating and fragrant blend of ginger grass and bamboo.

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A warm shower follows with red flower yuzu mimosa sea algae wash. And then it’s into a completely new room - the onsen, where a deep tub of hot water laced with red flower hinoki mint mineral bath soak awaits me. As I soak, I’m served fresh ginger juice before sinking neck deep into the healing water. In time, a bell ringing softly outside my treatment room signals that my bathing time is over. I pat dry with a warm cushy towel before lapsing onto the massage table for a full-hour, full-body massage with a beautiful, rich-in-amber-color kinmoxei wild silk lime oil. Yukari’s skill is unprecedented as she moves, releasing tension and pressing deeply into every muscle on my legs, back, arms, and torso; she ends with a gentle facial acupressure massage using illuminating rose collagen renewal face serum- divine.

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Feeling both revived and cocooned, I don’t want to leave the sanctity of this low-lit  spa to face the busy streets and subway-taxi grime of New York City. And so I linger. Pad quietly in my soft sandals and kimono robe back to the pool area for another round of ginger juice, a few more moments of quiet solitude, meditation. Basking in my bamboo glow.

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Spatime with
Christina Paradelo, spa director, Shibui Spa, The Greenwich Hotel

 

Shibui Spa Director Cristina Paradelo was with the hotel from the very beginning. The Greenwich, built literally on ‘old world traditions,’ took ten years to complete. Bricks were handmade in Pennsylvania; tiles in Italy; and the spa by Japanese “national living treasures.”

 

Over green smoothies by the lantern-lit pool inside The Greenwich Hotel, she reflects on her journey as spa director and the influences that the authentic design have played on the spa products, therapists and treatments.

 

“In designing Shibui, Mr. [Robert] De Niro was inspired by his own trip to Japan, and wanted to recreate the authenticity of that experience. From the beginning, I knew I wanted the menu to complement that with a strong Eastern influence - Japanese, definitely, but also Chinese and Thai modalities.”

 

“Our clientele is very savvy,” Cristina continues. “They’re well-traveled, have experienced spa treatments and healing rituals all over the world. But we’ve managed to surprise a fair number of them, and I’m proud of that.”

 

Shiatsu, for example, is delivered here in the traditional way. Fully clothed. No oil. And with breath- and energy work.

 

“I was very attracted to red flower, because it parallels on so many levels what The Greenwich Hotel is all about. Yael [Alkalay] is so inspired by world traditions - Japan, Morocco, she’s traveled so much and has taken the best of what she’s experienced and made it approachable. That’s also what The Greenwich has done.“

 

When Cristina first came onboard, she brought red flower ocean and french lavender shampoo, conditioners and lotions into the guest rooms. Bringing red flower into the treatment room - and ultimately into the retail boutique - was simply a natural ‘next step.‘  “I love that the product and the spa experience easily expands beyond the treatment. The red flower [kinmoxei wild lime silk] oil we use in the spa can be used at home - on the face, as a perfume, even for styling hair- just add to the ends.”

 

Self-care is a ritual Cristina has been practicing all of her life. She exfoliates twice a week. “It’s so important to respect our skin, our largest organ. The skin should be given no less importance than our workouts or our hair.” The new mom (at this writing, her daughter had just turned five months) also tries to walk as much as she can, get outside in nature, and eat. She’s also an avid bather, soaking every chance she can. And she plans to pass to her daughter a ritual she learned as a girl.
“Growing up, I spent every summer in Spain,“ says Cristina. “There was one day, every year, where everyone would pick flowers - from gardens, from meadows. They’d fill their bathtub with warm water, then throw all of the petals into the bathtub. One by one, everyone in the house soaked in the fragrant bouquet. The scent was absolutely amazing. And luckily,“ she pauses and laughs, “our house had multiple bathtubs.”

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