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Bliss Bliss


Beautiful Readers,

Well after much ado, I have finally had a visit to Bliss Spa. At this point in history Bliss is probably so over in terms of newsworthiness that the only readers with any interest in my visit have been working overseas for years in a country that has not been graced with its own Bliss Spa, or they have been painting their nails at home.

Bliss is a bit of a spa legend and I have been tracking it since it’s inception in 1996 when they opened their first spa in Soho. I guess my real fascination with the place began with a conversation with a friend of the owner-Marcia Kilgore. My friend and I were in a coffee shop talking about something or other for Beautiful Fitness and she just couldn’t stop gushing about how great Marcia was, how much she admired her, and what a cool idea Bliss was (turns out–according to wikipedia that Marcia Kilgore was also a personal trainer-so now I admire her too).

Bliss was this new cool thing. A spa without much attitude. And, if my memory serves me properly, 1996 was kind of the middle of thewhole minimalist, lots of white space, lower case lettering, anti-snobbery, snobbery, smart is better than beautiful, kind of world. Sort of the Steve Jobs world as I see it.

It was also the middle of an era where, due to the thriving economy, every single woman in America was expected to have a nearly permanent manicure and pedicure, shoes and a purse made by some recognizable designer, and some caliber of blond highlights. Think Sex in the City. Think 90210.

Ms.Kilgore capitalized on this like mad. By creating a spa with a chicly utilitarian ambiance, busy clients feltthat they would receive “essential personal maintenance” in an atmosphere that was unfussy and efficient. Gone were the days of ladies’ beauty salons where bouffanted stylists whirled around with pink hairdryers as they cooed over how beautiful you would look when you were done. Bliss staff was cordial, quick, and quiet.

So now skip ahead to 2009. I have booked an appointment to try the ‘Triple Oxygen Facial’, something called the ‘Upper Hand’ (oh yeah-did I mention that Bliss also has very clever and cute names for their services too-and the copy in their catalog is very distinctive in its charmingness. The ‘Upper Hand’ is a manicure.) and a ‘Head Over ‘Peels’ Pedicure’.

The environment in the 57th street Bliss (there are three in NYC) was just as I had imagined. Clean and spare butwith nice marble and iridescent tiling, Kind of like a gym. Actually it looks in someways like a cross between Equinox and white walled walk in nail salons.

The Oxygen facial was great. Well, more,the facialist was great. Apolonia who had been a midwife in Poland and thus had had all kinds of medical training (I believe that, in Poland, the dog catcher may need to pass exams that I can’t, and have several years of medical training) explained everything about skin I ever wanted to know. Here are three I remember:

1) Yes the caffeinene in coffee grounds is the same caffeinene that is the only useful ingredient in fancy anti-cellulite creams that cost big bucks-you can massage the stuff into your butt and look at least temporarily firmer.

2) The pimples on either side of my chin are probably from my unwashed telephone. Genius!

3) The ’special skin under your eyes’ that eye creams refer to is the same damn skin that you have everywhere else, just a little thinner.

As for the facial. Aw shucks, I don’t know. I’d love to say my skin is much better now in some way…maybe it is a little softer? My pores do look smaller I guess. More radiant due to oxygen sprayed on my face and vitamins put upon it? I guess so. But honestly, I do so much of this cream and vitamin applying stuff at home and my diet consists mostly of lean protein, assorted vegetables and whole grains, red wine, green tea, and very dark chocolate, that for my age I look pretty darn good all the time. If that’s not the case for you, the Triple Oxygen Facial at Bliss57 might well be worth a try. Ask for Apolonia. She gave a really good foot massage during one of the masks, having oxygen sprayed at your face is fun, and Bliss is a nice place to hang out for awhile.

Hope you’re well and enjoying the summer,

Alix Florio


Beautiful Fitness