Serenity and the City: The Spa at Out NYC

by David  Perry
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday May 2, 2013

Palm Springs. Key West. Berlin.

Gay-centric hotels have popped up in key destinations around the world so it's a bit of surprise that it took New York City until 2011 to come "out." But some things are worth the wait.

To say that The OUT NYC hit the market with all the cannons blasting isn't an understatement, it was a requirement. Recalling the spacious neo-cool architecture of "TRON" and "Star Trek," the 42nd Street location in the heart of Manhattan's newest gayborhood of Hell's Kitchen (with Times Square on one side and the Jacob Javits Center on the other) was unbeatable. XL, the in-house nightclub that is the brainchild of legendary nightlife extraordinaires John Blair and Beto Sutter, gave New York's anemic dance scene a much-needed shot in the arm.

It worked. Not only did the guests come in droves, but also Fodor's listed the OUT in its prestigious 100 Hotels for 2012. But this is New York: accolades fade, laurels wilt, interest wanes. Quickly.

So after the initial punch comes the follow-through in the form of the newly refurbished Spa at the OUT, an urban oasis dedicated to erasing New York City's frenetic pace while still keeping it at a seductive arm's length.

You’ll Never Want to Leave

"The design of the entire spa is meant to provide a peaceful environment and invoke a sense of tranquility for guests to rejuvenate, restore and recharge," says Spa Director Chris Drummond. Backed up by 17 years of experience in the wellness and beauty industry, including running his own spa at Fire Island, Drummond is as aware that environment is as important as treatments.

Walking into the 5,000-square-foot space, the walls suddenly fly back and natural light cascades down through a glass atrium studded with two Jacuzzis and looks out onto a sundeck protected by the structure of the OUT itself, much like a Mediterranean courtyard garden, waterfall included.

Built with three such inner sanctums, all of which can be appropriated by Spa staff for guests (private treatment rooms are available as well), the OUT and its spa services synch perfectly with Drummond’s personal vision of how one should complement the other.

"An interesting feature of The Spa at the OUT is the amenity of ’anywhere spa services’ that allow for guests to unwind with customized massages on the Spa Deck, enjoy manicures-pedicures in the Spa Atrium, or experience treatments in the comfort of their own rooms if they are guests of the hotel. The Spa at the OUT NYC is all about a whole experience, not just a body treatment or massage."

Guests have five pages worth of services to choose from, ranging from massages to facials, full-body treatments to yoga, a steam room to a cedar sauna... and a few indulgences that may be alien to the ear.

The Sweetest Way to Smooth

"Sugaring is all natural, less painful and uses a different removal technique," says Drummond, describing an alternative to waxing and its required high pain threshold. "The Spa at THE OUT NYC is one of very few to offer this treatment in New York City. We use only Tamara’s Professional Body Sugaring, and use the techniques certified by Tamara; this means using a gloved hand to apply the sugar paste and a flicking motion to remove it."

"The technique is much less painful than waxing, and longer lasting. You apply the paste by hand and remove it by hand, instead of with strips," says Drummond. "All of my clients prefer sugaring, and say it is less irritating and less painful than waxing. Plus sugar can be used on any part of the body. Wax cannot."

Drummond says that sugaring usually lasts for about three to four weeks, although results may vary as everyone’s hair grows at a different rate. Using the proper after care products, which include tea tree oil and other products available from the spa itself, help to reduce any ingrown hair.

While it is a forgone conclusion that sugar helps the medicine go down, it is more than just novelty. Drummond is acutely aware he is operating in a city that is the native habitat of the beauty industry, where spas proliferate on every block, and where the cult of the pretty face is particularly dedicated. To stay ahead of the curve, Drummond’s cutting-edge creativity is a necessity, and hirsute guests can relax knowing that a "spa experience" will be just that.

Affordably Indulgent

But it is not to say that a few old standbys that have withstood the test of time have aren’t welcome. Drummond is quick to highlight another treatment, one he feels is the standout of the space: The Turkish Hammam.

Under the expert supervision of Swedish Institute-trained masseur, and genuine Turk, Savas Cebeci, whose dedication to his clients and quality of service is no less fervent that Drummond’s, guests are whisked to a world reserved for sultans and caliphs. Followed by a deep cleansing facial, steam room and sauna, and whirlpool finale, guests may forget that the City That Never Sleeps is just outside.

Which is exactly the point. Having managed spas such as the Shore Club and Ritz-Carlton in Miami, and power-players Estee Lauder, Sephora, and Macy’s, Drummond applies exacting standards to the Spa at the OUT, hiring only top tier employees with a strong background in spa and wellness industries whose expertise match the expectations of the clients.

"The Spa at the OUT NYC has all types of men and women come through our doors," says Drummond of the clientele. "Unlike other spas, we also have a significant amount of couples as well." Just to avoid any confusion, Drummond also adds that in following the European ideas upon which the OUT is founded, the changing room is co-ed.

Open to all orientations, the Spa at the OUT NYC operates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (about the same time the party gets going in XL, which is directly under the spa space)."We encourage all to stay and enjoy the sound of the waterfalls, secluded cabanas, lounge areas, or to enjoy light snacks and beverages that are delivered from the OUT’s KTCHN restaurant," Drummond says of the Zen-like simpatico atmosphere that pervades the space. "There is no rushing, no pressure to leave." Amid the quietude of sunlight, falling water, and pure indulgence (and sugar!), who would want to?

And just in time for summer, The Out NYC just relaunched the hotel’s Shared Luxury Accommodations, now including a daily Spa Pass (a $50 value) that allows access to the hotel’s full-service spa, fully equipped gym, two hot tubs, three cabanas, and three outdoor courtyards, starting at just $99 per bed per night.

The Shared Luxury Accommodation rooms sleep four people and are equipped with four full-sized beds, personal TVs, a bathroom, shower, full-length cubbies, deluxe linens, and privacy curtains. These shared rooms are ideal for the single traveler looking to make fast friends on a visit to New York City, or a group of friends seeking an affordable way to travel together.

Spa at the OUT NYC
510 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

David Perry is a freelance travel and news journalist. In addition to EDGE, his work has appeared on ChinaTopix, Thrillist, and in Next Magazine and Steele Luxury Travel among others. Follow him on Twitter at @GhastEald.


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