Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Serenity Day Spa: A "Home Town" Favorite

Serenity Day Spa
330 Old Bridge Turnpike, South River, NJ 08882
(732) 257-8118

Visited: August 2005

In A Nutshell: If you're in Central Jersey and looking for a way to "get away from it all" for a few hours--alone or with some friends--Serenity is a nearby affordable escape.

Genre: Beauty Day Spa

The Scene: Don’t be fooled by Serenity’s corporate, modern-looking website. It’s one quiet, cozy, unique and comfortable retreat -– a state-of-the-art spa with a traditional, "bed and breakfast"-type feel.

The Damage: Surprisingly Affordable; I had an Aromastone Therapy Message (which includes a lime exfoliation) for $115 and an Energy Zone Facial for $70.

The Experience: The Background -- I had been to Serenity several times in the past and enjoyed every minute of it, but wondered if the experience had changed since Serenity joined The Premiere Collection, a conglomerate operating hundreds of spas, salons, and boutiques throughout the United States and Canada. Had Serenity lost its personal touch and warm feel by “going corporate”? You know I had to find out! So, when given a $150 gift certificate to Serenity for Christmas, I decided to give it a try—this time with the critical eye of a spa reviewer and the tired body of a spa patron.

The spa is housed in the historic Van Nest House, a beautiful neo-classical mansion built around 1840. In fact, it’s easy to miss Serenity since it looks like a home owned by a wealthy family or a quaint bed and breakfast from another era. But trust me, if you’re ever traveling on South River’s busy Old Bridge Turnpike, you’ll want to slow down and experience this wonderful retreat from the modern world.

The Lime Exfoliation -- The friendly, professional staff greeted me with a smile and almost immediately introduced me to Lily, the therapist who would deliver my lime exfoliation followed by my Aromastone Therapy Massage.

The lime exfoliation is a not-so-distant cousin to Serenity's Body Buff (the body treatment formerly known as Serenity's Sea Salt Glow for those who may remember when). If your skin is dry or just in need of some good old-fashioned rejuvenation, you’ve got to try a Body Buff for only $65. The treatment blends healing sea salts designed to detoxify and exfoliate the skin with lime and ginger as well as soothing, moisturizing oils applied using a very gentle massage technique from head to toe. The Aromastone Therapy Massage opens with a very similar treatment, less the sea salts.

But I digress. As Lily showed me to my first treatment room, she explained that I could place all my belongings in the tote bag that hung behind the door. This would serve as my personal, portable locker room for the duration of my journey.

In a word, Lily was simply wonderful and so were the services she rendered.

In any case, my lime exfoliation proved a wonderful prelude to the hot stone massage treatment that would soon follow. In fact, I almost fell asleep during the incredibly relaxing process! But just as I was about to doze off completely, Lily's friendly voice brought me back to reality long enough to guide to one of Serenity’s pristine guest showers to rise off the magical mixture she had just applied. When I stepped out of the shower, I couldn’t help but marvel as how moisturized and soft my skin felt.

The Stone Therapy Massage -- Next it was on to my Aromastone Therapy Massage. Lily used the perfect combination of heat and pressure as she used warmed, smooth stones and massage oils to deliver a wonderful, soothing and relaxing full body massage. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t recommend a stone massage to a spa novice since the pressure and heat can be a bit intense. But, if you try one at Serenity and are fortunate enough to get Lily as your therapist, I say go for it! Professional, knowledgeable and attuned to her client’s needs, she was great at tailoring the treatment to my individual preferences.

But alas, all good things…when my massage was over, Lily walked me downstairs to a quaint sitting room and invited me to partake of the spa’s offering of fruit, water and hot teas.

The Facial -- Just as I had finished my fruit and water, I was greeted by Sheila, the esthetician who would provide my facial. Although not quite as warm and friendly as Lily, Sheila was pleasant, very knowledgeable and delivered an excellent facial. Her approach reminded me of a cross between a doctor/dermatologist and a beautician, as she assessed and diagnosed the condition of my skin and tailored the treatment accordingly.

Sheila also gave me some excellent skin care advice and recommended the perfect moisturizer for my skin. I also appreciated the fact that her product pitch was not heavy handed, which was one of the issues I had with the Serenity of years ago and a criticism I often have of most spa facials. Instead, she explained exactly what she was using on my skin and why. When she was done, she asked me how the moisturizer felt and if I would like some more information about it. Since my skin felt great and I was in search of a good moisturizer I said, “Yes!”

By the time I got dressed, gathered my belongings and got back to the front desk to pay my bill, Sheila had left some literature and a tube of the moisturizer for me with the receptionist. No pressure at all...Needless to say, I had to bring some home!

In short, Serenity is as wonderful a day retreat today as it was the first time I visited more than 5 years ago. You should go...really!

Insider Info.: If you know an expectant Mom, treat her to Serenity’s Mom-To-Be Massage for only $80. I’ve given 3 of these as baby shower gifts in the past year and continue to get thanked for it!

1 comment:

Fayna said...

I love Serenity Day Spa as well.

I had a facial done there once and enjoyed every minute of it.

Do you remember what exfoliator was used during your facial? I'm trying to find the product that was used on me years ago; it worked so well I'm just dying for it! If not, I will have to go there and ask.