Thursday, November 1, 2007

Essence Hair, Nail & Body Spa: Maiden Spa Voyage

Essence Hair, Nail & Body Spa Essence Hair, Nail & Body Spa
1678 Pennington Road
Ewing, NJ 08618

Visited: May 2005

In A Nutshell:
A nice, affordable retreat when a day spa or hotel spa are physically or financially out of reach.

Genre: Beauty/Salon Spa

The Scene: Hip, Chic, And Upscale But Very Comfortable And Very Zen-like—Think Barbershop 2 Meets Elizabeth Arden

The Damage: Surprisingly Affordable; I had the Ultimate Time Out for $125 (plus gratuity) which includes a "Stressbuster" massage, refresher facial, manicure and pedicure. Where else can you sample all of those services at that price?

The Experience: The Salon—When I first walked in to Essence, I knew there was something familiar yet different about this beauty spa. Perhaps it was the way the upscale style and contemporary tastes of the owners--Troy and Tommi Vincent--subtly pervades the beauty salon’s d├ęcor and piped-in music that immediately let me know I was in for a soulful journey.

The friendly, professional staff seemed genuinely happy to see me, calling me by my first name throughout my entire experience and honoring my appointment without delay.

As I walked across the distinctive hardwood floors supporting the salon area where the shop’s stylist and barber worked away on a young girl and an older gentleman, I couldn’t help think to myself this is not the typical beauty/barber shop—or beauty spa for that matter.

Across from the hairstyling area the cozy, yet comfortable and very neatly kept, manicure stations were accompanied by an impressive selection of nail polishes that I couldn’t wait to try. But that would come later during my Ultimate Time Out, a half-day of pampering and beauty consisting of a massage, facial, spa pedicure and manicure.

The Oasis—Turning the corner, I observe another satisfied Essence customer enjoying what l now know was a decadent foot soak and pedicure. As I proceed up the stairs, I notice a sign asking patrons to please keep the noise to a minimum as I enter “The Oasis”. Suddenly, I’m transported into a tranquil, Zen-like world as the sounds of Stevie Wonder are replaced with what I imagine are a compilation of instrumental tracks from a CD that might be called, “The Best Of Waterfalls, Dolphins, Shooting Stars & Other Relaxation Sounds.”

As I change into my robe and secure my belongings in my locker—complete with sandals and a plastic bag for my jewelry—I slowly inhale the scents of the beautifully lit aromatherapy candles and help myself to a juicy, sweet fresh strawberry before my facial begins.

The Facial—My refresher facial can only be described as peaceful, gentle and rejuvenating. In between the cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturizing steps, my cosmetologist Cherise (who also happens be the owner’s sister–but trust me, nepotism has NOTHING to do with why she was the perfect person to deliver the facial for my sensitive skin!) sprays my face with a deliciously scented moisturizing spray which serves as my only source of resistance from the tempting state of slumber that beacons throughout the treatment.

Throughout the treatment, I kept waiting for the comfortable scraping and irritating scrubbing that came with my last spa facial and am pleased to report it never came. At the end of my time with Cherise, my skin looked and felt great—I think I half-jokingly asked her if I was allowed to take it home with me!

The Massage—It doesn’t get any better than this, I thought. Then, I got on Joe’s massage table, an experience that gives new meaning the phrase, “It hurts soooo good.” My Stressbuster massage was incredible. While I ooh-ed my way through parts, I left ahh-ing in a state somewhere between butter and Jell-O.

As I got dressed back into my street clothes and physically prepared to leave the Oasis (part of me is still mentally there!) to meet Juanita for my pedicure and manicure, I thought to myself “They picked the right name for the top two floors of this lovely salon spa!”

The Mani- & Pedi-Cures—Before coming to Essence I didn’t think spa pedicures were worth the money, especially when I can go to my local strip mall and get my feet done for a fraction of the cost. But Juanita changed my mind, delivering one of the best pedicures I’ve ever had. The chair was comfortable (even without the remote control!), the water was hot just the way I like it (thanks to a thermostat device in the basin which heated the water throughout the course of the treatment) and the foot scrub she used did wonders on my rough spots. And did I mention the multi-step treatment allowed extra soaking time? Ahhh…

Needless to say I was a little disappointed when it came time to polish my toes and get my manicure, but all good things…Juanita did a nice job on my manicure, the highlight of which was a glass Emory board that she masterfully used to file and buff my natural nails.

The Future—Although I hear Essence is currently scouting bigger locations that will enable them to provide steam, sauna, showers and other water/pool-based services, I left relaxed, satisfied and eternally grateful to my friend who had given me the gift certificate. The Ultimate Time Out service is exactly that–and for the price, I may have to go again next month!

p.s. The handwritten Thank You note from Troy and Tommi which came a few weeks later to invite me to come back soon was a very nice touch....Don't worry, I will!

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