A woman soaking in a wine barrel looking out at what you imagine to be a view of a beautiful vineyard – that’s a photo I remember seeing when I first read about the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa opening in France. It was 1999, and the first time I heard the term Vinotherapie.
It sounded intriguing to use various parts of grapes for facial and body treatments and like many other people, I found the story captivating. That new Caudalie Vinotherapie spa in France made a big splash on the spa scene with one major magazine after another showcasing its philosophy and setting.
After a few years, however, I didn’t read as much about the spa although I began seeing more about vinotherapie in general and learned that there really was science behind it. Apparently the grapes have polyphenls rich in antioxidants and vinotherapy is said to stimulate collagen synthesis and is anti inflammatory. The results? More youthful skin.
Then about three years ago, Mathilde and Bertraud Thomas who are the founders of Caudalie, and proprietors of the Château Smith Haut Lafitte which is th
e family property in the Bordeaux region of France, came to New York and visited us at SpaFinder. Lovely people. Attractive. Young. Authentic. They were brimming with enthusiasm about their product and looking forward to bringing it to more people around the world.
Apparently they learned a lot in the years since opening their first spa. They now have a registered trademark for the term Vinotherapie, as well as a spa in Italy, one in Spain, and have opened in the U.S. Their products are sold in more than 25 countries and distributed in the US at Sephora, select Nordstroms, Henri Bendel, Blue Mercury, flagship Bath & Body Works, and independent specialty cosmetic boutiques.
Tonight, I had the chance to experience their new Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa here at the Plaza in New York, which opened last October. While I think they could have done a slightly better job of space utilization (in their locker rooms in particular) and could tighten up a bit on staff training, I found the spa to be refreshingly unique.
What I liked most about the spa is that it has a point of differentiation. While many spas these days have the predictable contemporary aesthetic, similar treatment rooms, unsurprising spa menus, tea upon arrival, foot rituals, humdrum relaxation rooms, similar equipment in the fitness room lined up in the same way overlooking the same type of view, etc., Caudalie has managed to carve out a unique experience – the highlight being their “French Paradox Wine Lounge.”
The wine lounge – with its color palette of burgundy and a soft yet vibrant green (think red and green grapes) is spot-on. (The photo on the left doesn’t do it justice.) It is the first social/relaxation/meeting space in a spa I have seen that really works. There are a variety of sitting areas – some with couches, some with chairs, some with a table and four chairs. The focal point is always the beautifully lit glass-encased collection of wine displayed from floor to ceiling. The furniture and decor show high style with a French sensibility and artistic flair.
What really makes this work, however, is that the room is hosted by a wine sommelier who does the pouring and provides fare to sample and in general creates a sophisticated yet casual social setting that works even though everyone is in robes. Enjoying a glass of fine wine after a refreshing facial was yummy.
The term Caudalie is a French term that quantifies the duration of a wine’s flavor in your mouth. One second of time equals one caudalie. The longer the flavor lingers the better and the more caudalies.
The spa gets lots of caudalies from me.
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