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Spas: Private Practice

Jennifer Ryan

Cheryl Jacobs, spa director at Manhattan’s Surrey hotel, believes an elite spa experience means a discreet one. "A lot of private information is exposed before, during, and after a treatment," says Jacobs, who joined the Upper East Side hotel in January to launch its new spa. "I think our clients feel most comfortable when they can go into their [treatment] room and come out as if nothing happened."

Much has happened lately at the Surrey, an 84-year-old hotel that reopened last November following a $60 million, 14-month-long reinvention. Jacobs came over to the Surrey from Midtown’s Core Club—a high-profile, members-only lodge—where she learned the importance of discretion and familiarity. "At the club I was dealing with the same people on a regular basis," she says. "Coming into a hotel environment, I know my regulars, but I also want people who are coming for a day to feel just as special."

Jacobs instructs the members of her team to make sure every client who walks through the front door feels important and has a good time. "It’s about listening and being able to tailor," she says, adding that she already has several regulars—including Core Club members who began frequenting the Surrey’s spa after learning of her whereabouts. "One of my old members came in yesterday for a massage, and I made sure he had what he likes: green tea, gel for his hair, and time to shower before and after his treatment."

Jacobs adheres to a "keep it simple" philosophy; thus, her clients at the Surrey can book time instead of specific treatments (prices begin at $150 for 60 minutes). A simple menu of massages and skin and body treatments serves as a starting point for guests and therapists, who meet in an intimate entryway before heading to one of just five treatment rooms. Guests change clothes and can shower in their rooms—instead of in a shared locker room—before collaborating with a therapist to determine what type of treatment is in order for that particular day. To ensure the spa meets most requests, the Surrey hires therapists who are versed in a wide variety of modalities, have no less than three years of experience, and are enrolled in continuing education classes.

Still, no matter how many combined hours of experience she has on her team, Jacobs believes that her success rests in the staff’s ability to make their guests feel at home. "The other day we had a couple tell us, ‘We love this, it feels like home without the kids running around,’" says Jacobs. "My reward is seeing clients return to an environment they feel comfortable enough in to try things they have never tried before."

The Spa at the Surrey, 646.358.3600, www.thesurreyspa.com

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