I had a lovely pre-holiday treat last week, thanks to TIA’s gift certificate at the Caudalie Spa at the Plaza:  a relaxing and beneficial facial using Caudalie’s signature products.

Many of you probably remember Marta’s interesting mid-October post on Caudalie’s entry into the US market highlighting their use of grape-based potions and ingredients stemming (ok, bad pun) from research inspired by the family vineyard.  Her followup visit to the spa itself and the rather delicious-sounding body treatments she experienced there certainly whetted my appetite—or rather, thirst—to learn more.

After all, who isn’t a believer in vinotherapie, as the Caudalie Spa brands it? Of course, my devout practice of vinotherapy is consistently but ardently limited to the internal application of the grape’s bounty.  Caudalie’s nice brochure calls the approach “1/3 grapes, 1/3 science, 1/3 glamour, 100% Caudalie.”  But as Marta mentioned, grape-derived ingredients, from skins to oil, are everywhere these days, even in the less-than-elegant but effective Nutra-Lift Grape Seed Foaming Face Polish—which is a world away from Caudalie in terms of image and price.

First, the visit. The Spa itself is a handsome and expansive space, encouraging lingering and relaxation. The cheerful reception staff directed me to a well-appointed ladies’ changing room with all imaginable amenities including a particularly nice steam room (a great weakness of mine) adjoining the showers.    After I’d changed into a nice robe and spa sandals, an attendant urged me to settle into the waiting area—a high-ceilinged space the approximate size of a New York City one-bedroom apartment, with cushy lounges, armchairs, and sofas—and offered water and tea while I completed the new client form (apparently, they do want to know of medical or other concerns, which was impressive).  TIA opens doors, and the Spa Manager herself stopped by to welcome me.  The décor features lots of dark wood paneling, simple lines, and earthy colors—a vaguely Asian and altogether tranquil vibe.

Next, my therapist escorted me to a treatment room.  The spa boasts fourteen rooms, she told me, spacious by the standards of other spas I’ve visited, as well as one “VIP” room with two client beds and a private shower and immense, freestanding tub.  The treatment room was comfortable and relaxing.  After a quick cleansing, my therapist examined my skin and pronounced it—correctly, in my opinion—mostly in need of hydration but also somewhat “congested” in the nose and chin areas.  She did assure me that it was in pretty good shape for my age.  She began with a thorough cleaning while running that wonderful steam-spewing device that all facials feature; she used an exfoliating cleanser applied with, I was delighted to realize, our old favorite the Clarisonic brush.  The best part of a facial is the cleaning of clogged pores and blemishes, which she dispatched quickly.  She applied, she explained, two different masks:  a purifying mask for the nose and chin, and the moisturizing mask elsewhere.  Covering my face with grape-water-doused cloths while the masks absorbed, she gave me a short, terrific shoulder, calf, and arm massage.  Then, of course, a moisturizer, and I was back into my robe for a few restful minutes in the lounge.

The specific grape-derived patented compounds and signature ingredients Caudalie’s product line lays claim to are, per the brochure:  Polyphenols from grape-seeds (anti-oxidants); resveratrol from grapevine stalks (cellular anti-aging); viniferine from grapevine sap (diminish dark spots and “clarify” the complexion); organic grape water (moisturizing and soothing); grape-seed oil (regenerates and nourishes); and vinolevure, “extracted from the wall of wine yeast…capable of retaining up to 100 times its volume in water and reinforces the skin’s immune defenses.”  The product line is extensive, and in addition to products for exfoliation, cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, features a half-dozen different regimens focused on specific skin needs, from wrinkles to oiliness to discoloration.  My very kind therapist sent me home with a handful of samples, including the flagship anti-aging potion, Premier Cru.

The spa offers seven different facial treatments based on skin type; the Caudalie Grand Facial, like mine, along with the other 50-minute treatments run $185.  At the top of the range, the Premier Cru Treatment, at 110 minutes, is $350.

In all, it was a restorative hour away from the rush of pre-Christmas mid-town Manhattan.  I suspect that to really evaluate its efficacy, I’d have to repeat the facial regularly.  Certainly my skin was properly clearer and cleaner, and felt revived against a week of temperatures in the mid-20’s, if not dramatically changed.  I can’t really opine on the products, either, based on one treatment and a few Lilliputian samples.  But I can commend the Caudalie experience for its ambiance and professionalism.