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Best NYC spas for gift certificates


Woman Spa Gift Card
'Tis the season to drop major hints

This is the time of year when dozens of friends e-mail us asking where to get a spa gift certificate for their significant other. We may not know your significant other, but we can still help. We can also help make sure that you don’t end up with a gift certificate to the first NYC spa that comes up in Google. Our first suggestion: We recommend you commence dropping hints now.  And if this is your one shot at a tres chere spa this year, the hotel spas we mention are the way to go. Here are places we suggest casually mentioning that you like or have been meaning to check out. (Because we do and we have.)

Peninsula pool
Buying a $295 treatment gets you access to the Peninsula Hotel pool, views from the 22nd floor included

YOU DON’T LIVE IN WILLIAMSBURG
The Peninsula Hotel’s gorgeous 22nd-floor swimming pool was renovated last year, along with the now-gorgeous spa, which is beloved, once again, by price-is-no-object business people. The spa uses ESPA products, which has an international following, has a Naturally Peninsula spa cuisine menu, and substantially trained therapists. Note: A 60-minute treatment ($195) includes access to the steam, sauna, and relaxation area, where you can sip tea and read magazines for hours. But a 90-minute ritual ($295) comes with access to the swimming pool, gym, and fitness classes, so it pays to upgrade. www.peninsula.com

YOU WANT A HEALER, NOT A MECHANIC
Monica Watter’s Scared Touch is a one-woman spa on the Upper East Side where treatments are completely customized, multi-disciplinary, and cater to the adventurous spa-goer. Even facials, which are exceptional, end in 20 minutes of Reiki and a tarot card reading. Monica’s many talents include reflexology ($110/hr.), lymphatic drainage ($100/hr.), and instruction on how to detox through juice fasts and raw food cooking. 212-838-3717, no website

Great Jones Sauna
You can hang out in Great Jones Spa's outsize sauna, hot tub, and steam room between treatments

FOR THE LUXURIATOR OR GREEN SPA-GOER
There are people for whom spa going is all about the time between treatments, and Great Jones Spa and its subterranean co-ed bath, sauna, and steam is for them. While the giant waterfall drowns out all the city noise and the green treatments (SpaRitual pedis, Dr. Alkaitis and Jurlique facials, Spa Technologies and Red Flower body treatments), given by generally solid therapists, quiet the white noise in your head. Note: the packages don’t necessarily add up to savings, so book your treatments a la carte. www.greatjonesspa.com

YOU LOVE FOOD AND WINE
Like the flagship spa in Bordeaux, Caudalie at the Plaza Hotel has uberluxe vinotherapy treatments, meaning they use antioxidant grapeseeds and skins. The best ones: The Crushed Cabernet Scrub followed by a Barrel Bath and the results-oriented facials. The relaxation room is really a wine-bar and has a sommelier and complimentary glasses of Smith Haut Lafitte from the Cathiard family chateau (they own Caudalie), along with a scrumptious small plate menu. Call 212-265-3182 to order a gift certificate. www.caudalie-usa.com

YOU MIGHT BE A BIT FITNESS OBSESSED
Exhale, the chainlet with three NYC spa locations (the newest is at the Gansevoort Hotel), excels at core-focused fitness classes that usually cost $35 and has a modern, green-meets-high tech treatment menu. The $300 Revive + Restore package is a true four-service deal that includes a mani, pedi, and a 60-minute facial and massage. www.exhalespa.com

The photogenic Mandarin Oriental VIP Spa Suite
The photogenic Mandarin Oriental VIP Spa Suite

FOR THE ZEN MASTER OR SPA AFICIONADO
The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental draws inspiration from Asia’s ritual-length spa treatments and gorgeous treatment rooms (the VIP suite has a killer Kang bed). The therapists here might as well have spa PhDs; they’ve crafted treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, Thai Massage, Ayurvedic philosophy, intensive lymphatic drainage, and their newest innovation: a Winter Warming detox treatment. Their skill is worth every penny. www.mandarinoriental.com

DOES STRESS SHOW ON YOUR SKIN?
A master of the mind-beauty connection, Julia March solves skin-care woes and calms your monkey mind in her SoHo atelier. March’s holistic facials don’t just address the symptoms of stress that show up as lackluster skin tone, acne, or redness. She combines bioenergetic plant-based products, lactic acid peels, and her own skin-nourishing masks with naturopathy, Vortex Healing (a type of energy work), and chakra balancing to help get your stress level in check. And guess what, her inner-beauty approach works wonders on the outside. www.juliamarchskincare.com

Jin Soon Pedicure area
Jin Soon, a lovely, low-key nail spa with seating for two

YOU JUST WANT A DECENT PEDICURE
Jin Soon Natural Hand & Foot Spa is a sweet spot for a pedicure, which start at $32. Ask for a cup of orange tea (with bits of peel), stand in awe of the polish selection, and feel free to bring a friend, since it’s one of just a few places in town where you can sit side-by-side. And despite the small size of the three spas, I’ve never felt rushed here. www.jinsoon.com

Did we forget your favorite spa? Tell us, here!