Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Caudalie at The Plaza - Spa Review

Vinothérapie in the City

by Irvina Lew

The powers of the grape inspire treatments at Caudalie
The powers of the grape inspire treatments at Caudalie

Face down, relishing Sonia's smooth strokes on my back and listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, my thoughts are fixated on color. There's no blue here, at Caudalie at The Plaza. The colors of the flooring and furnishings replicate those at Les Sources de Caudalie, outside Bordeaux, France, where the vines are green, the tiny fruits are violet and the red wines are burgundy.

On the fourth floor of The Plaza in Manhattan all is serene: plush locker rooms — each with an urban Hammam (steam room), a posh manicure/pedicure suite, luxe hallways, walls back-lit with a rosy hue or covered with woven wood and sculpture-enhanced treatment suites.

Florence and Daniel Cathiard, who owns the prestigious Château Smith Haut Lafitte winery, paid astute attention to the scientist who told them, in 1993, that their about-to-be-discarded pile of grape seeds and skins were "a veritable treasure" of anti-oxidant rich polyphenols (these fight free radicals — and aging — better than Vitamin E). With their daughter Mathilde and her husband Bertrand Thomas, they created more than a stunning spa and a natural and nourishing grape extract based product line. They created a beauty industry: vinothérapie.

Vichy Shower VIP Lounge
Vichy Shower
VIP Lounge

In New York, the grape theme prevails in the photography on the walls and in the glass walled wine cellar which displays Château Smith Haut Lafitte products and forms one wall of the 800-square foot lounge where guests relax before and after treatments.

The signature, circular Red Vine Barrel Bath ($75) soaking tub is ensconced in the VIP room/ Couple's Suite where two can share a soak in wine essence. Another specialty is the Crushed Cabernet Scrub. At $145, this nutritious exfoliation is made with grape seeds, honey and brown sugar and is followed by a shower — these are inside the "wet" treatment rooms. These often precede a massage or a facial (using grape based products enhanced with orange flower, rosemary oil and flaxseed).

The VIP suite houses twin massage tables where — along with a series of usual options — one can enjoy a Fresh Grape Massage ($185 and yes, they crush fresh grapes and rub them on the skin) or a Wine Maker's Massage ($185 and it incorporates a foot-long, wooden stick like those used for crushing grapes). While every client receives a bunch of grapes after a treatment, those in the VIP suite can nibble theirs while seated at a table for two.

Having received grape based treatments à la Caudalie in Bordeaux and New York, we're ready for Caudalie vinotherapy vacations in Spain and in Italy. D'accord?

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

We taste-tested several brands to help you find the best kombuchas on the market and the results are delicious. Bottoms up!