Sammy Raguso is face down on a massage table. Balanced on his back, manipulating his legs forward at the knees and lightly treading the length of his spine is a petite and delicate featured Asian masseuse.
The Rego Park resident could not be happier. “This is the best massage I ever had in my life,” Raguso said, sighing contentedly.
His masseuse continued to work her magic. Raguso's tension melted away like butter.
Relaxing nearby was Raguso's colleague, Brooklynite Hector Fernandez. Fernandez just spent the morning in the hot baths followed by a good sweat in the sauna and a workout at the fitness center.
“Definitely, I'm coming back,” Fernandez said, grinning broadly.
Think these guys were on a luxury spa retreat at the fabled Golden Door? Think again.
Raguso and Fernandez were treating themselves to a day of pampering at InSpa World and Water Park, a newly opened destination spa where $30 buys the bearer a one-day pass to nirvana. Body scrubs, facials, massages and more are available for nominal extra fees. Located at 11-11 131st Street in College Point, this 66,000 sq. ft. slice of paradise is as near to heaven on earth as a mortal body can get.
Developers created the five-story lavish spa with an eye to detail - from electronic wrist bands that act like credit cards to oxygen-enriched air purifiers installed throughout the spa to the two-story 300 valet parking spaces available to guests.
Entering the spa, guests are met by staff who detail the spa's numerous services. Men and women enter through separate and private locker rooms where same-sex hot baths and smaller private saunas are located. Guests are given a complimentary spa wear uniform for use in the coed areas of the spa.
The locker rooms and private baths are designed to soothe and lull the senses. The floors are a smooth, light pine finish and the atmosphere is sleek and modern with a nod to traditional Korean bathhouse culture. There is a plush relaxation area with large, cushiony sectional sofas and plump pillows. Flat panel television is available to entertain.
Sun Hee Yun, manager of the women's private bath area, said the treatments used traditional Korean dried mountain herbs and salts as well as modern products like Well-Being and Collagen from Korea and European products such as the German skin care program Babor. They offer a variety of treatments from facial packs you administer yourself (starting at $1) to a 30-minute sitz healing bath designed to internally detoxify ($20) to a body scrub ($50) or body scrub and massage ($95).
Facials are prepared with cucumber and milk bases. Body scrubs include the use of a specially textured cloth and aromatherapy oils especially prepared to relax and rejuvenate, Yun said.
“Everything here is to help the body,” Yun said. She said the herbs and mineral salts are good for total body purification and increased circulation.
There are both seated and standing showers, seated baths with various jet streams to massage the stomach, legs and back. Water temperatures range from chilled (68 degrees) to the ultra-hot (108 degrees). There are both steam and dry saunas with temperatures ranging from 131-178 degrees. The traditional Korean sauna, the Loess, is decorated with hand-painted murals depicting daily life in Korea, and the floors are covered with mats woven from dried rice husks. Each sauna room has wooden head rests.
The spa provides complimentary toothbrushes, skin cleansing and care products in the private bath areas as well.
The developers intended for the spa to be a family experience. Kids are very welcome, although there are quiet areas off-limits to children.
In the coed second-floor Sauna Valley, where there are seven themed saunas with varying temperatures and health benefits, sisters Emily and Kailey Pittman, 6 and 3, were taking advantage of color therapy in the LED sauna, with friend, Vanni Adm, 4.
“Ice room,” the kids chimed, when asked which sauna was the best.
The LED sauna is designed to promote good health through color therapy, according to InSpa management. There are six stalls where guests can choose the color and its associated healing property to concentrate on, or they can simply let the primary colors rotate.
According to InSpa management, red is associated with strength and energy restoration while blue promotes relaxation, relieving insomnia and anxiety. Green is associated with renewal, stabilizing the emotions and relieving stress while violet creates harmony and promotes hope and encouragement. Sky blue relates to intuition and is associated with livelihood.
Waterfalls flow throughout the Valley of Saunas where Iceland, Far-infrared, LED, Loess, Gold, Mineral Salt and Jade saunas are located. A mural of cranes, symbolizing peace and freedom, covers one expansive wall and small tables punctuate the area.
Each sauna has its own individual theme. The largest and hottest is the Loess, a traditional sudatorium using the yellow mud of Korea, mineral salts and dried mountain herbs. Its interior is painted with a cherry blossom mural and scenes of Korean life, from women and men playing board games to plucking stringed instruments.
The Gold Sauna (hot) has an interior covered in brilliant gold tile; the Jade Sauna (hot) is encrusted inside and out with semi-precious stones, rose quartz, amethyst and agate.
Blocks of pink salts line the interior of the Mineral Salt Sauna (hot) and its ceiling is crusted with amethyst gemstones.
The Far-infrared Sauna (hot) is a study in sleekly modern black tile. Iceland, as the name suggests, is a chilled sauna with walls covered in ice crystals.
At the far end of the second floor, opposite Sauna Valley, is a snack area where the Juice Bar, Sushi bar, Starbucks bakery and caf, and Little Italy are located. Snacks start from $2. Also located here is the Lavender Beauty Bar, where a full range of facials, massage, manicures and pedicures are offered.
On the mezzanine above are foot and hand massage stations as well as a darkened relaxation area with recliners featuring individual flat screen televisions.
Facials begin with a good basic quick fix for $60 (30 minutes) and range to the ultimate firming and lifting facial (90 minutes) with collagen mask for $150. Other services include a 45-minute back treatment for those with problem skin ($95) and add-ons like deep pore cleansing for $20.
Massage options feature a gamut of services - Swedish, Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, Aromatherapy, Hot Stone and combinations of the above. Couples' massage is available as well. Massages start at $85 and range to $150. Foot and hand massages start at $40.
Pedicures start at $25 and manicures start at $15. Waxing is available starting at $10 for eyebrows. All taxes and gratuities are included.
The second floor features both indoor and outdoor jet-powered, heated pools and a sunning deck as well as a traditional Japanese Hinoki wood bath. Swimsuits, towels and caps are available for rental too if you happen to forget your own. Towels are $1 and swim suits $2. Located here is the Aqua Bar, where guests can lounge in the pool and enjoy a refreshing juice- and fruit-based, non-alcoholic beverage. Prices range from $6-8.
Aqua Bar manager Irene Kim said the Pia Colada is a popular choice, but that all the drinks - made with the freshest ingredients - are delicious. “We use fresh juices and fresh fruits, of course,” Kim said, smiling mischievously, “And our secret ingredients - which I can't tell you about.”
Additionally, there are traditional Korean snacks served in the indoor/outdoor pool area. Ray Son, a snack bar employee, gave a quick rundown of the menu, including kimbap, or Korean-style sushi, made with yellow radish, carrots, cucumber, egg, sausage and fishcake wrapped in a rice and seaweed roll. Also featured were Choongmoo kimbap, a seaweed and rice roll served with red pepper squid and radishes on the side, and mungbean pancakes. Prices start at about $5.
“It's quite different from Japanese sushi,” Son said.
For those less adventurous, there are corn dogs and other Western fare.
The third floor houses the Fitness Center where yoga classes are offered daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Aerobics are available too. Each class is $10. Located also on the third floor is the Sky Garden restaurant featuring authentic Korean cuisine and the World Hall available for conferences, seminars and parties.
Sisters Rachel and Jennifer Lee have made the spa a must destination for their shopping trips to New York. From Western Massachusetts, the sisters and family friend, Goohee Yoo, took time out from shopping for groceries and goodies in Flushing to spend a relaxing day at the spa.
“We love it. It feels great,” said Jennifer Lee.
Annual memberships are $2,000 for an individual, $4,000 for a couple and $5,000 for a corporate plan with 50 percent discounts for an unlimited number of guests.
Shuttles from 39th Avenue and Union Street, two blocks from the Flushing Main Street No. 7 line, will take guests who do not drive to and from the spa.
Business hours are 6 a.m. until midnight, daily. For more information, call 718-939-6300. The website (in Korean) is www.nyinspaworld.com.