Checking In At Merge, The Anti-Hotel Spa-------
When pampering impresario Margaret Lora was tapped to create the new Merge Spa at the Hilton hotel in midtown, she knew what it wouldn’t be: a “lone hotel spa on the eighth floor.” Instead, Lora, the former director of the revered Ajune Spa, positioned the 4,5000-square-foot relaxation destination on the ground floor—with its own entrance—to give it its own identity. Her next order of business was to strip away the bland hotel decor, wrapping the interior in dark wood, edging the rooms with low-lying leather furniture, and injecting a few measured splashes of lavender and sage here and there. The spa takes its name from its ethos, the “merging of science and nature,” and its menu is designed for the modern breed of sybarite who not only wants the latest wrinkle-fighting gizmo, but also the simplicity of a paraben-free night cream. Symbols on the menu cleverly indicate if a particular service is more science-driven (a chemical peel with high-tech Skinceuticals products, say), nature-oriented (an aromatherapy massage with pure Naturopathica oils), or a combination of both. Its Ultimate Merge Facial is an impressive mash-up that features the reparative powers of a highly trained dermatologist and Mother Nature. The 90-minute skin overhaul begins with a plant-based mask, followed by a round of orbital dermabrasion to exfoliate away dead cells. LED light therapy combined with microcurrent stimulation to hydrate and plump the skin from within completes the experience. Next week, Lora will unveil the spa’s summer menu, which features beauty services like glycolic pedicures, scalp treatments to cleanse salt- and chlorine-drenched strands, and bikini grooming with six different types of wax to choose from. Extraneous hairs, beware.