For those who think that massages, facials
and body treatments are just for those types who pamper themselves,
you’re right. But Carol V.R. De Costa, a Brooklyn Heights doctor
and owner of the new Aria Spa and Wellness Center, maintains
that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, she says there
are many therapeutic rewards for indulging yourself once in a
while - and better yet, on a routine basis.
"Massage can help with stress relief," De Costa told GO Brooklyn in her new spa, which opened in December. "Stress leads to hypertension and cardiovascular disease."
The doctor’s spa is adjacent to her Rehabilitation Medicine and Sports Services clinic, ReMass, on Montague Street at Court Street.
"As a physician on the [ReMass] side, I see a lot of muscle aches and pains," said De Costa, who is also the physician for all of the teams of Medgar Evers College. "We like to do prevention here when we can." Gesturing towards the side of her offices with the clinical examination rooms and exercise equipment she said, "There, the motto is ’work hard’ and here [at Aria] it’s ’get pampered.’"
De Costa considers her spa a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Montague Street. When opening the door to Aria, one is greeted with a bouquet of vibrant green bamboo, fluorescent lighting foiled by sweeping red fabric and flickering candles, pale-blue paint and brown bamboo wall coverings. The handsome visuals, combined with hushed music and the trickling of a wall-mounted waterfall, do indeed make for a soothing refuge for a Brooklyn Heights mom looking for peace, quiet and a facial or a buff athlete awaiting a medical massage for an injury.
The entire spa is available for party rentals, in addition to access to the sunny yellow exercise room with enormous windows and a break room. The spa has two spacious treatment rooms, a shower and an infrared sauna (which is complimentary with massages and body treatments).
Prior to my appointment at Aria, spa director Raysa Abreu graciously greeted me with a warm cup of herbal tea and an assortment of flavorful dried fruits.
For the winter, Aria’s menu offers a long list of healing services. I sampled the 90-minute signature shea butter body wrap ($175) in the hopes of banishing dry, itchy skin antagonized by freezing temperatures and blasting heat indoors and a 45-minute mini-facial ($65) to help rehydrate my dry, red skin.
Abreu is also the spa’s aesthetician and expert on Gerard’s, the line of Italian products Aria carries. What most impressed me was her ability and enthusiasm for tailoring my facial and the body treatment to my needs - incorporating a few "vegetable extracts" from the wide variety at her disposal to achieve results. Whether it was ginseng to energize and tone or geranium to soothe and firm in the body treatment or a couple of drops of the astringent eucalyptus in the facial mask to add oxygen (and relieve my congestion!), the treatments were healing for the skin and mood-boosting, too.
"I always try to customize the treatment," said Abreu. "You could come in 10 times and have 10 different experiences. You’ll see something different every time you come, but it will be just as special as the first time."
During the mask, Abreu gently heats eye pads soaked in a toner before applying them to eyelids. Before removing the facial mask, Abreu winds a warm, wet towel around the face. It’s these little details that make for a memorable facial and give clients the fortitude to brave the cold again. Her facial massage was so relaxing that it transported me right into a catnap.
The mini facial includes cleansing, skin analysis, steaming, exfoliation (in this case, an enzyme peel), a mask, massage and moisturizer without the extractions. If not for the neck-to-toe shea butter wrap I was in, Abreu says the mini facial would also include a neck, décolletage, hand and arm massage.
The shea butter body treatment includes neck-to-toe exfoliation with a cream containing granules that aren’t as abrasive as a salt scrub, followed by a shower, 15 minutes in the small, wood sauna, massaging the skin with the melted shea butter fortified by Abreu’s blend of oils, then the actual wrap in plastic sheets for oil absorption. (Before she melts it, the shea butter, a fat obtained from the seeds of the African shea tree, looks a bit like Crisco.)
While wrapped, Abreu gives her clients a scalp massage, but I opted for the mini-facial during this visit. After I was unwrapped, Abreu wiped off excess oils with warm, wet mitts, leaving soft, soothed, moisturized, fragrant skin behind. The facial minimized the baggage under my eyes and my face looked - and felt - rejuvenated.
Aria massage therapist Harold Achille says he enjoys his work because "the doctor cares about her patients and will use any modality to keep a client healthy." In fact, De Costa performs the "acupuncture face lifts" offered on the list of services.
Yet Aria offers many more relaxing, restorative services including an array of massages from medical, to pregnancy, to hot stone; a list of facials including those for psoriasis or acne sufferers; and several body scrubs and wraps, including a peat body treatment. While manicures and pedicures are not offered, Abreu said Botox, laser hair reduction and Restylane injections will be coming soon.
Before leaving her native Dominican Republic, Abreu said she was studying to become a doctor. After my experience at Aria, I’d agree with De Costa that Abreu’s healing thoughts and kindness come through with every stroke of her hand.
See Spa Directory for more information about Aria Spa and Wellness Center.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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