A bustling mall isn’t the first thing I think of when it comes to relaxing. Sure, retail therapy is great, but it doesn’t exactly lead to peace and serenity. It usually ends in an empty wallet and a full car.
Yet, Spa Mirbeau makes the case for a getaway in sprawling Crossgates Mall.
The entrance within the mall, next to a Macy’s department store, sneaks up on you. But the Parisian-looking bistro and the general European decor definitely stand out from its surroundings.
Even at noon on a Monday afternoon (when this reporter visited), the place was bustling. There were people working out in the three fitness studios, shopping at Mirbeau’s retail space and grabbing lunch.
Even the spa area was busy and not just with the demographic that you first think of when you think about spas. From my experience, women are more likely to go to spas. Yet, that’s not necessarily the case here. There’s a mix of age groups and genders, which is indicative of a few national trends (the International Spa Association reported in its 2017 consumer snapshot that 49 percent of spa customers are men. In 2005, it was just 29 percent).
I went to try out a new - celebrity-approved - Intraceuticals oxygen facial and check out the place. The resting area was, as its name suggests, relaxing, though it didn’t have the usual hushed and strange silence that I’ve endured at other spas (the ones where you feel like every individual step you take is too loud). The aqua terrace, where you can go in between appointments if you want to talk, eat, swim, etc., was a strangely exotic feeling, with a Parisian-looking bar, a jacuzzi and Moroccan decor.
But when the hum of the Intraceutical machine started up, I had my doubts.
I mean, what facial requires a machine that sounds like that? I looked at Martina, the soft-spoken woman who was going to be taking me through this “celebrity-favorite” facial and she immediately started explaining everything, both in dermatologist-speak and layman's terms.
For those not up to speed on celebrity beauty treatments, everyone from Kim Kardashian to Naomi Campbell seems to love the Intraceuticals oxygen treatment, during which hyperbaric oxygen and a serum with hyaluronic acid, vitamins and antioxidants get pumped into the skin using a device that looks like an airbrush gun. There are no needles; it’s all done through an applicator that applies low-pressure oxygen right to the skin.
While it definitely left my skin glowing, my lips feeling more full, and my face smoother, many dermatologists don't see these sort of facials as a cure-all and recommend sticking with an effective daily skincare routine. Spa Mirbeau first started offering the Intraceuticals treatment earlier this year and they’re encouraging brides and people with important events to get it a day or two before the event.
Which makes sense because for days afterward, my skin did feel better than usual. I looked into the science behind why that might be and couldn't find a whole lot of data on the Intraceuticals treatment. However, I did find data on hyaluronic acid, which was a key ingredient in the facial.
It became a buzzword a few years ago, though many still aren't quite sure what it is exactly. According to the New York Times, hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring molecule in the skin's structure and in connective tissue. It acts as a lubricant and helps the skin retain moisture. But as the body ages, it's not able to produce as much, so the skin is not as able to build collagen and retain moisture. Plenty of skin care brands have incorporated a low weight of the molecule in serums and creams in the last few years.
The Intraceuticals facial might be great to get shortly before your wedding or other important occasions. But, in the long run, the secret to having healthy skin is still having a healthy skincare routine.
Beyond the "celebrity" facial, I was surprised by the spring renewal massage (I’m still not quite sure what makes it spring aside from the scents of the oils used, but I digress). This isn’t a deep tissue sort of massage, it’s more of a gentle pressure. What’s unique about this one is the head massage.
“I’m going to put oil in your hair. Is that alright?” asked my masseuse at the start.
Although I wasn't quite sure how well it would work out, I went for it and am glad I did. I kept it in for about 30 minutes before showering and for days afterward my hair was smoother.
Spa Mirbeau recommends getting these two treatments done shortly before big events like weddings, especially because it’s coming up on the most popular season for them. But, according to Eva Sackal, the director of marketing and brand identity, the idea extends well beyond that.
“The idea is to provide the European experience,” Sackal said.
Mirbeau has several other locations, though this is their first in the mall and their first day-only spa (many of their others have overnight accommodations).
“Malls, in general, are changing. They’re transforming from retail to entertainment,” Sackal said.
The spa has its own retail section, where they sell anything from beauty products to fashion. They also have two eateries, one that’s only available to those spending the day at the spa and one with public access right from the mall. They’re French-inspired (I got the picnic salad with chicken salad, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs and a classic croissant) and help with the overall “European” feel.
Sackal has found that many local visitors are coming in regularly for the fitness classes (like barre flow and HIIT) and that people are coming around to the idea of investing in themselves, physically and mentally. Even in a mall.