CULTURE

Urban spa for aching commuters

Should a city spa be considered as a quick fix for all those who can’t afford to spend a weekend or – even better – a week at a specialized relaxation center outside of town? More than instant relief for specific problems – such as a pressing pain eased by massage – a city spa offers the soothing thought that a variety of treatments are within quick and easy reach and, in many cases, set up to provide longer-term solutions, as well as a sense of increased spirituality. Situated in Halandri, the Cocoon Urban Spa is the brainchild of the Greek-American sisters Maria and Lily Poulatha, who have devoted the last two years to traveling and reading extensively in order to realize this project; their efforts are about to bear fruit, as the center opened its doors earlier this week. Offering complete treatments for the face, the body and the soul, Cocoon is also proud to present a jacuzzi area, a sauna and a steam room (an outdoor swimming pool is under construction) as well as a variety of jet treatments – a rarity for city spas. «Some people come in for their nails, but there are others who are looking for substantial changes in their lives,» says Maria Poulatha. In the end, however, «what is important is the domino effect, when you come out of a treatment and your skin looks better, it affects you psychologically, you feel better about yourself, you are more social and productive.» Salt Glow and more Catering to all age groups and specific needs, Cocoon’s specialized facial treatments include cell repair (with the use of anti-aging specialist Cellex-C skin care products); aromatherapy with Decleor’s French products, complemented with back massage, followed by pressure massage on the hands and neck. You may also opt for a herbal facial with Jurlique’s Australian organic formulas or even a skin-whitening treatment, containing pure vitamin C. Special attention is also given to gentlemen, who are offered a skin-smoothing session appropriate for rougher skin. Moving away from the face and onto the rest of the body, the treatments continue with the Thai Salt Glow treatment (which involves a combination of sea salts with lemon grass and coconut oil in a skin revitalization massage); an Austrian Moor mud treatment, featuring the ancient organic substance which is known to contain over 1,000 herbs in combination with various hydrotub sessions, which may be complemented by milk, Japanese sake or even Dead Sea salt. In the area of massage, you may choose among aromatherapy, shiatsu, watsu (this takes place underwater), Indian scalp or reflexology, among others. Cocoon’s stellar treatment, however, must be the Indian Shirodhara (which includes being wrapped up in warm blankets while a stream of oil is poured in the center of the forehead leading to a state of meditation), Japanese Hatsumomo (it begins with a rice-bran and wasabi exfoliation followed by seaweed wrapping and ending with reflexology) and Balinese Lulur (traditionally performed the night before a wedding – expect a massage with jasmine and sandalwood oils, a rub with spices, a coat of yogurt and a final bath of milk and flower petals). For those looking for a combination of treatments, Cocoon suggests daily deals. An aromatherapy package, for instance, offers an aromatherapy facial, massage and hydrotub session, while a day of detox involves dry brushing, aromatherapy salt glow, seaweed and ivy hydrotub, ending with a detoxifying essential oils massage. (All packages include complimentary use of the steam room, sauna and jacuzzi.) Another entree on Cocoon’s healthy menu is exercise, but don’t expect to find any Stairmasters here. Instead, sign on for Pilates, ballet, hatha and Asthanga yoga, African dance and tai-chi courses, among others. Complementing all of Cocoon’s sessions for well-being, clients are also encouraged to seek advice from the nutritionist and herbalist, as well as from their lifestyle consultant – a specialist in dealing with stress, who offers personal advice on exercise and diet, for example. With its peaceful atmosphere, earthy tones, minimalist decor and friendly faces, Cocoon is an inviting, accessible new kid on the relaxation block. There is one rule, however – clients are asked to leave their mobile phones in their lockers. Cocoon Urban Spa is located at 9 Souliou & Erifilis, in Halandri, tel 656.1975. Age management and balancing crystals Cocoon Urban Spa is the latest in a series of new age therapy centers devoted to well-being. Recent arrivals also include Day Treatment and La Prairie Day spas, both situated in Kifissia. Day Treatment offers facial and body treatments such as tropical aromatherapy facial massage, Dr Hauscha’s holistic treatment, Japanese Reiki, Tibetan and Ayurvedic Indian massages as well as reflexology sessions, among others. The key players here are the hip Shu Uemura skin care products, while one of the most popular treatments is the Crystal Balance, a session which involves the placing of various precious stones on the body in order to achieve harmony. (Aigli Commercial Center, enter from the She Uemura store, 8 Kolokotroni, tel 808.9070.) As part of the recently refurbished Mela Commercial Center, La Prairie Day spa joins its Kolonaki sibling in providing highly specialized treatments through the use of the Swiss-based cosmetic giant’s La Prairie’s products, such as the Caviar Collection, used for firming and anti-aging treatments. (La Prairie Day Spa, Mela Commercial Center, 238-240 Kifissias Avenue & 1A Levidou, tel 623.0101-102.)