I was contacted by a friend of a friend who does PR for Graceful Services Spa in NYC. She learned that I was expecting and thought I’d like to try and review their prenatal massage. How could I pass that up?!
Sidebar: Let me preface this review by saying that the entire experience from setup to follow-up was… interesting, to say the least. That said, I’ll start with the positive and follow with my issues.
Good News: The Spa Experience
A little background:
At Graceful Services, all massages are performed by licensed masseuses, Angela, Sarah, Kim and Cathy, all of whom are graduates of a NYC massage school and have also had additional training from owner Grace Macnow. Holder of a New York State Board license, Grace was a nurse in China for seven years but got into the beauty industry in 2001 because she wanted to help people in the wake of 9/11. Continuing education enables the masseuses to continually update their techniques according to the latest findings and trends.
I visited the 2nd Ave and 58th Street location last Tuesday (there’s also a second location not far from Union Square) to see if I could finally get some relief from the aches of pregnancy, even if just for a little while. The spa is located on the second floor of a walk-up building between shops. You know, the kind where, if you’re not paying attention, you could totally miss the door while walking on the street. No big deal. I try not to judge based on outward appearance.
Upon walking through the door, I was immediately greeted with a warm “hello” and welcoming smile by Jeanine who was seated at the front desk. I explained who I was and after a few taps on the keyboard, Jeanine passed me a clipboard with a form to fill out. The form requested basic info along with questions about injuries, illnesses, etc. so that they can give you the best care possible.
The reception space was small, which was to be expected as this was clearly a converted apartment, but not cramped. It was very neat and well-kept with a few comfy chairs, plants and some magazines atop a small coffee table. Quaint.
Onto the Massage!
Once I was done with my form, Jeanine escorted me to a dimly lit treatment room. In it, there was a massage table with a white pregnancy pillow waiting for me and an empty plastic bin on top. She explained that I should place my clothes in the bin which I would then store underneath the table. Done. Oh… the space in this particular room was divided into two treatment areas separated by a white curtain. This, I’m guessing, would come in handy if one wanted to do a couples massage, which they do offer, where they could easily draw the curtain back.
Here’s how a prenatal massage differs from a “regular” treatment…
One of our most popular treatments is our Pre-natal massage. With the client lying on her side we use a unique technique to apply long strokes to the meridians most affected during pregnancy. Relieving stress and tension from the back, legs, and increasing blood flow leaving mommy and baby very happy. While receiving your massage we encourage the mother to place her hands on her belly letting the baby know she or he is getting a massage also.
When I was ready, Sarah entered, explained how I should lay on the table (on my side, arms up near my face) and helped me adjust the pregnancy pillow accordingly. The soft music was very calming as Sarah worked her magic. After a few minutes, she asked, in a whisper, if the pressure was okay. It was perfect! My back and neck muscles are SUPER tight- which she did say out loud at one point LOL!- so she did her best to work out those knots as much as possible.
Whenever Sarah needed to give me some direction, it was always in a whisper to keep the relaxation going. As my third massage ever in life, I’d say it was very well done! She knew what she was doing and, although it was hard for me to be completely relaxed (more on why to follow), I did feel better than when I came in. This is definitely something I need to do for myself more often!
Now… the Bad News
Before the Spa
As I mentioned, this complimentary treatment was set up for me (in exchange for a review). Many of you will not have to deal with this side of things but for me, the total experience began once I said “yes”. So, while this doesn’t quite directly affect the massage itself, I believe in full disclosure and want to share what I went through.
Once my friend, the PR rep, contacted the spa, I dealt with the owner’s assistant the rest of the way. I was side-eyeing from the beginning.
I believe business matters should be handled via email where possible. My friend and I were keeping in touch via email but then the assistant contacted me via private message on my Facebook fan page telling me to email her. Huh? If communications were done via email from the beginning, why is she now using Facebook???
I was asked which service I was interested in which was already clear and communicated by my friend. I was also asked for my social media links, all of which are clearly listed in my email signature. In short, the miscommunication on the part of the assistant did everything but prepare me for a relaxing experience.
On the day of my appointment, I was running late. Ok, that’s my bad. I texted the assistant to let her know as I was on my way. She told me to call the spa… I don’t have the number, so now I have to search for it as I waddle my way to the train station. Stress. I just wanna get to the thing! After some more misunderstood texts, she then tells me that she called the spa to let them know. :-/ Why couldn’t she have done that from the beginning? But then she tells me to call them to confirm. Why would I do that if you JUST called them? Just as I was about to begin my massage, I check my phone to see that I received yet another text from her with the spa’s phone number. *blank stare* Thanks, but I’m already here.
After The Massage
My masseuse, Sarah, walked me back to the reception area. I thanked her again and gave her a tip. I expected Jeanine to be at the desk but no one was there. I sat down to get myself together and a young lady, who I had just seen back near the locker area, took a seat behind the desk. I guess Jeanine was on break. As I sat there, she never once said a word to me. Not a “hello”, “how was your massage?” (which I’m used to hearing after receiving a service anywhere) or anything. A minute or two later, another young lady came out and stood next to Jeanine’s coverage and they began to have a casual chat. Still, no one acknowledged me. The girl who was seated then pulled up some cooking video on the internet and the two began talking about recipes as they watched said video. The fact that I know it was a cooking video means the sound was up. Umm… hello? Is this a place of business or what? At least do that while I’m not sitting right there!
Now, back to the owner’s assistant.
She called as I was sitting in the reception area and asked how the massage went. Cool. She then asked, again, how soon I’d have the review up. I reminded her of what we discussed via email and text and that I’ll send her the link. Fine. On Monday, I received not one but TWO emails which I thought were from the owner but nope, it’s the assistant again, asking me to send her the link to my review when it goes up. *sigh* Two minutes later, I get a phone call. Guess who it is. :-/ Guess what she asks me. :-/
WOULD I RECOMMEND GRACEFUL SERVICES SPA?
My before and after experiences aside, the massage was great as was the atmosphere. The initial receptionist was very friendly and welcoming, important for a place meant to calm and relax you.
The services are SO affordable, especially for NYC, but they don’t do sub-par job. My masseuse Sarah was pleasant, gentle and professsional! She let me know that everyone there was good so when I come back, I should try someone else. That’s right girl, spread the love! 😉
Do you get regular massages to help you de-stress? Are there any types in particular that you would recommend for me?
Photos: Graceful Services Spa sign via Yelp | Baby bump via parentcircle.com