Still serene

Sometimes a place can change only to remain the same in essentials — delightfully so.

Witness the new Sankara Spa at the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, formerly the THANN Sanctuary Spa. The revamped spa opened in January with a new emphasis on the hotel’s Japanese ownership, new sights and sounds and new products.

Yet it remains a quality experience, one that affords clients terrific service.

“We wanted to remain more honest and transparent about our Japanese roots,” Castle general manager Lloyd Nakano said over a delicious lunch of carrot soup, shrimp cocktail, burger and berries in the hotel’s Equus Restaurant, now helmed by executive chef Christopher Colom. (More about him in WAG’s July food and hospitality issue.)

Since 2012, the Castle has been part of Sankara — pronounced San KAH rah — Hospitality Group. As such it is allied with the Sankara Hotel and Spa on Japan’s Yakushima Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also a well-known nature preserve. 

When the corporate change occurred, Nakano says, “we weren’t in the spa business, so it made all the sense in the world to have an established company come in.”

Enter THANN Sanctuary in 2013, with its Thai-style massage and distinctive products.

“Japan, of course, has its own deep-tissue Shiatsu massage,” he added. “We now felt we could compete with recognized spas.”

Nakano said the Castle informed THANN of the sea change last September and began a refresh that has included all of the showers and saunas as well as the heating and cooling systems in the modern wood-and-stone building, whose construction had been part of an earlier $11 million renovation. The entrance has a sparer look, with rocks replacing tall graces in the manner of a Japanese rock garden, while the serene playlist has a broader range, embracing reedy Zen sounds as well as the sensuous, sinuous ones of Arabia. There are new masseurs and aestheticians and earthy new products for them to use, courtesy of Long Island-based Naturopathica.

We had a chance to experience these in a one-hour facial with lead aesthetician Nicole Carbone. The time flew as we chatted and Carbone applied a variety of products beginning with the Sweet Lupine Makeup Cleanser, the Chamomile Cleansing Milk and the Oat Cleansing Polish before going on to the Aloe Replenishing Mask, the Bio-Energy Lift Serum and the Bio-Energy Lift Contouring Cream — finishing with the Vitamin K Brightening Eye Serum. 

We were most interested in this serum due to the dark circles under our eyes. Carbone said regular application will produce results in a month. But in the meantime, she offered this neat tip for puffy eyes. Place a teaspoon in the refrigerator. In the morning, place it over one eye, then the other for a quick peeper pick-me-up.

In the afterglow of our facial and conversation with Carbone, we took in the familiar, comforting sights of the relaxation areas (with their chaise longues and refreshments), the gym and the yoga studio. In the locker room, which flows into a well-lit area with sinks and mirrors, we sat applying our makeup, swaying to sounds that conjured a caravan on the Silk Road. A busy mom was dressing. She just had a massage and now had to dash.

“Ninety minutes,” she said, “but it was well worth it.”

We knew just how she felt.

For more, visit castlehotelandspa.com or call 914-631-1980.

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