Chinatown: Where The Rich Are Sneaking To For Cheap Facials

If you want a spa experience get in line with everyone headed to budget places that they wouldn’t have set foot in before.

Elizabeth Arden this is not.

NY Times: “I thought my business would decrease in this economy,” said Grace Gao Macnow, the owner of Graceful Services, a Midtown spa that charges $60 for an hour qigong massage, “but instead it’s increased — some of my clients have a black Amex card and still they come here.”

The transition to a spa without rainfall showers, candles or mud baths, and space to pad around in a robe and slippers can be rough for some.

At Graceful Services, for example, there aren’t any lockers for customers to stash their shoes and bags in, which Ms. Macnow said was a problem for a recent visitor carrying a Gucci purse.

“She said, ‘I’m not putting my $2,000 purse in a bin with my shoes,’ ” said Ms. Macnow, who told her to “just lie down.”

The woman did, and after her massage, Ms. Macnow said the more-than-satisfied customer apologized for grumbling.

Recently, Ms. Ranftle, the beauty esthetician who works out of the warehouse on Broadway, said she had a new customer who, before she could begin the facial, asked Ms. Ranftle: “Did you wash your hands?”

“Some people are going to like my room and some people are going to say it’s not for me,” Ms. Ranftle said. “I don’t take it personally.”

Finally, a winner in this economy!

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