Like good Thai food and antique stores, I've discovered that some of the best things can be found incredibly close to home. Case in point: a luxurious spa. Late last year I started visiting The Fountain Spa (located at The Shops On Riverside mall) and have been going there ever since. I was a bit skeptical because of the whole mall thing, but The Shops (formerly known as Riverside Square Mall) is our upscale mall, with stores such as Hermes, Burberry, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton, so why not a luxurious spa?
The first surprise was the spa's size. It's huge. Hidden in the mall's ground level right across from the river, you can't tell from the outside how big it is and the amenities the place offers. There's a sprawling lounge area, a wonderful sauna, and the waiting area, aka "Tranquility Room" is pleasantly lit, spacious and very comfortable, with a nice water feature (I'm guessing that's the fountain from the spa's name). I never managed to count the exact number of treatment rooms, there are so many, all customized for the various services offered there. Once inside you cannot tell you're at the mall with two shopping levels above your head. The place is quiet and relaxing (which has done me a world of good on several occasions).
The Fountain Spa offers a wide selection of face and body treatments. I've only had a small number of them, including massages (deep tissue and Swedish), reflexology, a basic facial, and the spa's signature mani-pedi. Everything has been very very good so far, with no upselling attempts or product pushing, and barely a mention of the med-spa services (fillers, Botox, etc.). The result is a comfortable feeling that begins as soon as one sets foot inside and receives the white robe and slippers. That's why I keep coming back. The atmosphere is exactly what you need to be able to relax.
My biggest recommendation is the reflexology treatment, by itself or as a part of a two hour massage package. It's the most calming thing imagined, and I can just feel the stress melt away and leave the body (I'm pretty sure I've nodded off every single time). Followed by a pedicure, this is heaven.
The nail salon area is the one place that could probably use a bit of an updating. The layout is a bit choppy and less spacious, but the service is good. I highly recommend the long-lasting polish for your manicure. It's not gel (which the spa also offers), yet survives with no sign of wear for 7-8 days. Some of the nail services seem a bit overpriced for what they are ($55-$60 for added aromatherapy oils and such), but you just need to choose right to get the maximum value. The place seems spotless, and the whole experience is great.
Next on my list is probably an anti-aging facial. I'm curious to see what else they can do.
The Fountain Spa is easily accessible from route 4. There's a second location on rt.17 in Ramsey, but I've never been there. Parking in front of the spa's entrance can be scarce, but since we're talking a Jersey mall here you can always find a spot just further out (right next to Saks, for example). You can book the service online, and get email and text reminders.