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Remède Spa at the St. Regis Hotel

Sleek Spa Services

Some spas provide an escape from the habitual by evoking, say, the tropics, Tuscany, or Japan. Remède Spa, which opened in November of 2005 in the new forty-story St. Regis Hotel, takes a different approach.

Remède strives to take its clients, well, nowhere. Instead, it erases reminders of the outside world with an almost clinical sleek whiteness. It’s the perfect environment for the over-stimulated. There’s no tropical foliage, no Tuscan urns.

But don’t mistake the minimalism for asceticism. The spa offers a menu of facials, massages and body treatments, as well as wax and nail services. When you’re ready for your appointment, you are escorted via an elevator down to a small waiting room. There, you’re offered champagne, and can sample chocolate truffles and other finger foods while you fill out a form to indicate medical history and treatment preferences.

If you’re worried about whether there are enough skilled massage therapists to staff all the new high-end spas in San Francisco, don’t be. The massage therapist on my recent visit was professional, responsive and skilled. In fact, each massage therapist at Remède is conversant in Shiatsu, Swedish and deep tissue massage as well as reflexology, and will customize your massage to your needs and requests. My recent one-hour massage ($155) included a “parafango” foot treatment in which my feet were elevated and enveloped in a heated mixture of fancy mud and wax. Pretty nice.

The treatment room, one of nine, looked like an upscale doctor’s office. Thankfully, however, the massage table bore no resemblance to the steel tray covered in paper found at MY doctor’s office. Instead it was warm and cozy, covered in a Kashwére brand throw made with an unusually-soft synthetic fiber. Without my having to ask, the massage therapist elevated my feet to prevent my knees from being smashed against the massage table during the session, a problem my knobby knees have encountered at other spas.

The music was unobtrusive to the point where I didn’t hear the medley of classical and spa music at all. The room, although quiet, was not sound proof. I clearly heard a loud bustle from the street, as well as the sirens of a passing emergency vehicle.

Men accustomed to high-end fitness centers will feel at ease, especially in the locker room, which has a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool. Each is spacious, and, on a recent visit, blissfully empty. Chilled hand towels -- each topped with a cucumber slice -- are a refreshing touch. As at other spas, arrive early to take full advantage of these offerings.

The spa, like its sisters in Aspen and New York, was built in conjunction with the Laboratoire Remède line of skincare products, and every guest is given a box of samples upon checking in. If you like your “anti-aging” moisturizer sample, you can buy a full-size tube for $95 at the boutique on your way out.

The Remède Spa provides a highly professional, polished experience. It is not, however, for those seeking the charms of a boutique operation.