From the moment I heard it, I thought “Rasa” was a unique and intriguing name for a spa. So on a scorching and humid 90-degree day in August, I visited Rasa to solve the mystery and find out what it really meant. Not the kind of day you typically associate with going to a spa – but it turned out to be a refreshing and rejuvenating respite from the heat.
Ra’-sa means “true essence” in Sanskrit, the ancient languages of the Hindus. After enjoying an afternoon at Rasa Spa, I’m closer to understanding that the term is a way of referring to the deeper meaning of an experience. My experience? Total relaxation and peacefulness. Rasa’s essence is “to bring you back to a healthful, balanced way of being: the essence of yourself.”
Rasa Spa opened in November of 2006 in the Island Health Center and shares building space with Cayuga Medical Center at Ithaca, Island Health & Fitness, the Inlet Island Café and a host of other health and wellness related facilities. This partnership and proximity to total body wellness is one of the many factors that makes Rasa very unique – and so much different than your average day spa. Rasa is dedicated to total body wellness. While the Island Health Center is an attractive building with abundant natural light and views of the Cayuga Inlet, you’ll be struck by the beauty and atmosphere once you step foot inside Rasa.
Rachel Hogancamp is the co-founder of Rasa Spa in partnership with Island Health & Fitness. Rachel serves as Rasa’s managing partner and Spa Director, while also owning and operating Bodyworks in Ithaca. Rachel, who attended and now instructs at the Finger Lakes School of Massage, has been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 1994.
The reception area houses guest seating, the spa desk and a boutique selling products used in Rasa’s treatments and items with the Rasa logo. In the reception area new Rasa guests are asked to complete a spa intake form, the foundation for any spa or wellness treatment.
Locker Room Area:
The women’s locker room features dark wood lockers, rich wall coloring and earth-tone tile floors. Guests can shower off post-treatment in one of Rasa’s two showers with stacks of fresh towels and washcloths nearby. The handcrafted bowl sink and vanity area is visually stunning, with earthy colors and leaf-like textures. The showers and locker room are stocked with high quality products from EO. There is a dry sauna in the locker room area.
Rasa has 6 treatment rooms including two aesthetic/skincare rooms and one couples treatment room. 7 guests can enjoy treatments simultaneously when all of the rooms are in use. Want to listen to your own music during your treatment? No problem. Bring your iPod and listen to whatever you like during your treatment.
Spa guests can help themselves to tea, fresh fruit, lemon-infused water and cucumber-infused water in the tranquility room.
Other Spa Facilities:
Rasa’s crowning glory, besides the creative, inventive spa treatments and nurturing therapists, is the tranquility room. Quite possibly the most beautiful spa relaxation area I’ve seen. Vibrant jewel-toned colors adorn richly textured area rugs, throw pillows, and cozy blankets. Every wall and corner is decorated with the most unique pieces of handcrafted furniture from local artisans. I couldn’t stop looking around and photographing the room from every angle – I just wanted to take it all in. The photos don’t do it justice. Everywhere you look, there are more intricate details to see.
In the tranquility room guests can nap in a padded lounge chair, read one of the inspiring and motivational books and magazines or have an intimate conversation with a good friend over a cup of tea.
Just off the tranquility lounge is a richly decorated meditation room for small group or private meditation,where you can enjoy the 18th century Tibetan Singing Bowl. Need some help learning or perfecting your meditation technique? Sign up for a meditation consultation, which takes place in the soothing meditation room.
If you enjoy art, your artistic side will be satisfied at Rasa. The walls are adorned with paintings and artwork from local artists.
Rasa offers clients many generous specials:
- Memberships – The 3-month Seasonal Membership and the 12-month Rasa Essence Membership. Memberships include unlimited use of the spa’s facilities including the sauna, showers, tranquility room and the Meditation Room. Some facial and massage services are included in memberships; all other services are discounted 10%. Depending on which membership you choose, a specified number of day spa passes to share with friends are included.
- Series – Purchase a series of six massages or facials and save 10%.
- Monthly specials – Each month, a different treatment is featured and discounted.
- Birthday specials – Save on services at Rasa during your birthday month.
- Combinations Packages – Save on services combined into a package.
- Day spa passes for $20
My therapist Jenny treated me to the Red Flower Hammam ($170, 90 minutes), a deeply relaxing and detoxifying ritual. And I do mean ritual. There were no less than six steps performed during the treatment, which is meant to purify, invigorate, detoxify, relax and devote.
Step 1 – Jenny asked me to take three deep breaths and inhale the scent of cardamom amber oil to warm, relax and scent.
Step 2 – Jenny dry exfoliated my skin with lemon coffee blossom olive stone scrub to deeply invigorate and enliven. The scrub was then buffed using a soft cloth. If you’ve never had a dry exfoliation before, otherwise known as gommage, you’re in for a treat. This heavy-duty exfoliant will leave your skin silky smooth and invigorated.
Step 3 – She used a jasmine rose rhassoul clay polish to draw out impurities.
Step 4 – Jenny instructed me to take a relaxing shower using Moroccan mint tea silt purifier. I was to relax, take my time and enjoy the experience. While I showered, Jenny prepared the treatment table for the next steps in the ritual.
Step 5 – Jenny misted my skin with orange quince steam room mist to bring oxygen to the skin and recharge. This was wonderfully cooling after the warm shower.
Step 6 – On my hands, feet and chest Jenny massaged tangerine fig butter crème to penetrate deep moisture and illuminate. The aroma was amazing!
Step 7 – A massage using the cardamom amber oil.
All products used during the treatment are available in the Rasa Spa Boutique or at Redflower.com.
The Red Flower Hammam was a treatment like nothing I’d experienced before. It was so incredibly relaxing; I even dozed off for a moment. This is no easy feat for a chronic insomniac! Jenny checked in with me regularly to ensure my comfort and needs were being met.
The most popular treatment at Rasa is the Ananda Hot Oil Scalp Treatment. (60 minutes, $105).
Other treatments and services offered at Rasa include a variety of massage therapies, Reiki, weekly meditation in the tranquility room, private yoga, skincare, waxing, scrubs and wraps, Shamballa, and The Feldenkrais Method. Treatments are high touch with great attention to client comfort and detail.
Rasa Spa utilizes signature therapeutic body and skin treatments, as well as exclusive all-natural product lines, organic oils, and natural elements. Product lines used during treatments include Eminence, Naturopathica and Red Flower.
- To accommodate a variety of schedules, Rasa is open 7 days a week. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9am to 9pm and Sunday 12pm to 8 pm. It’s a rarity for a day spa to be open so many hours weekly and having the option to visit the spa on a Sunday is a welcome change from most operating hours.
- Rasa is exceptionally peaceful, relaxing and beautiful, especially the tranquility room.
- Rasa has a large staff of highly qualified therapists trained in a variety of modalities that appeal to a wide variety of client needs.
- The programming offered at Rasa is top-notch in quality and variety. Shortly before my visit, Rasa hosted a Flamenco Guitarist and Belly Dancer in the Tranquility Room. Guests were offered at Rasa partners with other Island Health Center tenants to offer wellness based programming, such as cooking classes and yoga classes.
Payment is quick and efficient. Tipping envelopes are available for guests wishing to leave their therapist a gratuity.
Go Again / Recommend to a Friend:
A super hectic schedule on the day of my visit didn’t allow me enough time to fully enjoy Rasa. I look forward to making the trip from Syracuse to Ithaca again to experience all that Rasa has to offer and to enjoy the sauna and tranquility room. It’s well worth the trip and I’ve already been recommending Rasa to friends.
Rasa Spa is one of the founding members of the Ithaca Thompkins Spa Association (ITSA). For more information, click here.
The Inlet Island Café, on the ground floor of Island Health Center where Rasa is located, is the perfect place to grab a healthy bite after a workout at Island Health & Fitness or to grab lunch with friends after a visit to Rasa Spa. Spending the day at Rasa? Have the cafe deliver a beverage or snack while you enjoy the spa. The Café’ serves homemade soups, sandwiches, juices, smoothies, baked goods and a variety of hot and cold beverages in a contemporary waterfront setting.
Images provided by Rachel Hogancamp at Rasa Spa.
310 Taughannock Blvd.
Island Health Center
Ithaca, NY 14850
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a complimentary treatment from RasaSpa. The management and staff did not influence nor edit this review. I want to thank Rasa Spa for inviting me to experience their facility and for seeing the long term benefits of a neutral review for their business and for their clients.