Everythingspa’s Blog

CNYSPAGIRL blogs about all things spa

Terra Organic Spa and Syracuse Chi Spot: Environmental friendly efforts March 30, 2011


Terra Organic Spa - Fayetteville, NY

Earth Day (April 22) is the annual celebration of the environment, created to honor one of the most noteworthy “women” of all times: Mother Earth. This month, we’re showcasing wellness businesses owned by spectacular Central New York women who show adoration to our planet through their personal and professional environmentally conscious practices.

Rachel McClean, owner of Terra Organic Spa in Fayetteville, walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to honoring the earth.  So much so, in fact, that she named her spa after it.  “I was completely obsessed with the human language for months. Terra is a Goddess in the mythical world, but it also means Earth. It’s a name that came to me in a dream.” The clients at Terra Organic Spa are split evenly among genders, so the unisex name appeals to both men and women.

When you name a business after the earth, there is a mighty expectation to live up to.  Terra is a gleaming example of a local business going the extra mile using Earth-friendly practices that include the use of organic products, holistic concepts, energy efficiency, and green cleaning methods.  A spa generates a great deal of laundry and that can be rough on the environment.  At Terra, the laundry soap is organic, biodegradable and free of chemicals – better for the environment and better for the client.  The cleaning products are chemical free and yet still effective against dirt and germs.  Old sheets and towels are repurposed and donated to local animal shelters.

High quality products used during spa treatments include critically therapeutic pure essential oils from Aromatics International, a company dedicated to supporting organic farmers and essential oil distillers in countries around the world. Clovertree Apothecary products have been chosen for their effectiveness, organic properties, strict purity standards and because they’re made in the USA.  And all that goodness only adds to the appeal of the treatments: The organic facial is wildly popular.  McClean says “It’s a delight to hear people talk about the service after the fact.  It smells so good and fills the spa with wonderful aromas. The products can be purchased and used at home to take the experience with you.”

Debra Lee Gertz has practiced acupuncture at 510 Jamesville Avenue in Syracuse for twenty years.  She recently bought the building, welcomed some independent practitioners and christened the space ‘Syracuse Chi Spot’. Along with Donna Heitzman (Chiropractor) and Madelaine Greacen (Ayurvedic practitioner), the three ladies have created a complementary wellness facility that treats mind, body and spirit in earth-friendly ways.  For starters, clients are encouraged to eat locally and seasonally for balance and health and as a way to lessen our carbon footprint.

Syracuse Chi Spot - Jamesville Ave, Syracuse NY

Food scraps and used tea bags generated at the office are composted and added to the practitioners home gardens to enrich the soil and to grow their own food in the summer months.

All herbs that are provided to Syracuse Chi Spot’s clients are wild crafted, organic and most are fairly and directly traded. They are free of pharmaceuticals, preservatives, dyes, yeasts or sugars and are safe and independently tested for heavy metals, pesticides and microbes.  They are also sustainably harvested and grown.

Gertz says “The organic oils used by our Ayurvedic practitioner, Madelaine Greacen, are recycled by a local business and often reused for heating oil.  All laundry is cleaned in a high efficiency machine and if possible, hung out to dry. The detergents we use are eco-friendly and free of dyes and perfumes. “

Here are some simple and effective steps to reduce ones impact on the planet at home:

  • Buy only what you need to help reduce food waste in your home
  • Compost yard and organic household waste
  • Buy organic products whenever your budget allows
  • Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Repurpose.
  • Use energy mindfully
  • Eat locally and seasonally
  • Practice sustainability
  • Plant a garden; grow your own fruits, veggies and herbs


Spa Review: The Art of Massage at The Spa at 500 (Syracuse, NY) August 2, 2009

Treatment room at The Spa at 500

Treatment room at The Spa at 500

500 West Onondaga St.

Syracuse, NY 13204

(315) 475.9164



Spa Overview:
The Art of Massage has two Syracuse area locations: Marshall Square Mall on the SU Hill and The Spa at 500 on West Onondaga Street. I recently visited The Art of Massage at The Spa at 500. Both locations are minutes from downtown Syracuse and within close proximity to each other, making it convenient for therapists to move between locations as needed.

The Spa at 500 is housed in a circa 1880’s Victorian mansion that has been lovingly restored by owner and LMT Ed Griffin-Nolan and his family. The emphasis here is on health and wellness. “We are becoming the place that caregivers come to take care of themselves”, according to Ed.

Authentic woodwork, elegant stained glass, and fine craftsmanship touches are evident as soon as you enter the building.

The Spa at 500 is completely handicapped accessible. Plenty of convenient free parking is available.

The reception area, located on the first floor of the spa, features a small retail space with The Spa at 500 signature soaps, scents, scrubs and robes. Home paraffin treatments are also available.

Bathrooms/Changing Area:
The second floor houses a restroom with shower, lockers, and changing area with robes, slippers and towels. Standard vanity amenities are available for guests to use post-treatment for freshening up.

Treatment Rooms:
Three treatment rooms are located on the second-floor. Two of the adjoining rooms can be configured as a couples treatment room. Privacy between the couples treatment room is achieved by closing a sliding door between the two rooms. One of the treatment rooms can accommodate two treatment tables. Total treatment capacity is four guests at a time.

Each treatment room has a fireplace with plans to convert to gas fireplaces.

I enjoyed the earth-tone flannel sheets on the massage table.  It was a nice departure from traditional white linens and the perfect weight for a summertime treatment without the bulk of a blanket to stay cozy.

Lemon infused water and crispy coconut cookies for refreshment. Water was replenished regularly.

Other Spa Facilities:
The best part of the spa – a Jacuzzi lounge. A modern 7-person Jacuzzi is tucked away in a large yet cozy room, adjacent to the couples treatment room and also accessible from the main hallway. The Jacuzzi features a waterfall, colored lights and built-in drink holders, which came in surprisingly handy when my therapist handed me a chilled glass of lemon water. The area surrounding the Jacuzzi is “landscaped” with unique touches normally reserved for outdoor spaces – sand, rocks and redwood.

The Spa also features a redwood dry sauna with a great story behind it – it was purchased at the local Habitat for Humanity store and was completely rebuilt onsite.

Spa guests can add a soak in the Jacuzzi and use of the sauna to any treatment for a $10 facility fee-, which also includes the use of a robe and slippers.

For $125 annual membership fee, guests can enjoy unlimited use of the Jacuzzi lounge and sauna, discounted massages and one free yoga class.

The treatment menu is simple and is designed to reflect the health and wellness focus of The Art of Massage. Massage therapies include relaxation/Swedish, sports, deep tissue, couples and hot stone. A one-hour massage is $70. At The Art of Massage, an hour-long massage is 60 minutes of table time – a bonus in a world where hour massages are normally shrunk to 50 minutes.

Other treatment options include a salt scrub or sugar body polish, a green tea body mask and a paraffin treatment for hands or feet.

The signature treatment is called Total Bliss. The treatment lasts 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours, depending on the needs of the client. “It’s a very intuitive treatment”, according to my therapist Tim, who designed the treatment himself.

“Our signature treatment is designed to stimulate each of the five senses. Rooted in traditional Indonesian Massage from Bali, this massage is a total indulgence. Begin with a rose petal foot soak, surrounded by fresh flowers. Enjoy a lavish body treatment, aromatherapy massage, and paraffin treatment. Finish with a cup of special Indonesian tea. It’s an experience you or a loved one won’t forget.”

I left it up to my therapist to customize a treatment for me that I called “mini bliss”. A soak in the Jacuzzi, a 60-minute aromatherapy massage, a paraffin treatment for my feet during the massage, sauna time and a balancing Zen Blend salt scrub (lavender, cinnamon). The treatment was designed to experience the full spectrum of The Spa’s offerings. It was nice, really nice.

Pleasant Surprises:
The Spa uses PerfectSense paraffin infusions rather than a traditional multi-use paraffin dip that can be unsanitary. PerfectSense gloves and slippers are filled with paraffin and heats without electricity, batteries or microwave to produce the perfect temperature every time. The paraffin heats naturally with food-grade minerals, salt water and pure essential oils. A traditional paraffin dip is over after just a few dips in the warm wax. The PerfectSense slippers stayed on for quite a while, adding an additional pampering component to my massage.

The Spa at 500 offers Yoga classes three times a week. When the classes aren’t in session, the Yoga room becomes a multi-purpose room available for rent for $150. This is a great place to host performances, concerts, meetings, parties, charitable events and bridal or baby showers. Better yet, you can rent out the entire facility for $450.

The Spa at 500 sells locally made signature blend products in the retail area. The products are utilized in many of the spa treatments. The 500 Signature Blend soap is a light, clean smelling fragrance made with an exclusive essential oil blend.

Final Words:
The Spa at 500 has plenty of room for expansion. An esthetician would be a welcome addition to The Spa at 500, according to Ed. A natural skincare line would fit in nicely with The Spa’s retail area.

Plans are underway to add an Auto Spa concept to the current offerings. While you’re pampering yourself at the spa, couldn’t your car use a little pampering too?

Go Again:
Absolutely! When the weather in Syracuse turns cold, the sauna and Jacuzzi lounge will be hard to resist.

Recommend to a Friend:
Yes. Dedicated therapists, a sense of community, strong ties to the neighborhood and high quality massage.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a complimentary treatment from The Spa at 500. The management and staff did not influence nor edit this review. I want to thank The Spa at 500 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.

Treatment room at The Spa at 500

Treatment room at The Spa at 500

Dry Sauna at The Spa at 500

Dry Sauna at The Spa at 500

The 7 person jacuzzi at The Spa at 500

The 7 person jacuzzi at The Spa at 500