An aroma of lemongrass fills the air as you walk past two tall White Birds of Paradise plants guarding the entrance to the Staycation Oasis at Anoz Spa in Garden City. With blue paint reminiscent of water beneath your feet, string lights above and tropical flowers lining two massage beds protected by an enclosed canopy, the new outdoor spa experience aims to bring a touch of the Caribbean to Long Island.
"It looks like a resort on a tropical island. I said, 'I feel like I'm back in Jamaica,' " says client Genevieve Farag, 35, who came in for a massage after visiting Ocho Rios in July. "It was a spot to feel like you're away even though you're five minutes from home." This was the goal of Sharon Webb-Richards and Jasmine Richards, a mother-daughter duo of Jamaican descent who own Anoz Spa. While many spas that temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus have since reopened, an outdoor spa on Long Island is a rarity.
"People can't go anywhere … We wanted [to create] something for everyone, so everyone feels welcome and safe," says Jasmine, 27.
Sitting in two matching wooden chairs beneath posters that read, "We are a touch of the Caribbean," Sharon and Jasmine explain that they have had big plans for the outdoor space behind their spa that now holds the Staycation Oasis since they first opened in 2017. But it was the pandemic that allowed them to bring their vision to life. Behind the boutique at 281 Nassau Blvd. they built a spa room that can accommodate private groups of up to eight people, keeping social distance in mind.
"We always wanted to do something back there that would have a flair of the Caribbean. We just weren't sure what until COVID. We said, wow, nobody can go on vacation, so let's build a place that looks like you're on vacation," says Sharon.
A massage in the Caribbean is typically an outdoor experience near the water. The space's décor looks to reflect that. "We spent a long time picking out everything, even the floor color. We went back and forth about it together — just like we do about everything else!" Jasmine says with a laugh.
It was dubbed the Staycation Oasis by their clients who saw the space after it made its debut in July, when Sharon says many were longing to go on vacation but were instead staying at home.
Ese Ofurhie, 37, came from the Bronx in September to reserve the Staycation Oasis with a friend for massages and foot treatments. "We were very stressed and there was nowhere to go," says Ofurhie. "We were trying to find somewhere to relax and release that since we didn't want to get on a plane anywhere."
So far, the space has also been booked for solo treatments by those who prefer to stay outdoors, couples marking anniversaries and small groups celebrating birthdays. Treatments offered include massages and facials, both $100 each per person. Those who book the space have private access to it for two hours, with treatments usually filling up 50- to 60-minutes. The remaining hour can serve as relaxation time, with wine included. Clients are also encouraged to bring their own food and dine outdoors.
"I didn't feel like we were in a backyard," adds Ofurhie. "It did make me feel like I wasn't in New York for two hours."
The space is currently equipped to accommodate clients through the month of October. After that, heaters and insulation are set to be added so the outdoor experience can continue through cooler weather.
The oasis isn't the first adjustment to the business model at Anoz Spa since COIVD hit. While shuttered in the winter and early spring, Sharon enlisted the help of her husband, Kevin Richards, a chemist, to create a line of hand sanitizers that include moisturizer and Caribbean-inspired scents, such as mango. The pair says they sold hundreds of bottles before the spa could reopen, including a $50 combo package for Mother's Day that included their homemade body oil, currently sold at ShopRite in Uniondale.
Though the spa-boutique includes several decorative touches and scents that give off an island vibe, Sharon says her clients typically aren't of Caribbean descent. She credits the recent Black Lives Matter movement for an increased interest in her business among the Black community. Supporting a Black-owned business was also a draw for Ofurhie, she says.
Sharon says that "encouraging people of Caribbean descent to take care of themselves" is what first made her want to open a spa. Her late mother Zona Miller, who the spa is named after, and her husband were both born in Jamaica. "Jamaicans are hard workers," she says. "Most Jamaicans have four to five jobs. Coming from another country, they say, 'I'm in America; I want to make it,' so they don't think about this," she says, referring to self-care treatments. "One of the reasons why I incorporated health was because I've seen so many people in our culture that don't take any time out for themselves."
In turn, Sharon and Jasmine say they've aimed to keep their prices affordable — most are under $100. "They don't have to think 'oh, that's just for vacation' or 'that's for rich people.' They can experience it here," Jasmine says.
Close-to-home spa experiences should leave you feeling as if you've just returned from a destination vacation. Here are some Long Island spas that offer an escape from the day-to-day.
The Staycation Oasis mirrors a Jamaican escape. Two outdoor spa beds allow for massages and facials, both $100 each per person.
INFO 281 Nassau Blvd., Garden City; anozlife.com; 516-782-1597
MYW STUDIO MANSION SPA
This spa inside the Mansion at Glen Cove features an indoor pool and a new salt cave. Massages and facials range from $75 for an “instant beauty” facial to $120 for a 60-minute massage. You don't have to be a hotel guest to experience some much-needed relaxation. Due to COVID-19, the sauna, steam room and hot tub are currently closed.
INFO Open daily by appointment; 200 Dosoris Lane, Glen Cove; mywstudio.com; 516-671-6400
THE SPA & SALON AT EAST WIND
At East Wind all existing spa packages are currently being offered, with the exception of specialty amenities such as hot tubs and steam rooms. Treatments include a $150 aroma massage, which combines custom blended essential oils with Swedish massage techniques. Temperatures will be taken upon arrival.
INFO 5720 NY-25A, Wading River; eastwindlongisland.com; 631-846-2339