I took a lab coat to the newly opened Discount French Dry Cleaners for some dry cleaning. It had CIDEX OPA Solution (heavy duty disinfectant) stains which are hard, but not impossible, to remove. I pointed all the stains out to the person behind the counter who placed "stain" stickers in those spots and assured me that they would be removed. Clothing that is dropped off for dry cleaning is not cleaned in house, as is typical for most New York City dry cleaning stores. So my lab coat was shipped out for cleaning. I went to retrieve my coat 2-3 days later and was disappointed to find that the stains were still there. When I questioned the person working there about the stains, he just told me to try to machine wash the coat. I ended up handwashing the lab coat with a variety of stain busters and the stains finally came out with Clorox bleach.
PROS: new store discount
CONS: did not remove my Cidex stains despite assurances
Agnanti Restaurant was founded in 2002 in the heart of Astoria (little Athens). I dined there once with my boyfriend upon the recommendation of a Greek friend. The environment is very nice as the park is next to Astoria Park. They have indoor and outdoor seating options. We opted the for indoors with AC. We shared the Tzatziki, which we dipped in bread, and a large fresh Greek salad with tomatoes, cucmbers, onions, feta cheese, and olives. He had the Rooster Cooked in Tomato Sauce with Imported Pasta Squares which was very delicious. I had the Tomatokeftedes (tomato and herbs croquets) which were a little salty for my taste. Check out the website at http://www.agnantimeze.com/index.html
PROS: good food, nice environment
I've never been to La Escuelita, but the co-founder and Director of Development, Jennifer Weiss Friedman, went to my alma mater and spoke in one of our classes. The school seeks to promote bilingualism in Spanish and English, and thus uses dual language instruction in the classroom. Students do not have to have any exposure to Spanish or English to be admitted. Preschool graduates will eventually be prepared for Spanish-only, English-only, or bilingual classrooms. Admissions preference is given to siblings of current students and to children who have attended the school's playgroups for at least one year. In addition to the preschool, La Escuelita also boasts multiple other programs, including an afterschool program, summer programs, playgroups, new parent meetings, and Spanish classes for parents. The bilingual co-founder, Jennifer Weiss Friedman, has a BA in Cognitive Science and a MS in Speech Language Pathology. Thus, she has knowledge and experience with cognitive and language development, both which are so essential in those early learning years. Jennifer also practices what she preaches; her children are bilingual Spanish-English.
PROS: bilingualism, good staff, parental involvement
Lucille Roberts is a health club only for women. I went a couple of times years ago with a friend who was a member. I liked the fact that the club is only for women. How many times have you been to a co-ed gym in your workout clothes and feel like you're being checked out? My friend, sister, and I used the weight machines and attended classes such as Kickboxing, Bellydancing, Yoga, and Total Body Workout. The Astoria club is not that big. When I took classes, they got very crowded, particularly Kickboxing, Bellydancing, and Total Body Workout. I didn't have a lot of space to perform the moves. Bellydancing was extremely fun--not so much of a cardio workout, but great for the abs. If you want to join, there is typically a one-time registration fee in addition to the monthly fee. You have to sign a 1-2 year contract if you want the cheaper rates. I believe you can also participate in the month-to-month plan, which is a bit pricier. The Astoria Lucille Roberts is always running promotions, especially during the holidays. So try to get the best deal ($0 to join, and reasonable monthly fee). Sometimes they have deals if 2 friends/family members want to join; like 2 for the price of 1. If you use the free guest pass, they will usually call you at home when there are promotions to entice you to join (which I never did). The Lucille Roberts on Steinway is located right by the R/V subway station. Check out the website http://www.lucilleroberts.com/
Here is the link for a free 2 week guest pass
PROS: women only
CONS: small, crowded classes
I went to Shija when it first opened in 2004 for a bridesmaid and bride outing. They have a nice room for couples treatments which I shared with a fellow bridesmaid. We each got the classic facial, which is a 60 minute treatment for $110. It includes double cleansing, toning, light exfoliation, steaming, light extraction, gentle massage, nurturing serum, masking, and finishing lotion. Shija uses Dermalogica and Acadmie Scientfique de Beaut products, which are very good. Some people in my group had sensitive skin and were fine using these products. Check out Shija at http://www.shija.com
PROS: nice environment, pretty spacious
Columbia Dental Morningside Associates is a group multi-specialty faculty practice. I went there once for a cleaning while studying at Columbia University. You have to call months in advance for an appointment. The hygienist x-rayed and cleaned my teeth. Then the female dentist appeared to give me the "results." I didn't like the attitude that she gave me about my teeth. I had braces before and did not consistently wear my retainer. She made a really big deal about the straightness of my teeth and I just told her that I was fine with them.
PROS: faculty practice (?)
CONS: attitude, really difficult to get an appointment
Roosevelt Bath and Spa is a part of the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, which is in the center of the historic 2,200-acre Saratoga Spa State Park. It was very difficult for us to find, as we weren't from the area. My mom and I elected the $26 herb mineral bath to experience the naturally effervescent waters. We were submerged in a deep soothing tub (not regular sized) of naturally carbonated water. I think we soaked for approximately 30 minutes. It was relaxing, but I'm not exactly sure what the herbs and minerals did for my skin and/or body. This full service spa is open daily from 7 am to 7 pm.
CONS: not sure of the benefits
A friend and I went to Lia Schorr for one of their specials. For $110 plus tip, we got a wax manicure, 30 minute hot stone massage, and facial. Although I arrived on time, the spa treatments were behind schedule. Normally this would not have been a problem as I like to spend a lot of time in spas. However, I was late to my appointment that occurred immediately after the spa appointment. The wax manicure was interesting--your hands are dipped in hot paraffin, which is supposed to soften them. The hot stone massage was OK as part of the package, but probably not a service that I would elect on its own since I like nice and strong massages. For the facial, the aesthetician worked on my face, then just left me there. I had to get another aesthetician to find her so that I could leave for my next appointment. At the end, they tried to sell me a microdermabrasion deal. Lia and her employees are a bit aggressive. It's not a touchy feely kind of place, so don't expect to be nurtured. Note: If you give them your email address when you register, your email will be bombarded by all their specials.
PROS: price for number of services
CONS: spa in need of upgrade, cramped quarters, no spa lounge, aggressive
I found Banyan, an Asian spa, through the list of Spa Week deals. My girlfriends and I went for a $50 45-minute Balance Deep Cleansing Facial (usually $90 for 60 minutes). I didn't like the changing area at Banyan. There is only a curtain that separates the lockers/changing area from peeping eyes. If you don't feel comfortable changing in the locker area, then you have to change in the bathroom. Some of the aesthetician do not speak English well. They do extractions with the facials, so your skin feels clean and pore-free (at least for a little bit). I liked the lounge; there are plenty of magazines to read and snacks and drinks. The cool cucumber water is very refreshing. When we were there for our first visit, we each bought $50 gift cards for future facials. Upon our return to the spa, we also took advantage of the steam room and showers with the big shower heads that feel like the rainfall. I thought that the $50 facial was a great deal, especially considering the lounge and steam room. There is a sauna as well, but we didn't use it. However, I'm not sure if I would pay full price for Banyan. Check out the website at http://www.banyancitispa.com/
PROS: steam room/sauna, lounge, cucumber water, pore extractions
CONS: locker/changing area, English proficiency of aesthetician.
I like this Bliss which is located in the W Hotel in midtown Manhattan. I've gotten the Basic Bliss Facial and the high herbie (twice). The high herbie is The Fully Loaded Facial combined with the EnWrapture hot oil herbal wrap. Caution that it gets pretty hot. You are lathered in oil and then covered with something heavy. I am usually twisting and turning the whole time until the wrap is over. The extractions hurt, but make your face feel cleaner. Sometimes the staff will give you free samples to try at home when you're there for spa services. There is usually a long waiting list for massages. I usually call to schedule an appointment. Bliss gift certificates are great presents. Fortunately, I still have one left, so I will be there again. www.blissworld.com
PROS: great service, attentive aestheticians, good products
CONS: price, sometimes long wait for popular appointments