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Elizabeth Arden opens a new door: A speedy spa in Union Square

The Beauty Bar at the Red Door, Union Square
The Beauty Bar at the Red Door, Union Square
courtesy Elizabeth Arden

Once upon a time, ladies had the leisure to spend hours and hours at a spa, getting beautified from head to toe. Destination spas, such as Elizabeth Arden's The Red Door, were renown for their 'Day of Beauty' packages, which included a leisurely massage, steam room, facial, haircut, makeup session and even lunch. You emerged a new woman (if sometimes unsure what time—or even day—it was).

But times change, and smart places evolve with them. Which may be why the latest branch of The Red Door, down on Union Square (200 Park Ave. South, 212.388.0222), offers a different approach. The main floor of the airy, gray-and-white salon (adorned with a symbolic pair of red doors above the front) is devoted to speed services, all done in under an hour(and many in 30 minutes). The roster includes expedited, cunningly-named facials and targeted treatments ('Bree-Zee Pass,' 'Lady Liperty'), hair blow-outs, and manicures. Makeup services include the creation of customized foundation: A camera is held up to the cheek, your skin tone is analyzed, the results are uploaded into a computer, and, with the press of a few buttons, a bottle of your formula is mixed, shaken and stirred, while you watch.

Just because the services are fast, however, doesn’t mean they’re not thorough. Case in point: the eyebrow design, done in a private room on the main floor. Interestingly, The Red Door features waxing, tweezing and threading—most spas specialize in only one method—and the aesthetician may well use a combination, using wax strips to clear away the straggling hairs, say, then a pair of tweezers to fine-tune the arches. It all takes something like 20 minutes, and that includes a thorough discussion of the ideal brow shape for your face at the beginning of the session.

The Red Door offers full-fledged services too, on its luxurious lower level (the changing room alone is larger than some NYC apartments). But it's nice to know that if you need some New York City-style beautifying in a New York minute, there is a place to go.