Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown
- 27 Barclay Street, New York, New York, 10007, U.S.A.
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2017
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- The Surrey Hotel, New York; The Greenwich Hotel, New York; Dolce Salon & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona; Vengroff Williams & Associates, Commack, New York
- Huntington, New York, USA
- AA Degree in Business Communications, Suffolk College, Selden, New York; Massage Therapy Certification, Cortiva Massage Institute, Scottsdale, Arizona
Her appointment as Spa Director of Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown was a dream come true for Tara Cruz. Four dreams, actually.
First there was landing with Four Seasons: “The ultimate goal of mine.” Then there was working Downtown: “I’ve always felt that Tribeca is the true heart of the city. New York changes, but the people here stay true to being unique and creative.” After nearly a decade of advancement at established spas in Scottsdale, Arizona and New York City, Cruz had also longed to be part of an opening at a Four Seasons property: “When you come into an established spa, you don’t want to rock the boat too much. I had so much opportunity to input my own creativity here.” Lastly, there was this from the Hotel Manager: “He told me, ‘Treat this as your very own space: Be bold and fearless.’ That’s the best thing you can ever hear from your leader.”
A Creative Start
The Spa that Cruz oversees is a standout in the company and the neighbourhood, with 6,000 square feet (560 square metres) across the Hotel’s third floor including seven treatment rooms; a naturally lit lounge; a very cool three-lane, 75-foot (23 metre) indoor lap pool; and views of the Oculus, World Trade Center, and the skyline from inside and out on the sun deck. Cruz is focussed on drawing clientele from the Hotel and the neighbourhood to experience it. “We’re getting out there, raising awareness and creating relationships,” she says, noting potential with boutique hotels that don’t have spas and with local businesses, including major companies drawn by the rebirth of southernmost Manhattan. “We’re trying to make it happen as organically as possible. The most important thing is touching the right people, we have a very supportive community.”
Together with the Hotel Manager, Cruz added design touches that draw clients’ eyes without detracting from the beauty of The Spa, including indoor and outdoor plantings that change with the season. She recommended the oversized, heated massage tables that better encourage clients to stretch out, relax and enjoy. She also partnered with the Executive Chef to offer fresh daily juices and kombucha at The Spa, such as carrot-ginger, cucumber-kale, and straight-up beet. “Perfect for after a night of overindulging!”
Cruz also had a hand in assembling the talent. “We brought on the strongest therapists I’ve seen, with extremely advanced training beyond the New York standard.” Outside educators are invited in quarterly to lead continuing training – a nice perk for therapists to advance their careers at no cost. “We must invest in our treatment providers to provide the best experience for our guests.” Meantime, Cruz was duly impressed with partnerships already in motion when she arrived, bringing products and treatments from Dr Burgener of Switzerland to America for the first time, and the only facials from the Hungarian line Omorovicza in New York. “Both are very supportive of the growth and development of women in this industry,” she says. “The partnerships show how we go beyond beauty and wellness to set an example in hopes of beginning a positive trend in the industry.”
Cruz was inspired to work in wellness and hospitality by her mother, a hairstylist and make-up artist who fashioned a salon off the family home in Huntington on Long Island. “It was true luxury in a humble environment.” Watching her mother strategise to bring in new clients and then serve them well so they’d come back made Cruz want to start her own business. Knowing she needed credibility, she worked in spa and restaurant management while earning her spa therapy licenses.
She landed her first position with a hotel spa in Tribeca in 2014, and a year-and-a-half later was managing the luxury spa of a Relais & Chateaux address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I was really fortunate to enter luxury hotel spas,” she says in reflection, noting the rewards of creating a wellness experience while contributing to the success of something bigger. Her time in the Silk Stocking District was great preparation for her current gig, she says. “I was able to take both experiences, Upper East Side and Downtown expectations, and combine them into something special here.”
"The Spa Directors of New York"
Cruz has other passions beyond The Spa. Guided by the maxim “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” she has spent years volunteering for causes she believes in including Princess Project (focuses on underprivileged girls to achieve greatness), Animal Welfare League and volunteer Oncology Therapy.
Asked what she does with her downtime, Cruz has a quick, New York reply: “Downtime – what’s that? Sometimes I feel like we should have our own reality show: The Spa Directors of New York,” she continues. “It’s very competitive here – there’s no average day in the city. We are all connected in this industry and truly help each other when needed. We love what we do, and we don’t mind working very hard for it.”