The readers have spoken and are again sharing their favorite places along the shoreline to indulge in a stress-busting massage, detox in a salt spa, pump some iron or get a little nip and tuck.
The results of the Shoreline Times’ annual Readers Best of Poll for 2019 are in, with many of the shoreline’s best places for “pampering and wellness” making a return appearance in the Top 3. Some newcomers to the health and wellness scene also emerged as readers’ favorite places to calm their nerves, lift their spirits and just simply relax.
Rain Wellness Spa, www.rainwellnessspa.com in Branford has become a shoreline destination. With its unique salt cave geared to bring folks therapeutic benefits, Rain made the Top 3 for best day spa.
Rain’s Saltonstall Cave, built out of healing, Himalayan salt, brings incredible detox results to the body and soul, according to the spa literature. In addition to soaking up the salty benefits, Rain offers facials, massages, sunless tanning, Reiki and more.
“Rain has a relaxed, friendly space with highly skilled massage therapists and aestheticians,” said co-owner Heidi Frazier. “Our employees love what they do and it manifests in their professionalism.”
Being a fan favorite is truly therapeutic for Frazier and fellow co-owner Lauren Sullivan.
“Being recognized as one of the best spas in the area serves as confirmation that all the hard work we do to create a relaxing and healing environment is working,” Frazier said. “Thank you to our loyal guests who voted for us.”
Rain shares the spotlight with other favorite day spas Prive Swiss Wellness, in Essex and Westbrook and Waters Edge Spa in Westbrook.
When readers need a nip or a tuck, some Botox or other age-fighting fix, they head to Esana Plastic Surgery Center and Med Spa in Guilford. Making the Top 3 for best med spa, Esana www.esanamedspa.com is dedicated to delivering top-notch aesthetic care to its clients, under the supervision of board-certified Plastic Surgeons Deborah Pan, MD and Javier Davila, MD, both graduates of Yale Medical School.
In business for 14 years, Esana, with locations in Guilford and New Haven, offers everything from minimally invasive injectables to full blown plastic surgery.
“We are the only med spa in Connecticut that is owned and operated by two board-certified plastic surgeons,” said Laura Whinefield, marketing director.
Helping people feel and look their best is in Esana’s DNA.
“We are honored to bring cutting edge surgical and nonsurgical treatments, along with our many med spa services to the shoreline residents and to have received your readers’ best of votes,” Whinefield added.
Also named best med spa are Polished Med Spa in Deep River and Refine by Farrell, in Old Saybrook.
Fitness-minded folks know where to go to get ripped, and picked The Pit www.thepitfitnessclub.com/about in Branford as one their favorites in the best boutique gym/personal trainer category.
Personal Trainer and Part-Owner Alyssa Burlakoff is thrilled to make the Top 3 again.
“The best thing about having a small business is you know all the members, you develop friendships…we’re more than just a gym, we’re a family,” said Burlakoff. “People are comfortable coming here. The workouts are fun, but they’re hard as heck. I’m so excited we made the ‘best of’ poll again.”
Burlakoff, fellow part-owner Al Merto and The Pit’s other personal trainers can whip members into shape during boot camp, pedal and pump (which burns some 400 to 800 calories in an hour) and high intensity interval training which burns fat, builds lean muscle and reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
Prive Swiss Fitness, in Westbrook and Madison, and Rachel Ryan in Chester made the cut for readers’ other top places to break a sweat.
After that intense workout, how about a deep tissue massage to work out those kinks? Readers selected Massage Savvy in Guilford as one of their favorite best wellness centers, along with Prive Swiss in Westbrook and True Massage in Deep River.
For Massage Savvy https://www.massagesavvyct.com/ owners Marissa Donafrio and Maria Schreiber, helping clients de-stress is key.
Deep tissue massages can release those knots and increase circulation while an aromatherapy massage incorporates essential oils to relax and restore the mind, body and soul. A hot stone massage, a specialty here, uses heated mineral-rich, river stones to bring the ultimate in relaxation, relief and luxury.
“We bring the highest quality, most affordable spa experience to the Connecticut shoreline,” said Donafrio and Schreiber. “We offer an introductory rate for new clients to try us out as well as a Wellness Program that new or returning clients can join for a low one time enrollment fee.”
On making the Top 3, the owners said “there is no greater compliment.”
When readers crave the best in pampering for their fingers and their toes, they chose Villa Nails in Guilford, along with Serenity Beauty Bar in Clinton and Salon Westbrook in Westbrook as their go-to places for best manicure/nail salon.
Villa Nails https://www.facebook.com/pages/Villa-Nail-Spa/807850855990955 is a repeat fan favorite, known for making clients comfortable with a glass of champagne in its clean and spacious surroundings.
Owner Nikita Wang is thrilled to be among the best.
“It feels great and is quite an honor for us,” Wang said. “We’re a very clean facility and only use high-end products on our clients.”
Many clients agree and said the décor at Villa Nails, with its sparkly chandeliers and artwork sets them apart. The hand and foot massages prior to the manicures and pedicures prep clients for a variety of services, including gel nails, French manicures, facials and even lash extensions.
Prive Swiss Wellness and Prive Swiss Fitness, with locations in Westbrook, Madison and Essex dominated several categories, including best boutique gym/personal trainer, best wellness center, best yoga studio/instructor, best chiropractor, best day spa, best health fitness center and best Pilates studio.
Prive’s state-of-the-art facilities are dedicated to helping people achieve “whole health,” said Dana Brown, director of operations. From infrared sauna therapy and custom glass-tiled rain showers to fruit-infused water and chilled, aromatherapy scented towels, Prive knows how to pamper people.
“We believe that being healthy is so much more complex than just fitting into a pair of jeans,” said Brown. “Proper movement feels good, improves our mood and reduces stress. We integrate mind/body practices into our workouts by focusing on things like breath, balance, body scans and meditation techniques which leaves people feeling calmer and more centered.”
Brown added Prive Swiss is “the one stop shop for all things health, fitness and wellness,” and is grateful to its clients for naming them tops in the industry yet again.
“We really feel very privileged to be a part of a community that puts so much value on fitness and wellness,” Brown added. “Thank you to the shoreline readers who voted for us in so many categories.”
Over at Salon Belle Vie in Westbrook, which earned a Top 3 spot for best hair salon, clients are treated like family.
“Our salon is warm and inviting as soon as you walk through the door…we treat our clients like family,” said owner Jessica Griffith. “Every client service is customized for the individual, every time. It is our mission not only to make our clients look good, but to feel special.”
Other hair salons that made the cut with readers are Timothy Pammet in Madison and Paul and Company in Branford.
Now, how about some manscaping?
Need a shave and a haircut? Look no further than Tony’s Barber Shop in Madison, The Blue Collar Shop in Branford and Top Notch in Branford, all chosen for Best Old-fashioned Barber Shop.
At Tony’s, straight razors and hot shaving cream, along with scissor and razor cuts make them a cut above the rest. The old school barber shop remains one of the oldest businesses on Main Street in Madison.
Owner Tony Cavallaro must be doing something right, especially since he’s been in business here for 55 years.
“We’re reliable, we’re always open and we do it all,” said Cavallaro, who kept the interview short because he had a customer waiting in his chair. “This place is an institution.”
Cavallaro’s shop is filled with decades of sports photos and memorabilia, particularly of Madison youth sports teams, who he loves to have conversations about with clients.
If your back is hurting, who better to call than Dr. Roger Yates, in Deep River, who made the Top 3 readers’ faves, along with Prive Swiss Wellness, in Westbrook and Essex and Shoreline Chiropractic in Madison.
Yates has been helping people achieve optimum wellness for more than three decades, treating the whole person, not just the spine. Yates treats people who have more than just back pain, and has worked on the youngest of patients “just a few weeks old to age 100.”
Yates prides himself on two methods of relieving pain, using activator methods and applied kinesiology. His methods have brought relief to clients over the years, “allowing the body to take a breather and begin healing.”
Being named in the ‘best of’ category is humbling for Yates, saying “I am so honored to be recognized by the readers.”
A few more of the Shoreline readers’ favorite businesses that scored best of accolades are:
Best Yoga Studio/Instructor: Stone Temple Sanctuary/Deb Testa, Clinton; Raven’s Wing, Branford
Best Facial: Water’s Edge Spa, Westbrook; Saybrook Point Inn Spa, Old Saybrook; Skinsations, Guilford
Best Health Fitness Center: Planet Fitness, Branford, Guilford; Orange Theory, Guilford
Best Pilates Studio: Pure Barre, Guilford; The Pilates Barn, Madison