Being a downtown girl, there are not many things that can lure me up to the Upper East Side. Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada’s new exhibit at the MET is one of the few. Heidelberg Restaurant is another one. And when a brand new spa and salon opens up… count me in.

And I’m so I did. I had the pleasure of spending four hours indulging in the very thorough services at Val El Salon & Spa, the brand new hot spa-t on the Upper East Side in NYC. What I loved a lot was that it felt like family – and that’s because it was! Husband and wife owners Gene and Julie Kominer’s vision was to create a one-stop relaxing getaway to help rejuvenate New York City professionals and bring out the beauty in all of us. The Kominers have been healthcare providers for over 15 years and have seen the physical and emotional effects on professionals – in the healthcare industry in particular. Having worked at an Upper East Side hospital for most of her career, Julie was very familiar with the First Avenue neighborhood and thought its proximity to a vast number of healthcare providers, and the neighborhood’s emerging revitalization made it an ideal locale to bring their vision to life. Named for their children, Valerie and Elliot, Val El combines the amenities of a full-service spa and hair salon in a European-inspired setting that brings a touch of elegance to the neighborhood and relief from busy city life.

After a busy, hectic day at work (yes, Spa Week can be hectic!), I was welcomed to Val El’s sparkling bright, clean, white space, handed a tall glass of bubbly and a robe, and whisked away for an evening of bliss.


The co-owner Gene, their top massage therapist, also happens to also be a licensed physical therapist and possesed one of the more unique set of healing hands I’ve experienced. I seriously can’t even recall all the different techniques he used. There must have been fifty. There was poking. There was slapping. There was deep tissue targeting. It was glorious. One of the very obvious things Gene was doing was really getting my circulation pumping. This is one of the core benefits of massage to aid in long-term heart health, and also can help healing directly on injuries or specific discomfort. I’ve already recommended Gene to a friend of mine who has shoulder problems. I trust this guy! The damage:


That moment… when you fall asleep during your facial. Ah yes, it happened.

My esthetician Sofya Sagalovich had hands gentle as a lamb and a voice soothing as a lullaby, and before I knew it I was sleeping like a newborn. (Estheticians love this!) While I snoozed, Sofya peformed a Light Therapy Facial using products from the top-rated Swiss skincare line Mila D’opiz (Val El is the only spa in New York that carries this imported European line).

For the light therapy, they use the newest dermatologic technology from Italy.

This facial helps increase your skin’s collagen, elastin, and keratin production resulting in the reduced appearance of fine and deep lines and wrinkles, and a more lifted appearance to your skin for visibly firmer, more youthful-looking skin. That glow afterwards came from the inside… and out.


What better way to round out a night of pampering and wellness than with the ultimate, classic beauty treatment to leave you feeling glamorous?

I was thrilled to be introduced to my stylist, Seyran Sattarov, who coiffed my hair into delightful curls with va-va-volume and precise draping. It’s too bad I didn’t have plans that night because it was one of the best blowouts of my life! And one of my most-liked Instagram photos… that counts for something, right?

Val El is open 9am to 9pm, seven days a week, and is the only salon on the Upper East Side to carry the full lines of Kerastase, Oribe, Bumble and bumble and Aveda. As a Moroccan Oil fan, I especially liked their bathroom fixture:

And of course, the whole “one big happy family” thing!

Check out Val El’s current spa and beauty deals!

I’m really looking forward to going back (perhaps after seeing the MET exhibit?) for a mani-pedi. Thank you to Val El for treating me! Disclosure.