There it was in WWD—facialist Cornelia Zicu has returned to the spa scene in a new senior management role at Red Door. That’s some big news, which looks to be part of the part of the brand’s modern makeover (Fifth Avenue flagship, included).
It must be fate. Just yesterday I was investigating the new Lumina Facial at her former stopping grounds, the luxurious Cornelia Day Resort. It uses the spa’s new Jewelry for Skin line that contains crushed crystals and gems. (Favorite products: Emerald Eye Crème and Citrine Lip Plumper). Giving my radiance-boosting treatment was Alicia Villanova, whose youth belies her skill—though her absolutely gorgeous skin should have been a tip off. Turns out Villanova is a protégée of Zicu, the Romanian refugee turned New York City skin-care icon, who parted ways with the spa in January 2007, and had previously made a name for herself at the Peninsula Spa in New York.
Cornelia may have left the building, but her legacy lives on at the Day Resort in facialists like Villanova. By working alongside the experienced, almost supernaturally skilled Zicu in two-therapist facials (an offering and training program virtually unheard of at spas), Villanova received more direct mentoring than 95 percent of aestheticians today. “She taught me so much about skin—how to look at it, how to treat it, and little details they’d never cover in school or at other spas I’ve worked, like matching the pace of facial massage to the client’s breathing. In school, fast work was what made a good aesthetician,” she said. “I owe my success and skills to her.”
Zicu has been off the radar until now; I’d heard rumors of her consulting for European spas, but never got specifics. At Red Door, she will drive the creative and guest experience in the company’s 31 spas worldwide. (So unless your last name is Jolie or Longoria Parker, I guess she won’t be giving her signature facials.) In a press release, Todd Walter, CEO of Red Door Spa Holdings, said hiring Zicu was part of a goal “to re-establish Red Door Spas as the world’s preeminent spa company by providing unparalleled customer service and professional expertise.” In that case, I hope they put her in a classroom, too.
This seems a sensible move that’s been a long time coming, in my opinion. The Red Door brand, even with its 100-year-old legacy and fresh cherry-red flagship, hasn’t begun to realize its modern potential in today’s booming spa market. Perhaps Zicu is just the one to give the spas a much-needed anti-aging infusion. But I’m not sure a gifted tutor makes a gifted corporate-level manager. Of course, I’ll get my name on the Red Door appointment book before long to see for myself.