The Core Club NYC
Still, Saunders insisted that a beautiful space wasn’t enough: The club had to be able to provide everything for its members. (No easy task when many have the influence and wherewithal to procure just about anything on their own.) It had to be their favorite restaurant and their favorite place to get a haircut, too. It had to be a place where they could have a power lunch and, at night, hear first-rate cultural figures, like The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, talk and have dinner with them afterward. Or where they could go to the screening room and have Hugh Jackman and Paul Haggis introduce a film. And if they wanted to escape the city, they could take off in a Rolls-Royce (the company sometimes sponsors events) to a member’s estate for a tour of the only residential building in America designed by Ai Weiwei, followed by a look at a collection of the Chinese artist’s work.
On a recent summer evening, the restaurant is buzzing, tables are filled with stylish members young and old, enjoying chef Liberatore’s modern take on classic fare, like sliders with foie gras and greenmarket pea soup with coconut foam. “All our customers are regulars,” says Liberatore, and they can eat anywhere they choose in one of the world’s great cities for food, “so it can’t be like cooking for an ordinary restaurant. Every dish must delight, every time.”
When Saunders said she wanted the club to be its members’ favorite place for a haircut, she wasn’t speaking for effect. The Core’s Torey Grobes is one of the city’s best barbers. He’s able to look at a man’s hair, see immediately what needs to be done and take care of it—fast. It’s no wonder rock legend and founding member Roger Waters had him cut his hair before he played the Garden.
So what’s made the Core so appealing for this high-powered group that could belong to any club? “When I’m there, I’m spending time with a group of people who are working as hard as I am, so there’s this sense of earning your relaxation,” says Marianne Boesky. But more importantly, says Todd Thomson, a onetime Citigroup CEO who has since struck out on his own and a member for four years, “the Core exists for its members and not the other way around.” All it takes is one day to see what they both mean. Members who came for a business breakfast stayed for lunch (and more meetings). After catching a screening downstairs, they had dinner. Everyone looked more than happy to have spent the day eating, working and relaxing in the same place, just as though the Core Club really was their favorite home.
The Core Club NYC: The Details
Location: 60 E. 55th St., between Park and Madison avenues.
Amenities: A library, screening room, masseuse, barber shop, one-of-a-kind cultural programming and a restaurant headed by master chef Bernard Liberatore.
Cost: $50,000 initiation fee, $15,000 annual dues.
To Join: Call or e-mail membership manager Adrienne Loia at 212-381-7878 or email@example.com.
The Core Club NYC’s Antiaging Guru
“If it’s brown, red, bumpy or veiny, we take it off.” Dangene (one name only, like Cher and Prince) is explaining the approach behind her power facials at the Core Club. Forget spa-like sessions: Here, facials involve heavy machinery. Lady Gaga provides the soundtrack. The treatment begins with Dangene’s assessment of your skin under the kind of light usually reserved for the enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects. She then shifts you to her team of “mini-me’s,” who caution that they’re not interested in providing relaxation. There’s serious antiaging work to be done, from head to toe: While arms and legs are given dry microdermabrasion with a diamond-tip wand and glycolic acid, the face is given wet dermabrasion with infused vitamins. Wearing a bit of wraparound terry cloth, you pad from one wood-paneled room to another for oxygen therapy and a battery of lasers that plump up collagen and eradicate hyperpigmentation or broken capillaries.
Dangene trained as an aesthetician right after high school but is otherwise self-taught. Her first achievement was curing herself of adult-onset acne (to the clients who promise to follow her regimen, she guarantees to treat the issue until it’s gone). At 52, she has heavily kohled eyes but eschews other makeup. “The goal is to get your skin in such good shape that it looks like you’re wearing foundation,” she says. She also disdains any sunscreen whose ingredients resemble a science experiment (she uses natural zinc or titanium oxide, or diaper cream in a pinch), and she has the salon’s laundry done in-house so she can control the chemicals.
One regular, who recently turned 40 and describes herself as a sun worshipper, says that weekly facials with Dangene have allowed her to shave off a decade without engendering disbelief. Another describes the experience as an everything-available-to-make-you-look-better-without-surgery buffet but warns, “If you don’t go regularly, your skin returns to normal pretty quickly. It’s a costly addiction.”
Eliminating every imperfection can involve what’s known in the trade as “downtime,” but Dangene recognizes that some people must go right back to work. When a TV reporter called ahead to make sure she wouldn’t look blotchy on camera after her facial, Dangene reassured her: “No, no. Pretty, pretty.”
The first session is $1,500; a series of 12 treatments starts at $9,500; dangene.com.