Nicolas Ronco just launched the new concept of Yelo a month ago-- private cabins that enable you to relax and re-energize naturally in few minutes. So instead of caffeine, there is reflexology treatment or napping in an ideal soundproof and cocooned environment. Going to Yelo may become the new trend for stockbrokers, lawyers, sleep-deprived parents, overtired students, and even partygoers. www.yelonyc.com
Here’s the deal. You sit in a custom designed “zero-gravity” chair (feet above your heart), listen to ambient music of your choice…and fall quickly into a Power Nap (20 to 40min”- $12-$24). The lights gradually brighten to bring you back to reality softly. As a result, your productivity goes up in the short term and you are healthier in the long term. Before napping, you can also get a reflexology treatment where a therapist relieves excessive stress by using finger pressure and massage techniques on your feet, hands and ears.
Nicolas Ronco moved to New York in 1988 for a summer exchange program at Columbia. He then worked for Time Warner in a fast growing division. The “crazy Frenchman” (as they called him at work) fell in love with New York and decided to make his life here.
Nicolas, where did the idea for Yelo come from?
First, I found inspiration in my own background. I grew up in Tunisia where napping is considered as part of the daily routine. Later, when I was working at Time Warner, I saw more than a few of my colleagues taking naps at their desks, and I also felt those “tired moments “where you feel like lying in your bed for few minutes. During my numerous professional trips to Asia, particularly in Japan and Korea, I realized that reflexology centers were like Starbuck coffees – they were everywhere! Asians tend to nap as soon as they can –it is very different than here. And they are some of the most productive people on earth ! There is a real human need to nap.
How long did it take to build Yelo ?
I came back to NYC in 2005 and went to meet with the HR department of Time Warner to investigate the market and see if they would let people get time off for napping. They totally encouraged me. I then came up with a specific concept of short but powerful treatments that work well together and where you don’t need to undress or shower after. Easy, efficient and no-hassle. After raising a bit of money, we then worked on the design of the cabins that are at the center of the concept. We looked in nature and decided to adopt the shape of the beehives: small cabins, still very comfortable a bit like the womb environment and easily transportable.
Who are your clients ?
It is really very New York, meaning quite eclectic. Since we are just across the street, we get people from Hearst and Time Warner. Our customers include a psychotherapist who comes to recharge her batteries on a regular basis, a lawyer for whom Yelo is like a second home. Even though he is a member of a sport club, he prefers Yelo for relaxation. We also have exhausted parents that come to catch up on their sleep as their kids have taken over their beds. Or airline companies which send us their employees and VIPs to recover from jetlag. Interestingly, we definitely have a more masculine clientele than a regular Spa.
Can you tell us more about your New York experience ?
When I first came to New York City for a summer exchange program, I thought it was an amazing place. This is the place I want to be! I then got obsessed to come back afterwards, which I did when I found a job at Time Warner. New York is always a bit harsh when you arrive but very quickly everything becomes easier and you feel more comfortable You are far from people who know you, so you can totally reinvent yourself. Manhattan is both a village and an enormous beast. You get the best of both world.
The other great thing also about NYC is that as a foreigner, I always felt welcome. This tolerance level was very touching for me. I have to be honest I also used a lot of my charm (as a Frenchman) to obtain the forgiveness of my mistakes at work ! I avoided French people at the beginning, but the funny thing was that I met some of them here that I should have met more naturally in Paris. Like Gilles Amsallem who created the French Tuesdays (www.frenchtuesdays.com) who has the same background than me.
Which French locations would you recommend ?
I particularly love Jean-George (www.jean-george.com). I find the service amazing and the food delicious.
Nicolas is planning to open 25 new locations in NYC within the next 5 to 10 years and also branches in hospitals, airports, train stations, malls and big firms. To be continued.......
315 West 57th Street | Between 8th and 9th Avenues | New York, NY 10019