"I'm having a great time," said Eric Easter, director of communications for washington post.com, as he shot pool in the back of the spa area. "It's good to have a little change of pace. There are pretty women, a pool table -- it's hard to beat."
Alexis Przybylski, an intern with NBC News, spoke with enthusiasm with her eyes closed, as makeup and mascara were delicately applied by Travis Culberson, a freelance makeup artist for Vincent Largo Cosmetics.
"It's soooooo much better than Boston," she said. When people come to New York, she explained, they get a little bit nervous. This relaxes them. "It's nice."
Not all media types took part. "I'm not much into spas," said Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of the Washington Times. "I'm an old-time newspaper man. Dark bars are our natural habitat."
Better to resist taking any kind of gifts, said Bolch, the former newspaper editor. "It's an indirect relationship -- it's very subversive. Reporters and members of the media should not fall for this kind of spin. It's all a way to buy your goodwill."
But Holland dismisses any such worries. "They want publicity out of this, obviously," she said. "But it's OK. There's not even a Barneys in Washington. There's nothing I can gain from it."