Archive for August, 2009

Master Bath Recoup

Monday, August 31st, 2009


Whirlpool Tub

Whirlpool Tub & Steam Shower

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2008 – 2009 Cost. Vs. Value Report, a bathroom remodel will still recoup up to 75 percent of the cost upon resale – making it a wise renovation investment. So for those who have dreamed of soothing jetted bathtubs, vertical spa showers and a complete steam shower environment it might be wise to implement these amenities into the home and save on repeated trips to the spa.

Another interesting piece of information that Remodeling Magazine cited is that bathrooms are among the easiest remodels to achieve using “green” practices and products, from eco-friendly materials like ceramic tile to luxurious, water-conserving fixtures and low energy-consumption lighting. However, what are some of the most important fixtures to choose for your bathroom remodel? And which ones will prove to be the most attractive to potential buyers in the long run?

According to a recent story in The Orlando Sentinel, features that increase a bathroom’s appeal include larger showers with rain showerheads, steam showers, body sprays, heated floors and hinged glass doors or partial shower walls. Also, soaking tubs instead of Jacuzzis, more windows and skylights to let in sunlight, and more efficient, quieter ventilation. Disappearing is the elaborate decking that raised tubs several steps above the floor, making access difficult and even dangerous. So even if you are waiting to sell until the market improves, a luxury bathroom renovation is something you can enjoy both now and when you get the money back when you sell the home in years to come.

The Benefits of Cold Spa Therapy

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Arctic Ice RoomAfter looking at some of the amenities spas offer, I noticed that cold spa treatments are on the rise. When I think of a spa I think of warmth and heat, being a native of Southern California I find anything below 60° F unbearable. Although it sends chills down my spine just thinking about it, cold spa therapies are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. The health benefits of these therapies range from alertness to increased circulation to a stronger immune system. Going from hot to cold is a shock to the nervous system. The initial shock causes blood vessels to constrict and then expand once the body reaches its normal temperature. The process helps to increase circulation, rid the body of toxins, and boost the immune system, which can help fight off colds and allergies. This type of treatment has also been used by athletes for some time now to help reduce swelling and ease aches and pains. Want to try it out for yourself? The Qua Spa in Las Vegas has a room that snows. It’s called the Arctic Ice Room (pictured left) and the temperature is set to a chilly 55° F and the air is infused with the scent of mint, which also has a cooling effect.

The Standard Spa is another spa that offers cold spa threapy. This spa is located in Miami offers Hot + Cold Stone Massage treatments, which helps bring balance to the body and relieve stress. If none of these treatments appeal to you, you can always take a cold shower at home to see if you will like it.

Making Scents – Instant Aromatherapy

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Homemade AromatherapyAromatherapy: the science of smells. It’s a word that’s become as common in spa vernacular as “sauna” or “facial.” But what does it really mean? And more importantly, how can you use it to attain instant relaxation?

While I consider closing my eyes and breathing in the intoxicating smell of maple-syrup-poured-over-a-warm-stack-of-pancakes a form of “aromatherapy,” the art of scents goes far beyond the notion of “smells that we like.” It’s a form of alternative medicine based in the healing and restorative power of essential oils, concentrated liquids extracted from plants, herbs, and flowers that we come in contact with on a daily basis. Basil, lemon, lavender, rose, thyme, cinnamon, citronella … the list is endless, but oh so familiar. Which actually makes everything about aromatherapy all the more appealing and all the more instant: there’s almost no plant, no herb, no essential oil whose primary ingredient you haven’t heard of. Who knew that aromatherapy could be as easy as a trip to your pantry?

Before leaving a world of non-scents for an olfactory nirvana, first figure out what type of oil or fragrant element you want to use (different scents for different gents). Every aroma has a unique and fantastic effect, from alleviating stress and fatigue, to relieving pain and elevating your mood. A quick cheat sheet:

  • For headaches: Basil, Lavender
  • As an aphrodisiac: Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood
  • De-stressors: Lemon oil, Peppermint, Chamomile

With aromatherapy, the options are about as limitless as the fragrances! Purists say that using essential oils is the only true form of aromatherapy, but don’t limit yourself. Candles, incense, bath beads, infused lotions – even grated citrus zest in a bowl – can be part of your aromatherapy experience. Want real instant aromatherapy? Place sachets of herbs or flower petals in the pockets of your bathrobe, or dip cotton balls in your favorite herbal tea and leave them (inconspicuously!) around your bathroom. Doesn’t get much more instant than that.

Essential oils sound more intimidating, but I promise, they’re just as quick and easy to use. My favorite application is to infuse fragrance into my towels with essential oils; there’s nothing better than stepping out of a steam shower and wrapping yourself in terry cloth towel kissed with a hint of lavender. Before you dry your next load of laundry, put some drops of your favorite essential oil on a small washcloth and toss it in with your wet towels for instant aromatherapy! Or add a few drops to water in a spray bottle for the quickest air freshener you’ll ever find. And any unscented candle can become instant aromatherapy when you add a few drops to the hot wax as the candle burns. Just remember: with essential oils, less is more. You’re looking for the essence of rose, not a garden growing out of your steam shower.

Aromatherapy – it’s a big word for a really simple notion: fragrances with restorative powers. And in your home spa, there’s no easier way to make scents.

The Spa has Gone to the Dogs

Monday, August 24th, 2009

C-A Doggie Spa PackThe Spa has gone to the dogs … literally. On a visit to a new groomer I was asked if I wanted the Spa package for my dog. I was somewhat surprised, but with doggie hotels, resorts, even an airline for pets, it was only a matter of time before spas started to cater to our pampered pooches. I have the pleasure of owning a high maintenance dog with sensitive skin so I went for it. She was lathered in an organic botanical shampoo and conditioner, followed by a gentle facial scrub to rejuvenate and remove dead skin cells. Then a paw-dicure consisting of a moisturizing paw rub and nail trim for those rough paw pads and nails. Doggie spas are popping up everywhere. The Ritzy Canine Carriage House in New York specializes in Fascia Released, Hydro & Acupressure Massage. The D Pets Hotel in Hollywood, CA features luxury modern suites and an upscale spa for the ultimate in pampering. For the budget conscious, there are plenty of spa products available for owners to give their dogs a spa treatment at home.

Here are some pictures of our happy dog, back from the spa:




Spa Week Slurge

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Foodies know that the best time to try that new, swank (and usually unaffordable!) bistro everyone’s been talking about is during Restaurant Week, when deals are a-plenty and the dishes as delish as ever. Pretty good idea, right? Thankfully, this delightful notion has made its way from the dinner table to the massage table. That’s right – it’s Spa Week!

Spa WeekSpa Week has been around for a few years, popping up every spring and fall in select cities around the country. (Visit for a complete list of participating spas.) But navigating through the endless combinations of services, locations, and prices can be difficult and intimidating. For instance, is a $50 organic cucumber wrap a Spa Week steal or a Spa Week scam? Here are some ways to get the most out of Spa Week, after all, it should be relaxing!

1. Book early and book new! Most spas see a huge increase in business during Spa Week, so make reservations as soon as you decide on a service to avoid getting shut out of a deal. And don’t be deterred if the so-called trendy spas are filled by the time you call. This is the perfect opportunity to try a new place (and make everyone jealous when you score that coveted Saturday 10 a.m. massage appointment).

Coconut Spa2. And speaking of new… Sure you’ve heard of an oxygen-infused facial or an olive oil foot treatment, but is it really for you? During Spa Week, the answer is yes! At $50 for most Spa Week services, this is the time to sample a more out-there treatment, without worrying about the huge investment. And who knows, it could become your new favorite! As always, make sure to ask whether a service is right for you, and don’t go entirely overboard with the new stuff. Four coconut microdermabrasions in one week is three too many.

3. Do a Cost Spa-nalysis. Before booking anything, check to see what the original, pre-Spa Week, price of the service is. While some spas offer truly amazing Spa Week deals, other discounts aren’t worth braving the crowds for. That paraffin pedicure may be $10 cheaper during Spa Week, but it’s not really worth it when you can’t get in until 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. Save your splurge for a bigger bargain; they’re out there. Also, when factoring the cost of a Spa Week outing, it’s etiquette to tip on the cost of the original service, not the Spa Week price.

4. Spa Day- Spa Week – Spa Year! Spa lovers, rejoice! The benefits of Spa Week can go way beyond an hour-long treatment at a rock bottom price. First, take advantage of everything a spa offers when you book a service, even during Spa Week. Just because you’re only getting a mani doesn’t mean you can’t spend a day luxuriating. Show up early and try the gym, the steam rooms, the Jacuzzi, whatever they offer! Also, spas know that getting an appointment for the service you want at a decent time is most challenging during Spa Week. To compensate, many spas allow guests to purchase gift certificates at Spa Week prices that can be used year-round. And who wouldn’t want that 60 minute massage for $50, to be cashed in at your convenience? (Spa Week gift certs are also a great present, especially if you want people to shower you with hugs and say things like “You shouldn’t have!”)

Spa Cuisine Goes Gourmet

Friday, August 21st, 2009

When it comes to a day at the spa, the last thing we’d ever want to do is deprive ourselves. And that carries through to cuisine. While most people associate carrot sticks, bean sprouts and fake cheese with spa food, these days spas are elevating the overall experience with delicious gourmet spreads.

Here are some delectable dishes that we found at a few choice spas:

–    The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona is famous for their Pacific Rim – a forbidden rice and Bhutanese relish, soy ginger braised chicken with fennel and tomatoes, grilled shrimp joined by peas in miso dressing, sweet figs and oranges glazed with ginger and sweet sake. They also offer fresh fruit smoothies made with agave nectar.

–    The chefs at Chiva-Som Luxury Health Resort in Thailand create daily menus to offer the widest range of dishes to suit a healthy lifestyle. They make sure all of their dishes can also be made at home, using ingredients that can be found anywhere. They offer spa cooking classes and an exclusive cookbook. Some of their favorites include Stir-Fried Lamb Chops with Oyster Sauce, Black Sticky Rice with Mango, and a Pomelo and Prawns Salad.
Sukko Cultural Spa

–    Sukko Cultural Spa, also in Thailand, presents the legend of the ancient food therapy through a specialized menu. They offer a course on Traditional Thai cuisine, which gives an overview of  Thai herbs and spices. They also prepare special menus for their guests depending on their blood type and earth sign. Some of their signature dishes include a spicy hot tofu soup with red chili paste, eggplant, basil leave, in coconut-milk, and a spicy salad of jelly noodles with fresh shrimp and minced pork.

–    As an American Plan Spa, The Oaks in Ojai, California provides a 1,000 plus calorie a day food plan that AHI AT THE OAKS AT OJAIconsists of three meals, snacks and beverages. The varied menus feature natural foods, fresh fish and poultry, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, homemade salad dressings and soups – all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Many meals feature freshly-grown herbs from their gardens. Dishes include Chicken Thighs with Barley, Garlic and Chardonnay, fresh fruit soups and Ojai Winter Orange Salad (season permitting).

Here are 11 Key Components of Spa Lifestyle Cuisine (according to Road & Travel magazine):
1.    Promotes optimal health and well being through a sensible strategy for life long healthy eating habits.
2.    Exemplifies variety, moderation, and balance through the entire menu.
3.    Features seasonally fresh, clean, whole foods with high nutritive value and minimal processing such as:FRESH FRUIT SOUP FROM THE OAKS AT OJAI

i. Whole grains, legumes, and beans.
ii. Brightly colored fresh fruits & vegetables.
iii. Lean protein sources.
iv. Lean dairy or calcium-rich non-dairy sources.
v. Fresh herbs, minimize added salt.
vi. Clean water.
vii. Monounsaturated fats, omega-3 source, minimize saturated and trans-fats.
viii. Limit sugar and artificial sweeteners
4.    Uses natural and innovative substitutions to create healthier food options.
5.    Emphasizes mindful portion sizes and regularly patterned eating.
6.    Utilizes preparation and cooking methods that maximizes and enhances the beauty, flavor, texture and nutrition of the food.
7.    Exemplifies self sufficiency in the kitchen through practical cooking methods that can be replicated at home.
8.    Fulfills individual nutrition parameters and preferences.
9.    Pleasurable and satisfying to all senses.
10.    Embraces and incorporates credible nutrition.
11.    Incorporates and promotes the sustainability of agricultural resources.

High-Tech Showers!

Friday, August 14th, 2009
Beautiful Shower

Beautiful Shower

For the first time ever, bathers can now program their steam session outside of the shower with ThermaSol’s Easy Start Control. Instead of stepping inside the shower to start the steam session, users can now program their steam session from up to 50 feet away from the location of the steam generator. Convenient and easy-to-use the Easy Start Control works with either the Signature or Temp-Touch steam shower control. It also allows for one or two user settings. The control is available with a traditional or contemporary edge to match existing spa style. The Easy Start Control is available in 14 designer finishes.

ThermaSol has made steam bathing just a bit more luxurious.

Shower Control

Shower Control

Black Shower Control

Black Shower Control

Since 1958, ThermaSol, creator of the first steam bath unit for the home, has been designing and building the finest and most technologically-savvy steam bath environments available. Today, ThermaSol is the dependable choice of professional plumbers, top designers, architects, builders and homeowners, and is recognized as the worldwide leader in the steam shower industry. As a responsibly green company, ThermaSol’s steam showers require a fraction of the water needed to power a regular shower of the same duration.

Visit ThermaSol at!

“Addicted To Beauty” Medical Spa TV Show

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Addicted To BeautyThe Oxygen channel has debuted a new reality show which airs Tuesdays at 10pm titled “Addicted to Beauty“. The show features the staff of a medical spa in La Jolla, California Changes Plastic Surgery and Spa and has been dubbed a “dramedy”, part drama, part comedy, on the show’s website.

As the show chronicles the med spa we see this venture unfold between Dianne York-Goldman, a socialite and marketing guru who has teamed up with well-known plastic surgeon Dr. Gilbert Lee; an over-the-top group of employees including Gary, the flamboyant and outspoken receptionist; Ronnie, the eccentric concierge; Natasha, Dianne’s levelheaded assistant; and Shannyn, the whip-cracking spa manager and Dr. Lee’s no-nonsense office manager.

So far the show has not received high marks with its critics, such as the LA Times who is quoted bashing the show:

“Revolving around a La Jolla spa, the Oxygen series can seem less a reality show than an infomercial.”

“If American pop culture had a garage sale, it would look something like Oxygen’s “Addicted to Beauty.””

Negative reviews seem to be the norm for this show early on, but with Oxygen’s large audience of women maybe this type of show will be helpful to women who are looking for real life examples of a Medical Spa.

As we discussed in a previous entry, Medical Spas are a growing trend and yet many are unsure whether they should go to a Medical Spa or a Hospital for their treatment, how to research a Medi Spa, what services these spas provide and how these business are run. Maybe this TV show will answer some of these important questions for the community, while providing an inside look for an emerging industry.

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