Archive for August 21st, 2009

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 http://www.spaweek.com 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.
CHIVA-SOM

–    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.


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