Archive for 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.

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 ThermaSol.com!

“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.

Medical Spas – A Hot Trend in Spas

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Medical SpaLast month we touched on the topic of Medical Spas when a visitor asked us what was the state of the spa industry. One of our spa experts had pointed us to the findings of the third-annual Global Spa Summit that took place last month. At this summit they found overwhelmingly that the Medical Spa niche was expanding more than any other in the spa industry. In the past year  the number of medical spas has grown by 85 percent, which is a very large percentage for any industry in this economic climate.

Medical Spas provide services such as laser hair removal, hormone therapy, anti aging medicine, Botox, microdermabrasion, skin tightening treatments and more. This is a very exciting and interesting type of spa, but choosing the right medical spa is essential. Sometimes the doctor performing the procedures may be the actual owner of the spa, or they could be paid for their services provided at the medical spa. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists are typically the doctors that will treat you as well as dentists for teeth whitening treatments, so you should do your research on these facilities the same you would research a new doctor. You should also research the actual treatments you are considering having done, as there are many of these establishments that are only in the business of making money, and do not provide results with some treatments.

Other treatments that medical spas provide that do not need the oversight of a doctor include infrared saunas, facials, steam showers, and other treatments you might find at a day spa. Although a lot of medical spas provide the same services that a day spa might, don’t expect the ambience, decor or relaxing atmosphere that you usually see at a day spa. Medical Spas are much more clinical and will typically resemeble a doctors office more than a day spa.

Two Master Bathrooms Are Made More Luxurious

Monday, July 27th, 2009

One of our regular visitors had emailed us a bunch of pictures of a remodel they just did to two bathrooms in their home. They installed new tiling, new toilets by Toto, new sinks, shower fixtures by Sonia, waterfall shower, lighting system and more. Here are the highlights of their new, more luxurious bathrooms.

New Sink & Fixture

New Sink & Fixture

New Tile & Shower

New Tile & Shower

Shower Fixture

Shower Fixture

New Tub & Fixtures

New Tub & Fixtures

Tub Fixture

Tub Fixture

Bathtub Light

Bathtub Light

New Shower

New Shower

Rain Shower

Rain Shower

Storage Sink Toilet

Storage Sink Toilet

New Sink & Tile

New Sink & Tile

New Controls

New Controls

Floating Saunas

Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Kaluga Floating Sauna

Kaluga Floating Sauna

I don’t know where, how or why this new phenomenon began, but it seems like the Floating Sauna just might be the next big trend in spa culture ;-) . Here’s the research that supports my hypothesis:

1) The Kaluga Floating Sauna: This sauna was designed by Finnish architecture firm Rintala Eggertsson for the festival of landscape objects, held in Russia in July 2008. The theme behind the festival was houses built on water. Their floating sauna, they said, could provide shelter for up to six people for several days. The Kaluga did make it down the Ugra river in Russia and later made it into a permanent Museum exhibit, before it reached its final state as a guest house.

SS Silla

SS Silla

2) SS Silla: This impressive floating sauna scored the title of World’s Fastest Floating Sauna at 18 MPH at Match Cup Sweden.

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey

3) Floating Sauna Company: A Canadian based family company that introduced the Chunky Monkey using two surplus fuel tanks from an F-18 fighter for flotation back in 1997. Although Company Owner Don Toporowski’s Floating Saunas have evolved, he still uses the Chunky Monkey. He says, “there is nothing better than taking a hot sauna session and then jumping off the rooftop diving platform into the cool lake water.”

Health Benefits of Aromatherapy

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Lavendar Field

Lavender Field

Aromatherapy is actually known as a type of herbal medicine because it uses herbs as the base, but unlike other herbal treatments, Aromatherapy only uses the “essential oil” contained in the plants. Many different essential oils are used as fragrances for perfumes, fragrance oils, soaps, lotions and other bath and body products.

Essential oils are used for a number of different medicinal purposes, from everything to the oils used in Vicks VapoRub, to essential oils that are digested or applied to the skin. We are more familiar with the more popular form of aromatherapy of combining the oils with the steam from a steam bath. This form of aromatherapy has shown promising results when used to:

  • Help ease the agitation that patients with dementia may feel (Lavender)
  • Reduced need for pain medications following gastric banding surgery (Lavender)
  • Help with the symptoms of insomnia (Lavender)
  • Aid in respiratory problems (Eucalyptus)
  • Used as a mild sedative (Lavender)
  • Colds, sinus infections, and acute bronchitis (Eucalyptus)

Many aromatherapy oils are also used as oral herbal medicine. Some common uses of essential oils as oral medicine are used to:

  • Help aid with a variety of stomach pains (Peppermint, Caraway Oil)
  • Combating gingivitis and plaque (Eucalyptus)
  • Helping with the symptoms of Irritable Bowl Syndrome (Peppermint)

Many people also use essential oils topically to help treat and aid with a variety of symptoms. Some of the ways these oils are used are:

  • Various forms of viral infections (Tea Tree Oil)
  • Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and fibromyalgia (Tea Tree Oil, Bitter Orange)
  • Hair loss (Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, and Cedarwood)
  • Repelling mosquito bites (Eucalyptus)
  • Sun block (Coriander oil)
Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy, when inhaled is thought to work in a number of ways to relieve stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia. It is thought that the chemical ingredients from the plants are inhaled, causing these herbal chemicals to be absorbed by the body. The other way it can work is through the olfactory centers of the brain (smell), where a nice  soothing, refreshing, calming, stimulating smell will bring about the desired effects.

Be careful when using essential oils for the first time because they can cause an allergic reaction. Also, never digest any essential oils without first consulting a doctor or herbal specialist, as many can produce unpleasant and even deadly effects when ingested. Pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney you should avoid the use of these oils because the potential negative effects are not known.

Music for the Spa – The Best Songs To Listen To At The Spa

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Music is an excellent stress management tool for not only your senses, but also your health. It can bring on actual physical changes to your brain waves, breathing, heart rate and state of mind. Music can be a great way to release stress and tension, and one of the best ways to use music to its full benefit is to listen to it when you’re at the spa, or relaxing in your own home spa or bathtub.

Music Therapy is a great form of therapy, but what type of music is the best to listen to while you’re at the spa? Many experts agree that soft, soothing, New Age music gives the listener the most health benefits when they are listening to it at the spa. This type of music is very soothing, and in a sense puts you to sleep, which is perfect for your psyche. In this state of mind your heartbeat and breathing is at its most natural rhythm and you also feel secure, safe and comfortable. If you have been overworked and feel burnt out then we suggest some soothing New Age music such as David Arkenstone, Paul Lawler, Secret Garden, Rachel Kamps, Vangelis, LMT, or Robin Spielberg. Here is a list of some Grammy Awards winners for the Best New Age Album:

Enya New Age

Enya New Age

2001- Thinking of You, by Kitaro

2002- A Day Without Rain, by Enya

2003- Acoustic Garden, by Eric Tingstad

2004- One Quiet Night, by Pat Metheny

2005- Returning: Pieces for Guitar 1970-2004, by Will Ackerman

2006- Silver Solstice, by Paul Winter

2007- Amarantine, by Enya

2008- Crestone

Fun Music

Fun Music

If you are looking for something more upbeat or get you out of a sad, depressed funk, then you should consider listening to something that makes you tap your foot, sing in the shower or want to dance. Music that will help promote a positive mood could include tunes that take your mind off of what is stressing or depressing you. This type of music will even continue to help you from getting as stressed and depressed in the future. Some suggestions for music to fill this need in the spa include oldies, 80’s music, or even current music like high-energy hip-hop, or pop. Really any music that at makes you happy and picks you up when you’re feeling down.

When you have spent all of your brain power and just need to rejuvenate your mind it would be wise to subscribe to classical music while indulging in your spa treatment. It has been a well known myth called the “Mozart Effect” that listening to classical music will make you smarter. There is even an album titled “Bach for the Brain: Classical Music to Make You Smarter!
This myth originated from the psychologist Frances Rauscher, in 1993 who published a study titled “Music and Spatial Task Performance” where he noted that students who had listened to Mozart showed a significant IQ improvement. Regardless of what the findings tell us today, Classical music does have it’s proven benefits. It is very intricate and mathematical while at the same time soothing and relaxing. We suggest listing to the classics of Classical, including: Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Bach.

Healing Arts

Healing Arts

Although healing physical ailments and disease through the use of music and relaxation is not a proven method, many people do subscribe to this idea and there is a lot of spa music designed for healing purposes. Some of these albums include: Sound Healing- The Definitive ‘Best of Soundings’ collection,  Healing Waters by Dean Evenson, Tao of Healing by Li Xiang-Ting and Dean Evenson, and Music for the Healing Arts by Dean Evenson and Soundings Ensemble. These collections are similar to the New Age music, but these have been written and compiled with guidance from health practitioners for the specific goal of healing.

We’d love to hear about your favorite spa music, so please share with us by typing your message in the comment box below.

Weekly Spa Tweets On Talk Spas

Friday, July 3rd, 2009


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