Archive for January, 2010

Aromatherapy Corner – A pocket-sized first aid kit

Friday, January 29th, 2010
Lavender Field

Lavender Field

The Latin root of “lavender,” lavare, means “to clean” or “wash oneself.” Historically used to fight plague and other pestilence, this powerful essential oil is also gentle enough to be applied “neat”, or undiluted, directly on the skin.

Lavender oil is considered to be the panacea of aromatherapy. Keeping a bottle of lavender in your home pharmacy, car or workplace is a must. Because it is used for so many different kinds of ailments, it makes a perfect pocket-sized first aid kit. Pur, therapeutic-grade, organic lavender oil can be used to treat burns, sunburns, cuts, scrapes, insect bites and acne amongst many other applications. It provides fast, soothing relief upon contact. Lavender’s sweet smell is only a secondary benefit!

There are dozens of essential oils that can be used for many treatments. Some favorites of mine are peppermint for nausea, headaches and mental clarity; helichrysum italicum for bruising, swelling, sprains and strains (a great post-workout treatment); Roman chamomile for its anti-spasmodic action; blue chamomile for its anti-inflammatory effects; and tea tree for its strong anti-microbial effects on pimples, athlete’s foot and dandruff.

For a wide selection of aromatherapy essential oils, precious reserve oils and hydrosols visit the TheramSol aromatherapy store at ThermaSol.com

State of the Spa Address

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Rejuvinating in the Spa

Rejuvenating in the Spa

To all our Talk Spas readers; we are here today to address the spa fanatics, members of the spa industry as well as the home spa enthusiasts of the world to let you know that the spa is here to stay. In the past year we may have not seen the spa industry or the number of home spa projects grow in number, but we did see the diversity in services and product offerings expand to a new high. Out of nowhere new markets have become much larger than before for the spa industry, including Medical Spas, Pet Spas, Teen Spas and even Baby Spas. In the past year, outrageous, amazing and extremely expensive spa treatments had their day in the limelight, while more custom, personal and home based spa services have continued to increase in popularity.

Las Vegas continues to be a hotbed for amazing new spas and more and more people are now using the quality of the spa amenities to choose their next resort or cruise vacation. While destination spas are still very popular, the home spa and more specifically the inclusion of a luxury steam shower with advanced technological systems continue to increase home values in these tough times.

Make no doubt that times are still tough for the spa industry as we have seen many close their doors and go bankrupt, but be clear that the surviving day spas, spa product manufacturers and resorts will come out of this downturn stronger than ever before. People across the world are beginning to re-discover how and why it is so important to treat your mind and body to spa treatments that provide relaxation that ultimately improves your overall health and well being. We can assure you that even if the tough times are not yet behind us, the light is visible at the end of the tunnel, and the light will please your senses and rejuvenate your body and soul.

Related Posts:

Spa Trends to Look for in 2010

SpaFinder’s Top 10 Spa Trends in the Past Decade

Aromatherapy Corner – Discovering the Power of Oils

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Aromatherapy Oil

Aromatherapy Oil

The word “aromatherapy” was originally coined by the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1920. In a laboratory accident, Gattefosse set his arm on fire and immediately thrust it into the nearest vat of cold liquid, which happened to be lavender oil. Instantly he felt soothing relief and watched as the burn continued to heal quickly, with no inflammation or scarring. The profound healing benefits led him to a lifetime of research in a field that he termed “aromatherapy”.

As a clinical herbalist and aromatherapist, I have seen the profound healing effects of essential oils in my 15 years of practice. Therapeutic-grade essential oils can work to heal common ailments where other medications fail. Essential oil blends can be used to treat many conditions, without the side effects that synthetic chemicals may cause. They work quickly and effectively to soothe pain and inflammation.

For a wide selection of aromatherapy essential oils, precious reserve oils and hydrosols visit the TheramSol aromatherapy store at ThermaSol.com

State-of-the-Art Steam

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

State-of-the-art Steam

Steam Shower ControlGone are the days of dial-up and black and white television. Consumers have moved on to the faster, more efficient, and more effective ways of the digital age where modern acronyms like HDTV and DSL are household names. Today, all parts of the living space are getting technological makeovers. ThermaSol is ahead of the curve in the bathroom with the only 100% digital Steam Shower System available on the market today. The upgrade wasn’t easy, and ThermaSol dedicated three years of intense engineering to revamp the products in their steam program; bringing every aspect of their Steam Shower to the digital era by incorporating 100% solid-state digital technology.

Steam ShowerAll other steam bath manufacturers use the decades-old analog technology. Analog steam shower systems operate via a unidirectional analog command where an electronic pulse is sent through telephone-style cables to the generator in order to command functions. Any added features like a music-system or lights must be run independently of an analog steam unit and requires an extra cable or cables. With no communication network in place to verify what the specific pulse is, the opportunities for error are endless. The system is also susceptible to uncontrollable influences like voltage spikes or lightning. This can cause the generator to activate and run; which can cause the destruction of a home’s interior and more.

ThermaSol’s 100% digital Steam Shower System provides the only networked system that contains 100% digital communication technology. Everything connected receives and transmits information to ensure that there are no reading errors as to what the command is. Expandability is also easy; features like the Serenity Light & Music System, and the Easy Start Control can be added by simply plugging them into the equipment, and will be detected by the controls to operate accordingly. With a ThermaSol 100% digital Steam Shower System, the bath is an oasis where luxury incorporates the most advanced technology; insuring reliability, convenience and safety.

Is it a Good Time for a Bathroom Remodel?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Believe it or not, now might actually be a good time for upgrading your master bathroom and creating a luxurious oasis in your home. The obvious reason that this is a good idea is because if you do it now, then you will be able to enjoy your new bathroom for years to come. If you do it today you will get more enjoyment out of it than if you did it next year.

A less obvious reason is that a mid-range to high-end bathroom remodel projects might just be a great place for investment in your home if you are looking to improve the resale value. Although Remodel Magazine is predicting in their Cost vs. Value Report for 2009-2010 that the value of remodeling a bathroom will not recoup as much of the costs as other renovations, even they admit that despite falling home prices pushing the value of remodeling investments down for the fourth consecutive year, small-scale projects and replacements may be leading the way to recovery.

For a full mid-range or high-end bathroom remodel  you are likely to recoup around 75% of the job’s cost if you hire an architect or designer and let the professionals handle the entire project. That’s pretty good for a more-or-less hassle free remodel, considering the enjoyment you’ll receive from having a magnificent new bathroom will surely be worth the 25% of the costs. If you do the work yourself your costs may be decreased, but you may not recoup as much of  the work done as you would if a professional had handled the job.

It is also interesting to note that just a year ago the remodel of an upscale bathroom was on an upward trend, despite the housing crisis. We think that in the next year or two buyers will really be analyzing the enjoyment and the carbon footprint that a house brings, valuing these criteria much higher than just the typical luxury renovations.

Upscale Project Projections

Upscale Project Projections

The enjoyment that one receives from a spa-like bathroom continues to gain in popularity as spas and spa services continue to spread to new markets. A more luxurious bathroom is definitely a major selling point in homes today, and we see this trend continuing as people not only want luxury in their homes, but they also want to pamper themselves at home.

One way people are increasing the value of their homes, while creating their own home spa is by installing a luxury steam shower during their remodel. In a recent episode of the HGTV show “Bang for your Buck” a homeowner blew the designer away with his new luxury steam shower, complete with ThermaSol’s Serenity Light & Music system. (You can view the HD Video here).

Bang for your buck video

Bang for your buck video

One thing to consider before you decide on turning your average bathroom into a magnificent home spa is whether or not you really want to spend the money on this renovation. A typical, mid-range bathroom remodel will cost you around $17,000, while a high end bathroom remodel will be closer to $50,000. You will also need to look closely at your house and make sure that there’s nothing else more urgent that could use this investment. It doesn’t make any sense to spend this kind of money on a bathroom remodel if you are going to need a new boiler or roof in the next few years. Lastly, no one knows exactly what is going to happen in the housing market in the future, so your guess is as good as anyone’s. That being said, if you plan to spend at least the next 5-10 years in your home, have the money and don’t have any other urgent projects that need to be completed why not treat yourself to a luxurious home spa remodel!

Hammam at the Palms Place Hotel

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I recently got back from a mini Vegas vacation and had a wonderful time. I stayed at the Palms Place Hotel & Spa for the second time in a row and think I have a new favorite Vegas Spa as well. While all the amenities at the Spa are very nice, the Hammam is absolutely exquisite. The Hammam encompasses the age old traditions of Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Spain, and combines these traditional elements with a magnificent and innovative use of design and technology.

The Hammam is coed, which makes it the perfect for couples to relax together in a very romantic and sexy environment. Hammams also have a long cultural history of serving as a ritual cleansing experience and typical place for a social gathering. I can totally picture partaking in this Hammam with a larger group of friends, then jumping in the cold pool and going back into the Hammam, all the while having a great time.

Although the steam bath generator did have to turn on from time to time, instead of the typical sound of a generator turning on, the steam shower generator sounded like waves at the ocean! This was very reassuring and relaxing as I know that some steam showers sound like a jackhammer when they turn on and I was worried about that ruining my experience.

If you’re ever in Las Vegas and want to experience an excellent Hammam that is full of curves, with sexy lighting, cool mosaic-tiled booth benches and slabs, the Palms Place Hammam will provide you with exquisite, healthy entertainment!

Visit the Palms Place for more information at: www.PalmsPlace.com

Palms Place Hammam

Palms Place Hammam

Palms Place Hammam

Palms Place Hammam

Palms Place Hammam

Palms Place Hammam

All images courtesy of www.PalmsPlace.com

Help Haiti Earthquake Victims

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Even before the 7.0 earthquake hit on Tuesday Haiti was as much of a third world country as any place in the world. With only a handful of spas throughout the entire country, more of a concern is having clean drinking water then the luxuries that we are so lucky to enjoy.

In 2008 the country was hit extremely hard by a series of hurricanes, and even before these hurricanes the country was still an impoverished nation with massive illiteracy rates, lack of food, clean water, supplies, medical facilities and doctors.

Now that this poor nation has been struck with the worst earthquake in its history, it is up to us to do what we can to provide relief to the survivors in hope that they will not need to live amongst the dead and filth of the aftermath of this massive disaster. We must do what we can for this country in hope that the future of this impecunious land will be brighter then the past or the present.

Here is a list of organizations that are already in Haiti, working to help the victims of this massive disaster. Please donate what you can to help today:

Amazing Bathroom from “It’s Complicated” Movie

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Writer and director Nancy Meyers is well known for films that use amazing and beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces within her films, and her newest film “It’s Complicated” is no exception. In this romantic comedy the lead character, Jane – who is played by Meryl Streep – is renovating her Spanish-style ranch home in Santa Barbara. Throughout the film there are various scenes which take place in this bathroom . Jane makes us all jealous while she relaxes and lounges in her magnificent bathroom.

In the film the cozy bathroom serves as the room for many scenes including a controversial phone call, a love confession and even the room where Alec Baldwin’s character enjoys some ice cream. One thing that you will notice in this film’s bathroom is that it is very charming with its cast iron tub. Viewers of this film are raving about this bathroom, and especially the bathtub. The film seems to be reigniting the pleasure of soaking in a nice, large, cast iron claw foot bathtub. In addition the bathroom also has beautiful limestone floors and steel windows for an all around beautiful design. It looks like there is a Louis Ghost Chair (designed by Philippe Starck) that Alec Baldwin’s character is leaning against, which is being used to hold a variety of towels.

This bathroom is very spa-like and will no doubt inspire designers and homeowners alike to invest in a cast iron, claw foot bathtub for their next bathroom renovation. The limestone is also a perfect addition to any bathroom for those who are looking to bring more luxury to their bathing experience.

Here is a picture of the bathroom, please click the image for a larger version:

Its Complicated Bathroom

Its Complicated Bathroom

For more information about the movie please visit ItsComplicatedMovie.com

SpaFinder’s Top 10 Spa Trends in the Past Decade

Friday, January 8th, 2010

One of the spa industry’s authority, SpaFinder, has published their top ten list for the top trends we’ve seen in spas in the past ten years. For more information visit SpaFinder’s blog at: blog.spafinder.com

Top 10 Spa Trends of the Decade:

1. Indigenous Treatments
While one would see the use of local ingredients and local customs on occasion at spas decades ago, during the past decade this became an almost unspoken rule. Culturally-grounded ingredients, treatments and customs deliver that healthy native flavor, and they also represent the unearthing of special, often centuries-old experiences that could not be easily replicated. From a lomi lomi massage in Hawaii, to the Royal Javanese Lular wedding ritual from Indonesia, indigenous treatments gave spas a grounded ‘sense of place’ that has made each spa-going experience around the world truly unique.

2. Medicine and Spa
In the early 90’s there was very little overlap between medicine and spas. That has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. More doctors have ‘discovered’ that spa approaches contribute to health and wellness, specifically by targeting stress…(Perhaps even through their own experiences, say, by experiencing a massage after a round of golf at a medical conference). The forces driving this integration are diverse, but, basically, the spa and medical worlds began talking. Then, when Botox arrived in 2002, a new type of aesthetic/medical spa was born and the spa and medicine connection was solidified. Spas also got their act together, becoming more transparently health- oriented, and downplaying the ‘woo woo’ factor.

3. Organic
This was the headline story in spa products for the decade. The popularity of all things ‘green’ helped several obscure organic lines make it big, and nearly all spa product companies launched their own branded organic lines. The organic product trend also helped open the door for a more far-reaching eco-friendly, environmentally conscious zeitgeist throughout the spa arena – from spa building and design – to cuisine. And while it’s not yet garnering universal praise, at least it’s gotten things going in the right direction.

4. Men
While the decade saw a range of new demographics rush into the spa arena (from teens to pre-teens to babies and seniors), it was the steady stream of men making spa-going a regular part of their lives that’s had the most profound impact. While it took some doing to get men to try a spa for the first time, this ‘first time,’ typically, resulted in a second and third, etc. Men discovered there was more to this ‘spa thing’ than just idle pampering:  it was, in fact, the quickest way for them to reduce stress (something there was plenty of this decade), and it helped improve their sports performance. As spas with a traditionally female ‘pampering’ and ‘beauty’ emphasis were joined by those emphasizing male grooming, and the industry began to focus more on health and wellness, millions of men began to comfortably, eagerly hit the spa.

5. Wellness
The word ‘wellness’ was hardly used in the 90’s, not really appearing on the scene until after the millennium. A term that has its origins in Europe (combining the concepts of ‘fitness’ ‘and ‘well-being’), it gained momentum there as a positive alternative terminology…Because in Europe the word ‘spa’ had narrower connotations: either water treatments for sick older people, or, with the emergence of some newer spas like the swanky Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa in Baden Baden – an association with expense and luxury. Because the word ‘wellness’ was such an apt word to describe places that offered fitness, massage, alternative medicine and healthy nutrition – increasingly the core mission of spas- the terms, understandably, have become tightly interwoven.

6. Spa Comes Home

The influence of spas on the home has its humble beginnings at the start of the decade, with spa-inspired consumers, say, purchasing a candle to use in the bath, or maybe
a loofah sponge.  In the years since, it’s blossomed into a booming industry of spa products, design, furniture, home amenities (like spa bathrooms), even clothing and cuisine. The trend reached its most bold expression with the birth of ‘spa living real estate,’ where consumers could actually ‘live at the spa,’ purchasing residences with spectacular spa/wellness offerings in new luxury high-rises or special communities. We’ve not only seen spa-ing burst the confines of its traditional walls – but a new term, ‘spa lifestyle,’ has emerged to describe a whole healthier way of living, thinking and being.


7. Yin of Luxury, Yang of Discount

While the last few tough economic years have put more industry emphasis on the  ‘yang’ of discount, the wider ‘spa decade’ definitely spent quite a bit of time on the ‘yin’ of luxury. The reality is, that with more than 80,000 spas across the world now, there’s plenty of ‘yin’ and plenty of ‘yang’ to go around. In almost every country across the globe consumers can find bargain-priced spas/treatments right alongside sky-high-priced options (with their bejeweled massage oils and exotic, over-the-top settings). As spa-going has become totally mainstream, there’s a spa now to suit every taste and budget.

8. Online Spa
At the turn of the millennium, there were many spas that didn’t even have websites.   Today, almost every spa – and even therapists and practitioners – have their own URL. But that’s just the beginning of the spa.com revolution: today consumers can search spas, book spa appointments in real-time, buy spa products, review spas and fully engage in new forms of spa-related social networking – all online. And with the Internet so well matched for wellness coaching, and new technology enabling medical diagnosis and virtual health records, unprecedented aspects of the spa/wellness experience are becoming available through the Internet. Only the therapists’ hands haven’t been brought online – yet.

9. Social Spa-ing
Spas traditionally put their emphasis on the pillars of exercise, nutrition and body and beauty treatments – while the social aspects of spa-going (which existed all along) haven’t garnered much attention…until recently. Now we know that social spa-ing (just like spa programs for sleep or brain health) is a recognized contributor to health and natural de-stressing. From the isolation of the massage therapy room and the whisper-only relaxation lounges, has come the recognition that spas are not only natural community hubs, but that mingling and socializing are an important part of getting healthy too.

10. Gift Certificates, Vouchers, Cards
Lastly, a development that evolved so gradually it never made any of SpaFinder’s annual trends lists. And yet it probably has had more to do with the explosion of spas and spa-goers around the world than any other trend – or even all of them combined.

The trend: the emergence and popularity of the spa gift certificate, card and voucher that has introduced so many new people to the spa experience. (In fact, research shows that approximately one-third of all spa visits are generated by the redemption of certificates and vouchers.) Spa gifting has been galvanized by their near-universal availability at almost every individual spa and via third-party programs – and they’ve not only given people permission to pamper themselves, they’ve ushered in a new era where gifting ‘spa’ represents an expression of true thoughtfulness and care.

To put it in perspective: while SpaFinder is now the largest retailer of spa gift certificates, cards and vouchers in the world, the company didn’t make its first certificate sale until 1999. Today, over 5,000 spas worldwide are part of the company’s gift programs, and the cards/vouchers are available at virtually every major drug and grocery chain.

…It’s been quite a decade.

LEARN MORE: To learn more, or to speak to SpaFinder president Susie Ellis, contact: Betsy Isroelit, (213) 300-0108 or betsy@spafinder.com

About SpaFinder, Inc.:
The world’s largest spa media, marketing, and gifting company, SpaFinder, Inc., connects millions of wellness-focused consumers with thousands of spas worldwide. SpaFinder’s media properties include the award-winning Spafinder.com, the Spa Enthusiast newsletter, and the annual Global Spa and Wellness Directory. SpaFinder and its new gift division, Salon Wish, offer spa gift certificates and cards that are redeemable at a combined network of over 9,000 spas and salons worldwide and are available at thousands of retail outlets. The company’s technology division innovates new solutions that help spas build and streamline their businesses, including the popular SpaBooker online booking system. SpaFinder Europe and SpaFinder Japan offer regional spa marketing and gifting programs, including localized, native-language websites. Founded in 1986, the privately held company is headquartered in Manhattan.

Steam Shower, Sauna or Hot Tub?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Steam showers, hot tubs and saunas can provide excellent ways to relax without leaving the comfort of your own home. Using a steam shower, hot tub or sauna on a regular basis can even help improve your health and feel better, improving your overall wellness. But what is the best for you?

If you are looking for weight-loss effects then you should consider a steam shower or sauna. If you regularly use your steam shower or sauna for 20 minutes a day you will get the same metabolic effect as if you had gone on a short walk. While it is thought that you will also burn calories in a hot tub due to the increase in body temperature, you will not sweat as much as you would if you were in a steam shower or sauna. Keep in mind that you will be much better off if you exercise AND take a steam shower or sauna. Learn more from our Steam Shower Diet post: Steam Shower Diet.

Sweating will also help to cleanse the skin of impurities. While a hot tub might have the same effects, your face, the most important place where you would want to lose impurities, will not sweat as much as if you were in a steam shower or sauna.

If you have sleeping problems all three will help you, but the American Sleep Association recommends soaking in a hot tub for 15-20 minutes at least 2 hours before bed at 102-104 degrees.  As your body cools, you’ll be ready for a deep relaxing sleep.

The steam from a steam shower will surely help you if you have respiratory problems such as asthma, chest congestion or bronchitis, where the sauna and hot tub will not be as helpful because of the lack of steam.

If you are one that works out often, or is sore a lot, then a hot tub is recommended to soothe aching muscles, although a steam shower will also help your body aches and pains and shorten your recovery time as well.

If you have plenty of indoor space, and don’t want to do an entire build or large remodel of your bathroom you can install a steam shower without having to build a whole new bathroom. If you were to build a sauna you would have much more work to create the enclosure.

If you prefer to use outdoor space, then a hot tub is the easiest to install, as there is little to no building required. If you want an outdoor, modular sauna or steam shower you will have to build or purchase an enclosure, plus the steam generator or sauna heater.

This is a large purchase no matter how you look at it. In order to choose the best thing for your home spa, you really need to closely examine your lifestyle, as well as the benefits you would receive from each. If you have a favorite spa activity, make sure to think about what you would really use the most, like if the seasons will limit your use or if you would use the home spa addition to entertain.


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