Archive for 2014

The Perfect Spa Vacations

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Vacation. Who doesn’t love vacation? A time to relax, a time to unwind, a time to…oh, we’re going to this museum and then dinner and then a club, all before tomorrow when we’re hitting the beach and then shopping and then lunch and then another museum and WHY IS THIS VACATION SO EXHAUSTING?

What if you could do vacation without doing yourself in? A vacation where you don’t come back feeling like you need, you know, another vacation. Not saying we’re psychic or anything like that (we totally are), but we see…a spa vacation in your near future. Imagine getting away and actually getting away – away from the clutter, away from the chaos and noise of every day life – without losing a beat of an amazing travel adventure. Incredible views, great food, luxury accommodations…and no exhaustion.

So where to start. No, literally, “where,” to start. With a spa vacation, your destinations are practically limitless. Which means that whether you’re a sun goddess, a ski bunny, a world traveler, a nature fiend, or anything in between, if you can get there, you can “spa” there. Jonesing for the Caribbean? The Body Holiday in St. Lucia (www.thebodyholiday.com) is the place to be. The stunning Grecian-inspired resort specializes in physical health and harmony, offering myriad activities from yoga to Pilates to water-skiing to golf, all culminating in the property’s five-star Wellness Center, an exclusive relaxation mecca designed to restore and rejuvenate through treatments, exercise, and diet.

In the market for a quicker escape? Skip the whirlwind double-decker bus tour and say “Hello” to a metropolitan pick-me-up! San Francisco’s Cavello Point (www.cavallopoint.com) is the perfect non-passport destination for a spa vacation. Touting views of the city’s most classic icon – the Golden Gate Bridge – from almost every room, Cavello Point has something (relaxing!) for everyone. With modern and rustic lodging options, and an incredible spa offering services far beyond massages and body treatments (they specialize in Integrative Medicine treatments and Healing Arts services, including acupuncture, energy work, and hypnotherapy), Cavello Point is the getaway that isn’t far away. And with two on-site restaurants (and a wine director!), you can enjoy the best of a big city…without the big city exertion.

And if you just can’t decide where to go, plan your spa vacation around exactly what relaxified (that’s a word, right?) experience you want. Thailand’s Chiva-Som Resort (www.chivasom.com) is renowned for it’s skin treatments, while Stowe Mountain Lodge (www.stowemountainlodge.com), nestled in the Vermont mountains, is a locavore’s dream – the prime spot for a spa-seeking foodie.

A spa vacation truly is the best of all worlds…in every corner of the world. It’s the perks of travel (a new location!) without the demands of being a tourist (why is this bus/boat/train/subway so crowded!). It’s the opportunity to discover new kinds of relaxation and connect with a destination in a unique, organic way. So pack your yoga mat (sorry high heels…you’re staying at home), and take a vacation…from your normal vacation.

Pet Friendly Spas

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

As you can tell from our previous post, spas have gone to the dogs. Literally. We’re talking gourmet pet menus, custom canine walking trails, and puppy massages.

Enter the latest trend in the world of relaxation – pet-friendly spas. And why the woof not! If a dog is a man’s best friend, doesn’t it make sense that you’d want to share all the comforts and Zen of a spa experience with your BFF? We definitely think so. And we’re not alone.

Spas and hotels around the country are quickly becoming havens for both two- and four-footed creatures. And we’re not just talking about resorts that allow pets to stay in their owners’ rooms. These spots have our tails positively wagging with pet perks. Vermont’s Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa is the perfect place for the active pup (and their human). Located on 60 acres of beautiful terrain, doggies go nuts for the Stowe Rec Path, a five mile trail through the property’s woods and farmland, complete with stops at swimming holes so Rover can cool off. The hotel’s rooms and townhouses are pleased to welcome canine guests, giving the furrier amongst us a spot to relax while you take in the spa and four-star dining at Stoweflake.

But if you’re looking to pause your paws and enjoy some pampering in the great indoors, La Quinta Resort & Club just outside of Palm Springs, California is the place to go. On the menu: an hour-long relaxation massage for your dog…or the opportunity to enjoy a “Pupples Massage,” where you can receive treatment at the same time as your pet, from your guest room! La Quinta’s mission isn’t just about on-the-spot relaxation; they take interested owners through the steps of the canine massage, showing you how to implement techniques they practice at the resort.

 

Back on the east coast, at the Inn by the Sea in Crescent Beach, Maine, it’s a toss up as to whether their furry guests get even better treatment their tail-less clients. The stunning property is like a coastal vision from a storybook. And with their “INNcredible Pets” package, the picture perfect scene gets even better. You get two nights in one of their gorgeous suites; Fido gets an Inn by the Sea dog bowl, a personalized LL Bean puppy bed, a 30-minute in-room doggie massage, selections from their gourmet pet menu, and nightly pet turndown service (featuring, of course, a locally made seasonal dog treat). Cue lots of slobbering.

And, if you happen to be more of a cat person (we did NOT say Cat Lady. Those were your words.), never fear…the pet-friendly spa world loves you too! Like The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, whose spacious rooms open their arms to dogs and cats alike, even offer massage services for both pups and kitties. (And if your little Garfield will stay on a leash, you can even walk your cat around the lobby!).

So next time you’re wondering, “To board, or not to board?”, pack up the water dishes and BYOP (that’s, Bring Your Own Pet) along to the spa. We know they’ll love it as much as you do. (Disclaimer: we cannot be held responsible for excessive amounts of purring or puppy kisses due to exposure to relaxing pet spa experiences.)

Spa Parties

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

If orange is the new black, then “girls’ night in” is most definitely the new “girls’ night out.” (Cue: tremendous sighs of relief from ladykind everywhere.) The Sex and the City days of high-cut dresses and higher heels have given way to a fantastic tradition known as the spa party, in which living rooms and master baths transform into havens of terrycloth and cucumber water, and friends leave bowled over instead of hungover. Ready to create a sparadise of your own? Here’s our guide to hosting your own day of Zen!

First step: plan your menu*. (*Which in spa-party-terms refers to both your menu of activities and your menu of eats!) Ever go to a spa and read over the list of services, only to say “Meh”? Or “If only I could get a facial with a mani instead of a massage and a scrub”? Good news: when you’re the spa, you’re in control! Decide on three to four “spa stations” to offer to your guests, which could range from a pedicure area to an aromatherapy setup to a relaxation station (think a quiet corner of a guest bedroom outfitted with vanilla candles and a stack of People magazines). And if you find yourself stuck -or overwhelmed – on what to offer, try to create “stops” that cater to different parts of the body and mind. So instead of a mani station and a pedi station and a foot scrub area (read: your extremities will be well-cared-for much to the chagrin of the rest of you), mix it up, and make one station for nails, one for hair care, and one for skin.

Activities: check! Next up: shopping! The best part about throwing a spa party is that you can give your guests an amazing experience without breaking the bank. First, make sure you have the basics: tea lights, flowers, lotions, and towels…even disposable flip-flops if you’re fancy. Pick up anything specific you need for your stations, like nail polish, aromatic oils, or face scrubs. Remember – “pampered” doesn’t have to mean “elaborate.” And in fact, with a spa party, sometimes, less is more! Pay attention to the little touches (relaxing lighting, calming music, comfy pillows for lounging) and don’t worry about going overboard. Your friends will still be blown away.

Alright, activities, done, supplies, done…ahem, we think it’s time to talk food. Light, delicious, refreshing food, aka, the perfect menu for your spa party. Like fresh fruits and veggies (grapes, watermelon, cherry tomatoes, zucchini spears…think bite-sized and portable), tiny tea sandwiches, grain salads (like quinoa!) made with fresh herbs (like basil!) and a light dressing (like a red wine vinaigrette!), and baked goods infused with healthy twists, like whole-wheat flour, oats, and honey. Keep the snacks on the lighter side nutritionally, aromatically (as in, that delicious, but ever-so-stinky gorgonzola will wreak havoc on your lavender essential oil station), and volumetrically. And no, we don’t mean quantity; we literally mean “volume.” As in, foods whose crunch factor is less than that of a baby carrot, because nothing says “ruined spa party” like a soundtrack of celery sticks.

And no spa spread is complete without hydration! Flavor-infused water is a must-have. Cucumber is a classic (and don’t forget to buy an extra one for the ever-essential slices you will be putting out for your guests to use on their eyes) but there will be nary a complaint if you mix things up, like rosemary-and-peach. Herbal iced tea also makes a lovely addition to your beverage menu, and we certainly won’t tell if you put out a carafe of rosé or a bottle of bubbly (as long as promise to invite us over).

With your menus locked and your supplies in hand, all that’s left is setting the stage! Pick a room with plenty of space to lounge in (and if this means nicely kicking the hubby/kids/dog/neighbor’s cat out for the afternoon, so be it!), plug in your iPod (and keep it simple – let Pandora/Spotify act as your DJ), and set up your spa stations, remembering the little accessories like a box of tissues by your mani station in case of smudges and a bowl of clean water by the facial scrub stop. And when the doorbell rings, there’s just one thing left to do: relax!

Pamper Your Pet At A Pet Spa!

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Just outside Seattle lies quiet Woodinville, Washington, a small town known for its local wineries and extraordinary landscapes. It’s also home to an exclusive relaxation resort, where patrons can indulge in massages, water therapy, and luxurious skin treatments. There’s just one catch: you have to have a tail.

Welcome to the wonderful, four-legged world of pet spas, where the furriest among us can get pampered to their hearts’ content! If the notion seems a little im-PAW-ssible to grasp, consider this. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 36.5% of households own dogs – that’s over 69 million canine pals in the United States alone! With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that we’ve found ways to go above and beyond for our wet-nosed loved ones.

So what is a pet spa? At Woodinville’s Paradise Pet Lodge, doggies and kitties (with the help of their owners, of course) can take advantage of numerous health and wellness programs, including relaxation massages designed to alleviate muscle pain and help with anxiety, swimming sessions in a warm saltwater pool, and signature grooming packages. If this all sounds slightly familiar (ahem, like the spa menu at any human resort), you’re right! Turns out what works for people, works for pups!

And much like a People Spa, Dog and Cat Spas also serve the rehabilitative needs of their clients. A therapeutic swim is a fantastic way to help dogs regain movement after surgery, as well as aid those who face chronic pain, arthritis, or any number of physical difficulties. At Cat’s Meow outside San Francisco, kitties can indulge in “Feline Devine,” a soothing experience that includes a signature bath, a heated towel wrap treatment (complete with cat-centric aromatherapy), and a sugar scrub, all designed to calm the nerves of anxious furballs.

Okay, so maybe there’s not a candlelit magazine room and a stack of terrycloth robes (although a carafe of cucumber water isn’t that far of a stretch…). But when it comes to caring for our perky-eared companions who need a little TLC (or are just going through a “ruff” time), pet spas are an amazing resource for man’s best friend. Now if only Rover could master downward-facing dog…

What is a Wetroom?

Friday, January 17th, 2014

(Image from http://www.houzz.com/photos/72148/Carpenter-Gothic-Shower-transitional-bathroom-boston)

The home bathroom has been undergoing some extensive makeovers in recent years. As space becomes more important, bathrooms are transforming into multitasking rooms that go beyond their utilitarian purpose. A popular new take on this trend is getting rid of the bathroom altogether in favor of a wetroom.

While a traditional bathroom has a built-in, enclosed shower cubicle, the wetroom essentially serves as the enclosure. These waterproof rooms feature a drain in the middle of the floor, which has a subtle gradient so the water doesn’t spill out. Typically made of ceramic tile, these open spaces have no walls, doors or shower curbs to get in the way.

The benefits of the wetroom are varied. Wetrooms can eliminate moisture damage and prolong the life of tile grout. They are compatible with underfloor heating systems and can be easier to clean. And they are better for those with restricted mobility since there’s no shower curb to step over. However, if you’re concerned about getting water everywhere, a glass panel can be installed to contain the shower area while still keeping the room transparent and open.

Due to its space-saving practicality, the wetroom has taken off in Europe and is increasing in popularity stateside. Because a wetroom is smaller than a bathroom, it can also make for a more affordable remodel – particularly for those who prefer showering to bathing. However, removing a bathtub from your bathroom can affect resale value, and bathroom furniture and placement must be considered so towels don’t get wet.

From a design perspective, the barrier-free nature of wetrooms allows for more creative freedom in color, layout and style. A variety of looks can be achieved, from cool and modern to warm and natural – whatever is desired.

Would you install a wetroom in your home? Let us know!


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