Help Haiti Earthquake Victims

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

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

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?

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.

What is Balneotherapy?

December 29th, 2009

Healthy WaterThe term balneotherapy refers to any spa treatment that you might get that is associated with water, assuming there is a medical benefit to the treatment. This means that the term “balneotherapy” is generally applied to everything that we usually experience during our spa treatments, since the majority of spa treatments do have mental and physical health benefits.

Everything you do while your at the spa, that has a medical benefit and involves water, from drinking water at the spa, to soaking or taking a steam bath all fall under the umbrella of balneotherapy. It even encompasses various kinds of mud and sand facials that are used in spa treatments. The only time you wouldn’t lump a spa treatment into this category is if the treatment is for entertainment value only or if it does not involve some type of water or liquid. This means that nearly all spa treatments are also known as balneotherapy.

Balneotherapy can be used to treat a variety of illnesses and ailments. The most serious illnesses that use balneotherapy to relieve symptoms include cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, insomnia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, spinal cord injury, spasticity, stroke, acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, lichen planus and scleroderma. Other benefits from balneotherapy treatments include the reduction of pain, acceleration of collateral blood circulation, elevation of cellular fluids, relaxation of muscles as well as numerous healing benefits from the absorption of minerals and botanical substances.

Many spas in resort towns base their treatments on their local thermal or mineral water which they use for their treatments as they offer an additional health benefit due to their mineral rich makeups. The belief in the holistic and medical powers of mineral water goes back to prehistoric times and are popular world-wide, but are especially popular in Europe and Japan.

Some typical minerals that can be absorbed through spa treatments include: silica, sulfur, selenium, radium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, lithium, potassium, manganese, bromine, and iodine. Some typical herbs that are used in balneotherapy include rose buds, lavender, peppermint, strawberry leafs, Clary, tea leafs, rosemary, raspberry leaf, orange petals, orange peels, lemon grass, chamomile, rosemary, sage, rose hips and more.

Balneotherapy isn’t just an age old theory and therapy, but one that focuses on alternative medicine, health and wellness benefits. So next time you go to the spa, take comfort in the fact that while it might be extremely enjoyable, it is also good for you and part of a larger category of therapy known as balneotherapy.

Enjoy a Spa on your Winter Vacation

December 28th, 2009

Now is the time of the year that people are taking, or planning their winter vacations. We thought that we would remind you that a great way to ensure that you get some rest and relaxation is by visiting a spa while you are on your travels. We all know that vacations (especially family vacations) can often be less relaxing than we would prefer, no matter where the location. But if you take some time out of your day to hit the hotel spa or a nearby day spa you will at the very least reduce your stress so you will not need a vacation from your vacation.

Alps Thermal Spa

Alps Thermal Spa

For those of you that are visiting the Alps during your vacation you’ll no doubt take part in skiing, snowshoeing and wine tasting activities. When your muscles get sore, or even just to break up all the winter activities make sure to visit the spas and the natural hot springs in your area. With the right balance of spa time you can have an active vacation that is also extremely relaxing and memorable for all the right reasons.

In any United States city you can pair your daily activities and sightseeing with amazing spa treatments (for when your feet get sore).  As one of the locations of SpaWeek, New York City is one of the best cities to enjoy a spa day.  When you’re in the Big Apple you have got to go to one of the amazing luxury spas in Manhattan if your wallet can handle it. If you’re in Los Angeles there are plenty of places that you can enjoy when you have some down time for a lot or even a little money (Chinese foot massages are amazing and very affordable in LA). If you are vacationing outside of a city take a look at the local spas, you might just find a beautiful, rustic spa that will become your favorite part of the vacation. For more posts about spas in California or Arizona click the links: California Spas & Arizona Spas.

If you are visiting a country in the Eastern part of the world, you will be vacationing in a land that may have invented the ancient holistic and spiritual healing treatments offered at the spas. Asian spa treatments are designed to restore inner calm, improve memory, balance emotions, refresh the body, enhance skin complexion and more. Some of the treatments you can expect to see at these types of spas include traditional Chinese medicine, gem therapy, crystal therapy, aromatherapy, chromatherapy, sound therapy and other Asian spa treatments.

For those of you that visit the Tropics during your winter vacation, if you take some time away from the beaches and the scuba diving to try a spa you may be pleasantly surprised. Often spas in tropical locations are right on the beach at the water’s edge and offer everything from body scrubs and wraps to manicures, pedicures and facials, allowing you to enjoy being pampered in a beautiful, calm environment.

Many of us just can’t get away this year for a winter vacation. If you are part of this “vacationless” club that might be taking a staycation this year instead of a real vacation, don’t fret, for you too can take a spa day for yourself! Many people are staying home this year, and this means that you may find your favorite spa busier than usual so be prepared and book ahead. Also, this year we are seeing more people taking their vacation money and putting it into remodeling their master bathrooms to transform them into their own, personal home spa. This is a great alternative to a vacation, because with your own home spa you will be able to escape to your own personal retreat any time you’d like while increasing the value of your home.

Whether you are planning an elaborate vacation in the French Alps, or if you are planning on taking a day off from work for a spa day, we hope you find everything you’re looking for and enjoy the rest and relaxation you deserve.

Wrapper’s Delight – Latest Trends in Body Wraps

December 23rd, 2009

While most people spend the holiday season wrapping gifts, wrapping up to-do lists, and wrapping newly minted Snuggies around their shoulders to stave off the winter chill, we’d like to turn your attention to a wrap of a different sort: the body wrap. So what’s new about this ever-popular (and tightly wound) spa menu staple? Here’s your very own “wrap sheet” on body wrapping’s latest trends:

Cuckoo for Cocoa Wraps, Attention chocoholics. Looking for a spa treatment that will leave your mouth watering and your skin aglow? Look no further than the chocolate body wrap, a service popping up on spa menus faster than you can say “Willy Wonka.” While you’re (sadly) not head-to-to in cocoa (the wrap is usually a sea clay infused with the essence of chocolate), the benefits are still delicious. Chocolate naturally softens the skin, detoxifies pores, and don’t even get me started on the aromatic value. Check out the Deluxe Chocolate Body Wrap at the Carnegie Hotel in Tennessee (carnegiehotel.com).

And While We’re on the Subject… While chocolate is by far the flavor of the hour, the fusion of food and body wraps is taking a close 2nd on the spa-dometer. So if cocoa isn’t your thing, keep your eyes peeled for wine-infused wraps, mojito-inspired treatments, and even a turmeric & yogurt wrap. (And yes, that’s a spa treatment, not lunch.) The medicinal powers of these fruit- and herb-based treatments benefit the skin and body in fantastic ways, so look for the one best suited for you.

Make Mine a Combo Body wraps are quickly becoming the “plus-one” item to add into your spa package. While everyone’s done the traditional facial/massage combo, body wraps are now taking their turn in the spa combo spotlight. Next time you have a spa day, opt for a massage immediately following your body wrap; it’s the perfect moisturizing and energizing complement to the detoxifying and cleansing power of the wrap.

Customary, Customized. In my book, simple is always trendy. And what better way to detoxify your skin than being layered in richly infused oils? Herbal body wraps are an always-relaxing and decadently aromatic treatment that provides equal pleasure from nose-to-toes (while also helping to improve the appearance of stretch marks, and toning the skin). The trendy side to this classic treatment? Customizing your wrap with your favorite infused oils and scents – just ask at your spa before you go in!

Think East: The Asian Spa Revolution

December 22nd, 2009
Gold Sauna Room

Gold Sauna Room

It was just over a year ago when I first went to Spa Castle, an Asian spa emporium in New York (nyspacastle.com). I’d heard about it for weeks from an enthusiastic friend who promised to take me on my first outing. You’d think she was making a commission the way she described it. So in my typical jaded fashion, I walked in, awaiting disappointment, mediocrity, and perhaps a whirlpool bath or two, when I saw the grandeur in front of me and never looked back. I was hooked.

Let the Asian spa revolution begin.

Cucumber Facial

Cucumber Facial

A surprising combination of typical Asian saunas and luxurious European spas, Spa Castle, and others like it (including Spa Castle’s branches in Dallas and the Poconos, and similar Los Angeles incarnations like Olympic Spa (olympicspala.com) offer a wonderful fusion of east and west, for a spa experience like you’ve never had before. And I don’t say that lightly. That’s because the Asian spa isn’t for everybody. Modesty must be checked at the door (along with your shoes and clothes, which are tucked away separately in neat locking compartments). Most spas issue robes or comfortable outfits to wear as you drift between saunas, pools, quiet meditation rooms, invigorating treatments, and the requisite restaurant (filled with Korean delicacies, and, of course, tea). Some, like Spa Castle, are co-ed, while L.A.’s Olympic Spa only allows women. But both offer relaxation like you could not imagine.

LED Sauna

LED Sauna

Saunas abound – that should be Spa Castle’s motto. With seven sauna rooms (ranging from the L.E.D. room that incorporates color therapy as a means of improving your mood, to the Iceland cold sauna room which improves blood circulation after being immersed in heat), there’s literally something for everyone. And at Olympic Spa, their carefully designed treatment areas leave you renewed, refreshed, and cleansed. From their Charcoal Therapy Room (where naturally formed stone emits oxygen, detoxifying the skin) to the warm mineral pool and oriental clay dry sauna, can you imagine a more rejuvenating and unique experience? And all for a flat day rate. That’s right – admission to the spas include access to all rooms, for nearly as long as you’d like. For anything extra (like massages, reflexology, shiatsu, and skin scrubs), you simply pay-per-treatment.

Different? Absolutely. Amazing? Without question. A day at an Asian spa is a wonderful and relaxing experience, and a fascinating look into spa fusion of the future.

Jade Stone Massage Therapy at Le Petite Retreat

December 22nd, 2009
Jade Massage

Jade Massage

Much like a hot stone massage, Jade Stone Massage Therapy is a similar treatment which uses hot and cold Jade stones to loosen up your muscles. One of our favorite day spas that offer this service is the Le Petite Retreat day spa in Los Angeles which offers this massage as their signature treatment. Their hands-on Swedish-Deep combo massage incorporates hot & cool stones that are massaged into your body.  The heat helps to relax your muscle tissue & the coolness helps reduce inflammation & flushes out toxins through your lymphatic system. They also integrate Shiatsu & Thai massage strokes for therapeutic results which tend to make this massage last longer than other massages. This is a great treatment for individuals and couples, and is the only massage of its kind in LA. The cost of this massage is $150 for one hour at Le Petite Retreat.

Top Three Aromatherapy Essential Oils

December 21st, 2009

Many people look to aromatherapy as a natural healing method for the mind and body. We feel this practice can have powerful results in the wellness and health aspects of your life, and try to encourage people to use these products as part of their natural relaxation or meditation process. Here are some reviews of our favorite essential oils which can all be found at the ThermaSol Aromatherapy Store online at www.ThermaSol.com

By combining the Lavender scent from the French Lavender Essential Oil with your shower or steam shower you will experience a calming and relaxing feeling like none-other. This aromatherapy scent is made with true lavender, and is not made from synthetic materials. This will allow you to feel the true soothing effects that civilizations across the world have achieved for hundreds of years from this aromatherapy oil. Other benefits from this essential oil include skin beautification, the ability to aid in the healing of burns, headache relief, depression relief, nervousness and anxiety relief and helping to achieve deep, restful sleep.

French Rosemary Essential Oil has a fresh, herbaceous fragrance and naturally disinfects respiratory and sinus passages and improves sluggish circulation.  This scent’s origins also date back hundreds of years, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet even references “Rosemary for remembrance”. This reference to Rosemary refers to i’s ability to increase blood circulation to the brain when inhaled.  Rosemary Essential Oils also increase blood flow to the skin when applied topically.  Rosemary is wonderfully fragrant oil that can be massaged into the skin for muscle pain, soreness or stiffness.  It is also used to treat varicose veins that may feel “heavy.”  It also helps to relieve headaches, improve memory and concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain. It also acts as an astringent and will help regulate oily hair follicles which makes it perfect for mixing with your shampoo. For thinning hair, dry scalp or oily hair, you should add 2 drops of Rosemary Oil to your shampoo applications daily for a wonderful feeling.

Many of get a cold or flu this time of year and one of the best ways to aleivate the symptoms from the common cold are through the use of Eucalyptus Essential Oils. Eucalyptus is well known for its use in Vicks VapoRub, and has long been used in treating coughs or respiratory congestion.  Because of this product’s rich content of 1.8 cineol, it offers a solution for clear, cool and healthy breathing.  Eucalyptus is also a wonderful air purifier and can be diffused to kill germs in infectious or polluted environments.


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