Last December, I took a trip out to Vegas to visit some friends right around the time the holiday season was in full swing. While I am not necessarily a huge fan of the single-digit temperatures we were experiencing in New York City, something feels unsettling about being in the blazing sun or laying out by the pool while Christmas carols are playing in the background. To try to replicate at least some semblance of holiday fun, two CityCenter spas are offering Vegas visitors a taste of the holidays while they are relaxing. At Vdara Health & Beauty guests can choose the Candy Cane Scalp Treatment (a $35 add on to any salon treatment), which refreshes and stimulates the scalp with peppermint, or the Candy Cane Mani-Pedi ($110, 90 minutes), in which clients top off their services with a holiday hue from SpaRitual’s Holiday Glow Collection. Over at The Spa at Aria, guests can indulge in an Herbal Peppermint Pedicure ($130, 50 minutes, which combines a warm peppermint tea bath with a lemongrass and lavender pumice scrub and peppermint-infused mask. After choosing one of these holiday treatments, Sin City spa-goers will be feeling minty fresh.
As a self-proclaimed clumsy girl, I have come to rely on the healing power of arnica, which I discovered a few years ago while researching a story. It has long been used to help alleviate swelling and heal bruises quicker, and I can personally attest to its effectiveness. But I had no idea, until I read a recent article in The New York Times, that it is also being used among within the fashion crowd for other reasons. According to the article, models and other designers are ingesting the herbal supplement in order to stay slim and have clear skin. But not everyone thinks this is a good idea. According to one doctor who was interviewed for the article, taken orally, arnica can cause irritation and toxicity for the gastrointestinal system and the kidneys. To read the full article, click here.
What are your thoughts on this debate?
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ole Henriksen, owner of OLEHENRIKSEN Face/Body Spa in L.A. and the creator of his eponymous skincare line. Upon meeting Ole for the first time, there are two things that are evident immediately: 1. He loves what he does for a living. 2. He has amazing skin. We chatted for almost an hour about everything spa (his line is now being sold on QVC), and Ole’s enthusiasm for this industry (and for life in general) is contagious. He also dropped off some products for me to try out. So, while watching the Emmys last night, I applied the Feel the Difference Perfecting Mask, which contains African red tea to firm and hydrate the skin. After 10 minutes, I removed the mask, and I must say, my face definitely felt more hydrated than normal. I plan on adding this mask to my weekly skincare regimen. To learn more about the benefits of tea in skincare products, check out November’s In the Mix column.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston has partnered with the Ellie Fund, a non-profit organization that provides free support services to more than 500 breast cancer patients and their families across Massachusetts each year. When clients book a 60-minute Oriental Essence massage Mondays through Thursdays throughout October, $35 of the $175 will be donated to the Ellie Fund, which will go toward services such as transportation to medical appointments, childcare, housekeeping, groceries, and delivered meals.
To find out what other spas are doing to support Breast Cancer Awareness month, check out our special section in the October issue of American Spa. What is your spa doing?
The clearest memory I have of my visit to Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico, with overwhelming amount of attention to detail and commitment to satisfying my every whim that the staff possessed from the second of my arrival. In fact, since 2005, Las Ventanas has “Airport Hosts” who greet guests at San Jose Cabo International Airport where they help them through check-in and escort them to the security area. I thought that was pretty amazing, but now the resort has taken it a step further. Airport Hosts have now been certified with the airport, allowing them to also escort guests though security and into a private VIP lounge, where, for $20, they can enjoy a wifi, light dining, and beverages in a comfortable environment. Talk about full service luxury.
Last week while perusing Facebook, I came across one of my good friend’s status, which read, “Looking forward to seeing all my friends during my upcoming visit to NYC!” I had no idea she was going to be in town! When I called her later that night to scold her, she said she was having a busy week and didn’t have time to call all of her friends individually, so it was easier to post on Facebook. This lack of interaction is the premise behind the new Wine Country Slumber Party–Unplugged being offered at Harvest Inn in St. Helena, CA. Created to get the girls together for a gadget-free retreat, the weekend begins at check-in, when friends surrender their gadgets and digital devices, which are then stored in a safety box. Next, guests enjoy real face-to-face catch-up time during a private one-hour reception featuring local wines and cheeses. More quality time is spent during a private five-hour wine country tour and tastings, as well as a private picnic lunch at a vineyard. Day two includes a 60-minute massage either in the resort’s therapy room or in an outdoor cabana. And finally, what girls’ getaway would be complete without some shopping at the boutiques on Main Street. Starting at $1,999 for two nights, the package also includes daily breakfast, a bottle of sparkling wine, on-site parking, and access to the fitness center. For more information, click here.
One of my favorite memories about my last trip to Hawaii was getting an authentic lomi lomi massage while listening to the sounds of the ocean. The Kahala Spa in Honolulu actually takes relaxation even farther with the introduction of its Island Offerings: Inspiration for the Senses package. The three-hour program begins with a 30-minute consultation with a therapist, along with a mixology lesson to help them create a customized concoction of farm-fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to be used throughout their treatment. A sea Salt, macadamia nut, or sugar scrub is performed, followed by a yogurt-based body wrap and scalp treatment. Clients then relax in a scented bath before receiving a 90-minute lomi lomi massage. They are also given a refreshing smoothie with fresh Hawaiian fruit to enjoy. After this program, vacationers will feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to enjoy all the island has to offer.
Beginning today at 6PM EST, you will have the opportunity to help select the next offical Obagi Ambassadors–people who are the most devoted fans of Obagi skincare products. A panel of judges narrowed down the entrants, who submitted photos, videos, and brief essays showing their loyalty to the company, to a dozen finalists ranging in age from 19–62. After two weeks of online voting by the public, the top five people selected will be declared Obagi Ambassadors, which comes with $2,000 worth of Obagi products (and $1,000 for the charity of their choice. Winners will be announced on September 23, 2011, and their stories will be featured on obagi.com. To cast your vote, visit www.obagi.com/ambassadorsearch.
Like a lot of women (and some men) I know, I find myself getting lazy about my workout routine as the summer winds down. After all, it’s way easier to hide a few extra pounds with a comfy sweater than it is with a bikini. Because I made a personal vow to myself not to get sucked into that pattern this year, I was particularly interested in an email I received in which health expert Sheila Cluff, the founder of The Oaks at Ojai, shares five fun and easy fitness tips to help maintain that summer shape into the fall:
• Biceps: For an effective bicep workout, hold a soup can in each hand and bring your upper arms close to the body. Bend elbows and slowly bring your hands up to your shoulders. Release and bring your hands down to your thighs, keeping your arm muscles contracted throughout the routine.
• Abs: Laughter is an amazing ab workout that exercises your diaphragm, abdominal and respiratory muscles all at the same time. It is estimated that hearty laughter can burn calories equivalent to several minutes on the rowing machine or exercise bike.
• Glutes: When shopping, working or anywhere you find stairs, take them to burn a few calories and give your fitness level an extra boost. It’s a free and easy way to get a great backside.
• Back, Shoulders & Chest: Take a 5-minute break during the day to stretch and help build strength in your upper body. While sitting in your desk chair, touch your ear to your shoulder and hold it there. For a chest opener, stretch your arms back as if you were trying to grab a pencil between your shoulder blades. Keeping muscles loose will ease tension and keep you energized throughout the workday.
• Brain: While not technically a muscle, it is important to exercise your thoughts on fitness in the same way you exercise the rest of your body. Be realistic and ready for the fall season by understanding food labels, strategically making time for exercise, and combating the urge to be lazy during the colder months.
For more tips, be sure to check out our special “Exercise in Fitness” section in our upcoming September issue of American Spa.
Today is National Pampering Day (who knew?), and, in light of this “holiday,” Howard Murad, M.D., author of The Water Secret: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger (Wiley, 2010), offers these tips to help you (and your clients) celebrate:
• Consider facials a necessity. Facials not only revitalize the skin but they also relax the mind. A facial that feeds the skin with alpha-hydroxy acids, antioxidants, and peptides, provides a boost to the complexion.
• Enjoy some quiet time. Car horns, loud televisions and iPods, and the constant ringing of cell phones all congest our minds and interrupt thoughts. Quieting the mind will help the body recharge for upcoming busy days ahead. Remember to turn off the TV one hour prior to sleeping and refrain from stressful activities and conversations two hours prior. Meditating is a great way to clear the mind, center the body, and relax after a hectic day.
• Create an exercise routine. While some people don’t equate exercise with pampering, activities such as yoga and hiking are a great way to connect with both your inner voice and nature to calm the mind and body. Exercising regularly nourishes the skin with oxygen while sweating flushes out toxins. It will also improve digestion and increase metabolism and endocrine function so that the entire body is functioning at an optimal level.
• Do something you love. Numerous studies have defined happiness as the pursuit of engaging in meaningful activities. Participating in something you’re passionate about reduces stress, promotes positive self-reflection, and connects people based on similar interests. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life helps promote overall mental and physical health.
• Pay attention to what you eat. Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet can do wonders for a person’s overall appearance and feelings of wellbeing. Eating poorly takes a physical toll on the skin. Try new recipes, and enjoy tempting the senses with aromas and tastes of new ingredients.