Archive for the ‘In Our Experience’ Category

Affinia Hotels Takes Guests’ Suggestions to Heart

I’m not one to shy away from giving my two-cents worth. That’s why I couldn’t help but like the way Affinia Hotels went about choosing its new spa product line. The boutique hotel brand relied on its guests to test a variety of spa products over the summer and then selected a retail spa partner based on guest feedback. The clear winner turned out to be Philosophy, which guests singled out for brand recognition, the ability to purchase the product in stores, and the whimsical messages on each bottle. Philosophy’s Lime Blossom shampoo, Blackberry Musk conditioner, Green Tea lotion, and Lime Blossom facial bar will be available in all rooms at Affinia Hotels in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Soliciting guests to test the products is part of a newly launched comfort movement at Affinia Hotels. A key part of the hotels’ messaging and programming, Comfort by Design features platforms such as My Affinia, where guests can customize their stay with a variety of options ranging from a six-choice pillow menu to Experience Kits to explore each city. The hotel brand is now asking guests for feedback on what makes them comfortable and actually using that info to shape its offerings.

SoulCycle Makes Upper West Side Debut

When it comes to fitness, I will be the first to admit that I’m a tricky customer. I don’t like running and I don’t have any rhythm, so finding an activity where I don’t look and feel like a hot mess is difficult. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with spinning, but I have been getting a little bit bored. So when I was invited to test out the latest outpost of SoulCycle in my NYC neighborhood, I will admit I was intrigued. The 45-minute class involved an intense 45-minute cardio workout that combines spinning with upper body toning using hand weights and core exercises. I’m happy to report the new studio is fabulous. Located on the corner of 77th Street and Amsterdam, the 1,900-square-foot, ground-level facility features a 54-bike studio, as well as a 300-square-foot SoulCycle Boutique. The studio also boasts 96 lockers, two bathrooms, and a changing room. I was a little nervous when I arrived this morning to try my first class, but after 45 minutes of fun music, total toning, and cool cardio, I am totally hooked. Can’t wait for my next ride. For more on the new studio or to find a SoulCycle near you, visit

Tea Time with Ole Henriksen

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.

A New Poll Reveals Facial Hair May Be On the Rise

As much as I hate to admit it, I watch way more reality tv than I should. Truth be told, I shouldn’t be watching it at all. However, it’s a guilty pleasure I’m not yet prepared to give up. One reality show that caught my attention—maybe it’s my fondness for a bit of five o’clock shadow—was Whisker Wars, a seven-episode reality series that debuted last month on IFC. The series follows a group of whisker warriors who travel the country competing for top bearding prizes. In honor of the competitive beard-growing series, the IFC network polled approximately 10,000 Americans online about their favorite bearded gents. Not surprisingly, the Texas trio in ZZ Top took the top honor in the IFC Whisker Wars Hall of Fame with 53 percent of the vote. Other musicians included Jim Morrison (15 percent), Hasidic rapper Matisyahu (12 percent), the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia (11 percent), and Kenny Rogers (9 percent). In television and movies, Zach Galifianakis (34 percent), Jeff Bridges (23 percent), and Chuck Norris (12 percent) were all recognized. Respondents also shared their thoughts on facial hair. Apparently I’m not alone in liking a little stubble on the opposite sex. Ninety-two percent of respondents said beards on guys are hot. Interestingly enough, I’m in the minority when it comes to the Best Beard for a Fella to Grow. I’m with the 20 percent who preferred “a soft, short dusting of well-maintained stubble.” Forty-five percent opted for “something truly biblical or biker, the longer the better.” As a trend, it looks like facial hair could be on the rise. What do you think? Ninety-six percent of male respondents said they planned to grow a beard in the future. If that’s the case, now might be the time to think about how you’re catering to this emerging demographic.

Making a Change for a Happy and Healthier You

Like most people, I’m all for leading a healthier lifestyle. However, it’s not always easy to make the necessary changes. That’s why I was so interested to read 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You (AmazonEncore, 2011). Written by wellness coach Brett Blumenthal, the book suggests a small, healthy change to make each week, such as taking a multivitamin every day, learning to say no, and starting each day with a nutritious breakfast. When combined over time, these small changes will eventually lead to a bigger change resulting in a happier and healthier life. Today, I’m starting at week one, which is to drink more water. Although it sounds easy, I’ve had the same half full water bottle on my desk for a week. What small changes do you want to implement in your life?

Sphatika Offers Up an Experience to Remember

Despite the the accessible pampering my title may imply, it’s not always easy to escape the deadlines a magazine requires. Even when the task at hand is work-related, rarely do I have an afternoon to spend kicking back at a spa. However, several weeks ago I was invited to sample the Sphatika Signature Experience ($250, 2 hours) at Sphatika (New York City). After a frantic day of tying up loose ends, I found myself excited at the chance to clear my head. In fact, when it came time to set my intention for the treatment, I opted for total relaxation without a moment’s thought. I was then given a crystal to keep before being led to the spa’s Far Infrared sauna. There, I let the music wash over me as the heat from the sauna penetrated my body and began to ease the stress and tension I had been carrying with me. In the treatment room, I was given an invigorating skin brushing and an application of Sphatika Orchid Mineral Mask before being placed under a steam canopy. To top off the experience, I was treated to a lymphatic drainage facial and  a Hemp Oil Body Massage. When it was over, I felt ready once again to tackle the world.

Beauty Junkies Get Their Fix with BirchBox

I’m always on the hunt for fun gift ideas. So when one of my favorite publicist friends started singing the praises of BirchBox, I decided to check it out. It’s basically a subscription service in which you receive a box filled with four to five samples from various spa and luxury brands each month. From skincare products, makeup, fragrance, and more, the goodies are all generously sized so as to allow you a chance to determine if they’re right for you. Think of it as a beauty box of the month club. For beauty junkies, it’s the ideal gift. While we all have our favorites spa brands, this is a great way to branch out and sample new products. You can also customize your box by filling out a Beauty Profile. That way you’re sure to get products chosen for your specific skin type and coloring. Membership definitely has its benefits.

OpenSkies Makes a Paris Spa Trip Pleasurable,
Offers Discount to American Spa Readers

Paris has recently seen in influx of hot new spas, among them a fabulous retreat at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris. I recently returned from a weekend trip to visit the spa, and I have nothing but rave reviews. The design is spectacular, the product lines featured are among of my favorites (Aromatherapy Associates and Guerlain), and the treatments I received were divine. Stay tuned for the November issue of American Spa to hear more about my trip.

One thing that made my experience even more relaxing was my flight to and from Paris on OpenSkies, an affordable business class-only airline that offers direct flights between New York and Washington, D.C., and Paris. Though I’m normally plagued by jet-lag on trips to Europe following an unpleasant overnight flight in coach, I felt well-rested, well-fed, and ready to enjoy the city upon arrival following my heavenly flight, which contributed enormously to helping me meet my wellness goals.

Now, American Spa readers can take advantage of a great offer from OpenSkies and save $200 off any roundtrip flight booked from New York or Washington, D.C., to Paris. Use promo code GOPARIS200 in the booking engine on (The offer is valid for new bookings only made between now and Nov.15, 2011, for travel between now and Dec. 15, 2011.) Enjoy your flight and be sure not to miss the magnificent new Mandarin spa. Au revoir!

Washing Away Anxiety

This past weekend, I visited Northern Quest Resort & Casino (Spokane, WA). Owned by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the property includes Current Spa, which embraces the tribe’s healing traditions. One tradition I’m especially fond of is when therapists wash their hands before beginning any treatment. My therapist at Current Spa did just that when she entered the treatment room. Although it may seem like a small thing, it’s something that always puts me at ease before a treatment. Granted, I’m a self-confessed germaphobe, but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking it should be a standard practice in every spa. When I was in China last year, I had a therapist actually make a point of telling me that she was going to first wash her hands before commencing the treatment. I found it comforting to know. I’m also a fan of therapists washing their hands after touching the feet and always before touching the face. I’m sure I’m not alone in worrying that the products used during my body treatment may not be suitable for a facial massage. If they are, that’s great, but it would be nice to have that info communicated at some point. While it should go without saying that hand washing should be a given, making it part of the pre-treatment ritual can also put clients, like myself, in an even more relaxed state.

Orly Introduces New Gel Manicure System

At Cosmoprof North America last week, I had the opportunity to experience the new Orly GelFX Gel Manicure System, which promises a durable, chip-free manicure that lasts for two weeks with superior shine and easy removal. The company matched GelFX to 32 of its top-selling colors ranging from neutrals to metallics to vibrant shades of blue, purple, and black. I opted for the shade In the Navy, a beautiful royal blue shade. It’s been exactly one week since I had the manicure and my nails are still shiny and chip-free. What also got my attention with this new manicure system, is that the Cleanser, Primer, and Basecoat used are all infused with vitamins to build strength and nourish the nails—antioxidant vitamins A and E help to promote healthy nails, while pro-vitamin B5 protects the structure of the natural nail. Also, Orly’s vitamin-infused Cuticle Oil is made with orange blossom and wild cherry extracts to condition and moisturize cuticles.

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