Posts Tagged ‘Spa Slut’

Friday, September 27, 2013

Spa Slut: The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

Forget Rice-A-Roni and Ghirardelli Chocolates, the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental is the true San Francisco treat. It seems like it’s always tough for urban luxury hotels to create a real “destination spa” environment when they are confined to a vertical building. Based on the names and prices, I have gone to many top luxury hotels in major cities and expected great things. But instead I have been underwhelmed by spas that were obviously jammed into a few renovated hotel rooms.

So you can imagine I wasn’t expecting Shangri-La when I visited the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco. Of course I should have known better. When I lived in New York City, I was a huge fan of the Mandarin Oriental Spa New York, but that spa is in a different hemisphere. Of course I had thoroughly examined the website and knew San Francisco wouldn’t have the same extras (like the Vitality Pool or Amethyst Crystal Steam Room )that are featured in NYC’s larger location.

Frankly, once those elevator doors opened I didn’t need any extras… I felt instantly transported to an exotic luxury spa, perhaps in Bali or Thailand. The ceilings are sky high (so in other words, the Mandarin didn’t break my cardinal sin of taking over a few hotel rooms) and the reception area has two dimly lit areas with sumptuous and silky seating areas.

As soon as I approached the reception desk, I was told to make myself comfortable while the attendant brought me delicious tea and a warm towel to begin my “journey.” He took my street shoes and replaced them with spa slippers. Pure class.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Spa Slut Finds Mother’s Day Indulgences at the Best Spas Across the U.S. (via HuffPo)

The Spa Slut came out in all her fabulous glory to find the best spots for moms to be spoiled across the U.S. for Mother’s Day.  I had SO much fun writing this piece and of course I got jealous while writing it because I wanted to be at all these spas instead of sitting at home typing in my jammies.

Read my Huffington Post “Mother’s Day Spa Indulgences Across the U.S. Article here!

The Bathhouse at the Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Spa Slut: Sense, A Rosewood Spa (San Francisco Bay Area) Part 1

Can you believe it’s been a year since I’ve written as the Spa Slut?  There’s a reason for that… As much as I’ll whore around at any spa regardless of if it’s getting my shoulders rubbed at the airport or spending $200 on a 50 minute treatment so I can experience what locals consider a “luxury spa,” I refuse to bore you with every mediocre and underwhelming spa I visit. You, my lovelies want a departure! You want to feel like you are experiencing these fabulous spas with me, inspiring you to immediately forward my posts to your husbands and boyfriends as not-so-subtle birthday and anniversary hints!  Well, I’m happy to say that this past weekend our Spa Slut woke from her long slumber when she was able to experience true spa decadence once again.  The experience was SO decadent I simply cannot fit all the delicious details into one post. That’s right, the Spa Slut is back with a vengeance…

The first thing you experience when you walk through the enormous wood and glass doors of the Sense Spa at the Rosewood Sand Hill (about 30 minutes outside of San Francisco) is the clean woodsy scent of the spa’s signature oil, California Woods by local producer Ajne, which is piped through the air ducts and found in several of the spa’s products and services.  The dramatically high ceilings, dark woods and Balinese-inspired furniture of the spa lobby are a departure in itself. The lobby just screams destination spa.  Once you check in with the front desk you are asked to sit on the plush couch to fill out paperwork and the front-desk attendant brings you a warm scented towel to begin your journey. Ahhh…


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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spa Slut: Goddess for a Day (or two) at the Spa Palazzo at the Boca Raton Resort & Spa

Leave your stress and reality at the door of the Spa Palazzo in Boca Raton, Florida. This place  literally transports you to an imaginary world.  Picture yourself as a hedonistic Fitzgerald character in the roaring twenties (the hotel was built in 1926), or become a Spanish queen bathing in your decadent private quarters (the spa was  modeled after Spain’s Alhambra Palace).

The locker room area is equipped with showers, a steam room, sauna, and an inhalation room (a sauna at room temperature deeply fragranced with eucalyptus), and a relaxation area with multiple comfy couches, chairs, teas and such.  The locker rooms are nice but would be even nicer if they had skincare available (the mark of a truly luxurious spa) and were still rich with the smell of Honey Coco Mango, which used to be the signature scent of the hotel and spa.  I’m not sure if Lucifer himself made the decision to replace the Honey Coco Mango with an awful musky generic line that is given away at every Hilton (ewww), but whomever made that decision should be shot.  Hey hotel manager, yeah, I’m talking to you. This has you written all over it.  Last time I stayed at this hotel I tipped the housekeeper twenties so she would line up the Honey Coco Mango products in my bathroom.  Now, I have to bring my own product.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Splurge: Phyto Universe in NYC

I had to make my visit to Phyto Universe a “Sunday Splurge” because, come on, $160 for a hair consultation, deep conditioning treatment, and a blow out?  I’m a big believer in splurging on my hair, but a trip to the “hair spa” for $160 is a new level of decadence.   But of course I adore decadence…

This hair spa is a beacon of serenity in midtown Manhattan, completely transporting you from the chaos of the loud streets below with a 3,000 square foot vertical garden and 9 private hair treatment “cabins.”  The location also shares space with its other two brands: a facial and body treatment room featuring Lierac and a “haute parfumerie” by Caron Paris.

Lierac had one esthetician room and a wall of product in the boutique, some that I had not seen at the local CVS.

The parfumerie nook was like walking into a display of French perfume at a museum. It was absolutely lovely — ornate antique bottles behind glass, huge glass dispensers of scents, and pink puffs of different colored powders. And, everything is for sale.  I had fun waiting for my therapist Sonya (though the fun weaned as ten minutes turned into thirty), perusing through the different scents and displays.

I’m not going to lie, the waiting irked me.  Not only did she run late with her client, but then she was helping a shopper in the boutique while I sipped my tea and nibbled my Petrossian cookie (okay, I guess I can’t be mad if they gave me Petrossian cookies and tea while I waited).  But once Sonya introduced herself, her sweetness melted away any annoyance.

The treatment began with a hair analysis using the Phyto Scope, a Dr. Who-looking camera that examined my scalp at a 200 magnification.  I was mesmerized. I kept saying, “No wait! Go back! Go back!”  I was disappointed the machine didn’t support printing.  I would have preferred taking home photos of those images more than samples.  Needless to say, the Phyto Scope showed I’m fostering quite a bit of build-up in my hair, and even <<gasp>> mild dandruff.  Now, keep in mind I never see dandruff with my naked eye, but I can’t get that image out of my head.

Once I got my fill of the Phyto Scope, we headed to our private hair cabin, a generous space with its own equipment, sink, and amenities.  I never had to get up from the chair.

Steps of the treatment:

1) A scalp massage with Phytopolleine – Universal Elixir, used to stimulate and balance the scalp.  It smelled delicious with strong essences of rosemary, sage, cypress, eucalyptus, and lemon.  Obviously I wish the massage would have lasted longer and/or involved neck and shoulder, but a girl can’t have everything.

2) Sonya coated my hair, section by section, with Phytonectar Pre-Shampoo Ultra Nourishing Oil Treatment. This oil treatment nurses back dehydrated, chemically-treated hair with proteins and lipids from egg yolk.

3) She put me under a head steamer for 20 minutes to open the cuticle and help the product absorb.

4) She shampooed and conditioned with the Phytocitrus line, specially designed for color-treated hair.

5) Then she applied a mix of Phyto 9, a leave-in conditioning cream, and Phytodefrisant Botanical Hair Relaxing Balm, a non-chemical hair straightener.

6) She finished the treatment with a gorgeous blowout (no flat-iron required).

My hair still looks shiny and healthy. I definitely believe in the efficacy of the Phyto brand, and I could see myself splurging on this treatment every six months. Though, the $160 price tag files this service away as an extravagance rather than an essential (keeping in mind that eyelash extensions and coloring my hair every 3-4 weeks are essentials).

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spa Slut: St. Regis Deer Valley Remede Spa

Before this past weekend, I never would have thought I would rate a ski resort spa like the St. Regis Deer Valley Remede Spa (SRDVRS) in Park City, Utah as one of my top 5 luxury spas of all time.  I mean come on, I detest the cold, and I’m certainly no skier (zero coordination).  But I must tell you, after this visit,  I may have to reconsider this whole ski bunny concept. (Of course my version does not involve any skiing. Semantics.)

As soon as I arrived I was told by the bellman to take the funicular (it’s a fancy word for tram) to the top of the mountain. The ride to the top was spectacular, giving me a stunning view of the mountains and Park City.  After disembarking the tram, I found myself in the fanciest of ski lodge surroundings. The various lobbies, sitting areas, bars, and restaurants had the typical ski lodge vibe with rustic wood and fireplaces, but all with a modern, classy flair that just screamed, “big shots and celebrities stay here.”

I found my way to the dimly lit, spacious spa, checked in with the friendly staff, and made my way to the locker room. Oooh how I love amenities and this spa’s locker room and relaxation lounge are filled with them!  Let me start by saying that I loved that the hotel was smart enough to dedicate two floors and 14,000 square feet to this spa wonderland. Nothing irks me more than when a luxury  hotel wedges a spa into a tiny space (I hate mentioning names, but the ZaZa in Dallas and Four Seasons in Chicago are two offenders that left a scar).  The locker room area includes a steam, sauna, jacuzzi, multiple showers, and amenities like skincare and toothbrush/toothpaste kits.  The relaxation lounge boasts a big fireplace and… <<wait for it, wait for it>>> handmade truffles and candies. My one complaint — they went for a minimal display with the candies and truffles, spacing out 10 on a  huge platter. I felt like such an oinker taking more than one (they were tiny, so I obviously did!), but I noticed an attendant quickly replenished after my binge.

After popping a few (perhaps more than a few) delicious truffles in my mouth and enjoying a warm chamomile tea (I didn’t recognize the brand, but the bags were made of silk and the teas were lovely and fragrant), my esthetician Christianna Brown, picked me up and took me to our treatment room, down a spiral staircase past a reflecting pool that extends to a heated outdoor terrace.

Since I was in sky-high (7,000 – 9,000 feet) altitude, I opted for the 90-minute Deer Valley Regenerating Facial, featuring my favorite oxygen line in the world, IntraCeuticals.  I love a good oxygen facial, but most facials use a standard machine that just give you a spray, whereas IntraCeuticals facials use pressurized oxygen infused with targeted serums to plump and give you a ridiculous glow. (See left pic of me with my adorable friend Molly after my facial. I’m the brunette.)

Here is a summary of the treatment:

- Paraffin on hands and feet

- Cleansed and analyzed (I instructed no extractions since I was going out that night) my skin

- Gentle exfoliation with Skin Resonance Peeling by Comfort Zone

- Mask application: Herbal Lavender Mask by Elemis

- Oxygen machine with Atoxelene infusion (described by Christianna as No-tox Botox)

PHYTO Hair Treatment (included with any 90 minute treatment): Phytopolleine (massaged into scalp), Huile D’Ales (treatment for ends). Lastly, the Phytocitrus Mask  (which I bought for at-home use)

- Oxygen machine with Rejuvenation serum infusion

-  Application of Intraceuticals Hydration Gel and Eye Contour Gel

-  The service ended with an oxygen inhalation, while Christianna massaged lotion into my hands and feet

I’m telling you, if this was a 2 hour treatment, the Mauna Lani “Fire and Ice” would have serious competition. For now, the SRDVRS‘s 90 minute Rejuvenation Facial easily takes the #2 spot as my favorite spa service in the universe.  My only regret? Not dragging my husband to experience the ultra-deluxe couples suites, which include  fireplaces, soaking tubs, and heated al fresco patios. There’s always next year…

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Spa Slut: The Mauna Lani Spa in Kohala (Part Two)

Sitting here with my multiple layers, listening to my pre-war heater’s inner poltergeist bang pipes together, it’s hard to believe I was just in Hawaii a mere ten days ago.  After re-reading Part 1 of my visit to the Mauna Lani Spa, I realized I had forgotten one detail about the spa that I find so cute — instead of robes, patrons are given brightly-colored sarongs to change into.  Since a  majority of the services are outside, the sarong is brilliant.  It’s also fun to see women of all different ages and snottiness walking around looking like tropical Skittles.

This <<I’m pointing both my thumbs at myself>> little green Skittle did the Kona Mocha Scrub her first full day on the island.  I love starting a beach vacation with a scrub.  I much prefer to wait until I get to the location since most places have scrubs that reflect the local culture and utilize local ingredients. The Mauna Lani’s Kona Mocha Scrub is by far the best scrub I’ve had in terms of ingredients and benefits.

The scrub starts with a rubdown of a mixture of Kona coffee grounds, ground cocoa beans, and sugar. Imagine what that combination smells like… Right, now imagine it 500% better than that.   Because of the coffee grounds, the scrub is more powerful than just a sugar scrub, but is still gentle enough for my sensitive skin.  The cocoa is soothing and moisturizing while the coffee increases circulation and has a tightening affect.

After I showered off the delicious mocha goodness, I was thrilled to find  I could still smell it on my skin.  Once I settled back onto the table, the therapist massaged a thick vanilla bean cream into my skin, combining with the mocha scent, leaving my skin soft and delicious.  For the rest of the day when people would ask, “How was the spa?” I would raise my forearm to their nose and say, “smell.”

Okay, so I feel bad even telling you my water-boarding story because I beyond  love the Mauna Lani Spa.   But, I feel like I’m obligated to warn my readers, in case they are ever tempted to venture into the dangerous waters of the Watsu.  I’ve seen the Watsu massage offered at other destination spas, but I’ve never been tempted to do it.  It just never appealed to me, and I would much rather spend my time with a deep tissue or hot stone massage.  So what came over me? I read through their press and the Lava Watsu was by far the most talked about. Their Wastsu massage received glowing reviews from writers and editors.  Natalie Epenesa, the Mauna Lani’s spa director, was quoted multiple times saying the Watsu is “not to be missed” and the star of their signature treatments.   I thought, “why not?”   Here is the description from their site:

 

LAVA WATSU
Watsu is a passive form of aquatic body work that supports and gently moves you through warm water in graceful, fluid movements. This relaxing, meditative treatment is designed to bring total tranquility to you as your therapist supports, stretches and massages you

Total tranquility…. Right…

Once I changed into my bathing suit and sarong, an attendant walked me through the outdoor spa and healing garden to the lava watsu pool.  When I walked up my first thought was the pool structure resembled an amusement park ride, possibly Flintsones-themed.  The structure is connected to a real lava tube.  I know this because as soon as I walked up, my therapist, a small older man with a white beard, greeted me in a wife-beater and swim shorts, asked me if I would like to see the lava tube.  ”Sure.”

After our mini-excursion behind the structure to see the lava tube, he continued setting up while I got into the pool.  The water is heated precisely to body temperature which would be lovely with a breeze, but the Fred Flintsone structure traps in all the heat, making it that much hotter.  I waded around in there until he came into the pool and instructed me to put my arms around him.  He cradled me and started swaying me around the pool. My ears were in the pool and I could hear that they were pumping World Music under water. Nice touch, except it kept shorting out, so I would jolt whenever the music came back on full volume.  As he swayed me around, I felt two sensations — 1) I was uncomfortable with my proximity to this stranger.  For my arms to be around him, up against his chest, while he cradled my body… It was way too intimate. 2) The swaying back and forth with my eyes closed was making me sea sick.

I think he could tell I was straining my neck to keep my face above water so he put my head in a floating head rest.  This sounds nice in theory, but I assure you this head rest made the treatment take on a more water-boarding vibe. When the head rest bobbed, it would splash my face with water.  My therapist starting stretching me, which was awkward because I was trying to make sure I didn’t lose my balance, and then he started massaging my hands under water.  When he massaged my shoulders it felt more like unpleasant rubbing, because it was underwater.  Then he started swaying my body in half circles, and all I could think of was that I was going to have to endure 80 minutes of this (as water splashed into my face).  I got up, rubbed my eyes, and I told the little man that I’d had enough and that I wasn’t enjoying the service.  He looked a little defeated, but he was quite understanding, and rushed to the spa to find us a room so he could do land-locked massage for the remaining minutes. Unfortunately this process took a while and I only ended up getting 40 minutes of massage.  It was probably for the better since as soon as I got onto the massage table, I closed my eyes and I still felt like I was swaying in the Watsu pool…

 

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spa Slut: Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach in Bermuda

So obviously I am not going to make this long… I am enjoying myself too much to sit at a computer typing.  My husband is putting in our football picks for tomorrow so I thought I would type a short update.  It is so beautiful here. The island, the beaches, the people… To die for.  The weather was gorgeous today, but I felt like I needed to duck out of the sun for awhile to visit the spa here at the Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach. I’m not going to go into full review mode, but all I can say is this puts their NYC sister to shame. It is the perfect celebrity haven due to the privacy.  There are no “locker rooms” at this spa… Oh no… If you book a service here you get your own treatment suite that includes a gorgeous shower, bathroom, treatment area, and huge balcony with a day bed facing the ocean.  They give you 30 minutes after your treatment to enjoy your spa suite.  I got a 2-hour time ritual with a mineral salt scrub add-on. I used my time ritual for a massage and a facial. The scrub and massage were great. The facial was pretty bare bones (more like having products slathered on and then when my mask was on she left the room for a long time).  Though, she did come back with goodies. When I opened my eyes at the end of the treatment, she had gotten me cut-up fruit and water to enjoy on the balcony.  Classy…

That’s all I’ve got except that you should know my lashes and gel nails lasted a long swim in the ocean today…

I probably won’t update again until I return on Wednesday. I am going to skip this week’s Sunday Splurge, so please splurge in my absence and know that I will give you plenty of ideas on how to waste your money on Sundays to come.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spa Slut: The Peninsula NYC Spa by ESPA

In honor of my first Sunday Splurge day, I am posting a review of my favorite luxury spa, the Peninsula New York Spa by ESPA.  A visit to this spa could make me hang up my slut status forever and stick to one spa for the rest of my life.  Oh, how I jest. If only I could fork out $295.00 for every 90 minute treatment whenever I want a facial (which is at least once a week).

I’ve been to many over-the-top destination and hotel spas in my day.  I never thought any institution could come close to the Canyon Ranch in Vegas.  Canyon Ranch is like spa Disney World, and has the same downfall – masses of people. The Peninsula may get busy, especially on the weekends, but you’ll never see more than a handful of fellow spa-goers at a time. They obviously take great care in not over-scheduling.

You get what you pay for at the Peninsula. Yes, it’s expensive as all hell, but you’re rewarded amenities and extravagant facilities that could keep you there all day (and always does in my case).

As soon as I walked off the elevator, I was greeted by a grand, two-story, dimly-lit circular lobby that has a spiral staircase leading up to the gym (I only know there is a gym up there because I see people come down the staircase in gym clothes; I’ve never heard weights crashing nor loud music).  Once I checked in, I was escorted to the locker room where I was provided a robe and fluffy white slippers.  There was chilled water and coconut water, a wall of gym clothes to borrow, and rubber flip-flops for the pool area (you can take advantage of their indoor pool and sundeck).

I padded to the wet area where I found black marble shower stalls, each with their own changing area.  The showers had rain showers and handhelds, as well as the Peninsula’s signature bath products that smell like summer rain.  Classy move: a lotion dispenser in the private changing area of each shower. Who wants to slather on body lotion in front of the entire locker room??  Not I!

The black marble steam room was full of thick eucalyptus-scented steam (and not a trace of a mildew smell, my biggest pet peeve!).  There was also a cedar sauna, an ice fountain (which I’m still not sure of the correct way to utilize.  Do I just scoop up the ice with my hands?  There are no cups or scoopers), and an experience shower. To be honest, the “experience shower” was more of a shower with multiple heads and low water pressure, but since this was the spa’s only blemish, I’ll let it slide.

Once I finished steaming and showering I wrapped myself in an insanely plush towel that smells like it’s been drying in the breeze (another pet peeve of other spas– usually even the finest spas skimp on soft, fluffy towels, and they often smell of bleach. Travesty!)

After I was picked up by my esthetician, Lumi, for my Super Active Calming Facial ($295 for 90 minutes)  I was taken to a large treatment room,
decorated in warm woods and creams.  Lumi told me I could choose my preference of music as well as select the temperature in the room.  I snuggled into the treatment bed and Lumi and I discussed my sensitive skin.  She talked me through the calming products she intended to use and then sounded a bell to begin the healing.  (I could have done without the bell, but I get the Asian vibe they are going for)

The next 90 minutes went by in a foggy blur of relaxation.  Gentle cleansing, multiple masks (I agreed to a $60 add-on calming mask; even though I
believe it should be included considering the hefty price tag). Even the minimal extractions did not make me constrict a muscle.  The facial also included a divine hair protein oil mask that Lumi masterfully massaged into my scalp, and advised me to leave in as long as possible.

Once the treatment was complete, Lumi escorted me to the piece de resistance – the relaxation room.  You get your own little pod that has a remote
control adjustable bed, covered in a fluffy down comforter.  There is a half circular pillow that cradles your head and you are given earphones to choose your own soundtrack.  I was there for several hours – reading under my own little lamp and snoozing to classical music.

Once I emerged from my slumber and reluctantly put back on my street clothes, I checked out easily without any product pushing from the front desk staff.  I made my way down the elevator, and even as I stepped out into the mayhem of Manhattan, I didn’t allow myself mentally to leave the Peninsula (until of course someone stole my cab).

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