Entries in ‘Spa’ Journal

Review: Hotel La Ferme

Friday January 2, 2015 at 7:07 AM | 4 Comments

It’s called “The Farm” but this upscale four star hotel, tucked in the charming village of Baie-Saint-Paul, is anything but rustic. With clean, straight lines and five ultra modern pavilions situated within the hotel grounds, Hotel La Ferme is a time traveler’s delight while still rooted in old world charm.

You won’t find farm animals wondering about, but, depending on the time of year you visit, you will see cows grazing in pastures, surrounded by tall sunflower stalks waving in the breeze. That’s the vision I have etched in my mind when I reflect back to my two hour scenic train ride from Québec City on Le Train du Massif. The train actually pulls right up next to the hotel to let passengers disembark – a fabulous and deceptively convenient way to capture hotel guests and welcome them to the upscale property.
 

"Hotel La Ferme" Quebec, Canada

Hotel La Ferme. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Even if you are not staying at the 147 room resort, you’ll want to come inside to admire the architecture, with its sliding barn doors, or pull up a stool and have a slice of pizza from the wood fired oven of Les Labours restaurant.
 

pizza, Les Labours, Le Massif, Canada

Mushroom pizza at Les Labours restaurant. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 

 

My superior room with queen bed #120, rented for $229 Canadian during an early October weekend, check the website for current pricing. I loved the back-to-nature farm theme that appeared throughout the hotel and on the wall above my bed. Better yet, the heated tile flooring in the bathroom reminded me that I was in for a luxurious and relaxing overnight.

Spa du Verger

Make sure to save time for a visit to Spa du Verger with its Nordic baths of hot and cold plunge pools, Finnish sauna and eucalyptus steam room. Remember to pack your swimsuit and flip flops to wear during this thermal experience or the spa will sell you a pair of rubber sandals. Spa experience, $20 Canadian for hotel guests or $35 Canadian for visitors to the hotel. Check website for current prices.

 

"Spa Du Verger", "Baie-Saint-Paul", Canada

Spa Du Verger. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
Insider Tips
I took the 2 hour Le Train de Massif de Charelvoix ride from Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul in the Charlevoix region of Quebec – a scenic and relaxing way to travel. If you happen to be visiting the area on a Sunday, be sure and stop by the farmers’ market.
 

"Hotel La Ferme", hotel room

Superior queen room. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

 
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @leMassif on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

 
If You Go:

Hôtel La Ferme – Le Massif de Charlevoix +1 418-240-4100
50 Rue de la Ferme,
Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec G3Z 0G2, Canada

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Tourism Quebec. All opinions are my own.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Troon North: Cowboy Up

Wednesday November 26, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

Cowboys and luxury don’t always go hand in hand, or should I say from cowboy boots to leather gloves? Fortunately, cowboys and cowgirls fit right in at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale Troon North. Located away from downtown Scottsdale, Scottsdale Troon North takes its name from its relationship with well-heeled neighbor, Troon North Golf Club. That’s right, guests can wear cowboy boots, golf shoes, spa sandals, hiking boots or high heels in the lobby and no one will bat an eye. But you will be greeted with a warm Sonoran desert welcome.
 

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona, hotel

Hotel review: Four Seasons Scottsdale. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Southwest suites

I had the opportunity to stay in one of 22 recently remodeled suites at the high desert luxury resort. The $750,000 enhancements included updated rugs, new upholstery, lamps and the all important “Signature Sleep” bed that is oh so necessary after a day in the saddle. Interchangeable bed toppers – firm to plush – may not be important to you, but anyone with sleep issues will appreciate this Four Seasons option.
 
 

 
 

Four Seasons Resort Socttsdale at Troon North, Arizona, hotel lobby

Warm Sonoran desert welcome. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Extraordinary Experiences

New to many Four Seasons Resort properties is a collection of Extraordinary Experiences offered only at one particular resort. The Scottsdale at Troon North kicks off Cowboy for a Day in partnership with Arizona Cowboy College. This working ranch experience offers a home on the range, day long adventure steeped in cowboy history with plenty of hands on opportunities for city slickers to get their cowboy boots dusty.
 

Adobe casitas at base of Pinnacle Peak. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Adobe casitas at base of Pinnacle Peak. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Similar to conjuring up a genie in a bottle, guests are able to direct and star in their own Scottsdale spaghetti western reality show. You choose the hat and boots (additional fee), while wranglers at Arizona Cowboy College will match you with a horse based on your riding ability. You will learn to groom, bridle and saddle your horse, as well as ride next to giant Saguaro cactus in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. The Cowboy for a Day pricing starts at $450, check the website for current prices.
 
casita, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona

Southwest king casita. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
The day before my Cowboy College experience, I tried a “Yoga for Horseback Riders” class (additional fee). Yoga Instructor and LPGA Expert Dodie Mazzuca geared my morning toward gentle yoga. “For horseback riding, we want to make sure the hips are healthy and the core is strong,” noted Mazzuca.
 
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, pool, Arizona

One of three pools. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
After a full day of hanging with horses, I opted to return to the resort for an 80 minute “Back in the Saddle” massage. Relaxed in one of 14 treatment rooms, I selected the Turquoise Sage Mountain Arnica Body Oil, good for soothing sore muscles. I could have floated around in one of three swimming pools – children’s, family or adult-only pool with hot tub and 24 hour access, after my massage. Instead, I moseyed on over to Talavera restaurant to take in the Sonoran sunset by the foothills of Pinnacle Peak and sampled lobster and corn bisque, followed with diver scallops, butternut squash, agnolotti and merquez sausage. Good thing this culinary feast was after my horseback ride!
 
frittata, Proof restaurant, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Egg white frittata at Proof. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
Insider Tips

While valet parking is expected at this luxury resort ($29), guests have the option for complimentary self parking. A golf cart will follow you upon parking and whisk you to your private casita. There is a $30 daily resort fee that covers high speed internet, breakfast items such as croissants, muffins and coffee, bottled water at the front desk, 24 hour health and fitness center, a 4.7 mile hiking trail that starts on the property and a Kids For All Seasons program open 365 days of the year.

The resort is pet-friendly (30 pound weight limit.)

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @FSScottsdale on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm
 

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, patio, Arizona

Take in a Sonoran sunset. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 
If You Go:

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North (480) 515-5700
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona 85262
 

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Thanks to Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North for creating this experience. All opinions are my own.

Spa Week Deals

Saturday October 18, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

I’ve said it before, “If money were no object, I’d splurge on a massage once a week.” But like everyone else, I watch my pennies and treat myself to a spa treatment once every few months or when I come across a deal. Twice a year in April and October, Spa Week offers $50 spa treatments. The ladies at Healing Hands Day Spa offered me a massage and facial in anticipation of Spa Week. Are you in need of a little me time?
 

wellness and health

Laughter is key to wellness and health



Wellness and health benefits

Simply walking into a spa tends to lower my blood pressure. The low lights, relaxing atmosphere, soothing scents and welcoming staff are in complete contrast with my job as a travel writer. I’m used to rushing to catch a flight, shoulder strain from carrying a too-heavy laptop computer bag and hours of poor posture while typing on a computer keyboard. I need to shift my focus away from spa treatments as a splurge and keep in mind the wellness and health benefits to my body and spirit.

Benefits of massage

“My goal as a massage therapy ambassador, having studied at National Holistic Institute, is to increase people’s awareness about the benefits of massage,” explained Massage Therapist Amelia Academia. “To receive a massage is blissful, reduces stress, and improves circulation throughout the whole body. I believe that it is important to incorporate massage into a health plan, as much as going to the gym to exercise. It may be easy to think of massage as a luxury treat you do once a year. It really is so much more of a mind and body holistic healing experience.”

 

massage

The benefits of massage

Massage

Having recently returned from a food and wine trip to Quebec, Canada, I opted for the detoxing massage. The aromatherapy treatment began with essential oils of rosemary, burdock, echinacea, lemon, geranium, peppermint, figwort and watercress. I was able to identify some of these scents from my apothecary experience at The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.

Microdermabrasion facial

In my world, you only live once and you’re only given one body, so why not take care of it? As I have now entered the active baby boomer stage of life, I’ve decided to be open to facial treatments. Before my skin started showing the signs of age, I didn’t give it much thought. Now I realize the error of my ways and understand the need to keep adequately hydrated.
 

relax
 

Young and cheerful, my esthetician Hannah Sweet grew up drawn to skin care. “I’d mix my own masks. As I got older I learned that I liked the functionality of the skin and how and why it works.”

My appointment began with a warm paraffin treatment to moisturize my hands & deeply penetrate the skin. Next came the microdermabrasion facial. Having never experienced this machine before, Hannah compared it to a cat’s tongue licking your face and that was a perfect analogy. A hydrating mask followed and I was ready to re-enter the work world after a morning of pampering.

Bookings for Spa Week deals are available online now with Spa Week taking place October 20-26, 2014 nationwide. To schedule a Healing Hands spa treatment click here. Check the Spa Week website for additional locations.
 

Insider Tip:
Spa Week offers deeply discounted treatments via Spa and Wellness gift cards. Redeem gift cards for treatments at any participating spa. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and Spa Week on Twitter @spaweek.

 
If You Go:

Healing Hands Day Spa (925) 362-9892

2551 San Ramon Valley Blvd. Suite 107B

San Ramon, California 94583

Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Healing Hands Day Spa for review purposes. I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own.