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.

Small Ship Review: UnCruise

Friday October 17, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 6 Comments

"Safari Endeavour" crew

The crew of Safari Endeavour. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


It’s not often that you meet a hotel manager while cruising on a small ship through Alaskan waters. In fact, I had no idea that the role of hotel manager existed on the high seas. Yet when you think about an 84-guest passenger ship, it really should be considered a floating boutique hotel.

I was one of 84 guests to experience an UnCruise Adventure aboard Safari Endeavour while exploring Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park. The 232 foot luxury vessel Safari Endeavor is Un-Cruise Adventures top-of-the-line ship. Similar to an all-inclusive resort, meals, alcohol, airport transfers to and from the ship, as well as all shore excursions are included in the price of the adventure. Something else that is included in the price of the cruise; one complimentary massage per person. You won’t find that at any luxury hotel!
 

"Safari Endeavour" stateroom

Commander Stateroom #318. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Like the television show Fantasy Island, passengers are individually shown to their staterooms (offering five accommodation types) and sparkling wine awaits guests in the main lounge. The crew is friendly, energetic, knowledgeable and professional. From expedition leaders to waitstaff, wellness instructors and Safari Endeavour Captain Barrett Whitten, the mindset is “how may we make your experience unforgettable?” The goal of Un-Cruise – un-plug, un-wind, un-stress.

My stateroom on the third floor deck featured two single berths, a desk and chair, full-length closet, as well as several cabinets and drawers. The bathroom was small, but clean and functional. I loved coming back to my cozy room after an expedition and reading a book while the scenery passed by.
 

"Safari Endeavour" "Philip Bley"

Safari Endeavour Chef Philip Bley. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Onboard dining

After touring the ship’s all electric galley kitchen, I have new respect for preparing hot meals for 80+ passengers in one sitting. The pastry chef worked her magic throughout the 7 day voyage and the executive chef prepared fresh Alaska salmon, as well as rack of lamb, among other menu items while sailing along Glacier Bay National Park.

“Our food service is based around the expeditions,” said Hotel Manager Kathy Madison. “The guests come to experience southeast Alaska. Our role is to support that adventure.”

 

"Kathy Madison" "Safari Endeavour"
 
Insider tip

For anyone concerned about food allergies or special dietary needs, Un-Cruise aims to please. Notes are kept in the kitchen with any special requests from guests, as well as birthday or special occasion celebrations. I also took advantage of the healthy snacks and granola bars available 24/7 for guests to enjoy in the lounge. I travel with my own water bottle, but the hotel staff had placed eco-friendly water bottles, as well as binoculars in each stateroom.
 

"Alaska" salmon

Fresh Alaska salmon. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

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

If You Go:

Un-Cruise Adventures (888) 862-8881
3826 18th Ave
W. Seattle, Washington 98119
 

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Kathy Madison photo courtesy Un-Cruise. I was a guest of Un-Cruise Adventures.

Marilyn Monroe Spa Review

Wednesday October 15, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

I love everything about a trip to the spa; from the aromatherapy scents that hit my nostrils upon entering the spa, to soaking in a hot tub after a deep tissue or hot stone massage and the sense of calm that envelopes my body at the end of a treatment. When the folks at Marilyn Monroe Spas offered me a facial, I only hesitated for a second. That’s because I always opt for a massage over a facial. In this instance, I’m glad that I went for the facial treatment.
 

"Marilyn Monroe Spas"

Aromatherapy scents hit your nostrils at Marilyn Monroe Spas. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Marilyn Monroe Spas

Marilyn Monroe, while a tragic figure, knew what made her happy. “Beneath the makeup and behind the smile, I’m just a girl who wishes for the world,” said Monroe. There’s no denying that name recognition works when it comes to branding the Marilyn Monroe Spas chain. The first Marilyn Monroe Spa opened in northern California at Hyatt Regency Monterey and continues its expansion with luxury nail salons, hotel spa resort locations and Glamour Rooms.

While Marilyn Monroe Spas are fairly new players on the scene, the corporate team behind the brand are seasoned operators, with Disney Resort Spa experience under their collective belt.
 

"Marilyn Monroe"

“I just want to be wonderful!” Marilyn Monroe. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

As I mentioned, I’m not a facial gal. It’s not that I have anything against facials, it’s that I sit hunched in front of a computer all day and my shoulders are always in tight knots. If money were no object, I’d treat myself to a facial AND massage once a month.

 

"Marilyn Monroe Spas"

The relaxation area in Monterey, California


 

"Nancy D. Brown" "golden glow facial"

Marilyn Monroe Golden Glow Facial

 
Marilyn Monroe facial
The Golden Glow Facial treatment, priced at $175. was 80 minutes of me time.  The oxygenating facial opened up my pores and re-hydrated my very dry skin. The Green Tea Refining Mask was cold on application, but my Esthetician Lucy patiently explained each step of the facial treatment. While the antioxidant ingredients went to work restoring elasticity and hydrating my face with moisture, I also received a hand, foot and shoulder massage – yeah! After this relaxing treatment I did feel refreshed and like Marilyn Monroe, I felt just wonderful.
 
"Marilyn Monroe Spas"
 

Did you know that Marilyn’s favorite scent was roses? As such, many of the organic spa products are infused with roses. I tried the rose cream cleanser, the rose hip cell renewing facial polish, the rose firming and brightening serium, rose hip firming de-puff eye cream and the rose hip cell renewal seed oil capsules. This last item is used as a nightly treatment instead of moisturizer.
 
Next time I’m near this spa, I’m trying Marilyn’s Signature manicure/pedicure treatment.
 

"Marilyn Monroe Spas"

Manicure, pedicure anyone?


 
Insider Tip:
Love spas, but tough on the budget? Mad About Marilyn is a rewards program offering “Mad Money”. $30 month will get you $30 toward a spa service. For every $10 you spend (including your monthly membership fee) you earn $1 in Mad Money, plus 10% discounts on products & 20% discounts on all services at hotel spas. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and Marilyn Monroe Spas on Twitter @MarilynSpas.
 

If You Go:

Marilyn Monroe Spa (831) 657-6734

1 Old Golf Course Road

Monterey, California 93940

Article and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Marilyn Monroe Spas while researching a hotel review. All opinions are my own.