Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos courtesy of Brannan Cottage Inn
Valentine’s Day. Boutique hotels. Craft brews. Locally-sourced gourmet goodies. Spa treatments. These are a few of my favorite things. My prayers have been answered because Calistoga’s gorgeous and recently renovated Brannan Cottage Inn is offering a month-long Valentine’s Day package to incorporate all of the aforementioned luxuries. Whether you’re visiting Napa with your lover or just looking for a unique way to spend V Day weekend, check out what this awesome package is offering.
Brannan Cottage Inn is Napa Valley’s newest, small luxury inn that creates a romantic environment with its historical background, luxury Frette linens, Victorian design, lush gardenscapes and so much more. Rent a bike from the concierge, take advantage of the complimentary use of the Calistoga shuttle, or stay in and enjoy the fireplace and espresso machine in your Deluxe King Room.
Available February 1-26, the “Olive My Valentine” package includes:
Luxury accommodations for two
Welcome amenity from Calistoga Olive Oil Company
Side-by-side mud or mineral treatments with your hunny at Baths at Roman Spa
Complimentary beer tastings at The Calistoga Inn, Restaurant & Brewery with the purchase of dinner for two
The package starts at only $225 and requires a two-night minimum if you’re staying Valentine’s Day weekend.
Count me in. For reservations and more information, visit http://bit.ly/OLIVE_Pkgs.
Warning: This post is not intended for the conservative, demure, modest or perverted.
There are several benefits of being a woman: That whole child birth thing, the ability to get free things with the bat of an eyelash…that’s just the beginning. But one of my favorite things of being of the female gender are women-only day spas. There’s something so exciting about spending a couple hours or the entire day among femininity, beautiful women, plush robes and spa services. This past weekend, I spent the afternoon at the Olympic Spa in Koreatown.
I know what you’re thinking: Why would she go all the way to Koreatown, Los Angeles for a spa day? Not only are beauty services cheaper in these neighborhoods, but it’s the only place you can actually visit an all-natural Korean Day Spa.
These spas aren’t like others and they’re not for the weary. One of the requirements to enter into these spas is public nudity. So if that’s something that skeeves you out, I suggest you take a look at our other beauty and wellness stories.
If you’ve never heard of a Korean Day Spa, here’s the gist. You sign in, are assigned a locker and are required to take a shower before you start any service or enter into any of the public spaces. Most of these spas have a number of cold and hot tubs, relaxation lounges, saunas and steam rooms. You can opt for a Day Pass, giving you all access to the aforementioned locales, or you can splurge on a traditional Korean spa service that will leave you squeaky clean and a bit in awe of the nude experience.
After spending a few hours baking in the sun at the Taste LA (more about that foodie fest later), I was in desperate need of a place to cool off, unwind and prep for that evening’s event. Let me start the story with this: For $100, I spent four hours getting scrubbed, soaked, buffed and puffed. FOUR HOURS.
I initially had the idea that I’d just go for the Day Pass and relax in the tubs and saunas for a couple hours, but their spa service menu was calling my name. I locked in an appointment and had about two and a half hours to kill before my Milk and Honey Body Smoothie treatment.
After dropping my things off in the locker and putting on my robe, I headed straight to the showers. The idea is that you’re supposed to be pure and clean before entering any of the steam rooms or tubs. It’s actually seen as poor form and bad manners if you don’t rinse off first. And trust me when I say that I desperately needed a rinse down.
If naked women – of every age, ethnicity and shape – make you nervous, this isn’t the place for you. Boobs, butts, vaginas and bushes are everywhere. There’s no getting around it. You’ll see boobs of all sizes, small butts and big butts, 1980’s bushes and well-manicured nether regions. And given that this spa is in fact located in Los Angeles, you’ll likely see some botched boob jobs too.
So if you can’t be naked and accept your body, or be around women who embrace their nudity, turn around and go to another shi-shi spa.
Olympic Spa has hot tubs, cold tubs, relaxation lounges with jade floors and three different types of saunas all with their own unique offerings. The idea is to go from one tub or sauna to another, alternating between hot and cold, to soften your skin, promote circulation and detoxify. I had my pick of the following:
Warm Mineral Spa for soaking Cool Waters Pool used to cool down and tighten pores Jade Steam Room which also emitted the scents ancient herbs through its vents Hot Mugwort Tea Pool to help boost immune system, detoxify and regulate sleep and menstrual cycles Dry Red Clay Sauna, which emitted far infrared rays to increase blood circulation, promote better sleep and aid stiff joints Oxygen Charcoal Sauna, with walls lined with oxygen stones from Korea and a ceiling lined with bichotan charcoal from Japan, the room promotes natural detoxification Himalayan Salt Sauna, which housed 84 different minerals to aid sinus allergies, relaxation and muscle soreness
After two and a half hours, my number was called by an older Korean woman who was wearing black granny panties and a black sports bra. This is normal attire for Korean spa therapists because they’re constantly splashing warm water on patrons and scrubbing their bodies from head to toe.
I started my Milk and Honey Body Smoothie treatment by lying on a vinyl massage table and getting doused with warm milk. We’re talking milk straight out of the gallon jug from your local grocer. If you’ve never bathed in warm milk, and I’m guessing you haven’t, it’s pretty exhilarating.
Next, I was scrubbed from head to toe and everywhere in between with silk mitts. We’re talking about the knotch behind your knee, behind your ears, up and down your limbs, your belly button, butt crack and your upper thighs. These ladies don’t hold back and they don’t stop at anything less than a smoother-than-a-baby’s-butt softness. I was scrubbed for a second time after the milk bath with a body shampoo that smelled absolutely heavenly.
If you opt for the Akasuri scrub, your spa therapist will use a special solution that will literally scrub all of your dead skin cells off your body and onto the massage table. The treatment can be a bit unsightly so prepare yourself ahead of time.
After a quick rinse off in the nearby shower, I was doused with a blend of jojoba oil and pure clover honey. Needless to say, I wanted to lick myself out of curiosity. She massaged my limbs before flipping me around and rubbing every inch of my achy body. And when you’re on a vinyl-lined table, the flips become much easier and much more comedic. With peppermint oil, she massaged my scalp and applied a pineapple-scented cream to my face before massaging that too.
Hand’s down, my favorite part of the treatment was when she applied freshly grated cucumber to my face. The cold veggies on my warm face were stimulating and invigorating and I could tell my face was happily soaking up the much-needed moisture.
Using towels as props underneath my back, she then proceeded to wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner on the table before toweling me off like how my mom used to when I was a little girl. By the end of the hour and a half service, your body feels like a noodle and all you want to do is take a nap. There’s something so sweet about these ladies. Maybe it’s their gentle tone, or their strong hands…or maybe it’s their silly work “uniforms” that make me want to keep coming back.
If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area and have a few hours to kill, I highly suggest you visit Olympic Spa or any Korean Day Spa around town. Throw your modesty out the window, embrace the beauty around you, and give in to the relaxation. For more information, visit http://www.olympicspala.com.
State St. in Santa Barbara has always been a favorite place of mine to wander the streets, talk to locals, and explore all of the curiosities within this lovely shopping and entertainment destination. I’ve walked these streets a few times with girlfriends and have always enjoyed this beautiful city. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in Santa Barbara and while I enjoyed the local farmer’s market, urban wine trail and shopping, I absolutely fell in love with Salt Santa Barbara.
After spending a full day wine tasting and walking State St., I needed a moment to unwind for a bit before driving the four hours home. While a massage could have sufficed, a visit to Santa Barbara’s own man-made Himalayan salt cave was just what I needed.
Located in the heart of State St. Santa Barbara, Salt is a man-made, underground salt cave that took over an abandoned storage area for the surrounding businesses. The caves are crafted from 45 tons of 250 million year old pure Himalayan salt and cost almost a half million dollars to create. Today, you can spend a session in one of the two salt caves, opt for a healing massage or salt scrub, or drop in for a sound healing, meditation, or yoga session in the cave.
The air in the cave is saturated with the salt’s micro particles and can be absorbed into the skin and respiratory system. Sessions in the salt cave have been said to cure chronic ailments are heighten’s one’s overall mood and well-being. I had the pleasure of a spending some time in one of the two caves and definitely felt like I could take on the rest of the day afterward.
If you’re ever in the area and need a place to get away from the noise and movement on State St. Salt is definitely your destination. Even if you’re not in the mood for a salt cave or spa session, Salt offers a number of gifts like cooking salts, salt lamps, soaking salts, and so much more. Drop by, pick up some gifts and stay for a salt cave session. For more information, visit www.saltcavesb.com.
After spending three consecutive weekends in Los Angeles for various food and music festivals, I could definitely tell that through the exhaustion, I was desperately seeking a low calorie adventure in Santa Monica. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely savored every bite from our meals at One Pico and Catch, along with everything we devoured at The Taste LA. But after all of the indulgent events and gluttony, I was ready for some roughage and some cardio. Thankfully, The Shore Hotel in Santa Monica offers the perfect blend of luxurious amenities, ideal location, eco-friendly building elements and health-conscious food and spa offerings for hotel guests.
Perfectly placed on Ocean Ave. and steps away from the beach and Third Street Promenade, The Shore Hotel is one of the most beautiful and aesthetically appealing properties in the zip code. Since opening in October 2011, the LEED-Gold certified hotel offers modern design, a solar-powered outdoor pool, in-room energy-efficient conservation efforts, green elevators, sustainably sourced décor, and so much more in its rooms and suites.
One of the reasons that I fell in love with this oceanfront boutique resort is due to new collaborations with local chefs, wellness brands and a nearby holistic spa. Green travelers can already take advantage of all of the sustainable footprints throughout the property, along with a few different packages that complement the green space.
Celeb chef/plant-based food expert Matthew Kenney helped to create the M.A.K.E. Wellness Suite package, which provides guests with dinner or lunch for two at Chef Kenney’s raw and vegan restaurant M.A.K.E. inside Santa Monica Place. Other amenities included in the hotel package are one of Chef Kenney’s books and in-room treats from M.A.K.E, such as raw snacks and fresh-pressed juices and elixirs. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, this package will coincide with your detox or already healthy lifestyle.
The Shore Hotel is also working with Paleta, a local food delivery system specializing in farm-to-table meals, cleanses and juices. Go for the Paleta Wellness Suite package and you’ll be gifted with meal delivery for two including breakfast, lunch and dinner paired with pressed juice and something called a magic milkshake. Paleta branded products will also be waiting for you upon arrival. Personal chef Kelly Boyer specializes in convenient, pre-portioned meals that many celebs will vouch for.
Green travelers with a knack for massages, facials and body treatments will love the Tikkun Spa Wellness Suite package, which includes an infrared sauna session, detoxifying massage and signature scrub treatment at the nearby spa. In-room Tikkun Spa offerings will also be waiting for you inside your suite.
A stay at The Shore Hotel wouldn’t be right if you didn’t splurge just a little. So take advantage of the champagne welcome amenity upon check-in and stop by for some tacos, churros and margaritas at Blue Plate Taco, the locally-sourced and sustainable restaurant on premises.
The Shore Hotel is beautiful inside and outside and these wellness suite packages are ideal for any type of traveler. For more information, visit www.shorehotel.com.
Holiday Festivities and Hotel Deals in Scottsdale
By Nadia Ibanez
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is pretty much here. Us Southern Californians are still enjoying our Indian summer, while the rest of the world is experiencing torrential rainfall and the turning Autumn leaves.
One of our favorite destinations this time of year is Scottsdale, AZ. By now, the summer heat is heading out of dodge and local residents are getting back to their normal routines after leaving town to avoid the outrageous temperatures. To get residents and visitors in the holiday spirit, a few local hotels are offering some fun seasonal perks and surprises.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to spend the holidays in Scottsdale.
FOR SOME SEASONAL PAMPERING
The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch is the ideal destination if you need some pampering, while also getting in a round of golf or spa treatment. Take in the picturesque mountain ranges and modern architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Stay three nights and you’ll get the fourth free, plus a $100 credit to use at one of the property’s restaurants.
We already fell in love with the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa when we visited earlier this year and loved adding it to our list of hotel deals in Scottsdale. Their range of kids activities, golf course, and unique dining options are perfect for the holiday season. Stay at the resort for four nights and you’ll get the fifth free, plus a $100 food and beverage credit.
FOR AN URBAN HOLIDAY GETAWAY
If you’re heading to the downtown area, you must make a date with the W Scottsdale. Holiday visitors get a fourth night free and the chance to experience CHILL, the city’s first and only outdoor hybrid ice skating rink. The hotel’s pool deck will also be transformed into a holiday-themed wonderland, with music and faux snow.
FOR FAMILY TRAVEL
If you are traveling through with your little ones, make a reservation at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess from November 27 to December 31 for the complete Christmas wonderland. Take in all of the festivities and lighting displays, including an ice skating rink and 40-foot Christmas tree with synchronized lighting and music.
FOR SOME OUTDOOR LIBATIONS
If you’re in the mood to take advantage of the desert scenery during winter, check out the Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de Las Luminarias, a nighttime event that pays homage to the Southwestern tradition of lighting luminaries. From December 7 to 30, take a moonlit walk through the garden, where pathways are lit with 8,000 luminaria bags, while sipping on your favorite holiday beverage and listening to live music.
FOR THE ARTSY FARTSY TRAVELER
Beginning on November 8, the city’s inaugural Scottsdale Fall of the Arts will commence with a four-day festival celebrating the vibrant cultural area. There are more than 125 art galleries, museums and performance spaces in Scottsdale and it’s no wonder there is a whole art festival dedicated to the city. Visitors can expect auctions, live artist presentations, art walks, music, and more. Click here for more information.
If you’re looking for a wintery destination without the sleet, snow, hail and rain, you must discover the best hotel deals in Scottsdale. To learn more about hotel deals and other holiday festivities, visit http://www.experiencescottsdale.com/one-night-free-in-scottsdale/.