Displaying 11 - 20 of 22 entries.

Got Headache? This gadget might help ~ The WunderClip

  • Posted on May 10, 2013 at 4:21 am

WunderClip’s website says this about its product: “All natural pain relief literally at your fingers. No pills, no powders, no potions, no kidding.” They are referring to a headache remedy in the form of a two-inch yellow plastic doohickey that pinches the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger. The WunderClip is a natural headache treatment that operates on the ancient principles of Chinese acupressure.

WunderClip

Acupressure—and its close cousin, acupuncture—is based on the idea that we have a life force in our bodies that runs on pathways called meridians. When the energy (called chi or qi) is blocked, pain and disease can occur. The webby flesh between the thumb and index finger is the LI4 meridian (LI = large-intestine) and when squeezed, can relieve many types of headaches, particularly tension headaches and those stemming from tight neck muscles. As a chronic headache sufferer, I have often found myself pinching that area with my own fingers, only to get a cramp in that hand, and a bruise on the other. Then, on a recent flight to Los Angeles, I saw an ad for the WunderClip in the in-flight magazine. It claimed to do the pinching for me. I ordered one.

The WunderClip website shows a video on how to use it, but it was obvious to me, since I was a longtime pressure point squeezer. The ideal spot rests about 1.5 inches in from the edge of the padded area between the thumb and index finger. Think of the gadget as a clothespin, but with a more intense pinching mechanism. In fact, it holds on so tight that it won’t easily fall off, although I do recommend keeping your hand still to keep it in place.

My verdict is this: If this headache pressure point usually works for you when you activate it manually, the WunderClip will work as well, and you’ll save yourself the … um, headache … of having to use your other hand or asking someone else to squeeze the spot for you. I used it about five or six times, and it usually lessened the severity of my headache each time. I can’t say it ever completely disappeared, however. Then again, my headaches can be tough beastly little buggers. The makers suggest kneading the round ends together to intensify the pressure, and therefore the healing process. I did this, and the soreness jumped a notch, but it felt like therapeutic pain.

WunderClip2

So, for convenience, I give the WunderClip a 9, and for effectiveness A 7.5. If you’re not used to stimulating the LI4 pressure point, the clip will feel very tight. Yes, it can hurt, but just enough to let you know it’s on the right spot, and that it’s working. I have found that the stronger my headache, the more painful this pressure point becomes, when stimulated.

The company does not indicate whether one hand should be treated over another, or if there’s any greater benefit to placing one on both hands simultaneously, but they do suggest you keep it on between five and fifteen minutes, then rest for five minutes, and repeat if necessary. I have a few of them now and keep them throughout the house and even in my car. They are $9.24 and you can find them at WunderClip.

If you try one, let me know if it worked for you!

Today’s Tip

WunderClip advises against use of the device if pregnant, as it can stimulate contractions.

Blissful Hand and Body Scrubs ~ BonBliss

  • Posted on April 27, 2013 at 1:21 am

I have found heaven. And its name is BonBliss. Comprised of husband and wife team Elissa and Jay Choi, BonBliss makes deliciously scented hand and body scrubs. I have sampled each of the 14 scents, and I can honestly endorse every one of them. BonBliss scrubs are single-use treats perfect for traveling or a quick sweet indulgence wherever you are.

BonBliss treats come in the form of Moisturizing Body Truffles, perfect for the shower, and Scrub-2-Go minis, ideal for a moisturizing boost after washing your hands. Each is individually wrapped and resembles an edible delight.

Bon Bliss Truffles

BonBliss Moisturizing Body Truffles

And you know how skincare companies often write “Do Not Eat” on their packages, and you sarcastically think, “Really? I never would have guessed.” Well, BonBliss really did need to warn users because their products are so ridiculously alluring that you’ll truly want to eat them. But don’t.

Instead, add a little water to one and gently crush it and rub it onto your skin. It will leave a yummy scent and a light moisturizing gleam. And get this: If you shower with a truffle in the morning, you will still be able to smell it at night. As a body scrub connoisseur, I can assure you that most scrubs do not last until bedtime. BonBliss products are free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates.

Choosing your favorite scent might prove difficult, but mine is the Cherry Almond. I simply cannot get enough of this one. First runner up? Sweet Satsuma. Each 1-ounce body truffle is $3.75, and a tin can of bite-size scrubs are $10.95, but they occasionally run specials. Visit them at BonBlissBeauty.com. You can also follow them on Facebook.

BonBliss Scrub-2-Go

Cherry Almond BonBliss Scrub-2-Go

Today’s Tip

As BonBliss states, be careful when using the truffles in the shower because they will leave a light film that can make the floor slippery.

Even though they are intended as single-use scrubs, if you are willing to forego a little indulgence, the moisturizing body truffles can last for two uses.

It’s Spa Week!

  • Posted on April 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm

April 15 to April 21 is Spa Week, which means that spas all across North America are offering luxurious full-service spa treatments for only $50. This is a biannual event, occurring every April and October. It’s a chance to sample a spa affordably; and for the spa, it’s an opportunity to seduce you into becoming a repeat customer.

But I noticed some states that were conspicuously missing from the list of places participating, including my own—New Mexico—who, some might say, is the spa capital of the U.S. Iowa, Arkansas, and Maine were non-participants as well. I wanted to know why this was the case, so I called a local spa director and asked her. It turns out, her spa did participate in Spa Week two years ago, and lost a lot of money. The spa saw no repeat business from the event, and even had to pay over $1,000 to partake in it. “Our loyal customers know the value and luxury they’re getting and don’t use deals to come here.” She related the “coupon” idea to those who use discount social media sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial. These generally attract people who are looking for a one-time deal.

Abhasa-Spa-Massage

This got me thinking about where I stand in the matter of getting a “deal” and whether or not this makes me a repeat customer, and my answer is that I am the poster girl for companies who want to tease me with their wares and lure me back, and this includes spas. I’m the one who drools over the free samples that places like Sephora and Beauty.com give me. If I like the sample, I’m back online ordering the full-size product. Most people love a good spa deal, like the kind you get from Spa Week, but they aren’t necessarily spa junkies, like I am, and therein lies the difference. The average person might say, “Wow, that was a nice treat,” whereas I would say, “Oh my God, I have to get this treatment every single day for the rest of my life.”

Whether you want a one-time deal or you’re looking to sample a massage, facial, or body treatment in hopes of finding a spa you can frequent, Spa Week is worth it. Their website will not only tell you which spas in your area are participating, but they gab about all things spa, just like yours truly. Check out Spa Week’s travel deals, blog, and contest to win a spa and wellness gift card at Spa Week.

Today’s Tip

Spa Week is the ideal time to book an affordable spa vacation. Most participating spas will allow two to three full-service treatments at $50 a pop. If you can’t get away, see which spas are participating in your area. Running a spa is expensive, so if you find a treatment, spa, or therapist you like during Spa Week, consider being a repeat customer. Some spas offer loyalty programs for locals. For example, here in Santa Fe, the Inn & Spa at Loretto has such a program, which features 20 percent off year-round for New Mexicans.

Take Care of Your Hair!

  • Posted on April 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I have had long hair my entire life. At its longest, it was about two inches above my waist. People have told me it’s my mane, my identity, and how they know it’s me in a crowd. In elementary school, my hair would hang down over the back of my chair, and the boy behind me would push his desk up against my hair, to trap me. The cliché everyone spouted—especially my parents—was that he was doing that because he liked me. I still don’t get that.

So, I’ve always tried to take the best care possible of my hair. Here are a bunch of tips I’ve learned over the years to ensure healthy tresses.

Woman with smooth hair. High quality image.

Not So Much

Avoid washing your hair every day. This strips your locks of their natural oils. Unless you suffer from very oily hair, most dermatologists agree that it’s best to shampoo every other day. For particularly dry, frizzy, or treated hair, you can wash it every third day.

 Warm, Not Hot

Use the warm setting on your blow dryer, rather than hot. Even though it might take you a little longer to dry your hair, the lighter setting is less likely to cause heat damage. Hair care expert Raymond Bolton says, “You can avoid damage by keeping the dryer moving, not allowing the heat to dwell on any one location.”

Sage Brush Advice

Raymond has this to say about brushing wet hair: Avoid using natural bristle brushes on wet hair. Water softens hair and natural bristles are sharp enough to slice hair lengthwise, increasing breakage and split ends. Instead, use a plastic paddle brush with ball-tipped pins.

Get a Little Air

Unless your hair is just too unmanageable or freaky looking without blow-drying, consider air-drying your hair. It will boast a much smoother finish when allowed to dry naturally. The next best option is to air dry it for five to fifteen minutes before grabbing the blow dryer. This cuts down tremendously on drying time, which is better for your hair.

Keep it at a Distance

If you are a blow dryer addict (like I am), hold the dryer at least two inches from your hair. Again, this will lessen the damage. Never place the blow dryer directly on your hair.

Treat Your Tresses

You didn’t actually think I was going to blog about hair care without praising the virtues of my favorite hair treatments, did you? My favorite overnight treatments for my hair are Alterna’s Caviar Overnight Hair Rescue ($38.00 at Alterna Hair Care), and Fekkai’s Protein Rx Anti-breakage Treatment Mask ($30 at Fekkai).

Apply Alterna’s hair treatment to dry hair, and leave it on overnight. It will not leave any residue on your pillow, and it washes out in the morning, revealing soft hair. It is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. Fekkai’s creamy white concoction is drenched in soy and milk proteins and leaves my hair incredibly silky. Use this on damp hair for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ojon also makes a hair mask called Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment. This can be used on dry hair for 20 minutes, or overnight for deeper conditioning. It boasts a strong nutty scent and only liquefies when rubbed between the hands. It’s $33 at Ojon. I place a towel on my pillow when I use this one, because it will rub off on linens.

Trying to return damaged hair to health? Raymond suggests getting a polymeric treatment from your hairdresser. This refined process strengthens hair up to six weeks per treatment.

Today’s Tip

Everyone’s hair is different, so you can adjust these steps for your particular needs. Also, try mixing in some of these hair treatments with your regular shampoo or conditioner. I find that they add a little shine boost when used as a quick add-on treatment.

You can reach Raymond Bolton at Raymond Bolton Hair Design LLC

Priceless Primping at Pamper Me Fabulous

  • Posted on April 1, 2013 at 4:14 am
Pamper Me Fabulous March 2013

The Pamper Me Fabulous Dance!

I stood on line for seventy-five minutes, business cards in hand, awaiting my “Pamper Me Fabulous” arm stamp, which would allow me to enter the crème de la crème of spa events. Pamper Me Fabulous is held six times a year, and this was my first one, held at the Vibiana, a Los Angeles venue.

Roughly 1,500 women of all ages stood in line to drench themselves in the latest lotions, age-defying serums, lip plumpers, and foot soothers. More than 70 vendors teased us with their quirky, yummy, and sophisticated wares. We pushed and shoved to grab a sample of a mineral peel from O.R.G. Skincare, a whiff of a Twilight Forest body truffle from BonBliss, and to test the Smooth as Silk Day Creme from Dermadeli Facial Foods. The lines for Space Mountain at Disney had nothing on the queues for manicures, hair straightening, and even the free Pamper Me Fabulous gift bags.

It was brutal. In fact, the lines were so long for the facials, massages, and manicures that I didn’t even bother with them. But I did sit down at the Hum Nutrition booth. Billed as “Your Free Personal Nutritionist,” this company promises to customize your supplement regimen. I filled out a short computerized questionnaire, which a dietician will review before designing my vitamin protocol. They will be e-mailing me the results, which I will share with you.

I left with oodles of delicious products, most of which I will review in upcoming blogs. (The woman from Nerium AD Skincare swore the age-defying treatment I went home with would “change my life.”) I’m giving it 30 days, I’ll let you know. Some of the vendors were blush-inducing, including the company Kanoodled, which sold a “Coochie Cleaner” and “Wiener Wash.”

Pamper Me Fabulous Gift Bag

Pamper Me Fabulous Gift Bag

Even though the crowd was a bit large for the venue, and the ticket takers were a bit disorganized, it was all worth it. It was a chance to try new products—including a mini portable I.Q. Massager—meet other spa junkies, network, and bliss out on a little pampering. The ticket for the 11 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. event was $40, although they freely offer a 20 percent discount. Others who had attended previous Pamper Me Fabulous events said that the one held at the Terranea last year in LA was better organized and offered more physical options, such as yoga on the lawn of the gorgeous Palos Verdes resort.

The next one up is in Dallas on May 19. Then comes Chicago (June 23), Miami (September 15), New York (October 13), and Los Angeles again (November 10). I will attend at least one more this year, and I promise to gather a bunch of new goodies to review for you. Here’s the link: Pamper Me Fabulous

Today’s Tip

Get on line early on the day of the event. Bring a very large bag that is easy and comfortable to carry. You will collect so many samples (or full-fledged products, if you choose to buy them) that you will need a place to put them as you walk around. I lugged around so many bags from each vendor until finally the nice guy at KM Fantasy (who sold me a massage oil candle—yes, I’ll review it) took pity on me and double bagged all my stuff into a huge brown shopping bag.

I Got (Hot) Stoned

  • Posted on March 22, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I got up off the table after my 90-minute hot stone massage, and I was so woozy it’s a miracle I was able to stand up. Now I know why they have mirrors in the treatment rooms. They’re to make sure you don’t leave with your underwear on the outside.

Hot stone massages feel nothing like traditional massages. No fingers or elbows knead your back, the lotion is used sparingly, and of course there’s the scorching heat. But a really cool thing happens as soon as those stones hit you. The heat instantly drops just enough to feel hot but not Towering Inferno hot.

woman having stone massage in spa salon

My therapist, Heidi, placed one tiny warm basalt river stone on my forehead and palm-sized ones in each hand, as I lay face up on the massage table. The facial stone packed more healing power than I expected it to. It nearly melted blissfully into my third eye. The hand stones were hot and also equally calming.

Heidi started by saying, “I’m going to have you lie down on a row of stones that will sit along your spine.” I thought, “Okay, bulging discs be damned, I’m going to let her do it, even though it sounded only slightly more comfortable than a lumbar puncture. Surprisingly, I hardly even felt them, as they were wrapped in a soft gauzy covering. 

A rectangular black heater was plugged into the wall three feet from the massage table and held an array of black stones of different sizes. I occasionally heard it buzz as my limbs softened into the table. Heidi placed a large hot stone in each of her hands and, like an artist, began drawing large broad strokes across my legs and arms. After a half hour, she flipped me over and did the same on my back and neck. The heat infiltrated my body so deeply and aroused the kind of repose you often feel after emerging from a Jacuzzi.

It looked like Heidi had to work really hard at this, so I asked her if hot stone massages were more difficult for her, and she said, “It’s harder to concentrate on the rhythm of the strokes, but it’s actually easier on the hands.”

When the massage ended, I was so (hot) stoned that all I could manage was a crooked smile. I might have mumbled a “thanks.” After dressing, Heidi handed me a small cup of water and said, “Sometimes you can feel lightheaded after a stone massage because the heat penetrates deeply into the muscles.” I was so glad she said that. She even suggested sitting for a while before leaving. I had had previous experiences with dizziness during and after massages, but this, thankfully, was just an uber relaxation of my muscles. I stopped for a sandwich afterwards at a café, for takeout, and I messed up the entire order. Twenty minutes later, I was back to normal.

It’s so cool to get hot stoned.

Today’s Tip

If you’ve never had a hot stone massage, I strongly suggest trying one. This massage is contraindicated, though, for certain conditions such as pregnancy or high blood pressure. A good massage therapist will ask you if you want stones to rest on certain areas, such as your legs, face, and hands, while she’s massaging the rest of you. If the stones are too hot, you should ask the therapist to place a light covering over them. I suggest getting a hot stone massage when you have nothing planned afterward, as you might feel dazed for a while.

The Nose Knows: Are Aromatherapy Massages Worth the Cost?

  • Posted on March 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Last week, I touted the deliciousness of all things crème brulee. Today we’ll discuss the aromatherapy massage. Last year, at Mohonk Mountain House, in New Paltz, New York. I chose the 50-minute “aroma massage,” where I was given the choice of which essential oils I wanted rubbed on me. The choices were pure breathing, relaxation, or clear mind. It took up about half my massage time just trying to decide which one I wanted, but then again, I spend 20 minutes in the produce aisle picking out the perfect banana. The therapist told me that pure breathing would clear my sinuses, relaxation would calm me, and clear mind would awaken my senses and keep me alert. I chose the latter.

Ultimately, this was a visceral decision.I chose clear mind for its hearty scent, because I am nose-oriented above all else. I didn’t really believe it would do what its name promised, but I kept an open mind. Actually, I didn’t feel any more alert when I left than I did when I entered the spa. 

spa arrangement

Studies on the effectiveness of aromatherapy are mixed. We know that smell receptors are connected to the hippocampus and amygdala, the areas of the brain that store emotions and memories, so scents do affect us. But studies on whether peppermint oils can cure headaches or lavender oil can put us to sleep are varied. When I was in camp as a little girl, I was miserable, and the soap we always used was Ivory, and to this day, the smell of Ivory soap stirs sad emotions in me.

Deciding whether it’s worth it to pay the extra $5 to $15 dollars for an aromatherapy massage, for me, comes down to whether or not the scent of the oil pleases me. If it energizes me or helps me edit the next great American novel, perfect. If not, it didn’t cost much, and I might even love it.

Today’s Tip:

Before booking an aromatherapy massage, ask whether or not you will be offered a choice of oils. Ask what they are and what their effects are. Some spas use specific oils that change with each season. For example, the Willow Stream Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, changes its scent each season. The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, located between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California, escorts you to their apothecary and lets you customize your own aromatherapy oil. Others use a variety. If you’re particularly olfactory-oriented, it’s probably worth the extra few bucks just to try something new.

 Please post here and tell me what you’ve discovered.

Spa Travel on a Budget

  • Posted on March 16, 2013 at 5:16 am

Spa lovers who want to nab those massages, facials, scrubs, and jetted tubs without having to auction off your firstborn must read this. I’m going to save you money doing what you love most, and you can thank me by sending a treatment to me, Val the Spa Gal. (Or, you can just post something nice.)

Book Off Season

Your goal is to spa, yes? So, who cares if it’s 20 degrees outside when you’re cozily wrapped in a hot herbal cocoon in Montreal at, say, MBIOSPA? Don’t even think about avoiding Arizona in the summer. Starting 6/15 the rate for a standard room at The Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale plummets from $499 a night to $159 for the summer, and that even includes a nightly $50 credit toward the spa, food, golf, or tennis. You can float in their outdoor pool, oblivious to the melting cactus on the other side of the fence.

Say “No Way” to Friday and Saturday

If you can, travel Monday through Thursday, not only for the best flight deals but because spas often post promotions on their websites for midweek travel. The Lake Lawn Resort in Wisconsin offers a bunch of midweek spa discounts, including day spa deals, through January 2014.

Shuttle Me!

Many resort spas offer a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. Most spas are so self-contained with on-site dining, fitness (and even stores)— you’ll have little reason to leave the property, unless you want to explore the area. If spa immersion is your goal, ditch the pricey rental car. The Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas, Nevada, will shuttle you for free to and from McCarran Airport, and they will also take you to the Mandalay Bay Hotel, on the strip.

Check for Specials

Almost every spa posts special packages on their website. You might find a stay-three-nights-get-one-free deal, or a reduced rate on a mother-daughter getaway, or a spa/ski special in the Poconos. Do the math to make sure you will benefit, but these specials are usually better than budgeting a la carte. The Olympia Resort near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, offers a huge variety of spa packages that beat the a la carte menu by roughly $15 per package. Some of the packages are small—a 60-minute Swedish massage and a private bath for $110—so it’s worth it to steal a package a day and let the savings add up. Click on “The O-Spa” and then “spa packages.”

Look For Lesser-known Spas

The industry big shots—think Canyon Ranch, or Golden Door—and those associated with names like JW Marriott, or the Ritz-Carlton, are heaven but also costly (although the aforementioned Camelback is a Marriott property!) Look for the less popular spas. Their treatments, amenities, and cuisine are often just as good as the name brands, but cost less. SpaFinder is a great place to find spas anywhere in the world, designed to your specifications.

Bring a Friend

Not only do some spas offer girlfriend-getaway packages, but you can stay in a $400 room for $200. It might be worth bringing along your spa-loving buddy if you’re budgeting.

Today’s Tip

If there’s a spa you have your eye on, but it’s still out of your budget, consider signing up for their e-mail specials. In fact, why not enjoy offers from a few spas? You’ll not only benefit from first dibs on available dates, but you might also receive special unpublished rates not available to the public.

Hooray for Creme Brulee

  • Posted on March 16, 2013 at 4:26 am

I am consumed with all things creme brulee. Whether it’s the one the Santa Fe Italian bistro Pranzo serves, with a perfectly browned paper-thin crust that conceals the warm licentious cream underneath, or whether it’s in my shampoo, body scrub, or hand lotion—doesn’t matter. Even as I write this blog, I am inhaling Laura Mercier’s Creme Brulee Souffle right out of the jar. I also have a Yankee Candle Creme Brulee votive burning two feet away from me, on top of my filing cabinet. I’d pawn a pair of Ugg boots to get my hands on anything creme brulee.

I am a sucker for the decadent food category when it comes to body products. I coat my legs with The Body Shop’s Chocomania Beautifying Oil, lather my bath sponge with Philosophy’s Cinnamon Buns Shower Gel, and drop my Caramel and Toffee Fizz Bath Bomb from Lush Cosmetics in my bath.

Creme Brulee

Is there a psychological component to my attraction to sweet food items in my body products and home scents? I did a little Internet research and found not just an article on the subject, but a term for how businesses capitalize on people like me. “Nebulization Technology” is the science behind converting fragranced oils into dry vapors. The article explains that, upon inhaling something pleasant, the limbic area of the brain wakes up and immediately associates positive emotions connected to those scents—such as baking chocolate chip cookies as a kid, or devouring warm buttered popcorn during a favorite movie.

According to Air Essentials, a company involved in “scent branding,” experiments have shown that enticing the nose can boost sales. They claim a rise of 33 percent in sales for H.H. Gregg, an appliance company, when they gently introduced the scent of apple pie and sugar cookies into their remodeled stores. Cinnabon and KFC are known for pumping artificial shnoz enticers that mimic real food, through special mechanisms, such as vents, to lure customers in.

When I first moved to Santa Fe, I dated a geologist who suffered from anosmia—the inability to detect scent. He visited me one day when I was working at Ten Thousand Waves, and on that day a fire had broken out in one of the massage rooms. We were all nearly choking from the smell. He smelled nothing. Then it hit me that without my sense of smell, not only would creme brulee fail to allure me, but my life could be endangered.

If you crave any particular food scent, let me know. And if you can recommend a product along this line, even better! Meanwhile, I’ll be spritzing Bodycology’s Vanilla Cupcake Fragrance Mist on my pillow before nodding off tonight.

Today’s Tip

One of my latest loves is Laura Mercier’s Creme Brulee Sugar Scrub. It comes with a cute little plastic scooper, but I just dig in with my fingers. After all, with what she charges to indulge CB addicts ($36 for a 12-ounce jar), I don’t even want one sugar granule lost to a scooper. This scrub is very thick and rich. It borders on gooey and requires a lot of water for easier application.

The Price of Needing a Kneading at La Costa Resort and Spa

  • Posted on March 16, 2013 at 4:05 am

So, guess what? I just got back from a week-long meditation retreat with his majesty, Deepak Chopra. While staying at the La Costa Resort and Spa (where the Chopra Center is located), however, I got a massage. This set me back $160, but I wanted to see how it rates compared to the average rubdown at half that price.

The spa at La Costa is an experience in sensual awareness. The sprawling grounds are dotted with villas, a sundries store, the Chopra Center, and an Internet cafe with pricey sandwiches. A 10-foot fountain cascades right outside the spa entrance. The spa’s boutique greets visitors at the entrance. Yoga clothing, balms, and hair products strewn throughout the intimate room of ornate woods and turquoise tiles catch the eye from the outside, and are available to anyone passing by. The boutique is also the waiting area for treatments.

The spa attendant took me inside and offered me the requisite plush white robe. I toured the ladies locker area, which lacks for nothing, with its steam room, massive jetted tub, sauna, brushes combs, blow dryer, and even curling irons. The spa grounds included another whirlpool tub, gardens of rosemary, basil, and spearmint, and even a small reflexology labyrinth, which was piercingly painful on my feet. But all of these ambiance enhancers are designed to justify the $160 cost, because the massage alone will not.

 On a scale of one to ten, I’d give the 50-minute vanilla, cardamom, avocado massage a six. It felt routine and formulaic, and when I asked for her to go a bit deeper, she did, for about five minutes, and then slipped back into a light-to-medium reverie. The massages I receive at the Massage Envy in Santa Fe put this one to shame, at less than half the cost. I did not have time, or funds, to sample any of the other treatments, since the meditation retreat involved 12-hour days of ohm-ing, stretching, eating, and listening to lectures on the neuroscience of meditation.

 Today’s Tip

Before booking a massage, consider whether the treatment justifies the cost. At some resorts, only those booking a treatment have access to the swimming pool, whirlpool, steam room, sauna, and other cushy amenities. If you want to spend the day indulging in these luxuriances and don’t want to spend a lot of money, book the least expensive treatment—usually a manicure or pedicure—and spend the day using the facilities.