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Coffee Spa Treatments & Products = Yes!

  • Posted on January 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Happy New Year, everyone! I decided to try something different this year. Instead of writing my own resolutions, I’ve come up with a few for you, my readers! First resolution (repeat along with me): I will try to get to that spa I’ve had my eye on. (Day spas count.) Two: I will try at least one new skincare or hair product. Three: I will follow Val The Spa Gal religiously and tell everyone I ever met to do the same. If you have any issues with these resolutions, you can contact my complaint department. However, I did give them the year off. Okay, now for today’s topic: Coffee + Spa = Good. How popular is this caffeinated crowd pleaser in spa products?

Coffee Massage

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants, which fight free radicals (those pesky molecules that wreak havoc on the skin), but the greater benefit for some is its caffeine content. Next time you wake up with puffy eyes and you don’t have cucumbers or hemorrhoid cream available—a remedy that works because it constricts the blood vessels—try coffee grounds. The caffeine found in coffee beans acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. One way to use coffee for tired or puffy eyes is to either retain some brewed coffee grounds, wait for them to cool, and then apply them under your eyes and on the lids. The other method is to simply dip a cotton ball or face cloth in fresh coffee, let it cool, and do the same. Using the coffee grounds directly might yield better results.

The two products I use at home both contain coffee beans, among other ingredients. Farmhouse Fresh Triple Shot Caramel Coffee (12 oz.; $34) is a sweet java-scented luscious body polish, with a yummy hint of caramel. It contains the arabica coffee bean seed extract, caffeine, shea butter, and coconut, and is paraben- and sulfate-free. Add a handful to water in the shower and use as a full-body scrub. It’s absolutely delicious.

Farmhouse Fresh Triple Shot Caramel Coffee

Invigo-Spa makes a hearty coffee scrub derived from such places as Madagascar, Ceylon, Ethiopia, India, France, Arabia, and Brazil. This face and body scrub is much more coarse than Farmhouse Fresh’s product and evokes a bolder, more robust coffee scent that can be overwhelming, yet it offers a heavy-duty exfoliation. Although it’s labeled as a face and body scrub, I prefer a gentler texture in a facial scrub.

For a natural indulgence, sans synthetic chemicals or toxic preservatives, try the Cocoa Kona Coffee Body Cream (8 oz.; $17), or the Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (0.5 oz.; $17), both by 100% Pure. Check out all their vegan, gluten-free, coffee/caffeine products, including coffee cherry treatments for sun damage. 

Coffee for facial

Spas all over the world offer various coffee- and caffeine-infused treatments, and what better way to perk up the mind and body, and fight inflammation while on a spa vacation than a coffee-inspired pick-me-up? Many dermatologists agree that it can reduce the appearance of cellulite, but don’t hail it as a cure-all. The Anushka Spa in West Palm Beach offers a Slimming Café Wrap, (60 minutes; $110) is a hot cellulite-busting treatment, with espresso coffee grounds, cinnamon bark, and green tea. The raised body temperature promotes cellular metabolism and eliminates water retention.

Treat your feet to a Natural Coffee Bean Spa Pedicure ($55) at iNail Artistry & Spa in Kansas City. They will soak your tootsies in a bath of ground coffee beans, then apply a coffee mask and rejuvinate you from calves to digits. They occasionally offer specials, contests, and Groupons.

What would the coffee capital of America—Seattle—be without coffee-drenched spa treatments? Paule Attar Salon and Spa delivers a blissful 60-minute Anti-Toxin Body Wrap With Green Coffee, for $102. The Salish Lodge & Spa is a gorgeous rustic getaway that will revive you with a 50-minute Northwest Coffee Exfoliation (click on “Body Therapies”) made from locally grown roast coffee and Dead Sea salt, for $125.

Coffee Foot Soak

Ever thought about bathing in coffee? Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, a hot springs spa and water park in Hakone, Japan, offers this quirky soaking option. They also offer tubs of green tea and wine. (Int+81) 0460-82-4126.

Coffee Spa in Japan

The Spa at the Hotel Galvez, in Galveston Island, Texas, will treat your cheeks and peepers to a CoffeeBerry Facial (50 minutes; $115), an organic delight infused with anti-aging Whole Coffee Fruit product. 

Kid and Teen Spa Treatments Are in Vogue

  • Posted on September 20, 2013 at 2:51 am

It’s back to school. A new year. Maybe even a new grade. Unfamiliar faces. Homework. Stress. No worries! Kid and teen spa treatments are here to help.

Spas are getting hip to the idea that teens might want to experience the benefits of spa treatments. They might be going through a period of acne and could use a facial to help diminish imperfections. Perhaps they are involved in sports and could use a massage to ease muscle soreness. My little sister (from Big Brothers/Big Sisters) is 12 and going through a serious nail-design addiction.

Teen facials

Spas that offer teen and kid treatments tend to focus on hair, manicures and pedicures, makeup application, and short massages. Prices are typically lower than adult spa rates and are generally between $25 and $80 a treatment. If you’re ready to help your teen de-stress with a spa treatment (or you are a teen yourself), here’s a list of spas that are ready to indulge the younger sect:

The Agua Serena Spa offers treatments for “The Little Spa Goer.” This sprawling sanctuary is located in the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells, California (Palm Springs area) and boasts one of the most extensive spa menus I’ve ever seen. Their youth treatments are designed for youngsters ages 10 to 15 and include “Happy Feet/Happy Hands,” a 30- or 60-minute mani-pedi, a “Mini Duet,” which is a 30- or 60-minute massage with a same-gender therapist, alongside a parent or adult, and a 30-minute“Elementary Skincare” session, which introduces young ones to proper skin care. 760-341-1000

Tweens Pedicures

The Top-Notch Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont pampers teens of all ages with a “Total Teen Facial,” a 50-minute indulgence that includes cleansing, toning, steam, mask, and facial massage. Other teen pleasures include a 25-minute “Super Sugar Scrub” or “Fitness Massage.” Teenagers can receive a 50-minute one-on-one session with a certified personal trainer in the “Teen Tune-Up.” 800-451-8686

From nose to toes, kids are spoiled at the Scooops Kid Spa at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan. Their sizable menu includes a la carte luxuries such as a chocolate facial and a vanilla or strawberry mani-pedi, but they also feature teen/tween packages such as a “Single Scooop,” a delicacy that includes an ice cream flavored manicure, a Scooops plush robe, and a swag bag, all for $79.99. 866-478-9653

At Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck Key, Florida, guests ages 8 to 15 can not only wallow in the “Jazzy Island Manicure and Pedicure,” chill with a Swedish massage (performed with a bathing suit on), learn French braid styling, and enjoy makeup lessons, they can also swim with the bottelnose dolphins that grace the turquoise waters of the Keys. 1-888-395-5539

Kids four years old and up can revel in the sumptuous choices at Isabelle’s European Day Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The little ones (ages 4-12) are treated to facials, pedicures, and haircuts, while the 13-17-year-olds can relax with a French manicure, waxing, facial, and more. 1-210-493-5544

Tween girl getting manicure

Today’s Tip

Check with each spa on their policies regarding children and teens. Ask what ages they serve, what treatments they offer, and whether gender preferences are guaranteed. Some spas require a parent or other adult to be present during the treatment. Make sure your kid wants to partake in the spa treatment before booking it. Most websites offer descriptions and prices of their offerings. If not, call and ask.



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.