My Dream Spa Resort Destinations. Or, If Money Were No Object.

Here in the Midwest, “back to school” really does signal a change in seasons.  It’s not quite September as I write this and the air is already starting to feel cooler, the humidity has gone, and every so often you’ll notice a singular tree along the road starting to change colors, and you know that the rest are not too far behind.  In southern California, however, the change in season from summer to fall sort of just means pumpkin spice and severe fire hazards.  It sure makes you love and appreciate any whiff of true autumn you catch, though.

During this transitional time I tend to pay more attention to detox rituals for the skin and hair.  All the summer feasting, wearing my hair up in a bun, and hot weather does a number on the hair and skin, and it’s now back to reality with vacations wrapping up and school/work routines taking full swing once again.  I like to use one or two nights a week to do some kind of mask these days, like Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask to draw out whatever’s been clogging my pores lately.  I’ll also add in an exfoliating treatment like Kate Somerville ExfoliKate or Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub for a gentle peel and to restore glow.  I may take a bath on one of these “spa nights” and dump in a ton of epsom salts (so good for you), or some kind of relaxing bubble bath like Aura Cacia’s Comforting Geranium Bubble Bath for a little aromatherapy.  Lighting your fave candle is always an option, but I’ll be honest- a lit candle next to me while in a hot bath just makes things sweatier.

I posted a question on Facebook asking what luxury beauty item or service you’d choose for yourself if money were no object, and spa services were by far the most popular choice. I can’t say I disagree- a weekend at a spa resort would easily be my first choice too. While I love the idea of an at-home spa treatment where you can light a candle or two and sort of pretend that you paid $200 for the services, have you ever done research on those super legit spa resorts you read about in magazines like Travel + Leisure?  These aren’t just hotels- they’re destinations meant specifically for wellness.  They’re sprawling pieces of glorious real estate meant to whisk you away from reality (and people, in general) and into a time of tranquility, rejuvenation, beautiful natural settings, and, depending on what kind of getaway you prefer, something like an energizing bootcamp challenge or a detoxifying yogic experience.

Personally, my preferred kind of spa resort would be isolated, geared toward pampering, and uber-luxurious with a focus on its natural surroundings.  I’m not into the bootcamp idea, because relaxing to me means no pressure and no need to accomplish anything- though having the option for working out is always welcome, and I’m sure I’d take the resort up on a yoga offer.  My ideal spa resort would be quiet, and I might not talk to a single person during my stay there (except to order that second glass of rose` and to say “thank you” to the yoga instructor).  While there are many such resorts around the country, there are a couple that have stuck out to me in my research, with the very last being my most desired.

And if you’ve been to any one of these …… I don’t want to hear about it.

 

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The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, PN – The Lodge isn’t exactly your typical lodge rental out by the local lake that you go to for winter camp.  Sitting outside around a fire pit on their “Whisper Lounge” porch with rocking chairs (doesn’t hearing that alone make you fall asleep?), while watching the sunrise over a dense East Coast forest sounds good enough to me by itself.  But throw in peaceful soaking pools with “heated HydroMassage WaterWalls” and I’m drooling.

 

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Four Seasons Hualalai, The Big Island, HI – You’ve gotta throw in a tropical beach on your list somewhere.  I used to tell myself that I wasn’t a “beach person” and that I wasn’t interested in palm trees or sand.  Turns out, if you’ve grown up around palm trees and sand, you’re a beach person whether you like it or not.  Trust me.  At this Hawaiian resort, you can choose ingredients to create your own personalized oils and botanicals to accompany you throughout your spa experience.  Honestly though, I think I’d be down for just a nap in the spa’s outdoor Water of Life Garden.

 

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Miramonte Resort and Spa, Indian Wells, CA – The Coachella Valley is one of my favorite places of all time, partly because it’s very nostalgic to me as I’ve grown up going to the desert for little getaways with family and friends.  Aside from its overrun festival season, so much of what the Valley has to offer comes in the form of peaceful mountain range views, gorgeous world-class golf courses, and luscious spa resorts that provide an escape from the crowds.  All I really need in the desert is a giant pool to lounge by, but at Miramonte I’d probably treat myself to their hot stone massage and a few minutes in their eucalyptus steam room.

 

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Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, Sonoma, CA – Spanish mission-style architecture and wine country- two things I love. I’d probably go for something like the Willow Stream Elements service here, where all four elements are combined to create a restful and restorative experience. Aromatherapy serves as air, a mineral bath serves as water, an “earthy” mud wrap take care of earth, and finally, you have a massage by a fireplace. Yep.

 

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Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, WY – Judging from my parents’ pictures from their recent road trip across the Great Plains, Wyoming is a truly breathtaking state.  Brush Creek Ranch places you right in the middle of the Platte River Valley, and features a resort that manages to fuse Western dude ranch with resort luxury.  For the more adventurous there’s fly fishing, horseback riding, and wilderness hiking, and for folks like me there’s falling asleep and doing nothing in your Western-inspired cabin.  The resort’s smaller, private luxury property called the Magee Homestead has its own spa and wellness center featuring products by Naturopathica, doTerra, and Tata Harper, the creme de la creme of natural skincare lines.

 

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Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT – Of all the spa resorts I’ve come across in my research, the environmentalist architecture and design of Amangiri Utah speaks to me more than all others.  I have such a love for the stark, still beauty of the desert and this resort captures that idea perfectly.  In a funny way, it kind of reminds me of Star Wars and that may only be adding to my love for this place.  It’s set at the base of a canyon in a way that just seems to blend in; it doesn’t seem you’re retreating at a resort so much as retreating within the canyon itself.  Most of the suites have their own outdoor fireplaces and terraces, lap pools, plunge pools or spas, and expansive views of the desert with open sky terraces for stargazing.  Amangiri’s website doesn’t even feature its spa menu so I actually don’t know what services they offer.  All I can imagine is that they transport you into a blissful coma of nirvana, and that they make a Swedish massage at your local Massage Envy feel like a creepy five-year-old playing patty cake on your back in the dark.  The adventure offerings are extensive, from hot air balloons to archaeological excavations to painting in the desert.  I, of course, am still determined to just find the most luxurious place possible to take a nap.

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Happy Napping!  xo, MR

 

Photo credits in order of appearance to: thelodgeatwoodloch.com, fourseasons.com, miramonteresort.com, kuoni.co.uk, brushcreekranch.com, aman.com, aman.com

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Chronicles of the Amazon Shampoo Hunter

I haven’t posted in well over one week.  That seems like forever ago.  A LOT has happened within this past week, but I’m feeling quite cozy and pleasant now that it’s Friday and the week has come to its end.  It was finals week for the kiddos at school and the Friday after is always a day off for them,  and therefore a day off for me too.  So what does one like me do on a rainy Friday off?

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DRIVE FAR TOO MANY MILES IN PURSUIT OF THE GREATEST NATURAL LUXURY SHAMPOO!!  DUH!  WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS? A BLOG ABOUT SPENDING TIME WISELY?!

No but really.  I don’t have kids yet, and I’m not the one grading the finals yet, so you can bet your mother’s rump that I’m going to suck the juice out of this free time while I can.  No excuses.

So I’ve been using my John Masters Organics Evening Primrose shampoo for quite some time now, and as happy as I’ve been to find a truly safe, plant-based shampoo for my precious locks, I’d been hearing through the grapevine that I could do even better.  It’s been particularly dry out lately (I mean like lips-cracked-and-bleeding-dry), and so while I know that dry scalp may be a consequence of this, I’ve been noticing that the John Masters has been leaving my own scalp feeling, um, stripped at times?  Of course, that’s nothing a healthy dose of conditioner can’t help, but you know me.  If I can do one better for my hair, you know I’ll try anything and you know by “anything”, that includes the possibility of going all Rambo on a few choice endangered plant and animal species.

The latest rumors have it that the very best in natural hair care (and don’t get me wrong- John Masters is still up there) is a name called Rahua (pronounced RA-WA as far as I know).  The key to this line is a potent restorative oil previously known only to the women of the Quechua-Shuar tribe in Ecuador’s Amazonian rainforests.  CAN’T MAKE THAT UP.  A couple blogs that I keep up with every twenty minutes have frequently boasted the name of Rahua, and so my itchy scalp and I decided to get along down south to the only location I know of that carries the line- a Planet Beauty on Bristol and MacArthur just off the 405 freeway in Newport Beach (or am I in Irvine?  Where am I?  We’ll just say I’m in a rich peoples’ shopping center).

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This Planet Beauty is huge.  It’s a legitimate planet.  Apparently it’s the original location as well, and to my surprise it had no shortage of the rare, luxury brands that I’ve been reading about for years now.  Many of them I still cannot afford and dare not spend the tuppence on, but it was still weird finding them.  It was like meeting a celebrity, like running into Alan Arkin at a Souplantation or something.

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Rodin’s Olio Lusso is the stuff of the gods for celebrity skincare.  It is literally thee product that famed makeup artist Tom Pecheaux massages in Victoria’s Secret models’ faces before applying makeup for their annual fashion show (because I’m sure they all need more pampering … dem poor widdle models!).  Rodin’s site lists the special oils that the stuff is comprised of, but at $150 per 1 fluid-ounce bottle (make sure to clean up the floor now that you’ve spit up your lunch), I have a funny feeling that there’s some other ingredient Rodin ain’t letting us in on.  TINY BITS OF JERKED SNOW LEOPARD, RODIN?!  OR THE TEARS OF THE JOLIE-PITT TWINS?!  You can’t keep secrets from the American public for long!

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Here we have the full line of Tata Harper skincare, sitting right at the front entrance like it’s no big deal.  I once used a free sample of her Reparative Moisturizer and I have to say, I got a nice case of Doutzen Kroes face for the day.  It was great!  What was even better?  Wasting my Doutzen Kroes face on five classes of freshmen who literally could not care less because they’re too busy popping their own zits.  I’ll be saving that sample for when I do something swank next time, like when I go to Mother’s Market and order a juice.

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This Planet Beauty location also carries the full lines of Sonya Dakar and Dr. Hauschka skincare, with the latter known for being very natural and very potent.  Jennifer Aniston is known to use Dr. Hauschka’s products, along with various other celebrities that can do things like buy horses for fun (unlike us lay-folk, who buy horses for transportation).  Even Madonna itself uses Dr. Hauschka’s line, and look how well-preserved that thing is!

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And finally, I happened upon this- the full line of Kerastase hair products, save for the one product from the line that I use.  Of course!  But I was still quite overjoyed to see the rest of the full spread here, which is typically so hard to find.  And this photo doesn’t even cover the whole selection they had!  I will also say that I got to feel like quite a professional for one minute as I gave a customer the run-down on the whole line and what each color family is for.  But what product did I ultimately sell her on?  My amazing Rahua shampoo harvested straight out of the rainforest!  Let’s hear it for the natives!  Did I tell her I haven’t used the stuff yet?  No!  Did I tell her it’s awesome and she’ll be amazed by the glorious Kate Beckinsale-like results?  Yes!  Who loves lying?!  ME!

There were countless other luxury brands crammed into this tiny little gem of retail space- Philip B., Mustela (a line of great baby products that make Johnson & Johnson’s look like chemical waste), Kai, Juliette’s Got a Gun, the entire Davines line, Rene Furterer, and a billion more.  I would have to say that it’s been a Friday afternoon well-spent (and fear not- I’ve balanced out my super fun times by doing a little work and reading for my thesis). I’ll be letting you know how my Amazon shampoo turns out, and hopefully it’s a success and I don’t have to fear the wrath of that stranger I sold it to.  xo, MR