Herbacin Make-up Remover Review

For a long time now, I've been using make-up remover wipes to take off my make-up at night. It's been easy and convenient, but it's not always the best choice for my skin type. I wanted to get back to using a make-up remover that wouldn't cause me to tug Read more

IT Cosmetics Blurred Lines Lipstick Review

google_ad_client = "ca-pub-4557609382815411"; google_ad_slot = "7558438019"; google_ad_width = 468; google_ad_height = 15; Is this new lip product from IT Cosmetics a gimmick or does it really work? The product is called Blurred Lines Smooth Fill Gel-Crème Lipstick. This Read more

How To: Cherry Blossom Nail Art

// // I'm loving all the rich Fall colors in the new Butter London x Allure collection!  I'm not yet ready for Fall, but I'm okay with winding down this hot, hot Summer.  So, let's do a mani of a typical Spring flower - the cherry blossom! What you'll need: 4 Read more

A Girl's Gotta Spa! Partners with Lock and Mane

"Lock & Mane was started with two goals: bringing you the best hair and beauty products and giving you a luxurious, easy and fun shopping experience." What drew me to Lock & Mane is that their selection is not overwhelming. You won't find hundreds of brands, 20-30 pages to search through Read more

Back to College with Schick® #Sponsored

As I'm about to have a baby in a week, I can't help but think about how, two years from now, we'll be making another transition with our family - my oldest will be going to college. It's hard to believe that while I'll still be changing diapers with Read more

spa treatment

Secluded Getaway in the Amish Countryside at The Inn at Honey Run, Millersburg Ohio

Living in Pennsylvania, I am quite intrigued by the Amish, really from a sociological and psychological perspective (my degree is Psych so I tend to analyze people), but also because I just cannot fathom such a simple way of life. When we were invited to stay at The Inn at Honey Run and try out their spa, I quickly took to googling Millersburg, Ohio to find out what the area had to offer (I’ve only ever been to Columbus.) The location of The Inn at Honey Run is smack dab in the middle of Amish country (not strictly Amish, but actually Mennonite), which told me a few things: 1. It would be like stepping back in time, 2. It was guaranteed to be peaceful and relaxing and 3. I knew I’d be in an area I could explore and not get bored. So Bryan and I packed our bags for a weekend of de-stressing and headed west to Ohio.

It was a 7 hour drive through central and western PA into central Ohio, but the views of the mountains were spectacular, and I can only imagine how gorgeous it looks with the fall foliage. It was very clear once you were near Millersburg, because there are more horse and buggies than there are cars. There are long, winding and hilly roads with no stop lights or sidewalks, but plenty of scenic views of farmland where you could see the Amish working on their farms or seated at their roadside stands selling produce and handwoven baskets. My favorite part of course was seeing the little boys in their straw hats and suspendered pants and little girls in their bonnets, run and play. (I’m pretty sure I squealed each time I saw an Amish child, which Bryan found pretty funny.)

We arrived at The Inn at Honey Run and quickly remarked at how beautiful the setting was. No huge parking lots or towering buildings…simply tons of trees, plants and flowers and in the distance you could hear a babbling brook. It was peaceful and exactly how I envisioned it.

As you walk down the covered walkway into the building, there are carved stones that line it, which are for sale. Some stones are carved like a conch shell, others to resemble a birdbath and so on. Adjacent to the walkway is a water feature that is so pretty. My photography skills are null, so the picture I took doesn’t even do it justice. At the door is a bird feeder with a video camera pointed towards it, as The Inn at Honey Run has a “birdcam” that snaps pictures of the birds that come into feed (which are posted on their Facebook fan page.) Birds are truly a focus here, as you will see so many different kinds seated among the branches of the trees. The dining room’s wall is a large window looking out the the trees, the multitude of outdoor decks for guests to relax on, both on the top floor and bottom, give you such a great view…and our suite was on the end of the building and had so many windows (and a deck) to which we could look out and enjoy nature.

The room we stayed in was the Serenity Suite, it literally was as large as the first floor of my house (and I have a pretty big house!) It had a kitchen area, living room with fireplace, bathroom that was partitioned off by a hallway of sorts, a bedroom area and a very large deck. Aside from how large and cozy the room was, the part I loved most was how heavy the door was to the hallway and the fact that you could not hear anything! Anyone who has stayed in a hotel or inn know noise is the number one contributor to making or breaking your stay. At The Inn at Honey Run, you literally felt like you were alone in the retreat by yourself. I loved that.

Our suite was on the bottom floor, which also had a large recreation room at the opposite end of the hallway. It had a pool table (which I sadly lost 3 out of 4 games), comfortable couches and posh chairs, a large flat screen television, large rectangular windows along the walls where there were chess and checker boards set up, among other games, and an outdoor deck was partially enclosed with the deck above and glass overhangs so that if it rained, you could sit there and enjoy it. It was clear this area was meant for couples to really enjoy getting away and getting back to simple pleasures.

Breakfast will leave you full enough to skip lunch (have the oatmeal pancakes with fresh strawberries) and dinner is out of this world good..but dessert was definitely the best part! Definitely get the vegetable stuffed ravioli, Hanger steak and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Praline Caramel Torte. That was heaven in my mouth!

The Inn at Honey Run is on 70 acres and has many trails you can walk, one alongside a brook, as well as the spa and 2 other means of lodging accommodations on the property: Cottages, which are located on the hilltop and The Honeycombs, which are not only on the hillside, but IN the hillside as they are sheltered by earth. The main lodge (where our suite was) has 24 guest rooms and only children 12 and older are allowed at The Inn at Honey Run. Yet another reason why this is a perfect retreat–it doesn’t have that constant buzzing about of people.

The spa is very rustic and quaint. It has a beautiful waiting room (tell me this picture I took of it doesn’t look good enough to be in a interior design magazine!), and two spa treatment rooms. There was only myself and Angela, an esthetician, there when I arrived for my facial. I chose the Grateful Body facial ($100/60 minutes), as it included a hand and shoulder massage. Angela used the organic Grateful Body product line for my facial and also used their Midnight Oil for my shoulder and hand massage. She did a great job, as I drifted off to sleep a few times (which is always the sign of a good relaxing facial) and my skin had a glow to it when she was done.

All in all, this was a very rejuvenating trip. The accommodations were beyond my expectations, the food was decadent and delicious, the staff were friendly and courteous, the surroundings were magnificent and the spa was just what I needed to unwind. You can learn more about The Inn at Honey Run at www.innathoneyrun.com. If you’ve visited, please share your experience in the comments!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Spa, Travel Beauty Leave a comment

5 Summer Skin Care Tips from Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

As temperatures rise and millions of people prepare to spend hours in the sun, exposing their skin to harmful UV rays, it’s crucial to be mindful of how to minimize the effects of prolonged sun exposure. Not only can the sun cause painful sunburns, rashes or even skin cancer, it is also the top cause for signs of aging. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun and about 65 percent of melanoma cases are attributed to UV radiation.

Todd Leff, CEO of Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, a 50-plus unit massage and facial spa franchise with a mission to bring massage, facial and waxing services to the masses, has developed the top five tips for people when thinking about their skin this summer:

1. Exfoliate your skin: By exfoliating, you can remove the dead, dull skin debris that cause congestion and hinder skin hydration. Mornings are the best time to exfoliate, prior to applying toner, moisturizer, SPF or makeup. Exfoliation makes for clearer, smoother skin for both women and men.

2. Stay hydrated: Just as your body needs water for hydration, your face also needs proper moisture to withstand the harmful effects of the sun. Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of plain, filtered water every day to maintain the needed moisture balance for your skin. Products such as masques can also be used once or twice a week, and boosters and toners can serve as an additional level of hydration before applying moisturizer.

3. Apply, apply again: A dab of sunscreen won’t do if you’re going to be on the beach or out in the sun for any extended period of time. Typically a teaspoon of sunscreen is sufficient for the face and as much as a shot glass worth is needed for the body. You should reapply every two hours and avoid the mid-day sun from mid-morning to late afternoon when possible.

4. Battling the burn: We’ve all been in the situation where you forgot the sunscreen, didn’t apply enough or missed a spot. The damage has been done, but applying cooling gels and soothing botanicals can reduce redness and inflammation. This should be done at the first sight of a pink glow, as one blistering sunburn can double your risk of melanoma. It is also recommended to get a yearly skin exam by a doctor to detect early warning signs.

5. Repairing and treating damage: Although a tan is commonly thought of as a popular summer look, it actually indicates skin damage. Receiving monthly facials, such as a hydrating facial, can help begin to repair the damage done by the sun by promoting healthy cell growth and stimulating collagen destructing enzymes.

Find a Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa near you at www.handandstone.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Spa Leave a comment

Review: Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont in Aventura, FL

For those of you thinking about taking a vacation during the month of July or August, might I highly suggest giving serious consideration to visiting Miami? If not for the sun, sand, beaches, nightlife and beautiful people then definitely for Miami Spa Month. Yes, the city of Miami devotes two entire months to our favorite past time here at A Girl’s Gotta Spa!…spaing (no, that’s not a grammatical error, it is a verb in our world!)

Miami Spa Month runs from July 1st to August 31st and during these months you can enjoy a vast array of specialty spa treatments for just $99 at some of Miami’s premier spas. I had the privilege of previewing one of the $99 spa treatments being offered at the Four Star Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle in Aventura, FL.

In celebration of Miami Spa Month , Willow Stream Spa is offering spa goers the choice of an indulgent 90-minute Customized Deep Cleansing Facial or 90-minute Relaxation Massage for only $99. Since I feel like my pores have the tendency to get pretty clogged during the summer (excess sweat, sunscreen etc,) I of course went for the 90-minute Customized Deep Cleansing Facial.

The Customized Deep Cleansing Facial is personalized for you based on your skin’s needs and includes a skin analysis, exfoliation, massage, a nourishing masque and antioxidants for the skin. As I sipped my orange infused water and munched on pineapple slices and cantaloupe before my facial treatment in the very relaxing spa waiting room at Willow Stream, I couldn’t help noticing that there were also a number of men waiting to partake of the spa’s services.  My boyfriend, who accompanied me to the spa, was himself at that very moment enjoying the steam room in the men’s lounge. Although I love spa getaways with the girls, I can also appreciate the idea of enjoying a couple’s spa day.

I enjoyed my water, fruits and magazines in the waiting room for a few minutes before I was introduced to Alexandra, my aesthetician. On our way to the facial room Alexandra asked me about my skincare regimen, my water intake and my usage of sunscreen (I was happy that I had been drinking a ton of water lately and going through a bottle of sunscreen per week because I did not want to disappoint Alexandra with my answers as I could tell immediately that although she was smiling and extremely pleasant, she takes caring for the skin very seriously!)

After the questions, Alexandra presented a series of cards and asked me to close my eyes and choose one. The cards were spirituality cards and the one I chose was the “Freedom is my divine right” card (which was given to me as a gift after my facial and I now carry it with me everywhere in my purse.) Spirituality card having been chosen, it was then on to my skin analysis. My skin was analyzed as combination (I always thought it was just plain oily), which made perfect sense once Alexandra explained what combination skin entails.  Alexandra then let me know what sort of products she would be using on my combination skin and my wonderfully relaxing facial experience began.

I absolutely loved the hand massage and heated hand mitts that remained on my hands almost for the entire facial. During the scalp massage with lavender oil, I am pretty sure I sighed…or moaned out loud.  I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun and give away every aspect of the facial, but the experience was sheer bliss and my skin afterwards was absolutely amazing.  It was soft, supple and positively radiant.  Although it was just a facial, my entire body was completely relaxed.

All of the products used in the facial were from the Kerstin Florian skincare line and they all smelled heavenly. Before I left, Alexandra reminded me about the importance of sunscreen and drinking enough water.  I promised her that I would be back soon…what I did not tell her is that for the next two months I plan on going back so frequently she may get tired of seeing me.

When you visit Willow Stream, I would strongly suggest arriving early to your appointment so that you can enjoy the the spa’s steam room or amazing exercise facility.  Also, if you have a night out planned after your service or simply just want to look great and don’t feel like giving up the relaxing sensation you just experienced, there is also a full service salon in the spa that offers cutting and styling, up do’s, color, highlighting, straightening & treatments as well as manicures & pedicures, waxing and makeup application. And for those of you who might be visiting with companions who do not appreciate the spa experience as much as you do, within the Fairmont resort there are two 18-hole championship golf courses completely redesigned by World Golf Hall of Fame recipient, Raymond Floyd and nearby tennis courts. So there is plenty to keep them occupied without you having to worry about them being bored and just focus on complete and utter relaxation, exactly what Willow Stream specializes in.

Posted on by Gail Lewis in beauty, Spa, Travel Beauty 2 Comments

Pocono Spa Getaway: The Lodge at Woodloch, A Destination Spa in Hawley PA

A few years ago when I went to The Lodge at Woodloch for a facial and massage, I swore that one day I would spend the weekend at their destination spa. The rooms are luxuriously appointed, the spa cuisine is to die for (I had lunch there during a recent event with Christopher Drummond Beauty) and the grounds are breathtaking. Although I only live about 40 minutes from The Lodge at Woodloch, the resort is tucked away here in the Poconos in such a way, that it felt like I was traveling far far away…

One of the first things I noticed about The Lodge at Woodloch, was their superior customer service. We (Bryan & I) pulled up to the gated entry to give our name for our stay and by the time we got to the valet, they opened my door calling me by name and once inside, the concierge, also motioned to me calling me by name…all of which made me feel like a valued customer and not just some random person checking in. We scheduled a spa treatment, 9 holes of golf at Woodloch Springs, Wake-Up kayaking for 7am the next morning and made a reservation for dinner. After a quick tour of the resort, Bryan sat down for lunch at Tree while I was whisked away for a Tension Tamer massage with Gwen.

If you haven’t heard me tweet and Facebook incessantly about how much I LOVE this spa, then you certainly need to stop by and try it for yourself. I chose the Tension Tamer massage, as sitting at my desk all day working has really had its way with my upper back and shoulders. At times, the pain has become unbearable. The Tension Tamer focuses on this key muscle group to help melt that stress away. And boy did it! At the beginning of the massage I told Gwen that I could barely feel any pressure from her hands in the area surrounding my neck because some of the area had gone numb. She worked her magic and within 30 minutes I was telling her that she was a magician. Suddenly there was feeling back in that area and the tension in the surrounding muscles began to ease up. I honestly did not want to leave after my 50 minutes were up. Gwen told me that due to my line of work, that I really needed to have massages focusing on that area more often. I completely agree!

After finishing up a lunch plate that Bryan brought me to the room, we made our way over to Woodloch Springs, which is a private community with an 18-hole PGA 2 golf course. Since I have never played golf before, we decided on just doing 9 holes. The course was gorgeous despite how wet the green was from all of the rain we’ve been having in the Poconos. Bryan taught me how to play and I have to say, golf is hard work! I have a new respect for pro-golfers now!

Dinner at Tree was delicious and we each had salad and chicken that was out of this world. At about 9pm we decided a swim was in order and made our way to their Aqua Garden (which has amazing waterfalls) and their Horizon Whirlpool. On a dark night with a view of the stars, it was breathtaking.

I slept like a baby that night and I honestly didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning because the bed was so comfortable! Made me realize that I’m about due for a new mattress for my own bed. The morning was a little chilly, but we made our way to Little Lake Teedyuskung for our 7am kayaking. Since the rest of the people who signed up for the session were no-shows, we had the guide all to ourselves! This 1:1 session was great as we learned more about the area we live in and got to take in all of the wildlife. Although the really ridiculous spider that kept jumping into my kayak, which almost made me flip over when trying to get it out, was not so amusing (at least for me, but Bryan and our guide thought it was pretty funny.)

After breakfast at Tree, my feet begged me for a Restorative Rosemary Pedicure at their Lotus Salonand how could I say no? The view from my seat was beautiful and the bourbon vanilla soak helped soften my dry heels. I loved the seaweed wrap and Antoinette made my toes look pretty with SpaRitual’s Crystal Water nail polish.


All in all, it was a relaxing and fun-filled weekend that we truly enjoyed. So whether you live locally and are looking for a staycation without feeling like you are really still local or are looking for a Pocono getaway, The Lodge at Woodloch should top your list of places to go. If you’ve visited or have had a spa treatment here, please share your experience in the comments!

Find them on Facebook and Twitter, too!

*Some images from The Lodge at Woodloch’s website; disclosure: a portion of this stay was gifted.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Pocono Spas & Salons, salon, Spa, Travel Beauty 4 Comments

Bucket List: The Beach House at Iruveli Maldives

Finally! The warmer weather seems like it’s here to stay, summer seems to be inching closer and that means it’s about that time that I start daydreaming of places I can vacation. Being the spa girl that I am, I 99.99999% of the time look for a resort that includes a spa. It just so happened that in the midst of staring out the window to the blue skies the other day that I received an email about De’ Spa at The Beach House Iruveli Maldives. I clicked the link for the resort’s website and I was magically taken in and forgot all about life for a few brief moments.

The Beach House Iruveli Maldives has 83 villas, all of which are on the beach or on the water. The imagery on the website will take your breath away. Due to growing up in Rhode Island, and as I’ve mentioned countless times before, I have a long-term love affair with water. I cannot even begin to image my happiness quotient if I were to find myself in any one of their many luxurious, water-view villas like the one pictured here.

The De’ Spa is an open-air spa with ten massage pavilions dotted among lush tropical greenery linked by winding pathways flanked by a bubbling stream. The spa uses Aromatherapy Associates products in its Ayurveda and traditional Maldivian philosophies and offers a range of exclusive treatments harnessing the qualities of 100% natural essential oils. Two that caught my eye?

Fresh Coconut Scrub (45 min): Freshly shredded and locally grown coconut gently exfoliates the skin, smoothing away the effects of the salt water and sun. Your body will then be soaked in an intensely hydrating fresh coconut blend, leaving your sun-kissed skin soft and supple (and probably smelling good enough to eat.)

After The Sun (60 min): Relax as a unique infusion of lavender oil delivers intense healing properties, peppermint oil cools the skin and regenerative rose oil rescues a distressed skin. A hydrating mask is applied to the face while the body is lathered in nourishing shea butter and hydrating rose gel. To finish, an Ayurvedic scalp massage releases tension for an all-over relaxing, restorative treatment. (And hopefully your “before the sun” treatment was applying a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen SPF 30+!)

Since this resort and spa meets my “beyond my wildest dreams” criteria, I’m adding this to my bucket list of resorts I’d like to vacation at sometime in the future. What about you? Have you ever been here?

You can learn more about them at www.beachhousecollection.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Spa, Travel Beauty Leave a comment

Secluded Getaway: Homewaters Club and Cara Mor Spa in Spruce Creek, PA



Growing up in Rhode Island, you come to love water. It doesn’t matter if it is the ocean, a creek, a river, a lake, a pond..or even a puddle. If there is a water view; I’m there. Heck, my house is second tier on a lake and I never get tired of looking out my front windows to see the sun glistening on the water or see the fog rolling atop like a blanket. So when Cara Mor Spa at Homewaters Club recently opened and I heard it overlooked the Little Juniata River, upon their invitation up to their resort, I was so there.

Homewaters Club is literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s about 40 or so minutes from Penn State down Hwy 45 and a beautiful scenic view. But being in the middle of nowhere is the best part. It’s quiet, tranquil, amazingly beautiful, serene and sitting on the deck of the Cara Mor Spa listening to the Little Juniata River waters tumble over rocks will surely put you in a state of relaxation.

My boyfriend and I arrived pulling down Riverside Rd., which is of course adjacent to the river itself, and found a quaint stone house in which was both the reception and fly fishing store. Erik greeted us and offered to show us to where we’d be served lunch and where we’d be staying for the weekend (despite a broken foot and hobbling around on crutches!) As we drove up the dirt road behind the stone house, our breath was taken away by the gorgeous log cabin buildings that were the lodges in which guests stayed. We would be spending the weekend in the River Suites, which was nothing short of amazing and honestly was like staying in a luxury apartment. The best part? No one had reserved the other suites that weekend, so we had the entire lodge to ourselves!

We were served lunch by Judy in the Family Lodge, which had an amazing log ceiling, gorgeous stone fireplace and felt cozy yet posh. We immediately loved Judy who made us feel like a part of her extended family. Chef Rock had prepared us White Chili, which was out of this world, and Judy had made us a delicious salad, prepared fresh strawberries and apples, served freshly baked rolls (that I literally consumed in seconds) and gave us homemade chocolate chip cookies for a snack. After all of that I was ready for a nap!

Judy’s husband, Joe, was going to be Bryan’s guide for fly fishing. Joe taught President Carter how to fly fish, as well as Vice President Cheney. Joe was a wealth of knowledge and just as personable as Judy. Bryan could not wait to fish for trout…but I could not wait to get to the spa.

Cara Mor Spa is housed in “The Bark House.” This comes from the bark siding that is on the house. It is one of the oldest buildings on the property (next to the stone house.) There is a lot of history here…and when in the massage room, there is an old German newspaper from 1940 stuck in the wood floor. Upon renovation to The Bark House to create Cara Mor Spa, the hard wood floor with the embedded newspaper was discovered under carpet. They decided to leave it intact and it certainly gives the room character.

I was greeted by Deb, Polly and Heather upon entry, as well as the amazing fragrance of essential oils. I felt even more relaxed immediately. Everything in Cara Mor Spa is white and shabby chic. It gave it a rustic feel and I told them that I appreciated all of the white since having sons means nothing in my house could ever stay white for very long. This was like walking into a home decor magazine. I would be working with Heather first in the fitness room. Heather had me do a warm up, then tested my core strength (which she told me was stronger than most–thanks to growing up a dancer and soccer player.) Next was myofascial release. Basically this is sustained pressure through “rolling” out pains in your muscles. It felt great on my upper back since I am at my computer working all day and tend to hunch over.

Once I was done with Heather, I was greeted again by Polly and Deb with a “Chunky Monkey” shake, which was the most delicious shake ever. It was banana, chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla protein. OMG so good and I drank every last drop. I then made my way upstairs where Linda greeted me for my spa treatment. The massage table had a heated pad, which made you instantly feel like drifting off to sleep. Between the music, the scents of the essential oils used and Linda’s amazing hour-long massage, I nodded off into dreamland 3 times (I only woke up because of my own snoring!) After my massage, Deb had a second helping of Chunky Monkey for me, which I gleefully drank and proceeded to spill…on my white shirt (thank goodness for the Shout Wipes in my handbag!)

I met Bryan back at The Family Lodge for dinner, where he told me the details of his fly fishing experience over Roasted Chicken legs, homemade potato salad (SO GOOD!), fresh greens, warm rolls and the most delectable dessert I have ever had (strawberries, a walnut/chocolate chip bread and an almond-type custard.) Chef Rock came in to greet us and Jackie was our host for dinner. While we were consuming our dessert and barely speaking…because our mouths were full at all times due to its crazy deliciousness), Jackie had gone over to our suite and started a fire in the fireplace for us. Donny Beaver, owner of Homewaters Club, also stopped in to say hello. He was incredibly nice and just as down to earth as he came across in our email exchanges. He was spending time at the Little J lodge where he was hosting a retreat for those with traumatic brain injury (something he does as part of his giving back throughout the year at Homewaters Club.) I felt honored to be somewhere where the owners take great pride in giving back to the community.

Breakfast the next morning was made by Judy–a bacon and cheese quiche, bran muffins, bagels, assorted jellies, yogurt and granola, fruit and coffee. I seriously never ate so good as I had that weekend. Conversation between Erik, Judy, Joe, Bryan and I flowed like the Little J River. They were great to be around and Judy and Joe have even been married for 50 years.  Bryan set out for another adventure in fly fishing with Joe, while I retreated back to our suite to simply take in everything and relax before heading home. We finished with lunch of homemade chicken salad, homemade vegetable soup, more warm rolls, a garden salad and homemade cookies.

My takeaway from Homewaters Club and Cara Mor Spa? This resort is very high-touch with personable staff and uncompromised attention to detail. It is set on the hillside looking out to a mountain and the Little J River (I can only imagine how gorgeous the view is during the fall.) Couples get the best of both worlds where guys can spend the day fly fishing with an incredibly knowledgeable and friendly guide while the women can simply unwind in the spa (which is also open to the public.) Be prepared to eat amazing amounts of food that are superb in quality and flavor.  Did I even mention that the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in? Some people sneak out mini-shampoos and soaps from their hotels, while I wanted to pack up the bed.

Put Homewaters Club and Cara Mor Spa on your list of places you NEED to go to. Learn more at www.HomewatersClub.com and www.Cara-Mor.com.

*Disclosure: This getaway was comped, but the opinions and experiences are my own.


Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Pocono Spas & Salons, Spa, Travel Beauty 2 Comments

Review: Indaba Spa at Innisbrook Resort

Laying on a beach in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida on a perfect 80 degree day after an amazing seafood lunch and visit to the Salvador Dali museum, I was feeling pretty content and thought there was just no way that life could get any better that day.

Well it did, as soon as I checked in to the Innisbrook Resort to prepare for an entire day of pampering at the Indaba Spa.  You might wonder exactly how does one prepare for a spa day, well in my case it involved checking into one of their amazing suites, donning the ultra plush robe that greeted me as soon as I entered the bedroom and letting my mind and body completely relax, before my scheduled day of relaxation, it seemed like the right thing to do!

The Indaba Spa is absolutely beautiful, I love and appreciate that it did not have a gimmicky feel nor was it trying to be one of those uber trendy spas that people tend to forget after the hype is over. It was just very inviting, beautiful and calming, to me everything a spa is supposed to be.

My first order of business was to choose what I wanted for lunch (this is a part of The Indaba Experience), then off I went to my locker to change into my official spa gear; a snugly robe and mildly massaging slippers. My first treatment of the day was the Signature Facial. All of the products used for the facial were from a natural and organic skincare line called Eminence Organics and with names such as  Lemon Cleanser, Pineapple Enzyme Peel and Apricot Lip Moisturizer, I felt like my skin was getting the nutrition that my body is so deprived of. The neck, shoulder and foot massage that Jennifer administered (and are a part of the Indaba Signature Facial) left me so relaxed I didn’t think I needed the full body massage that was next on my schedule of services. Well after Melissa (my masseuse) was finished with me, I realized how silly that notion was. I wondered if I had morphed into the bad guy from Terminator 2; my limbs felt like liquid!

Next up was my lunch of salad, water and white wine that I ordered upon arriving and which I had the choice of eating inside in the lounge area or outside in the wonderful Florida sunshine surrounded by nature (I also had the option of laying out in the shade or sun on one of their super cute lawn chairs.)

I ended my spa day (or as I now refer to it my outer body experience) with a Coco-Lucious Manicure and Pedicure (I just love saying Coco-Lucious!) All of the products used for the mani and pedi were also from Eminence Organics and smelled absolutely heavenly…nothing less expected with names like Coconut Scrub and Mango Enzyme.

I highly recommend either arriving early or staying late or both, to partake of the steam room, hot tub or laying out with a good book or magazine.

In addition to being completely relaxed and pampered from head to toe surrounded by absolute beauty, I also gained some valuable beauty knowledge from my esthetician, masseuse and nail technician.

1) Brushing my lips with a toothbrush (which I read in a fashion magazine), was not a good idea as there are great lip scrubs out there.

2)There is a very big difference between a Physical Therapist and a Physical Terrorist.

3) The nail shape that I prefer has a name: squoval

4)Try to moisturize your hands after every wash (prevents dryness and hang nails)

5)And last but definitely not least, people in Florida really pay attention to your hands and feet, especially feet; so keep up with those mani’s and pedi’s on a regular basis! Thanks Indaba Spa!

 

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*Disclosure

Posted on by Gail Lewis in Spa, Travel Beauty 7 Comments

Las Ventanas’ al Paraíso New Spa Pods

If there is anything that continually nudges me to get my passport, it’s hearing about resorts abroad that offer magical spa treatments. Like Las Ventanas al Paraíso, in Los Cabos Mexico, newest Spa Pods. (Anytime I hear the word “pod” it makes me think about the New York City hotel called The Pod that I’ve stayed in.)

These Spa Pods combine steam, water therapy delivered by 22 jets and radiant infrared heat in an encapsulated environment that is uniquely nurturing and rejuvenating, offering benefits like significantly increasing Basal Metabolic Rate, natural cleansing of the body of unwanted toxins and impurities, relief of muscle and joint aches, pains and fatigue, and weight loss by eliminating excess fluid and alleviating bloating and/or water retention.

With only the head outside the pod, while enjoying more freedom of movement and comfort than a traditional body wrap, spa podder’s may take advantage of a full range of techniques from vibratory massage to foot-spray massage and vitamin therapy – while a full-spectrum fiber optic LED light Colorbathâ„¢ delivers a rainbow shower of color, enhancing balance and relaxation.

Other benefits of the spa pods? Increased lymphatic metabolic circulation; stress reduction; re-mineralizing, moisturizing and hydrating; detoxification; and anti-aging treatments. The system can increase Basal Metabolic Rate equal to the energy expenditure of a 6-to-9-mile run that burns 900-to-2,400 calories. Um, yes please. I would love to simply relax yet have my body think I just ran 9 miles….without the actual running.

The treatments that now incorporate the Spa Pods are: Desert Sports for Men, Desert Healer, Sea Enzyme Body Wrap with Green Tea & Ginger, Nopal Detox Desert Wrap, Phyto-Marine Mask & Slimming Wrap, and Desert Flower for Women. And some of the new Spa Pod Packages include: Walking on the Clouds, combining Spa Pod, Raindrop Therapy and a Pedicure; Dreaming in Nirvana, with Spa Pod, Grounding Equilibrium Shirodara Therapy and Ultimate Hot Stone Mini Facial; Cleopatra Ceremony, blending Spa Pod, Dry Brushing, Honey and Yogurt Wrap, Milk Bath and a Nourishing Body Massage; Full Day of Wellness, with Spa Pod, Ultra-Rich Citrus Exfoliant, Body Massage, Mini Facial, Pedicure & Manicure; Half-Day Retreat, combining Spa Pod, Masaje de la Casa and a Manicure; and Just for You, with Spa Pod, Ultra-Rich Pineapple & Grape Exfoliant and Hot Stone Massage.

Have you booked your trip yet???

You can learn more at www.lasventanas.com. (Now on my bucket list of resorts to visit.)

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Spa, Travel Beauty Leave a comment

Willow Stream Spa’s Stay Active Rx Program

With their recent brand-wide launch of Stay Active Rx, spa industry leader Willow Stream Spa is addressing the discomfort and challenges associated with recurring aches and pains that effect spa-goers of all ages and levels of physical activity, offering a targeted spa menu to relieve and re-energize.

Kirstie Bolitho, Spa Director of Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle, offers her expert tips that target the most common areas of aches and pains in active individuals, inspired by Willow Stream Spa’s new Stay Active Rx program.

Knee Pain: Start by resting your knee and elevating your feet. Using an all-natural body oil*, rub all over the knee from front to back in addition to both sides. The essential oils of ginger have a natural warming quality, and lavender is very soothing and has natural healing qualities. Ice knee for four to five minutes at least three times a day, but make sure ice does not come into direct contact with the knee.

* I recommend Organic Aromatherapy Ginger Body Oil from Kerstin Florian, or other body oil infused with ginger and lavender.

Lower Back Pain: Run a warm bath and add bath salts**. Practice relaxation and abdominal breathing exercises by placing both hands on your belly and breathing out until you feel your stomach fully extended. Exhale with long, slow and controlled breaths. Soak in the tub for at least 20 minutes. After the bath, lightly dry skin and apply an all-natural body oil to your lower back and hips rubbing it vigorously into the muscle, avoiding the spine. This is ideal to do nightly before bed.

**I recommend Therapeutic Mineral Bath Salts from Kerstin Florian, or your favorite therapeutic bath salts.

Stiff Neck: Take a warm shower and allow the water to hit the back of your neck. Lean your right ear to your right shoulder, hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side. Drop your chin to your chest and hold for another 10 seconds. After your shower, leave your skin a little moist and then take a dime amount of body oil and work it over your neck and shoulders or have a friend rub it in for you. Vigorously rub the oil for at least three to five minutes. Then repeat the three stretches you did in the shower. Ideal times for this procedure are first thing in the morning and/or right before bed.

Kerstin Florian Remineralizing Crème and Organic Aromatherapy Ginger Body Oil, are used throughout several of the new Stay Active treatments, which incorporate the natural enzymes of ginger, coriander and eucalyptus to stimulate better digestion and soothe aching muscles and keep skin looking and feeling revived and refreshed. The program has launched in all US Willow Stream Spa locations, including Fairmont Turnberry Isle in Miami, FL, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, AZ and Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn in Sonoma, CA, as well as numerous worldwide locations. Learn more at www.WillowStream.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Spa Leave a comment

Review: The Spa at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge

Traveling for me is (for the most part) fun, adventurous and exciting…it also unfortunately tends to wreak havoc on my skin. I arrived  in Orlando back from Fashion Week and swore that I could see the congestion of New York City and the weird airplane air on my face…I definitely feel it, a facial was in order…actually it was a necessity at this point. With the aim of decongesting my face, I headed off to The Spa at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando hoping that if they didn’t decongest my skin then at least they would deep clean it enough to get the airplane out.

The facial I scheduled is called the Force Vitale Hydrating & Revitalizing Treatment, it is an hour long facial that promises skin is, “Freed from stress and fatigue (that would) emerge renewed with freshness and a natural, youthful glow.” With those promises and a name like that I knew it would either do wonders for my complexion or my face would look like Samantha’s on that episode of Sex And The City when she gets a chemical peel and had to wear a black veil to cover it up…it was too hot in Orlando for black …or a veil. Upon examining my skin (I know it’s necessary but I always feel so judged under those lights and that insane magnifying mirror), my esthetician Hiromi agreed that my skin was indeed very congested, not to mention dehydrated and it would really benefit from the treatment.

From this point on all I remember is her wrapping a towel around my head, then at some point an amazing foot massage followed by my moisturized feet being placed in warm cocoons…this is all I remember because I fell asleep (she did tell me to try to sleep.)  I don’t know if it was the way she applied the products, the massaging of the face or her very soothing voice, either way I was out like a light. I woke up to “Miss Lewis how does your skin feel?” My skin felt great, my mini nap wasn’t so bad either.  The treatment delivered everything it promised, the tiny bumps on my face were gone, it was glowing, it did in fact look both renewed and refreshed.  Hiromi did caution that it was very important that I apply sunscreen to my face since a part of the facial was a resurfacing treatment (enzyme peel.) Normally, immediately following a facial, the last thing I want to do is to be out in public because I just feel wrong about applying any make up to my skin newly deep cleansed, but with this treatment my skin looked so good I just wanted to show it off .

The next time I’m in Orlando I definitely plan on visiting Hiromi again, hopefully that will be very soon since I noticed for their 50th anniversary they have a Golden Anniversary Package that includes a soothing spa treatment…nap not included.

Posted on by Gail Lewis in skin care, Spa, Travel Beauty 3 Comments