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Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 in Destination Spas, Resort and Hotel Spas, Spa Reviews | 0 comments

Mohonk Maintains Mission of Healing

Mohonk Maintains Mission of Healing

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Gazebo in Gardens at Mohonk Mountain House (Jim Smith Photography)

Gazebo in Gardens at Mohonk Mountain House (Jim Smith Photography)

Top spa resort celebrates nearly a century and a half of environmental pioneering

Ninety miles north of Manhattan, near the town of New Paltz, a most attractive, sprawling complex of wings on a Victorian castle emerges: Mohonk Mountain House named the #1 spa resort in the United States by Conde Nast Traveler.

Owned by generations of the Smiley family, Mohonk is unusual in many ways. The twin Quakers who originally bought 280 acres and a 10-room inn in 1869 created a success story that resulted in 7,500 acres 100 years later–5,000 of which were set aside as a preserve administered by a trust. And founder Albert Smiley was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his annual conference on international arbitration, which paved the way for the Hague Conferences and the United Nations from 1895 to 1916. Environmentally, the family took an equally unusual tack:  a geothermal system provides heating and cooling, tapping the cavelike temperatures beneath the surface with 48, 480-foot wells.

For guests, Mohonk fulfills its mission as a place of healing, and the 30,000 square-foot spa blends cutting edge techniques with traditional stretching practices from the late 1800s in Timeless Traditions treatments. Mohonk Muscle Rescue is intensive massage, and Warm stone, aromatherapy combined with Swedish, Reflexology, Swedish, head and shoulders, massage aimed at stress, maternity massage, cranial sacral, Reiki, Shiatsu, Breathe Deep and Be Well, Attainable Sleep, relief from the effects of high heels, men on the go for calves and feet, special massages incorporated into mani-pedi.

Creative packages include couples and maternity massage with 50-minute maternity massage and 50 minute Deep Tissue, $320 per couple. They combine micro-current technology, ultrasound and infusions for anti-aging, and use local herbs and stones for their treatments.  A 60-minute massage runs in the neighborhood of $170; 80 minutes  around $220; facials usually $155 for an hour.

Most of the staff is part-time, but the intensely collaborative ethic that permeates Mohonk generates team–inspired treatments and programs, like the Muscle Rescue treatment that was instituted years ago when the property began offering triathalons and the spa staff met to discuss complimentary treatments. Although the original offering addressed muscles related to running, biking and swimming, they found the treatment was embraced by many – weekend warriors,  and became one of their most popular. Later they bundled several such treatments in the “Solutions for Modern Living” that address everything from time spent working with today’s pervasive communications electronics to a breathe deep massage for sinus relief, developed in conjunction with Hope Gillerman, their aromatherapy partner.

Many of these treatments are developed by listening to the guests, Spa Director Barbara Stirewalt said, hearing their problems and addressing them with treatments.  “We talk about what the customers are saying, what’s bothering them, and that begets treatments, “ she added.

Another example was their brainstorm discussion on the physical perils of the digital world. The Tension Tamer, designed for texting and the posture often associated with the eyes on a smaller, lap or handheld device, addresses issues for  both for shoulders and forearms. “As a matter of fact, our entire Solutions for Modern Living offering was developed in the very same collaborative manner, with our team focusing together on issues we have identified and are hearing from our guests,” Stirewalt said.

She is delighted to be able to use the resort’s enormous resources. “I’m the luckiest Spa Director ever,” she said. “From product line selections to the teas we serve in the spa, I have been able to have highly educated biologists guide choices that are truly relevant to our surroundings – an indigenous connection for our guests.” For instance, the Indigo Poultice treatment is named for the plant that grows wild on the Mohonk Preserve.

The spa’s 16 treatment rooms are paired with a solarium with a stone fireplace, glass wrapped verandas for men and women, and signature treatments like the Mohonk Red Massage that combines Swedish, Lomi Lomi and Thai stretches named in honor of Mohonk Red witch hazel that grows on the property. At the end, the senses are revived one by one, ending with taste: grapes and an elixir to enjoy on the Women’s veranda, then swim or enjoy a mineral bath. There’s a lift for any guests who might need pool entry assistance and lifts for stairs in some areas, elevators in most.

Solarium with Stone Fireplace at Mohonk Mountain House (Jim Smith Photography)

Solarium with Stone Fireplace at Mohonk Mountain House (Jim Smith Photography)

Body treatments include a hydrating body mask using anti-inflammatory extracts from moss found on the grounds. There are also customized water cures: private hydrotherapy tub treatments with different herbal mixes for rest, renewal and more.

There’s also a whole list of treatments for men, which run from Gentlemen’s Facials to Indigo Herbal Poultice Massage and Deep Tissue to Huguenot hand and foot rescue.

Guests can combine treatments into samplers like the Gotta Getaway Combo where they can choose a 50-minute massage from the menu and a 50-minute facial for $310, and there are special services for older teens.

Overnight guests have complimentary use of pool fitness room, classes from yoga and Pilates to Qi Gong, meditation and stretches. Workouts can make use of the Adaptive Motion Trainer, exercise bikes, free weights, elliptical machines and treadmills, but also the 1,200 acres of hiking, biking, horseback riding and boating facilities.

Judging from the dreamlike state of guests relaxing after their treatments, and their resolution to take the spa’s philosophy home, the spa director is by no means the only lucky one.

 

 

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Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in News, Ship Spa, Spa Reviews | 0 comments

Spa Aboard American Queen: Big Surprise

Spa Aboard American Queen: Big Surprise

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spa aboard american queen

Spa aboard American Queen was big surprise 

I wasn’t expecting much when I booked a massage on the sternwheeler American Queen, cruising the Upper Mississippi in August. I heard that there was only one therapist who provided all the spa services – hair, facials, wraps and massages. How good could this be?  But I hoped the treatment would get the kinks out and release some painful muscles around a knee injury. As long as I didn’t get hurt, what could be the harm?

I couldn’t have been more mistaken. What I got was one of the very best massages of my life, and living in New York with every imaginable modality available, that is saying something. And I have been known to get off the table and end the massage if I felt that the work was wrong or too rough.

Cheron  Molina Adams, American Queen’s therapist, obviously has extensive training, but what she has in addition is fantastic hands. In her light-filled salon and treatment room, after discussing my health issues and sensitivities,  she invited me to let her know during the massage if the pressure she used was too great.  I never had to say a word, although she worked quite deep in some areas. She instinctively went with my body, using  Swedish, deep tissue,  myofascial, Reflexology and some indefinable techniques so seamlessly that after a few minutes I just drifted out with pleasure. When I came back at the end, I had a new body.

My chronic knee pain had all but disappeared, soreness in my back and shoulders vanished and my entire body was integrated. And three days later, the effects are still there,  with uninterrupted sleep at night and practically no stiffness in the mornings.

Adams provides massage in 30-,  60- and 90-minute increments, and the longer treatments are a real bargain. Thirty minutes is $90, 60 is $110 and 90 is $140. River stone fusion massages run $115-4175. She also offers men’s and women’s haircuts for $35, cut with shampoo and blow-dry styling at $65, mustache and beard trims for $5. A 45-minute body scrub is $110. Hourlong microdermabrasion and facials run $100-130 and an express manicure is $35.

Probably not one of American Queen’s passengers had factored in top-notch spa services in booking the cruise. But they should have.

 

 

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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Bargains, Product Reviews, Tips | 0 comments

Magical Oils Take Their Place in Skincare

Magical Oils Take Their Place in Skincare

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CapriClear Both Sizes-Bottle in Carton

CapriClear

With at least a dozen uses, oils are taking their place in skincare

There was a time when you couldn’t persuade women to use oils, except in the bathtub, but all that has changed radically.

The most important development is the recognition that the animal and mineral oils of yesterday really did clog pores and irritate some delicate skin. However, today’s broad range of plant-based oils is another kettle of fish.

The light, easily penetrating moisturizing products are offered through a variety of companies, and one product usually serves a number of needs. There are oils that have proven successful in minimizing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, and the same oils can be used as a scalp treatment, a serum for fly-away hair, massage oil, lip moisturizer, brow grooming, even makeup remover, simplifying the number of bottles on the skincare shelf and benefitting the pocketbook. Well-known names from Kiehls to L’Oreal are promoting oils, as well as medical and natural care companies. Many offer a full size container and travel-size bottles of the product.

Bio-Oil

Bio-Oil, with vitamins A & E, Calendula, Lavender, Rosemary and Chamomile extracts, is one that offers some very strong claims: in a clinical study 50% of people who used it for eight weeks recorded an improvement on stretch marks, and uneven skin tone was reduced by 93% in six weeks’ use. The product ahs received a long list of awards, from Most Easily Absorbed Body Moisturiser by Harper’s Bazaar Beauty Awards to Best product for pregnant women in Poland, both in 2014. I tried it on my hands, face, neck, and on body scars from surgery years ago, and within three weeks saw improvement in skin tone and texture – definitely anti-aging effective – and the scarring was less visible. A two-oz. bottle runs from $11.99, and can be found at GNC, Target and other outlets.

CapriClear

After a series of long plane rides, I used CapriClear Spray-on Moisturizer made from 100% fractionated coconut oil, which is thought to be more effective than virgin oil in penetrating the skin, and it doesn’t have to be warmed or stirred before using it. The all-natural, paraben-free product turned out to be one of the fastest absorbed oils I have ever tried; I could use it just before getting dressed without worrying about it staining my clothing, and it feels incredibly gentle and skin becomes very silky, even after dehydration from time in the air. And being able to spray it on makes it so easy, good for hard to reach spots like the middle of the back.

The company reports that it was proven in testing to relieve symptoms of eczema and atopic dermatitis including flaking, cracks, itching, scaling and redness, and reduces the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

The full-size 5.2 fl. oz. bottle at $19.99 and TSA-friendly travel size 1.9 oz. $10.99 bottles are available at Bed Bath & Beyond and other retail stores as well as Amazon.com and drugstore.com.

Australian Jojoba

Natural Australian Jojoba from The Jojoba Company Australia is made exclusively with 100% natural Australian jojoba grown and harvested on the company’s own farm. Jojoba is really not an oil, but a wax ester, matching a component of healthy human skin, which allows the body to accept it for deep hydration. This is incredibly gentle and effective, and the company also makes a baby oil. The 1 fluid oz. bottle is $19.95 online and in health food stores.

 Seaberry

People who have had problems with other oils rave about Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil, a blend of pure oils—seaberry, cranberry seed, camellia seed, grapeseed, and sweet almond— that reportedly increases the skin’s smoothness and elasticity and works against free radicals as an anti-aging product. Used traditionally in Siberia, the product was discovered by co-founder Lev Glazman when used by a doctor to heal her arm after it was burned by boiling water.  It certainly has a positive effect on skin tone; fortunately, I didn’t have to try it as an agent for healing burns.

At $50 for 1.6 fluid oz., it is available at Sephora and Amazon.

Pulling

A completely different application of oil is pulling, This is an Ayurvedic technique to remove toxins from the mouth, a key to heart health. Devotees say it provides benefits from whiter teeth and fresher breath to joint pain relief, energy boosts, weight loss, relief from gum disease and tooth decay.

Although most of these rely on single oils, GuruNanda Pulling Oil contains a proprietary blend of sesame oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and peppermint oil, which have different properties. The process of pulling involves putting a tablespoon of oil in the mouth and swishing it around without swallowing it, building up to 20 minutes. The oils attract bacteria, which then are removed when the user spits out the oil (in the trash, as it can clog drains). I found it difficult to get up to the 20 minute mark, but even using it for 10 minutes made my teeth whiter and, together with flossing and brushing, my mouth feel much fresher.

The generous 8.45 fluid oz. bottle is $14.99; you can buy it on their own site or on Amazon.com

 

 

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Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Product Reviews, Tips | 0 comments

Hercules Backpack: Truly Wonderful

Hercules Backpack: Truly Wonderful

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Hercules backpack

Hercules backpack

A truly wonderful backpack is gold in a society where electronics travel with you everywhere and comfort may be hard to find when traveling. Enter the Hercules backpack with a design that allows you to go through airport security without taking devices out of the pack, with a large capacity and an elegant design that lies lightly on the shoulders.

The Hercules backpack really does save considerable time and trouble at airport security, and away from the TSA concerns, it is a very well balanced, thickly padded bag that allows you to neatly organize your electronics and cords from laptop to iPad and battery charger.

It is made by ecbc, a newish company that has designed a TSA-friendly system that unzips neatly to expose devices, with no need to take them out, put them in bins or repack them. It has ample compartments for a portable office, and the company’s Portable Power Pack,  at an additional $42.99, charges devices as you go. However, for the next month, the Power Pack will be free with the purchase of  a Hercules, Lance, Javelin backpack or Trident Messenger Bag.

The pack has excellent zippers, and the fleece-lined pocket can accommodate up to 17-inch laptops; there’s a removable module so smaller laptops can be fitted snugly into their pocket. In addition there’s a padded iPad/Tablet pocket, a phone pocket and a ticket pocket for quick access to documents. Zippered receptacles on the side are designed for water bottles, and there are interior pockets just right for passport, pens, etc.

Hercules backpack has multiple compartments.

Hercules backpack has multiple compartments.

I took mine on three successive trips: one to the heat of the Caribbean, one to Miami’s humidity and one to Northern Europe’s chilly spring rain. In the tropics I appreciated the moisture wicking air mesh on the back panel; despite the thickness of the pack, I was cool after a hike. The adjustable, padded shoulder straps keep the pack comfortable even when fully loaded, and a padded top handle allowed me to set it on my wheeled suitcase. There’s a sternum strap to keep it balanced where it should be on longer hikes, and a lanyard to keep keys handy.

The manufacturers claim that the pack, which comes in five colors, is nearly indestructible with its Kodra nylon composition. I can’t attest to that yet, but my natural linen color pack, having gone through six airline flights with me, under the seat in front of mine, looks as new and fresh as when I first picked it up, which is remarkable.  The stitching held perfectly with a considerable load of electronics, clothing and books, and I went through some heavy showers with all the contents staying perfectly dry.

At $139.99, the backpack is pricey, but for your back’s health and the time you save in security, it’s well worth it.

 

 

 

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Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in News, Product Reviews | 0 comments

Neutrogena Rainbath: Aromatherapy Scents, Softer Skin

Neutrogena Rainbath: Aromatherapy Scents, Softer Skin

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Neutrogena Rainbath Shower and Bath Gels are distinctive from one another and seem to generate near wars among fans about which scent is best. We tried three: the original amber color, the green Renewing version and the gold revitalizing one.

Neutrogena Rainbath and Shower Gels come in 3 different scents

Neutrogena Rainbath and Shower Gels have three distinctive scents.

Short, short story: we – men, women and teens – loved all three.

Online comments indicate that users see a difference in the softening effects of the different varieties, but we couldn’t find any, and the ingredients are very much the same. They all did an excellent job of cleansing and left the skin softer; they all were very concentrated – a little goes a long way, however you use it. And we all loved the pump rather than a squeeze bottle.

 

The scents come off more like aromatherapy than the minimal scents in most such products, and probably that’s where the strong preferences kick in. The original kind has a spicy blend, somewhat fruity and very pleasant to all of us. The renewing kind has a pear fragrance that we also found pleasing, and the grapefruit tomes of the revitalizing version really do work, so everyone wanted to keep them all topped up to match the need or mood of the day.

 

In the shower the gel worked beautifully – easy to smooth on, pleasant as the scent awakened and very good after – smoother skin, no goopy residue. In the bathtub, a little produced an impressive amount of suds and the skin was again softer and felt very clean. As a shaving gel it works well, since you get a lot of coverage with very little gel and it smoothes the skin noticeably.

The 8.5 oz. bottle is priced variously; at publishing drugstore.com offered the best rate at $7.99.

 

 

 

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