Spa Rituals Spotlight Pre-Hispanic Indigenous Healing Culture and Traditions
In keeping with the fast-growing trend of wellness tourism, the Lodge at Pico Bonito, named one of the top 50 eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler, invites guests to melt away all tensions, boost their immunity and soothe their senses in a new 3,675-square-foot spa opening on January 15th.
The new outdoor spa will have three circular cabins on stilts to maintain balance and harmony with the natural energies of the environment. Spa will have one cabin for individual massage, one cabin for couples massage, one cabin with a Vichy shower, one Temazcal (a Maya-style sauna), and a nearby plunge pool.
Steeped in pre-Hispanic indigenous healing culture and traditions, the new spa uses all natural ingredients and essential oils in the aromatherapies, facials and massage therapies. The eco-loge offers the spa rituals listed below.
Aromatherapy, also known as Essential Oil therapy, is a holistic approach of using extracts from plants to balance, harmonize and improve the mind, body and soul. The eco-lodge entices spa lovers with the following aromatherapies.
Balancing promotes relaxation, peace and harmony by using essential oils such as spruce, rosewood spruce, rosewood, frankincense, and blue tansy.
Stimulating reduces physical and mental fatigue, as well as boosts energy by using peppermint essential oil to invigorate and awaken the body and mind.Detox relaxes muscles, improves circulation and relieves joint pain by using essential oils such basil, grapefruit, cypress, marjoram, mint, and lavender to drain and remove toxins.
Research reveals massage therapy helps to reduce anxiety and stress while improving energy, sleep and the immune system. Spa goers can indulge in the following massages:
Deep Forest alleviates stress and muscle tension in the back of the neck and shoulders. Guests can indulge in this deep massage for 30-minutes at US $35, 60-minutes at US $70 or 80-minutes at US $90.
Guatusa incorporates herbs to eliminate tiredness from your feet, as well as a deep rhythmic technique to stimulate the lymphatic system to reduce stress and strain on your legs and feet. Massage is available for 35-minutes at US $35 and 60-minutes for US $65.
Comprehensive Therapeutic Chiromassage incorporates two healing techniques – physical therapy and chiropractic – to align bones, improve sleep, and relax the central nervous system. This massage also incorporates a relaxing massage and reflexology to give guests multiple restorative benefits. The 50-minute massage costs US $85.
Facials – steam, exfoliation, extraction, facial masks, peels and massages – often remove impurities and regenerate and revitalize the skin tissue. Here are some of the eco-lodge’s facials.
Organic Fruit Facial fuses seasonal fruits, cocoa, clays, cucumber, honey, melon, banana, lychee, papaya, pineapple and passion fruit to relax and refresh your face. The 50-minute facial cost US $45.
Men’s Real Parrot Facial reduces acne and removes blemishes with key ingredients such as mint, rosemary, aloe (vitamin A and C) and oleic acid. The 50-minute facial cost US $45.
Tissue-Repairing Purifying Facial uses bromalina, a natural exfoliant to dissolve oils and cleanse pores, as well as passion fruit, an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and energizer, to purify the skin. The 50-minute facial cost US $45.
The following couples’ treatments enable loved ones to reconnect their mind, body and soul.
Romantic Rio Coloradito treatment starts with a lavender-fused massage to ebb away back and neck tensions. The treatment continues with a warm foot purification scrub using honey and flowers for her and herbs for him while sipping on a delicious tea from local fruits and aphrodisiac spices. The 80-minute treatment cost US $90 per person.
Energetic Rio Corinto begins with an aromatherapy massage incorporating ingredients such as basil, grapefruit, cypress, marjoram, mint and lavender. Then, couples indulge in a purifying facial and natural rehydration. The 90-minute treatment cost US $95 per person.
Temazcal, which comes from the Nahuatl Word temᾶcalli, means ‘house of heat.’ This tradition of purifying the body originates in the pre-Hispanic indigenous culture in Mesoamerica. Legend has it, the dome shape of the steam house represents Mother Earth’s womb, the beginning of life, and participants experience a rebirth from this experience.
Here are some of the steam house rituals.
Gentle Toucan improves cell regeneration by combining aroma-filled steam bath with therapeutic lavender-infused mud wrap. Price is US $25 for 30-minutes per person.
Revitalizing Cotinga begins with an aromatic steam therapy in our Temazcal to oxygenate the pores of your skin. The treatment continues in our Vichy shower with a pineapple exfoliation and a therapeutic anti-inflammatory chamomile mud wrap. Price is US $85 for one hour and 40-minutes.
Note: Temazcal rituals need two people per session.
The new spa will rejuvenate guests who stay in any of the eco-lodge’s 22 private standard and superior cabins, approximately 400 square feet in size. The spa compliments The Lodge at Pico Bonito, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World™, five-star amenities set on the edge of Honduras’ second largest National Park, ten miles from La Ceiba.
For more information about the eco-lodge’s new spa, please visit the website or call (888) 428-0221.
Coconut Whispers Spa incorporates indigenous coconut in ancient energy balancing treatments
Nestled between the palm-tree dotted shore and the gentle beach of Playa Cosón, Sublime Samana is reminiscent of paradise. With a brand new spa, called Coconut Whispers, Sublime’s spa provides an unparalleled atmosphere, experience and a new offering in the Samaná Peninsula. The coconut, the most abundant fruit in the region, is a manifestation of this local, natural environment in this spa’s palm-filled sanctuary. This unusual 5,382 square foot spa redefines paradise, delivering a spiritual experience.
Serene and secluded, Sublime Samana is beautifully situated on the Samana Peninsula, the Dominican Republic’s northeastern coast. One of the islands most lush regions, it is abundant with coconut groves, tropical forests, birdlife, flora and fauna and large, protected national parks. Sublime Samana is set in a breathtaking alcove overlooking endless turquoise waters, with a crystalline white sandy beach.
A Soothing Retreat
Using ancient and modern techniques gathered over many generations, Sublime merges the two worlds into Coconut Whispers. As soon as the guest enters the indoor retreat filled with orchids and rustic decor, they are immersed in a soothing and restful experience. Enclosed in wood and nature, they are transported to a place where no rain or harsh sun can find them.
“We wanted to create a spa that rejuvenates both the body and the spirit. Our techniques make the best of both worlds, equalizing these two elements. Stress isn’t just felt in the body, but as mental and spiritual anguish as well. In Coconut Whispers, we utilize our natural environment with therapies that are soul deep,” explained Azucena Montes, the Spa Director.
Coconut Whispers Signature Treatment
The signature treatment, Coconut Whispers, awakens all five senses, interweaving aromas, tastes and textures to renew the self and spirit. The coconut symbolizes resilience, fortitude and inner peace. Many of the ingredients derived from the coconut give the guest a full experience from head to toe. A coconut salt and herb mixture, comprised of rosemary, rue, mint, and basil, exfoliates the skin, and afterwards a coconut water rinse soothes it. Aromatic incense wafting in air eases the spirit. Seawater, brought from the ocean, rinses the guest after they’ve been scrubbed. Finally, a coconut oil massage releases any remaining knots in the body. This treatment unites the body with nature and rebalances it with natural local ingredients from the region.
Using the ancient techniques of Mesoamericans, the coconut is the main ingredient for realigning the chakras — the energy points within the body. A massage from the base of the spine to the crown cleanses the weary tensions accumulated from busy lifestyles. Even the circular cabins were designed to drawn upon the strong energies of the earth and to stimulate a sense of peace.
Seek New Adventures
Coconut Whispers is offering traditional treatment used across Latin America, the Temazcal, which embraces the guests as a mother does her child in the womb. Our palm-filled haven is the first spa in the Caribbean to offer guests an ancient tradition, the Temazcal, built from brick and wood.
Upon entering this structure, a vapor shower opens the pores, and all the toxins are released, purifying the body and soul. All the negative energies of the body are excreted relaxing the muscles and elevating joint tension. At the end, seawater bathes the body to calm the soul and cleanse any lasting energy blocks.
Our spa has a new twist on the traditional Temazcal experience by also offering guests full treatments inside. Guests emerge from the Temazcal cleansed, refreshed and with a new sense energy.
Coconut Whispers offers an authentic Samaná experience. As the finishing touch to every treatment, all guests are offered coconut water to drink straight from the coconut itself which replenishes the soul and rejuvenates the mind.
For further information and reservations visit the webitse or call (888) 896-9416. If you’re interested please visit the spa menu for more information about the spa treatments.
Modern day life takes its toll on your skin with pollution, stress and the sun. Your skin takes a beating each day. This leads to a tired looking epidermis and can often result in a skin that looks prematurely aged.
Many people turn to artificial toners and moisturizers for relief; however, others prefer to take a more natural path towards vibrant, healthy looking skin by using essential oils. These oils don’t have harsh chemicals and have stood the test of time as a better way to restoring that youthful glow. Even better, you can mix and match essential oils in order to find the right combination that will leave your skin radiant.
Perhaps one of the most important decisions that anyone wanting to take advantage of the skin revitalizing properties of essential oils is the selection of the correct carrier oil. It’s important to never use essential oil directly on the skin but instead mix it with a carrier to dilute it. The best way to be safe is to make a 2% dilution. You can do this by adding 12 drops of the essential oil to each fluid ounce (30 ml) of your preferred carrier oil.
Carrier oils have been extracted from seeds or nuts and used in combination with essential oils. Carrier oils serve to provide a sort of base for the use of the many types of essential oils. Carrier oils range from the very popular Jojoba oil to carriers such as Evening Primrose oil, Argan oil and Rosehip Seed oil. Avocado and Olive oil are also popular choices that are used as a base for essential oils when they are used for skincare.
Once you’ve selected the carrier oil that suits your individual needs, then it’s time to choose which essential oils will bring your skin that healthy glow which comes with adequate moisturizing and care.
Some essential oils worth considering are listed here:
Anyone familiar with the Bible would know that Frankincense has been known to have healing properties for thousands of years. Frankincense essential oil is a fabulous anti-inflammatory. This essential oil also acts as a natural toner and as a bonus, Frankincense essential oil also encourages the growth of new skin cells.
Lavender and massage oil
#2 Lavender Essential Oil
This is one essential oil that everyone should have in their armory. It smells wonderful and eases stress. It’s also a great aid to skin rejuvenation, especially for tired and stressed skin. It can reduce the appearance of age spots and the tired appearance and damage of sun ravaged skin.
#3 Myrrh Essential Oil
This is another essential oil that has history behind it. Myrrh essential oil is particularly good for aging skin. This oil helps smooth out wrinkles and firm up the skin. It’s also effective at repairing sun damaged skin. This is definitely one that should be in your essential oil toolkit.
#4 Neroli Essential Oil
If you have sensitive skin or are struggling with oily skin this is the essential oil for you. Neroli essential oil helps with tired, sagging skin, and the ingredient citral helps to lift and tone the skin. It also shrinks pores and can help with the appearance of stretch marks and scarring.
There are a myriad of essential oils that will help anyone in search of that youthful appearance. Choose the right carrier oil and then mix and match your essential oils until you find a combination that’s just perfect for your own needs.
Marilyn Reid is a successful business owner and natural health enthusiast. She owns a site, TarunaOils.0rg, which is dedicated to providing tips, ideas, and recipes for use with essential oils and aromatherapy.
Aspire frames are lighter, thinner and more pliable than any other frames I’ve seen.
Jewelry for your face
When I started wearing eyeglasses at the age of 8, very much against my will, I hated the ugly utilitarian frames and took them off whenever I could manage to see, albeit myopically, without the correction.
When comfortable contact lenses became available, I jumped on that solution and used them for years.
And then a couple of strange things happened. I got older (again very much against my will). Presbyopia set in, which meant that if I wanted to see things (like restaurant menus) close up, I had to put on a pair of drugstore readers. And even stranger, I found that I actually looked better and younger when I was wearing a pair of really great-looking glasses.
So out went the contacts. I bought animal print glasses big, bold prescription sunglasses, plastic frames, titanium frames, etc. All had good points, all had one or two flaws. The great-looking plastic frames were often heavy and left groove marks on my nose. The titanium frames often lacked style.
And now came Aspire Eyewear, in both optical and sun-glass frames that were lighter, thinner, stronger and more pliable than anything I’d ever seen. According to the numbers, these frames were 50 percent thinner than a typical acetate frame, 50 percent lighter than a typical acetate frame – and even 22 percent lighter than a typical titanium frame!
When I had the opportunity to try one of those frames, I couldn’t wait to see how it would look and feel with my prescription lenses. I wasn’t disappointed. I chose the style called “Remarkable,” which was described as “A true conversation piece, Remarkable is a perfect P3 shape offering a unique keyhole bridge design and very thin stainless steel temples. A men’s style that works for women, too. Available in tortoise, hunter and crystal.” I chose the hunter color, which was very dark—almost black.
I had my prescription filled very quickly—the same day, actually—at Union Square Optical in New York City. I chose that optician because they carry Aspire frames, and I thought they would be knowledgeable and well-equipped to offer quick service.
When I tried my glasses on for the first time, they looked terrific and they delivered on that “barely there” promise. As they sat a little high on my face, the optician simple adjusted the (proprietary) anti-slip nose pad—and voila! Perfect. (I should mention that the nose pad never, ever leaves dent marks on my nose.
Needless to say I’ve had my share of compliments with these glasses, and in addition to being attractive and lightweight, they are also sturdy. As they have a seamless hinge, something I’d not seen before, there will never be a need to replace screws that have fallen out.
So what’s the story behind this unusual eyewear?
Aspire frames by ClearVision Optical are created with SDN-4, a specially designed hypoallergenic nylon material proprietary to the brand; it is heat-resistant, has “shape memory” and will not fade in UV exposure. The frames are not injection molded, but created with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery to produce unique shapes and a dazzling array of color possibilities. That makes Aspire Eyewear “wearable technology.”
The brand asks the eyeglass wearer: “Who Do You Aspire To Be?” It references popular trends, classic motifs, and advanced architectural aesthetics to appeal to different personality types when designing its initial collection of 12 styles for men and women, as well as three sunglasses styles.
Each of the 36 frames and 5 temple designs in the collection are detachable, giving the wearer the opportunity to further personalize their own eyewear. The Aspire Eyewear logo is placed inside the frame of each pair of glasses, because the label feels it shares creative responsibility with the wearer.
Aspire Eyewear is carried nationwide. http://aspireeyewear.com/ Suggested retail pricing ranges from $249.99-$289.99
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)
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.
It was delightful to stumble upon a jewel of a spa hotel that none of my friends know about. A hotel which nestles high up in the forested hills of southern Austria on the edge of the stunning Lake Weissensee, the highest bathing lake in the Alps, a hotel which offers not only a heavenly, luxurious, peaceful environment, but also a supremely healthy one. Ideally, I would prefer to keep it a secret, but that would not be fair to the lovely Bio-Vitalhotel Weissenseerhof.
On my plane from London to Salzburg, Austria, I chatted with the TV chef Nigella Lawson. She was off to the renowned VivaMayr clinic for a week, the place where the global elite go and spend a fortune to take the Mayr cure (a brutal regime of gut cleansing and fasting). The following week, Kate Moss was due to be there, too.
Everyone who is – or thinks they are – anyone, seems to head off there at some point, but I felt quite smug, for my destination was not only far more charming, but a great deal less expensive. I, too, have been to the VivaMayr, but I was now on my way to somewhere not so far away, with similar jaw-dropping scenery and level of luxurious accommodation, an option to do the Mayr cure each day if I so desired, or simply to eat wonderful healthy organic food, be pampered in an amazing ‘floating’ spa and indulge in fabulous organic Austrian wine – all at a fraction of the cost.
Everything in this family-run hotel is designed to please. The staff could not be more helpful and friendly overseen by the lovely Sabine Loy, and the chef is superlative. Florian Klinger devotes himself to organic, super-healthy yet gourmet cuisine using fresh produce from the hotel garden and divine cold-pressed oils that he makes himself. A certified dietary chef, he caters for every special nutritional requirement and has 30 years experience in developing the modern Mayr diet. He oversees the medically supervised fasting programs for guests following the modern F.X. Mayr cure and the alkaline fast, as well as producing sensational healthy menus for guests who want to follow a normal diet.
I compromised by devoting one day to the Mayr diet including a session with a Mayr trained doctor, which was no hardship at all, and the rest of the week eating my way through normal, varied, yet extremely healthy, menus. I should add here that serious wine lovers will adore the splendid wine cellar and vinoteca where you can taste and purchase over 600 wines from well-known wine growers around the world.
Days were spent sampling some of the huge number of treatments offered in the fabulous spa which is built right on and over the lake. Here, I had the finest massage I can honestly say I have ever had (thank you Thomas!) and dithered between medical wellness treatments like Lymph Drainage and Fasciae Therapy (for acute and chronic pain), indulgent beauty treatments and body and soul therapies like Reiki.
Austria/Österreich, Weissensee, Bio Vitalhotel Weissenseerhof
There is also a yoga studio, as well as several saunas and lovely sundeck areas from which you can slip into the clear lake on sunny days. Frankly, I never wanted to go off-site, but couldn’t resist a trip by gondola up the mountain one day to sample more traditional Austrian food (delicious) and a restorative walk down the mountain on easy trails.
Those with more energy can spend days hiking or mountain biking in the Weissensee Nature Park; in the winter the lake obligingly freezes over creating the largest natural ice surface in Europe and hours of fun for those who like skating – or falling over.
For me, the unique selling point of the Weissenseerhof is that you can have the most relaxing, pampering holiday there, eating like a king or following a proper, medically and nutritionally designed diet – or do a bit of both. If you want to self-cater, there are also delightful apartments for families. You really can’t go wrong.
Weissenseerhof Hotel, Neusach, Austria
Tel: +43 (0)4713 2219 402