Archives for posts with tag: spa day

I’m all about that fresh freshness. Whether it’s scent, feel, or taste. And as you may know, I’m all about interior design and spas. Welcome to my blog. So, because I am educated in the design of interior spaces… and consider myself an aficionado of spas (you bet I deemed myself) … I think it’s interesting to talk about an important topic I have yet to touch on: maintenance (and service) upkeep in a spa business.

I bring this up because 3 years ago I visited the most adorable spa in Amsterdam called The City Street Spa. It was a dream. Literally. From the city itself, to the experience of getting there by bicycle, to the atmosphere, ambiance, quality of treatment and visual aesthetics of the spa, it was amazing. My girlfriend Shaina and I have talked many times about how we would love to own something this very size. It was bright, sunny, airy, had its private spaces, a good range of services and the treatment(s) I had were incredibly carried out. Zen.

Flash forward 3 years and I’m back in Amsterdam, wanting to have a couple hours of spa relaxation with my fiancé while visiting the city so I suggested we check out this place…as he is also a spa aficionado 😉

Well, to my chagrin, the spa was not still operating as it once had. Allow me to list the problem areas, then I will speak of solutions, and lastly about why you need to maintain and advance a spa concept (if it’s not obvious).

PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS:

1. We were not greeted in a timely manner. I honestly don’t care if you’re in the middle of speaking to someone on the phone – you have to acknowledge your customers who walk in your door.

When you show people (even the one you’re on the phone with) that you can multi-task, and are busy, people begin to respect your time – and the person who entered your door feels like a priority. Which they are. They pay your bills.

2. The lockers still don’t have locks. It’s not even a locker. It’s an armoire. As an expat and world traveler, sorry, but I don’t trust people. I don’t care how safe the country is. At a spa I should be able to leave my worries, and possessions behind…not bring them with me to my treatment.

3. The lounge. Two key things happened here.

A. The fur throws on the lounge chairs were the same ones from 3 years ago. Now, they’re ragged, discolored, and just look old. Yikes. & dare I say, “ew”. Replacing the 30€ throws is a simple way to keep things looking fresh.

B. I am also a tea aficionado. And call me crazy but of all places, one that is about your health and well-being, a spa should have the absolute best selection of tea. Especially!, when you’re asked to sit and wait for 20 minutes before your service. Two things would have made, and started, this part of our experience off much better.

1. A menu to choose our tea – or better yet – a selection of beverages. Options. A snack maybe even? Who wants to be hungry and parched while trying to enjoy a relaxing treatment? Not me. We were served a Lipton variety. Lipton?! Of all places Amsterdam, a city known for its trade of goods, should be supporting a local tea business.

2. Knowledgeable staff. I asked the person serving us tea what options we had for tea and she did not know. She had to go check. Come to find out we had one. These types of things perplex you as to why this happened. A well run spa has these things under control.

4. My eyes were not covered during my body scrub. Any type of service that doesn’t include a facial, your eyes should be covered. Of course, that permits the service provider to ask what you prefer. Creating darkness allows you to relax…not pop an eye open to peak at the process…or have flickering eyes etc.

That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to bash the place. I would still recommend it because the prices are reasonable and the staff is overall polite. It be things I’ve mentioned are easy fixes.

WHY UPKEEP IS IMPORTANT:

I think it goes without saying, now that I’ve listed my grievances, why it is important to address the aforementioned things. No matter the space, keeping things fresh makes a space last, keeps things interesting and shows you care.

The take-away points are:

  • Never forget what good customer service entails.
  • Invest in privacy for your clients.
  • Train your staff.
  • Provide beverage/snack options for your clients.
  • Collaborate with local businesses for drink/food options. Maybe even skincare products etc.
  • Always strive to create a relaxed ambiance for your client. Put yourself in their position and think of how you would want the service to play out.
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Karlovy Vary is known as a centuries old “spa town” about 2 hours outside of Prague, and while my Love was in town visiting me for the weekend (still living countries apart at this time) we seized the opportunity to spend one day traveling to and from, and submerging ourselves into, pun intended, the little oasis Karlovy Vary is.

While I will be the first to say that yes – it is most certainly a tourist attraction, there are still people who call this adorable place home.

Tucked into a valley of Czech Republic mountains, we chose the perfect time of year to be here…April 29….right when all of the foliage was at its peak blossoming; an absolute stunning time around this part of Europe. Lush greens, blending with soft and vibrant pinks, purples, blues, yellows, reds and oranges. The quintessential visual of thriving life.

We woke around 7am on Sunday, picked up our rental car around 9am and hit the road so that we could arrive shortly before our spa treatments at 12 noon. I have to mention that this was the first time in 7 months I had the opportunity to drive a car – something this lady actually loves to do. Call it a need for speed, a need to be in control or the fact I was raised by a mechanic and also recently a Lyft (taxi driver in California) – I love cars, so I was stoked. Not only stoked to drive a car but to also drive European highways! Living my best life for sure!

If you do your research you will find that parking in Karlovy Vary isn’t exactly a possibility. However, the town website offers a lot of parking options, so I did my research, and found the closest parking garage within walking distance to the spa. I believe it was about 200Kč to park for the day there (about 8€). It actually turned out to be a beautiful down hill walk into the valley of Karlovy Vary. Side note though: don’t wear any type of heel 😜

Since we were cutting it close to the time of our appointment we walked directly to The Castle Spa where we would be spending our afternoon. I also want to mention that you need to do your research when booking your spa appointment in a Karlovy Vary spa; Because this town has catered to treating illnesses for centuries and people sometimes spend weeks at a time here healing themselves, some facilities require a medical examination before booking treatments. The Castle Spa was a facility I found that offers an experience without an exam, although they do have some treatments that require an in-house exam prior to treatment.

Being an interior designer and spa-goer, and obviously someone who’s hugely partial to the AIRE experience (see my last blog here) and their overall sophisticated designs, it’s always interesting for me to enter into other facilities with an open mind. 😉

Upon arriving to The Castle Spa we ascended stairs adorned with a beautiful fountain in the center, where we then approached a pillared entrance. From a design standpoint I do not think The Castle Spa did as well as they could for the initial reception lobby for guests. It was tight quarters dated with bulky leather sofas and without a simple, “Hello, I’ll be with you in just a minute.”

After checking in with the receptionist, we were given a robe and our changing room keys: some thing I thought was a unique take on mass-ly visited spas…a room of your own to change in. We were offered to purchase the use of a towel which would have been nice in hindsight, as post-spa showering is must. Not sure if you can just bring your own, which would obviously be an even wiser decision.

The receptionist himself led us into the co-ed changing room. It was a co-ed space because it wasn’t your typical locker that you use at a spa – it was an actual changing room, like a dressing room you change in at a retail store. So it didn’t matter if men and women were in the same room. The bathrooms were separate though. I have to mention the hair dryer option was quite unfortunate – One hairdryer option was in the locker room amongst the door-lined room: noisy and loud with no privacy amongst the sexes. The other option was in the segregated bathrooms, but this option seemed as though it was from 1980. Yikes. Wet hair for the day it was for me.

After changing into our swim attire we headed into the facility. Maybe I’m “special” but I could not figure out between all the gaudy marble, glass walls, mirrors and doors with signage which room I was supposed to initially enter. My Love finally found me and led me into the main room which was actually quite beautiful… if you don’t think about the water that looks like it’s not as maintained as AIRE’s or the creepy older “large” Eastern European men gazing at you in your high-waisted side-boob one-piece bikini. Can a girl get a little privacy?! Especially when I’m with my boyfriend. 😌 A large pool was the focal point of the space with a rotunda of lounge chairs at the opposite end being drenched with sun from the skylights of the dome.

We found some lounge chairs near a rock-lined ankle-deep warm pool where there was tea was close by, so we helped ourself to a fruity aperitif while familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the facility.

On this day we opted for the (look up spas name for treatment(s))! Which included two minor treatments and access to the baths. I chose two things which I had never experienced at another spa which were: the oxygen therapy and an underwater jet message. My partner opted for the oxygen therapy and a partial 15 minute classical massage.

In the meantime we waited in the large communal warm pool to be called upon for our treatments because like other spa facilities the attendants come to notify you when your treatment is to begin.

My first treatment was the oxygen therapy which was carried out at the opposite end of the large room of the pool in the sunny area in a lounge chair. The attendant gave me a few vitamins to take with water and plugged me in, quite literally. The machine looked a little dated and the awkwardness of the nasal tubes was quite novel to me…but I endured because I wanted to see how I felt after the 30 minutes of treatment. If I had to summarize this treatment, it would be an energizing treatment. Later this evening, we went out to dinner with friends and I was quite surprised with howmuch energy I had. I didn’t even want alcohol or food! I felt great.

After I was unplugged form the oxygen tank I went over to the lounge area behind the pool and beside some arched windows where I relaxed and absorbed the sun while I waited for my next treatment.

After about 30 minutes someone came over to notify me that my jet massage was about to begin so I needed to walk across the facility to the long stairway that led to private rooms. It was actually one of my favorite features about the spa itself.

Upon getting to the top of the stairwell all I saw was doors and a few chairs to sit in, no person in sight. So I took a seat, hoping someone knew I was waiting for them.

After a few minutes a warm-aura’d woman came from one of the rooms and in Czech asked me to follow her. (Not like I knew what she was saying, but I know how these experiences go and hand gestures help 😉)

The room was basically an elevated bathtub that had jets and a hose attached. She asked me to step into the tub, sitting on my bottom first. I held onto the sides of the tub as she used the head of the water hose to apply the pressure of the water onto my body. I can imagine some people might actually find this painful. I thought it was really interesting. You always hear how good swimming is for you – so a massage under water must be good too, right?

She asked me to turn over and rest my chin on a floating pad that was strapped to either side of the tub (wouldn’t want to have to keep your head underwater would you? 🤣) and carried out massaging the rest of my backside. She concluded and left the room from the opposite door. I waded in the water for a minute or so, got out of the tub, dried off and walked down the main stairs again to find my partner resting in a lounge chair in the sun.

Our treatments were complete so we both headed to shower off and change back into our clothes for the day, which is where I ran into the drying of the hair and no towel problem. I acquiesced, got dressed and headed to the front desk to check out and return the robe and key.

All in all it was a lovely day spent in Karlovy Vary. I love me a fresh adventure even if I’m as picky as they come. You canoodling if you don’t know the bad though, right?!

We went to lunch afterward close by and then headed back to the car because we had a two hour drive back to Prague and a dinner date with friends at 8pm.

I do recommend The Castle Spa! But if you’ve tried another place and you loved it, please tell me!

& By the way…In Karlovy Vary you are meant to drink (or taste like I did) the thermal mineral water from the hot springs. It’s hot – go figure. And salty – also go figure…it’s from the earth; sulfur pools. I was it exactly ready for either so I merely “drank” a drop and was on my way. I’m healthy as it is right?😉

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I received quite the sentimental birthday gift(s) from a gentleman I’d recently met. One of those being a little envelope that said on it: “another one for the blog”. Enclosed was a gift card to the revered and beautiful Coronado Hotel Del Spa. I can’t begin to express how touched I was that this man took the time to not only read my blog, where so many of my personal beliefs can be found, but went out of his way to support my passion by gifting me an experience to reflect upon here. SO thoughtful.

So it began. I booked my service for a Sunday. A Sunday after a very heavy week that needed a little, no, a lot of relaxation and reflecting. I chose to receive the Del Signature Body Scrub, “a skin softening body exfoliation that combines sea salts with a light application of aromatic essential oils that leave your skin nourished, smooth and supple.”

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Seeing as I live in the city this spa is in,  I took the 25 minute drive over to the Coronado Island, parked in the adjacent parking lot, walked around the hotel to the left of the main entrance (I called prior to arriving to ask what the simplest route to the spa was), walked past the souvenir shop, the restaurants, the pool, and that beautiful expanse of ocean, and there tucked away at the end of this walkway was the Salon & Spa.

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I arrived promptly at 3pm where I was greeted by the receptionist who checked me in, then another woman greeted me and showed me to the fairly tight locker/changing room where I slipped into my bikini and put on my robe. I was asked to meet her outside the locker room where she then walked me over to a common area to meet my exfoliator Abe. Abe said hello and walked me to my room where this little experience was to take place.
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While it had stone floors and the walls were also clad in stone, the room still had a warm and zenful feeling to it, aided by the ambient music. I believe this is because scrubs can be somewhat messy so the room needs to be easily cleanable. Before exiting the room, Abe asked that I slip out of my bikini and lie face down first. He came back in and the treatment began. He first put a few dollops of the sea salt scrub along my arms and back, then he lightly rubbed it all over that area, and followed it up with another, more vigorous, scrub. The back of my thighs, calves and feet were the next area he treated. After my backside was done he professionally, and fluidly, had me turn over (he kneeled behind a towel he held up, which he would then lay over me as he rose) and then proceeded to help cover my breasts with another towel so to be able to exfoliate my neck, chest, and stomach. After he treated those areas he proceeded with my thighs, calves and feet. At this point I was in that zen-like trance that just happens during these treatments – and I’m pretty sure he forgot to scrub my left leg, but before I could say something he was asking me to wake out of my daze and head to the Swiss Shower to rinse off. The only way I could tell my leg hadn’t been scrubbed was by touching it, and nope, no sea salt on that left thigh. Oh well.

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Abe walked me to the Swiss Shower that he turned on for me, asked me to rinse off and told me he’d be waiting in the hall with a cup of water. The Swiss Shower has 3 stacked shower heads on 3 different walls along with a handheld showerhead; quite fun if I do say so myself. So I enjoyed this for a little bit, dried off and met Abe in the hall where he walked me back to my room and proceeded to moisturizer my entire body in the same manner he exfoliated. This time he remembered my left leg. 🙂 The treatment concluded with an essential oils neck and shoulder massage that felt delightful. Abe asked if the lighting was okay and told me to take my time leaving the room. After coming back to reality, I walked into the hall where Abe was waiting with water for me again. He showed me to the locker room and mentioned all of the amenities I could take advantage of. And that I did.
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The steam room and jacuzzi were tucked back in some corner of the facility that felt like quite the little gem due to the beautiful and bright ambiance this area had about it, along with a beautiful wall of mosaic tiles. (I’m a sucker for mosaics – and stained glass.) I decided to enjoy some time in the steam room first and then I relaxed And took some time to hang out in the jacuzzi. After drying off I headed into the Relaxation Room across the way; it also being a beautifully bright room where there were my favorite flavored teas, and little bites to eat like almonds, dried berries and even apples. I made some tea and cozied up in one of the chairs where I spent quite a bit of time taking it all in.

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After I was done in the Relaxation Room I walked out to the private infinity pool area to check out how the day was progressing weather wise and then made my way back to the locker room to get back into my clothes and check out.

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All in all it was such a lovely experience. The staff was nice and professional, the facility was clean, I enjoyed the service and amenities and it was everything a spa day should be – relaxing. I really don’t have much feedback for The Hotel Del Spa besides interior design comments like maybe updating some of the light fixtures, changing burnt-out lightbulbs, upgrading artwork and maybe more chic pillows. I tend to have an eye for amelioration. 😉

I feel so grateful to have been able to experience a spa day at such an iconic (and local!) Hotel & Spa. It was much needed and the fact that there was such a considerate gesture behind my ability to be in this moment, made it all the sweeter. If you’re reading this Cowboy, thank you.

Till the next spa experience!

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After being on a month long adventure where I went in knowing I was going to be able to be myself entirely, and then being accepted for that, I couldn’t agree with this article more. Because well, sometimes we wind up in situations where we have to tiptoe around people and, ew. That was and is the great thing about planning out your life, you can choose the situations you put yourself into, or take yourself out of. However, sometimes sacrifices have to be…that I understand. Any who, I put myself into homes and situations I knew I was going to be comfortable with – the comfort level I know and prefer.

Given, I chose not to backpack across the world without showers or a close-by laundry machine or a with a 50 pound bag on my back..I continued to live the way I do at home. Leisurely. I stayed with friends/family in Miami, New York and Cascais, Portugal, and then we shared our own apartment in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Lisbon. The person I met up with to travel a few of those places with (Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona), fully understood how I like to live. As he says, he knew what he was getting himself into. Lucky for me, he’s great at reading people. He majored in journalism with a focus in digital media so understanding people is key to what he does for a living. We’ve known of each other through mutual friends for probably 6+ years now? So he’s been able to watch (social media), chat with me about, and comprehend how I carry myself. What I didn’t realize was how special and understood it made me feel to be with someone who let me take care of myself (and be taken care of) how I like to. I think I’ve always tried to come across as low-maintenance. The guys-girl. No more.

Let me just share a bit of my routines….

It’s true I don’t contour my face with makeup, just the tinted sunscreen moisturizer (no wrinkles or sun damage please!) on the face, with accentuated eyes (eyeshadow and mascara), a little blush for rosey high-lighted cheekbones, and maybe some lipstick and liner, or just chapstick. So I may come across as the girl who doesn’t look like I am wearing much makeup but trust that it is there and it takes time. You can also guarantee I am the girl who religiously washes my face, am picky about my products, and brush/flosses day and night, and maybe in between. (I’ve heard successful people floss their teeth. Sticking to it.)

But I also take long showers….so I spend quite a bit of time hanging out in the bathroom. It’s like my own daily spa experience, something I have been exposing myself to more and more lately. I have long hair that needs to be washed appropriately (cool water). I have legs, arms, armpits and a bikini line I have to shave sometimes. I moisturize every part of my body. I tweeze. I usually paint my own nails and toes. I like to give myself a blowout when I dry my hair; it’s so straight it needs that luscious and voluminous volumne you can’t get from air-drying. And hey, sometimes I like to feel girly and curl it. Then there are the days where I don’t wash my hair but I have to use that golden product, dry shampoo, to take away the days buildup of oil. And then comes the styling of that day (or two) old hair. Time.

I could easily (or maybe more like painfully, for me) run out of the house with just brushing my teeth and throwing my hair up, but that is not the essence of my soul or how I prefer to treat the one vessel I have been given. I am an artist by nature in the way I live and I choose to express that in how I look, dress and experience life.

I have adamantly worked out since I graduated high school. Another thing that takes time, and is damn worth it. Now at 28 I couldn’t be more comfortable in my sexuality and skin because I’ve worked hard to be where I am at physically, and nutritionally. If I don’t take care of my body, who will? Like this article says, you are treated how you treat yourself. And I refuse to subdue my maintenance levels any longer. I now know what it is like to be with someone who fully accepts and works around/into how I care for myself. And you know what? The level of how much he showed me he cared, was almost unbelievable. If like this article says, those two things correlate, well then I’m joining this #HighMaintenanceMovement.

Booking my next spa appointment very soon. Something this true gentleman I speak of also graciously accompanied me to in Barcelona…at the phenomenal, and surreal, Aire Ancient Baths. And what’s funny, he also just told me that because of our time spent together, he realized the “Princess type”, that he’s dated before, is what he prefers too. It just took him time to figure out and accept. It works for him. And it definitely worked for me. He likes a woman who is assertive, confident and knows how she likes to be treated and who wouldn’t put up with anything less. And she’s also fairly dolled up on the regular? What guy doesn’t like a pretty girl on his arm? None. Or he’s lying.

Click the article link below to hear where I found my inspiration and soundboard for this article.

Why Women Shouldn’t Feel Ashamed To Call Themselves High Maintenance.