Archives for posts with tag: travel

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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I’ve landed in this absolutely beautiful city of Barcelona and couldn’t be more in love with this place, and chapter in my life. I’ve been here for 3 weeks and 2 days now and I couldn’t have chosen a better time to be here given the state of affairs with Catalonia’s declaration of independence from Spain…and the gorgeous change in season I am witnessing. There are no words for Autumn in this Mediterranean climate.

For those who don’t know, I am pursuing an entirely remote career. And trust, it is not easy. I have some work right now but not enough to sustain myself, so I’m actively looking and I have a huge amount of faith in these kind of things (especially when you’re putting in the work) and I have a ton of backup plans thanks to all the amazing people in my life. The goal really is to live in Europe for at least a year, learn Spanish and gain a remote career(s). I am currently a freelance copywriter and doing some creative directing for a startup coffee brand. It’s definitely a switch of gears from my prior interior design career, but there’s no doubt I will circle back to it if not be able to incorporate my experience within that field into a future project. I’m really excited to see where my skills, talents and interests land me in the next year.

I knew coming here I wanted to get in the best shape of my life. All the walking here helps! & As long as things go as planned (or as close to the plan as possible) I will be training for a marathon in an undetermined destination sometime in the Spring of next year. Till then, my first priority here was finding a nice gym to pump some iron at. Checked that box and loving Anytime Fitness. However, I’m headed to Prague for a month and when I come back to Barcelona I may try other gyms, because well…that’s my thing!

So! Back to the Aqua Studio:

The other day I received a direct message on Instagram from Aqua Bike Studio asking if I was an athlete (flattered!) and if I wanted to attend a complimentary class at their studio (yes!). First off, I was flattered. Secondly, after checking out what aqua biking was I was thrilled to try this new type of fitness class! I’m not sure if it’s in the US but I know a few Europeans who said they’ve heard of it.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

So I signed up for a Friday morning 9am class. I put my bikini on under some joggers and hoodie and made the 15 minute walk from my flat to the studio.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

Now it must be mentioned that being in Spain, they speak Spanish, naturally; and Catalan here in the state of Catalonia. It surprises me though that “tourists” expect the locales to speak English. I most definitely give my best effort to bridge the gap with the usual “Sé solamente un poco español” (“I know only a little Spanish”) and then they ask if I’d like them to speak in English, and thankfully I say yes. The thing is, they appreciate the effort, go figure. I know during my time as a waitress in the transient city of San Diego I really appreciated people trying to speak a little English because otherwise there was no way I’d understand them besides with pointing, nods, and noises.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

So I came with a few pre-prepared google translated sentences (helps in the learning process!) that I could use when checking in with the receptionist at the studio. Luckily Judith spoke pretty good English. Judith checked me in, gave me the short and quick tour of the facility and got me hooked up to their wifi (always a plus at any facility!). They offer massages, physical therapy, private training and the aqua bike class. I took off my sweats, grabbed my towel, locked the locker and headed into the pool.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

First, it’s mandatory to shower off before getting in the water.  On the sides of the pool were the aqua bikes. So I made myself over to a corner and pulled it into the circle that the others had created. And this is where the fun began – our class teacher, of course, spoke in Spanish the whole time. And actually, it could have been Catalan…I can’t quite tell the difference. Except there is a lisp in the Catalan accent, and I didn’t hear a lisp. Luckily, group classes mean you can just copy what the others are doing … you’re just a few seconds behind, ha ha!

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

The pedals of the bike were like rubber slide shoes, you know like those adidas or nike sport slides. That was probably my only frustration with this “sport”…my tiny feet did not fit in these huge shoes, which made the class a little difficult because when the instructor wanted us to come off of the seat but kind of squat and pedal, my feet would wind up sliding forward henceforth making me fall forward and not able to do that particular exercise for too long without sliding/loosing balance. My suggestion would be to have some sort of shoe us tiny feet people could slip on and make the bike riding more fluid… ha, get it? Fluid.

The 50 minute class began by warming up our arms and shoulders while pedaling. Then we moved into pedaling faster and faster, like a normal spin class. And from there it was a mixture of exercise varying from off-seat pedaling, no arms on handles pedaling, using foam “weights” to push against the water for a little arm workout, and then toward the end of the class we hopped off the bike and did a variety of exercises including wading, jumping, and abdominal exercises. There was a cool down at the end where we stretched out the quads, hamstrings and arms. And that was it!

I headed into the locker room, showered off, changed into some dry clothes, blew dry my hair a little, checked out with Judith, asked for pricing and that was that!

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Overall it was a very nice, modern, clean facility. There was a guy there cleaning outside the pool room as we were in our spin class so that’s always nice to see that the business cares and keeps the house clean around the clock. I love the location in proximity to where I’m living. Aqua Body Studio is on a main street here in Barcelona so that’s good for them. I’m not sure it’s a sport I would find myself doing that often because I truly enjoy lifting weights and running outdoors and my yoga but it’s definitely something I would enjoy doing at least once a month! Which is how I also feel about a regular spin class. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you locate your nearest aqua biking studio and check it out!

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376887-svetik There’s a story, and then there’s the person who tells it. Suzy Hansen is the person of this hour for me. Not only was this article an informative, intriguing and relevant read for me but the way in which she captivated my attention with how informed and aware she was of the economic climate in Greece is awe-inspiring. It is women like her that inspire me. I’m currently reading more about her, past articles she has written and anxiously awaiting her book to be released. As a soon to be vagabond, jaunting from Miami, to New York, to Paris, to Amsterdam and then down to Italy (or something like that…stay tuned), I find it very pertinent that I understand as much as I can about the continent I am traveling to – especially the monetary state of it’s affairs. It’s a fascinating subject. The whole continent of Europe works under one form of currency, the “euro”, but the country of Greece is so bad off that they (Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister) are considering exiting the eurozone because Varoufakis does not believe acquiescing to the European Commission’s idea of the austerity doctrine is going to benefit Greece anytime soon, and time is the last thing Greece has in order to get things fixed before something worse than the Great Depression happens to them. It’s yet another enlightening read, if you happen to have any interest in traveling, global economics, or at the least, how one woman writes so intelligently. Here’s the article: A Finance Minister Fit for a Greek Tragedy? – NYTimes.com.

First thing to do, read the following article link. Then come back to my post and see what I had to say on this topic. And then best yet!…leave me your feedback. Give it to me!

The Side Effect Of Birth Control No One Ever Talks About.

My original response on Facebook to this, in an all-too informal Cali-girl accent was…”Tryn’a help my economy yoo ;)”

But seriously. Why is this not a dead ringer “duh”? I mean, c’mon. After seeing my own parents marriage fail, girls who depended on men all too much, and multiple friends who birthed children at a young age and then figuring out at my own young age I’ve got shit ‘ta do!…then that would mean that if I haven’t caught one of those ships yet, I’m going to try and catch the: “go in debt, learn a skill like a mother fucker, and then take multiple risks – fail a few times – and then make it doing one or some of those skills…and thennn have your offspring” boat. ::long sigh:: All I want is for my kids to feel safe. And I would like to give my kids more than I had, like any parent. I’m not talking about tangibility, I am talking about the ability to use things that are tangible in order to have experiences on this planet like no other. Things you can only dream of. I see the future. And it will look like something rad, something futuristic, that I can’t imagine actually. But it will be great, and it will take a great couple centuries of youth who understand a particular importance; the importance of starting on a solid grounding before jumping into a territory of love for selfish reasons. You don’t need that baby hunny, you need a smack on the face, a therapist, a goal and a massage. But hey, shit does happen. Till then, keep on keepin’ on and take preventative care of yourself.

That might have been a manipulative rant, but we all get dealt a set of cards as a good friend of mine once said. If we can help our young ladies figure this dream out at a young age, (seeing the world/gaining knowledge with no strings attached) then I think we have a very bright future. What the devil may do is another story this positivist doesn’t care to give the time of day to. Yes on Peace.

And in an all too ironic sign-off “Je suis Charlie.” We are you. Freedom of speech for all!

Goodnight!

#womenomics