The Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC carries the luxurious Carita skincare line, a leader in anti-aging skin care products . Founded by the Carita sisters, well known hairdressers in Paris, they created a brand that symbolizes luxury and beauty that’s proven itself for over 60 years!
This brief “60 seconds or less” Confessions of a Spa Bunny video highlights my introduction to Carita and exhibits a style reflective of the history and luxury feel behind the brand.
Before I knew and experienced the world of travel and spas, I would immerse my passion, feelings, and thoughts into words. Pencil to paper, I had a passion for poetry and have realized it’s been quite some time since I’ve tapped into my treasured gift .
The last few years, I’ve been on a mission, a journey to combine all my passion and purpose into my business, and live a healthy and fulfilling life doing what I love! With all the stimuli the external world fills our minds with, it’s easy to loose yourself in the whirlwind of negativity, conditioning, and information that takes you away from your own sense of self.
My motto is it’s important to “take the time to take a time-out”, and through my travels and spa experiences, SPA has become more than something to do or somewhere to go for relaxation. SPA has afforded me a place, a community, a family, and an opportunity to connect more deeply with my mind, body, and soul.
With “The New Language of Spa” being this year’s theme for next week’s Washington Spa Alliance Symposium, I felt inspired, and wanted to share with you, through these words, what the Language of SPA means to me.
The Language of SPA
The language of SPA has no barrier It’s as pure as essential oil without a carrier It whispers through water in a thermal spring And raises my vibration when the Tibetan bowl sings
As if the clouds heard my cry and came rushing to ease my pain Vichy and aromatherapy drip down my back like summer rain It’s calm in the chaos, an umbrella in a storm It flows through your senses and becomes your lifestyle norm
Gender, race, and social status, the language of SPA rises above Because the only thing that matters, is how it wraps you up in a blanket of love It carries no age, and wears no face The language of SPA transcends time and travels at its own energetic pace
The language of SPA reminds you to recognize and value your self-worth As it reconnects you to the healing benefits naturally provided by the earth It fills my breath like salt from a Himalayan cave And caresses my fears like the tides from an ocean wave
But yet, the language of SPA, some fail to hear Though the mind, body, spirit dialect sounds oh so clear You may have misconceptions, and associate its history with luxury, indulgence, and wealth But when properly translated, you’ll find roots in self-care, mindfulness, and better health
You can only understand it if you’re willing and able It may come to you in the sauna, during meditation, or on the massage table The language of SPA is spoken around the globe With a universal outfit..you know.. the spa robe
The language of SPA makes no promises, it’s no magical fountain of youth Instead it opens up your mind and encourages you to seek your own truth Delivering unique messages in the silence that only you can see Your “Soul’s Purpose Aligned” is what the language of SPA says to me
The language of SPAHH, YES, you can speak it too Just close your eyes, now listen….what does SPA say to YOU?
During my visit to Costa Rica, I was able to discover the gem that is Terra Spa, located in the lush Gaia Hotel & Reserve complex in Manuel Antonio. Nestled on top of a rainforest lined path, the only way to the top was via a golf cart ride provided once you arrive at the reserve. The scenic ride was just a teasing preview of what was in store at the spa!
Check out my “confessions” video for a sneak peek inside Terra Spa:
Ensuring I indulged as much as possible on my last full day in paradise, my day of treatments consisted of a:
Costa Rican Ginger & Honey Scrub with Vichy Shower -hand crafted with fresh ginger, honey, and cane sugar, a truly invigorating and refreshing mix provided a light exfoliation, hydration, and anti-inflammatory effects. Combined with the warm pulsating pressure-point massage of the 5 head vichy rain shower, I felt renewed and relaxed.
Hair Hydrating Mask – a mixture of rosemary, lavender, cedar, and ylang ylang, my therapist, Milton, applied the mask during my vichy treatment. I was surprisingly impressed with the care and patience that was exhibited as my hair was gently washed, marinated, and detangled, in addition to a scrumptious scalp massage.
Rainforest Hot Stone Therapy – Costa Rican river stones and essential oils relieved the remaining remnants of my week of zip lining and hiking adventures in the rainforest.
Arco Iris Facial- an organic experience with a cleansing coffee/vanilla scrub, volcanic clay mask, and aroma soothing facial massage. I emerged with a glow as radiant as a Costa Rican sunrise highlighting the ocean.
I wrapped up my visit to Gaia with lunch and panoramic views of the Pacific ocean and surrounding rainforest at the reserve’s La Luna Restaurant. I was whisked away the same way I arrived, and started feeling sad as the beauty of the rainforest, the spa, and everything I was leaving behind got further and further from my reach as I sat on the back of the golf cart and prepared for my return home the next day.
So it’s the “eve” of Christmas Eve, and many of you may still be shopping for those last minute gifts for family and friends (or even for yourself). I don’t get overly involved in Christmas shopping anymore, as I buy enough things throughout the year, and like to share special items with friends and family when I discover them, versus waiting for a particular day of the year to do so.
As such, figured I’d do a quick list to feature some items and activities I’ve enjoyed recently, and they may just be the right last minute gift idea you were looking for. Most of these items are fairly easy to find or create, inexpensive, and can be picked up at that 11th hour before stores start closing their doors for the holidays.
Believing that individuals should take the time to take a “time-out”, each of these gift ideas allows you (or your gift recipient) to do just that. Whether its for 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I’ve integrated these things into my life in 2015 to stimulate my mind, take care of my body, and nourish my soul.
Hope you will enjoy a spa bunny “time-out” during the holidays and in the New Year to come!
The Confessions of a Spa Bunny Top 10″Time-Out” Gift Ideas:
Alluring Aromatherapy – I’m so in love with aromatherapy, and can always find a scent to match my mood, lift my mood, and combat whatever ails me. Essential oils (EO) offer you so many health benefits, from easing a headache (peppermint oil), to invoking a sense of calm (lavender), helping you breath easier (eucalyptus), or helping your mind focus (rosemary). I’ve moved beyond just using oils topically My favorite EO brand is 21 drops for applying topically, as it is already pre-blended in 100% organic Jojoba oil to a safe and effective concentration. I throw them in my purse and can use throughout the day as needed.
My latest obsession however, is with aromatherapy diffusers. Little machines that allow you to place pure essential oils in them (do not use oils already blended with a carrier in your diffuser), and the resulting
scent is diffused into the air. Some require water, some don’t. Some require an electrical outlet, and some are portable and powered by batteries. There are even some designed especially for your car! The fancier offer color and/or sound therapy as an additional feature. The type of diffuser you choose is up to you, but most are very easy to use. They all have the same goal in mind: allowing you to experience the benefits of aromatherapy through unconscious inhalation, as the selected scent magically fills your room or office. Beats the chemical laden air fresheners that are sold by many manufacturers, and causes more harm than good. I’ve tried several and must say my favorite is palm-sized portable diffuser by Spa Room that runs on AA batteries and uses an essential oil absorbing pad which you can layer with one scent or multiple scents to create your own customized blend. You can find aromatherapy oils and diffusers online at places like Amazon or Puritans Pride, or in your local home goods stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Ross.
Invoking Childlike Creativity – Word on the street is adult coloring books are the next best thing to meditation. While I can’t attest to the validity of that statement at this time, I did recently provide attendees from my last Confessions of a Spa Bunny”time-out” event with their own mandala coloring book and a set of coloring pencils. One night I picked a page and started coloring in my book – a design with lots of parrots in trees – Jungle Wonders I believe was the theme of this particular book. I did not feel the same sense of calm as meditation, but it did take my mind off of anything else I may have been pondering on before I started. It allowed me to focus in the moment on that parrot and what color his next feather would be. Definitely a great gift for keeping your mind sharp and sparking that creativity you may not have otherwise brought to life. The types of books and designs in them seem endless, so find one that speaks to you and give it a try. I found my book and supplies at Five Below, but have also seen them in Barnes & Nobles, and Dollar General.
Spa Pedicure & Chill – This past Saturday night, I gathered all my pedicure products and had me a good ole at-home spa pedicure night. Whether you want to give the pedicure or let the individual do their own, it really doesn’t take much to create a basket full of pampering goodies for your feet! Whether you buy a spa pedicure machine, or just pour hot water in a large pot or tub, the desired effect can still be created. Visit your local Walgreens, CVS, or spa boutique, and pick up some nail files/clippers, buffers, body or foot scrub, moisturizing lotion, fuzzy socks, and nail polish. You can take it a step further and create a more organic and detoxifying foot soak by adding fresh lemon, essential oils, baking soda, or apple cider vinegar to the water. Light some candles or turn on that aromatherapy diffuser to further create a relaxing spa-like environment. Proceed to meditate, put on a Netflix movie, or start that book you’ve been wanting to read while you let those toes soak and chill. A perfect winter “time-out” whether you are solo or if you make it a pedicure pampering party for two.
Motivating Mindfulness– How often does one stop to live in the moment? To recognize the beauty around you, to put that thought to paper, to set intention into your day, or to just say thanks for all the things you are grateful for. Find gifts that inspire, that invoke these feelings of gratitude. Whether its a journal inscribed with an inspirational message, a book of mindful quotes, a scenic picture of nature, a spiritual symbol, or cards printed with positive words and affirmations which you can reflect on throughout the day, sometimes it just takes a small momentum to motivate mindfulness throughout your day.
Cozy Therapy – There’s nothing like coming home from a long day at work, getting a shower, making a cup of tea and winding down with a warm neck wrap. you’d be surprised how much tension you carry in your neck, back, and shoulders throughout the day. A little hot neck wrap therapy can do wonders! These also come in many varieties, and for different areas of your body. You have your traditional neck wraps, which you can heat in the microwave (or with a towel warmer), or some styles require an electrical outlet, but provide continuous heat without the need to reheat. Then you also have larger body wraps that cover larger portions of your targeted area, cozy socks that can also be heated for those tired feet, as well as eye masks and warming wrist wraps. I’ve seen them all. For kids (or big adult kids), they even have stuffed animals that actually turn into heated buddies that you can warm up and cuddle with at night. Some of the electric or battery operated ones add the element of massage, while others are infused with aromatherapy, so you get those benefits as well. Most can be served cold to relieve different ailments (by placing in the freezer for a designated time period) thus serving as both a heat and ice pack in one gift. I always see these in my local Marshalls/TJ Maxx/Ross stores, as well as spa boutiques, online, and other department stores.
Music for the Soul – Sound can be so therapeutic. Ever been having a bad day, then your favorite jam comes on the radio, and you totally forget all the negative things that were consuming your mind? Somehow music gets into your bones, into your head, and into your soul. It does allow you to dance like no one is watching, and most times you don’t even care if someone is. Brighten a day with the sound of music. Whether its buying a CD of a favorite artists, a subscription to unlimited music downloads or access via MP3, creating a customized playlist, buying an instrument, or gadgets to help enhance your music experience like speakers or headphones, the options are limitless for bringing sound therapy into your next “time-out” session.
Wine & Dine – I must say, until this past week, my wine experiences have been quite novice to say the least. Usually sticking with white wines, a chardonnay or semi-sweet selection of some sort. However, with recent holiday parties and festivities, I’ve broadened my palette and have grown
rather fond of these sweet red wines I’ve been introduced to. Having said that, when I went into the store to pick up some selections of my own, the array of choices was quite overwhelming. One thing I did notice though was the bottles of wine looked like an art display themselves. Each unique, classy, and eye catching in some capacity. I picked one, not because I knew the wine, but for the captivating artwork alone, which felt so mysterious and wild! It is then I realized what an experience one can create with the perfect bottle of wine, a nicely prepared meal (whether home-cooked or at a restaurant), some soothing tunes, and a moment to take a nice deep breath and savor each sip as your taste buds have a time-out all their own. A bottle of wine is a timeless gift, and can be found at your local alcoholic retail establishment, select grocery stores, and some bulk wholesalers like Sam’s Club/Costco.
Bringing Sexy Back – hey, it doesn’t matter if you have someone to show your sexy to or not, everybody (male and female) needs that article of clothing, undergarments, or lingerie that makes them feel oh so good! Whether its a matching bra/panty set, a plush robe, some designer boxers, or a sexy sheet set, find those items that bring sexy back to yourself and to your bedroom. I found a black lace set of bunny ears, that I just had to have, as it exuded a certain sexy spa bunny swag, paired with a lacy lingerie ensemble, and VIOLA! Any department store or specialty lingerie boutique will have several options to choose from. If you don’t know the exact size needed, just get a gift receipt for easy trades or a gift card with a customized note that indicates the gift they seek should help them find their sexy!
Spa Day Surprises – Who doesn’t like a spa day? Well, maybe there are those who don’t, and maybe there are those who don’t know if they do or not because they’ve never been, but I wouldn’t be the spa bunny I am today if I didn’t mention this in my list. Spa days are so much more than massages. Nowadays, your service options are endless, ranging from body treatments, facials, reflexology, holistic counseling, acupuncture, reiki, and much more (that’s not even taking into consideration spa amenities like the sauna and steam room offered at some locations). Typically, there really is something for everybody at the right spa.
Surprising someone with a spa day can sometimes be difficult, especially when trying to catch up with someone who has a busy schedule, and not knowing with they are comfortable with, but most spas offer gift certificates! This allows the individual to make an appointment that is convenient to them, and pick the services that appeal to them most. Even better, some spas allow you to purchase gift certificates online – instant gratification – and you don’t even have to leave your house to retrieve the gift! This may not be as inexpensive as the other options, but you can also catch some amazing spa deals at high-end luxury spas for a fraction of the cost on sites like Travelzoo, Spa Week, and Groupon to name a few (be sure to read all the fine print though when purchasing voucher deals).
Travel Bliss – nothing says a “time-out” like a getaway. Whether its a tropical trip to a warm destination with a beach, a cozy retreat to a ski lodge, or a local overnight getaway to a B&B, time away from your normal surroundings always provides an opportunity for rejuvenation of some sort. Check out deals on sites like Travelzoo, LivingSocial, Jetsetter, or your favorite hotel’s website to plan your next travel bliss escape.
I’ll be talking more about each of these “time-out” gifts on future Periscope broadcasts, and posting pictures on Instagram, so be sure to follow @confessspabunny. Happy Holidays!
My second encounter with Spa Holis happened a few days following my in-villa spa birthday party. I got the opportunity to visit their tranquil sanctuary with state-of-the-art yoga studio, and meet the founder, Evelina Bolognini.
The entrance was at the rear of what appeared to be a fairly new building. After climbing a full flight of steps, and pausing at the top to observe the ocean view, I entered the quaint and welcoming lobby, which housed a vibrant spiral staircase that led to the yoga studio.
My day consisted of an Aerial Yoga session with Adi Dela Rosa, a traveling yoga teacher, who ironically, was teaching her last day at Spa Holis before setting off on the next adventure. Followed by a D.E.I Holistic Kinesiology Therapy session ( a spa bunny first) with the owner Evelina.
Check out my “confessions” video below to get more spa bunny highlights from my visit to the Holis Wellness Center in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
Pure Vida! That’s the most appropriate beginning to start of my first spa bunny “confessions” from Costa Rica. My weeklong escape to this country left me awe-struck and inspired by its natural beauty. I wanted to immerse myself in nature and take in all the rainforest had to offer. Not only did I find solace, serenity, and nourishment for my soul amongst the sights and sounds of the trees, animals, and ocean, but somehow the beach waves, lush greenery, and refreshing vibes also resided within the Manuel Antonio spa scene as well.
I had plans, plans for a”spa bunny” spa birthday party as I celebrated another year of life in a setting that felt so alive. I engaged in dialogue with the dedicated staff at Spa Holis, aka Holis Wellness Center, well before my arrival to seek their assistance in executing my vision.
With a menu of services that covered your basics and beyond, I confess I was committed to fitting in more than one experience with Spa Holis during my visit. The first encounter, they were the ones who visited. Offering in-villa spa services, the two lovely ladies, Dilana and Ambar, arrived promptly and with a professional ensemble of massage tables, and freshly blended botanicals for the holistic treatments me and my party guests were scheduled to partake in.
After a morning of zip lining, waterfall rappelling, and other rainforest adventures, I was really looking forward to my treatment line-up for the afternoon: a Muddy Buddy Body Treatment, 2-hour Total Body Awareness Massage and Essenthya Deluxe Facial . Me and one of my guests sipped tea and chatted as we awaited our turn. The two therapists had already started the Totally Unplugged four-handed massage for another friend, on the villa’s open-air deck.
With a scenic set-up in the villa’s Master’s suite, even the monkeys wanted to get in on the birthday fun. Using Thermal Mud sourced from the base of Costa Rica’s Arenal volcano, I was covered in the warm clay-like mineral and gently wrapped to allow the detoxifying benefits to marinate. A series of organic cleansers, masks, and moisturizers were painted and soothingly massaged on my face, releasing that lingering frown of tension from my brow. After a shower rinsed off the mud, and revealed newly nourished skin, my treatments concluded with a carefully crafted massage that combined Deep Tissue Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Reflexology, Thai Massage, and Acupressure.
Needless to say, if you haven’t figured it out by now, the party was a great success. The therapists disappeared as quietly as they came, and we continued the night in a state of relaxed bliss over conversation and reflection at the dinner table.
My next encounter with Spa Holis happened a few days thereafter, when I got the opportunity to meet the founder, Evelina Bolognini, and visit their tranquil sanctuary and state-of-the-art yoga studio.
I am what one would call a mosquito magnet, and to make matters worse, I feel that my backyard is as mosquito infested as it gets. Some days it’s so bad, I’ve actually considered offering bats a place of refuge in return for their pest control services. When the warm weather hits, and normal people go outside to enjoy the change in seasons, I normally have to cover up in long sleeves and pants or ruin my whole summer outfit by covering it with the smells of toxic bug repellent.
In late Spring, during one of my visits to The Still Point Spa in Columbia, MD, I did my typical browsing of the spa boutique items and noticed a new addition to the Toma product line-up: “botanical bug-off”. After reading the ingredients, and giving it a sniff, I decided “why not”, for only $9 it was worth giving it a shot.
This short video tells you a little bit about my latest find and what happened after 15 minutes in my backyard.
Since that initial “test”, I have toted the botanical bug-off around with me this summer to cookouts, waterfront dining, ballparks, pig roasts, outdoor movies, or anywhere that would require me to be outside and subject to the typical feeding frenzy mosquitoes choose to inflict upon me. Since the bottle comes with either a spray or lotion bottle top, I’ve also lathered the easy to glide-on and rub in solution on other willing participants who have been captivated by the smell of lemongrass, lavender, patchouli, and cedarwood.
I must say, I have thus far been pleased with the results, and have definitely noticed the days I do get bitten, are the days I have forgotten to put on this bug-off. Though it doesn’t seem to deter gnats or flies from being a nuisance, I haven’t had to deal with the mosquito bite hives that usually sting, swell, and break-out on my body after I have been attacked by these often invisible creatures, and the days of uncomfortable scratching and itching that follow. “Maybe the mosquitoes just aren’t out the days you use it”, is what I’ve often told myself, as it was hard to believe something that smelled so pleasant was really keeping one of my worst enemies at bay. However, I knew this couldn’t be the case, as on more than one occasion, I’ve worn my gladiator sandals, and though I put the bug-off on my legs and arms, I didn’t bother to put it on my feet since I already had my shoes on. Well, wouldn’t you know it, that on all those occasions, Mr. Mosquito decided to take advantage of my vulnerability and take a bite out of whatever uncovered skin he could get to between that sandal!!
So far the spa bunny is in love with the Toma Botanical Bug-Off! With proper and frequent usage, I think I can get through the summer with minimal mosquito and other bug bites, while utilizing what the label calls a “natural alternative to toxic bug repellents”. I almost hate to brag too much about the product, as I don’t want it to sell out or be unavailable when I need to restock! However, I bring you this “confession” as a way to help others who are looking for a natural bug-off solution that actually works so that you too can enjoy your summer bug bite free.
A few months ago, I took on a project and began working on a “Confessions of a Spa Bunny” – Spa Room Makeover for a client. Well here is a video summary of the phases and the final result! My client, a massage therapist, was thrilled with the outcome and has since been able to utilize the new sanctuary to generate a supplemental income! I love it when a plan comes together.