Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Get thee to a spa! Julie turns 40.


I turned 40 today.  It's kind of freaking me out.  Still, it was a good day.  My kids gave me that book by William J. Broad, The Science of Yoga, and a Tardis cookie jar (which is just awesome because it makes that whooshing sound every time you get a cookie, so it's alarmed to foil the kiddies), and my husband gave me a 3-treatment package day at a local spa.  Whee!

Julie's Top 10 Take-home Points on the Spa Experience

1.  You know you need relaxation when you are stressing out during the drive to your spa treatment because you don't know what it will be like or if you'll relax enough or do things right, etc.  I did this today and my husband laughed at me.  This happens a lot.  One of the strengths of our marriage is that he finds me amusing.

2.  Going to a good spa is something you must do before you die.  My birthday present today included
a facial, lunch, a sea salt body scrub and vichi shower, and Swedish massage.  In between I sat my big robed behind in a cushy chair and watched the gardeners put mulch in spring flower beds, a pond fountain, and a gently swaying weeping willow tree.

3.  Leave your phone, iPod, iPad, laptop, and all other media, your purse and everything in the trunk of your car, or better yet, have someone else drive you and leave everything at home.

4.  Don't overthink it.  I found myself trying very hard to stay "present" during the spa sessions... to the point that I was feeling pressured to optimally relax and take in the experience.  Staying "present" for several hours a day is hard to do!  Some drifting should be OK.  Don't be so determined to enjoy yourself that you can't.

4.  Eat breakfast before you go.  Otherwise your stomach growls throughout your facial.

5.  There are good facials and poor facials.  I had a poor facial once.  The technician exclaimed over my acne and the number of clogged pores I had and I felt like a freak.  I never went back and was very reluctant to ever try a facial again.  Today I found out why people go to facials.  The technician was so nice and pleasant.  She was also very practiced and professional.  Who knew you could do so much to skin?  I must have had at least 20 products massaged in, wiped off, plus exfoliation, steam, more massaging in of various lotions and potions, masks, plus she lotioned my hands and placed them in heated mits, more facial massage, toner spritz, and yes, extractions.  But they weren't so bad and my skin looked so great afterwards.  I was so relaxed by this, I really could've skipped the rest.

6.  Bring cash to tip unless gratuity is included.  I pleaded ignorance as my husband set everything up.  I am assuming that was all included and not asking because I don't want to know if it wasn't.  Not my fault.

7.  Wow are they clever with the movement of towels and not exposing you while still scrubbing and rinsing your whole body and having you flip over and everything!  I was very impressed with how quickly, easily, and neatly it all worked.

8.  Body scrubs are not very comfortable in the process, but the results are very nice.  The sensation of warm powder falling onto heated oil on your skin was a new one for me.  Quite intriguing.  Vichi showers feel very nice.  Make sure they get the temperature right.  I could've used mine a little bit warmer, but after asking her to turn up the heat 3 times, I just let it lie.  It feels like lying in a warm pouring rain as the jets send pounding drops to do a shiatsu dance over your body.  I felt alternately like a baby being completely cared for and, especially while being hosed off, like an elephant getting a bath at the zoo.

10.  Massage is good.  Swedish massage is the typical one with long strokes like the rollers in the massage chairs at Brookestone at the mall.  I only have had one other massage in my life and I think it must have been a lymphatic drainage massage because this woman massaged these certain points on my neck and, well, that's the main thing I remember because although it sort of hurt, it was this exquisite pain that was followed by the most amazing releasing, relaxing feeling that I've ever felt.  Seriously.  She was AMAZING.  I put her info below too.  So I need to find someone else who does that and see if that's really what that was or if she's just the best masseuse ever.

If you are ever in Ames, IA, make an appointment with:
Mary Dengler
208 Se 5Th St
Ames, IA 50010 

(515) 232-9474

The Spa at Turf Valley (Ellicott City, MD)
Overall:  Best day of relaxation I've had in 8 years or so.

Services:  Staff were professional and seemed knowledgeable.  The treatments exceeded my expectations.  Everything was professional, private, and enjoyable.  I had a good dose of media free (except for the piped-in "spa" music) relaxation time between treatments.

Facilities:  The spa is in a hotel, so even though care is taken to present a typical "spa" visual atmosphere in the waiting, locker, and treatment rooms, it does have that hotel feel.  Overall, seemed very clean, although the "relaxation room floor" could've stood being swept.  Nice view from the relaxation room.  I would've liked more reclined chairs.  Theirs were pretty upright, and I wasn't into the rattan, dark wood, and fleur style decoration of the relaxation room.  The rest I liked fine.

Food:  Excellent lunch.  Really really good.  Constant orange and cucumber water and nuts and trail mix in the relaxation room.  Also a selection of teas.

Would I go back?  Is next week too soon?

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry. I took care of the gratuity. Also, I'm pretty sure you have had at least one other massage in your life. It was at the spa in the shopping center with the Safeway. I got you a gift card for a massage there for Mother's Day a few years ago. I'm glad you enjoyed your birthday present! Happy birthday!