Source: Greenbrier Wellness
Having been through many wellness programs over the decades, I’m a huge fan of spa vacationing. This resort has a unique twist from most destination spa resorts.
Greenbrier Resort Women’s Wellness Weekend
I was thrilled to host a women’s wellness weekend at America’s Resort, the gorgeous and historic mineral springs resort, the Greenbrier. I cut my teeth as a spa enthusiast at this resort some two decades ago. Over time, my respect and admiration for a tradition of wellness dating back 236 years has continued to grow! While some may argue which spa is considered the beginning of destination spa travel in America, not many can argue that this resort not only was a part of the American spa tradition, but it basically invented many of the things we consider hospitality in this country.
Having been greeted by Mr. Frank Mosley so many times, his hospitality never gets old. Working at the resort for the past 58 years, he is 86 years young and the personification of West Virginia warmth and hospitality. Entering the lobby, the explosion of color matches the summer blooms outside. At check in I was greeted exactly the same way I have been so many visits before–iced tea, lemonade, or champagne.
This weekend was remarkably different from many past visits. This time I have a mission and a schedule. While some may eschew the idea of a scheduled vacation, perhaps they have never taken a wellness vacation. It is a beautiful combination when you can take a break from everyday life to learn new ways of living better. Since this resort has such a storied past of health care, hospitality, and wellness, I was excited to deepen my knowledge of living well thoughtfully presented by the Greenbrier.
Having been through many wellness programs over the decades, I’m a huge fan of spa vacationing. This resort has a unique twist from most destination spa resorts. Since the Greenbrier has had a serious concierge executive medical program since 1948, this wellness program has a medically-based foundation. I will be combining evidence-based medical services with state-of-the-art diagnostics, and weaving in my choices of subspecialty providers, seriously luxurious spa treatments, and an endless list of fitness activities and world-class cuisine. Oh yeah, did I mention that Greenbrier tennis pro emeritus Pete Sampras will be playing Andy Roddick Saturday night while I’m here? The amount of activities and services available at this resort is mind-boggling, so I am happy to keep their expertly prepared, individual schedule to glean as much goodness from one weekend as possible. It’s also fun to share this experience with a group of like-minded ladies with the same goals.
After checking in at the Greenbrier Clinic and receiving my printed schedule, I begin my day with a consultation with Dr. Michael S. Kluska. My first appointment has me both nervous and excited. I scheduled a specialist visit with Dr. Kluska, a world-renowned plastic surgeon with a passion for skin care. I had been considering getting my first Botox injection for years. I finally decided it was time, and took the opportunity to do it with an extremely well-trained board-certified plastic surgeon…(see results here). The Greenbrier Clinic offers a multi-specialty approach to treating the whole patient within a single resort visit. Patients can schedule in-depth visits with many specialties including internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, nutrition, as well as a multitude of other diagnostic and preventive health treatments and procedures. Nearly every specialty is housed within the clinic wing attached to the resort. The convenience of walking over to appointments all within the resort is amazing. It is entirely possible to see an internist, a cardiologist, get a colonoscopy, have a radiologist review images including imaging from their own CT- scanner and mammography, or even have surgery over a weekend. Thankfully, I am in good health and my wellness visits on this weekend include time with my internal medicine doctor, a nutritionist, some blood work, and a plasitic surgeon. I could not help but think about how easy it would be to bring my husband here for a year’s worth of medical visits and testing, and have him not miss a single day of work, which is always his excuse for not taking better care of himself. I will be bringing him back another time!
I also had some time to enjoy the resort on my own. I chose to have lunch courtside near the golf shop. This is a favorite tour stop for PGA players and fans of the the PGA tour. I also had time for a little retail therapy in the pro shop. Who am I kidding…I was stalking Lee Trevino. I just missed him by five minutes! Jack Nicklaus was also in town this weekend as they are designing a new golf course….(more on celebrity stalking later :))And, knowing I would be seeing the pro emeritus Pete Sampras play Andy Roddick Saturday night, I was very tuned in to people-watching at the tennis courts during my lunch. Guests can schedule private golf and tennis lessons with tour professionals.
During my clinic phone consultation prior to my visit, I scheduled my doctor’s appointments as well as one of my favorite spa treatments at the Greenbrier. It is really hard to pick just one, so I usually don’t, but I have new doors to open this weekend, including a vault door in the bunker, and I need to experience some other aspects of this massive 40,000 acre property. If you have never been, the Greenbrier signature treatment, featuring a Scotch spray, is a bucket list spa item for any true spa junkie. I also strongly recommend having a facial at the Greenbrier. The staffing in the spa is second to none. Many of the therapists and estheticians have been here over twenty years! Some have even worked here for 30. Talk about expertise–you would be hard-pressed to find a more tenured staff in the entire country.
Friday evening is here and it is time to meet my newest friends and fellow participants for an anti-aging reception. Staff from the Clinic, medical vendors, and participants gather to meet and share excitement for the weekend. Many ladies were traveling with their husbands, but broke away to have a little lady time and kick off the program. Two of my friends and blog followers took me up on the opportunity to revisit wellness for the weekend and we had dinner at Forum after our reception. We could also not help ourselves…we had healthy dinners on our own, but the lure of the casino was too strong for us to pass up. Dancing counts as cardio, right?
Saturday morning we were greeted with a beautiful and healthy buffet in the Clinic conference room. We were instructed to fast after 10pm Friday night. Prior to breakfast, we had our blood drawn and tested. Individually, our test results are reviewed with us during our complete medical history and physical with our internist. We each had hour-long appointments with our doctors to go over our medical history and come up with a treatment plan for the next twelve months. My internist was Dr. Kelly Redden. I was impressed with her thorough exam. A few things really stood out as different for me during this exam. First, I was meeting with an actual doctor and not a mid-level provider at the exact time of my appointment! Second, remember what it was like when you would get an exam, then meet with the doctor in their office afterwards, once you are dressed, to get the results? I vaguely do. Another eye opener was the ability of the Greenbrier Clinic to pull up all of my current medications from two different pharmacies. The accuracy of my prescriptions were not left to my sometimes short attention span. I actually brought mine in a ziplock bag, but they were able to retrieve all of my prescription data, even for a bottle of medicated shampoo I had filled and forgotten about. And finally, I was given a spa robe for medical appointment and assigned a locker. No giant paper napkin patient gowns here! It made me feel more human. I love this level of detail.
We enjoyed more fellowship while some awaited physician appointments, others, time at the spa or activities on property. Our schedules were set up with blocks of open time as well as scheduled group activities. We could use our open blocks for discovering any activities at the Greenbrier, or just spending some quiet downtime. It is up to the patient to decide.
Mid-morning, just outside the spa, the wellness ladies took a private fitness class designed specifically for us by a personal trainer. It was a different workout than what I generally do, but I love trying new activities, so I really enjoyed it and enjoyed being out in the beautiful weather and gardens of the resort.
At lunchtime, we convened in the bunker kitchen for a wellness cooking class. Here, we learned about a variety of superfoods, cooking techniques, and portions to enhance our healthy, active lifestyle. I am always inspired by eating really great, well-prepared whole foods, and the Greenbrier has been a culinary leader in the hospitality industry since the resort opened.
After lunch, we returned to our personal blocks. I went for my signature spa treatment, others saw various physicians and received personalized care or had activities scheduled. At 3:30, I went over my lab results from the morning with Dr. Redden and had my in-depth medical history and physical.
Sunday morning, we started the day with a wellness walk and meditation. It was beautiful to walk through the gardens, grounds, and golf course with our personal trainer. I took the opportunity to snap lots of pictures on this scenic stride. Joanna, another participant and I took this selfie with Andy Roddick having coffee in the background on our way to meet up with our trainer. You really never know who you will bump into around here. Once we met up with Josh, we walked at a brisk enough pace to burn calories and get the heart rate up, but we also made time to stop and smell the flowers. Josh Beverage, our trainer, made sure to point out interesting facts about the grounds and various events and activities available on the property. On completion, a couple of us did have breakfast together in the main dining room. I am a huge fan of room service at the resort, and generally opt for breakfast in bed, so it was nice to see the gorgeous main dining room in the daylight. We decided to stick to our healthy eating plan and ordered a spa breakfast from the menu instead of the decadent Sunday brunch. I was able to keep my convictions due to my wellness walk.
Our final group activity was a meeting with Connie Gottshall in the clinic. She is the nutritionist for the Greenbrier Clinic. She reinforced the information we received at our cooking class, and gave us helpful strategies to make better food choices. She actually had sample meal plans to follow as a guide and definitely inspired us all to take a closer look at food labels, not just for ingredients, and hidden sugars, but also portions. I think her talk just reinforced to me why I prefer to eat whole foods rather than prepared foods. I was definitely more motivated to cook at home more often after this class, and with the skills Iearned in the cooking class, I had everything I needed to prepare better food choices back home.
If I could stress anything to you about this wellness weekend, it would be that it was still a vacation. I just learned to live better, armed with new knowledge and motivation to continue to make these educated decisions about food choices, what my body needs. Dr. Redden suggested I add vitamin B-12 daily, Calcium 1200 mg daily, and vitamin D3 1000 mg. She also prescribed exercise for at least 150 minutes a week. In six months she will recheck my HDL cholesterol. This won’t be a problem for me, as I live 90 minutes away, and plan on visiting every three months to get my Botox injections. How cool is it that the doctor would come and give me my Botox injections in my room, if that is what I want? This is what concierge medicine is all about–old-fashioned service, like a housecall to my suite! I have an iPhone app to refill my prescriptions, and they will work with my local physician if needed for additional issues as they arise.
Private medical suites are available with competitive pricing. If you are planning medical testing or procedures, let the Clinic staff help you book your room. Medical suites have two refrigerators for ice packs and medical supplies. Ample space is available for your family to stay with you. The doctors make rounds in the hotel. Recovering from surgery here is best-in-class.
The Clinic executive medical program caters to people that keep tight schedules and they respect your privacy and time.
Book your spa appointments in advance to insure the optimum therapist and treatment time for your schedule. Add on a 25 -minute mineral soak to any spa service you book. It is a must!
Fitness classes are always new and exciting. Try a new class before your spa appointment. Guided meditation is available most mornings in the spa. Keep your eyes peeled in the gym, lots of celebrities visit and have homes in the area.
Get outside! The grounds at this resort are magnificent. Your normal walk, run, or bike ride will be inspiring. Comfortable walking shoes will take you far at this property.
Try a new sport. Equipment and staffing is always top notch. Falconry or whitewater rafting, anybody?
Book a tour at the beginning of your stay. Historical tours provide a wealth of information about the resort as well as American history.
EAT! This resort has a culinary apprentice program that takes classically-trained chefs three years to complete, much like a masters program. There is a specific farm-to-table restaurant, but much of the food is grown right on property and always has been.
If you are going to have a cheat day, this is the place to do it. They employ one person who just makes housemade ice cream for eight hours a day, every day. This is a serious foodie paradise. Check calendars for specialty chef’s tables and memorable holiday meals.
This resort is dieter-friendly, with spa menu choices on most dining menus. Staff are happy to cater to your special food preferences. Mom can have an egg white omelet while the kids get treated to chocolate chip pancakes, so everybody is happy.
The Greenbrier is set in the gorgeous mountains of West Virginia. It is easily accessible by half of the country for a family road trip. Air and train service will also take you door-to-door from New York City or Washington D.C.
One visit will not be enough to see and do everything–plan ahead to make the most of your vacation.
I was an invited guest of The Greenbrier Clinic. All opinions are my own. This is my life.
I applaude Golden Door for making this video series available to everyone at no charge. I am reposting this video because this is exactly the type of passion and excellence that I look for when I visit a destination spa.
The very best spas in the world do much more than provide a great spa treatment. They understand our need to connect with something bigger than ourselves. They understand our place within nature. They provide the awe that inspires us to feed ourselves spiritually and grow within our own self care. Education takes place at these healing centers. If we are open to it, we have the opportunity to learn while we visit these retreats. This is why spa travel is my passion.
I applaud Golden Door for making this video series available to everyone at no charge. I am reposting this video because this is exactly the type of passion and excellence that I look for when I visit a destination spa. It is my wish to for others to see that a great spa can change the way you see yourself and the world. This video is a pure example of what the very best destination spas in the world actually provide.
Wikipedia suggests a definition of self care:
“In health care, self care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated. Some place self care on a continuum with health care providers at the opposite end to self care. In modern medicine, preventive medicine aligns most closely with self care.”
Golden Door, thank you for sharing!
I have not been to Golden Door, but it is at the very top of my bucket list. This is my life.
I could not be more excited to visit the #1 weight loss spa in the country, Hilton Head Health (H3). Having thoroughly researched my destination, I thought it only appropriate to try some of the slimming spa treatments they offer.
I could not be more excited to visit the #1 weight loss spa in the country, Hilton Head Health (H3). Having thoroughly researched my destination, I thought it only appropriate to try some of the slimming spa treatments they offer. In the back of my mind, I did think I would have to weigh in, so I booked some of my treatments prior to my first day in my program. I know this is sneaky, but I also knew that if I started my program with the spa treatments I would be totally relaxed from my drive to Hilton Head Island. I also knew I could pump my therapists for any information I thought I might need during my stay. Very sneaky. Or brilliant–you decide.
I would be participating in a one of the two programs they offer. They have a Lose Well program designed to get people kickstarted on weight-loss, and a second program called Live Well, which is more for people that are interested in a tune up to get back on track. I participated in the Live Well program. Since this was not my first visit to a wellness retreat, I had an idea of what it would be like, but each resort has their own spin on this. I was happy to find the Hilton Head Health plan encourages healthy weight loss by teaching the fundamentals of lifelong success by reframing the diet issue into more of a way of life, so that dieting essentially is over. Time is devoted to teaching skills to integrate these new lifestyle choices, and classes on planning scenarios to make weight loss successful long-term. One of their main tenets is that small changes over time can lead to big results. They also stress the importance of not trying so hard to be perfect when it comes to dieting. It is how we manage the missteps that truly have the greatest impact on long-term success. I thought this was a very useful perspective as so many times we can feel like a failure if we don’t follow a diet perfectly, then end up giving up. Not just me? Apparently, it’s a common issue and this program is all about real-life scenarios and how to manage wellness for the long term.
I mostly did the Lose Well program, and the medical checks like weighing-in and blood tests were optional, so no scale for me! So maybe I didn’t need to book the slimming ritual before the weigh-in that never happened, but the benefits of this body treatment definitely enhanced my weight loss while I was there.
My first spa treatment was the Wild Comfrey Glycol Peel Facial Detox. Indigo spa designed this treatment to meet the needs of participants going through the process of weight loss which can at times trigger skin reactions like temporary acne breakouts, oily skin, or inflammation. I knew I was due for a good peel, and this one suited my needs. This particular treatment removes the top twenty layers of skin without any redness. Melissa, my esthetician, used a combination of organic products and traditional facial techniques of steaming, cleaning, extracting, application of a mask and moisturizing to customize my treatment to my skin care needs. I found her facial to be relaxing, yet it yielded the results I was looking for. I received a deep clean due to the exfoliation, extractions and a peel, but the application of acids to reduce a breakout I was experiencing was very beneficial. I was completely relaxed by my facial and I hadn’t even checked in yet! I had a longer drive than I anticipated due to road construction and some holiday traffic. I could really relax for back-to-back treatments, as the staff had called the front desk to alert them of my arrival and ordered my supper. I had dinner waiting for me after my treatments, so no worries about finding food or getting settled for my first evening.
My next service was the Naturally Slimming Ritual with Kristy. Kristy and I bonded immediately. I was extremely relaxed after my facial and ready to ask for some insider tips from Kristy now that I was settled in. She has been a therapist at Indigo spa since it opened. My treatment with Kristy is exactly what many people are looking for when they buy those “crazy wrap things” from home parties, except much more luxurious, and, I think, beneficial. Kristy applied organic products that helped brighten my skin via exfoliation, and reduced my water retention by using lymphatic drainage massage techniques. Slimming spa products really do work best, in my opinion, when combining specially-designed products with the massages. Once Kristy finished applying the organic scrub that contained plant enzymes, salt, aloe, and coffee berries, I was neatly wrapped in a special sheet to retain the heat of my body, as well as the heat of the massage table, to let those products absorb while she moved on to the next step. Normally, a relaxing facial massage with collagen would be the next step of the treatment, but since I had just had a facial we adjusted my treatment to include an in-depth scalp massage instead. My head and neck felt great now. All that driving stress was behind me. Her ability to adjust the treatment for me went so smoothly, I would have thought that the scalp massage was just part of the treatment plan. While I was face up and getting a serious scalp massage, I had time to pump her for information. She mentioned that stretching prior to exercise classes would be beneficial as well as massage appointments if I were experiencing too much stress or strain from all the exercise. She assured me availability of treatments, which put my mind as ease. Massage therapists always advise drinking water post therapy appointments, but that was never truer than in this case. Since she did an extensive lymphatic drainage massage, designed to removing excess water from my body, drinking enough water insures that my body does not try to hold on to the water already in my system. As we remove the excess water from the body, we are also removing toxins and helping our metabolism work better. Drinking plenty of water makes us feel fuller at meals, as well. There is a reason they gave me a giant water bottle at check-in, along with a backpack. I would be hydrating more than normal due to all the exercise but also as a tool for weight loss. I can assure you my water was definitely moving out after this treatment. There is no doubt that I lost more than water weight while at Hilton Head Health.
By my third day in the program, I was not really in pain from all the exercise, but I was definitely ready for another healthy evening in the spa. One extremely cool thing about Indigo spa is its hours. They open up late at 2pm and stay open until 9 pm. On Saturdays they are open from 10am till 9pm! There is no need to cut classes or skip daytime activities to get your spa time in. It is actually designed to fully support the program and not compete with it. So, instead of going back to your cottage in the evening and zoning out, you can continue your in-depth program with treatments that address what is happening to your body. For locals and other visitors to Hilton Head Island, this means you can put in a full day at the beach, golf course, or tennis facilities (such as the internationally-renowned Van Der Meer tennis academy), then get a spa treatment in the evening. Brilliant!
Lisa was my massage therapist for my final treatment, the Indigo Blue Eucalyptus Ritual. I booked this treatment along with the other two treatments after speaking with the spa manager, Kelly, prior to my visit. I wanted to make sure that I got the true essence of the Indigo spa and I did not want to miss anything really special or unique. Kelly was a great help in narrowing my choices based on my needs and desires. She swore by this treatment, and now I know why. It is designed to relieve fatigue, low mood, stiff muscles, and aches, and to support a healthy immune and digestive system. I had timed this treatment just right based on my participation in the program. Organic products from the Naturopathica product line were used. Eucalyptus oil opened up my sinuses at the beginning of the treatment allowing me to breathe deeply and really relax. A combination of ginger and mint massage lotions were used on my body. The eucalyptus did not overpower the entire treatment. As the treatment began, it kind of reminded me of when my mom would rub Vicks vapor rub on my chest when I was little, and really, is there anything more soothing than that touch? Lisa was such a skilled and nurturing therapist, I was able to really breathe in deeply and my body was really relaxed and receptive to the deep tissue massage she provided as the treatment progressed. I did not want to leave the table after 80 minutes. Lisa had a great knack of knowing where I was sore without my specific direction, I would have to call her intuitive. She is fabulous.
I will admit, I did make some big changes to the amount of exercise that I normally do while at H3. It wasn’t that I could not do the exercises, or that I hate exercise, it was more of a tune-up for me, and a revitalization of my desire to be healthy and active. It was also a time to try new types of exercise like water yoga, and stand up paddle boarding. I also was able to ride my bike to the beach in the evenings and one Saturday afternoon, so I wasn’t totally spent from all the classes. I think we all get in ruts from time to time. There is a natural ebb and flow with lots of things in life, and eating right and exercising gets the back seat when we get busy or when other pressing things come up. My visit to H3 gave me time to focus on my health, learn new skills for making meals easier, healthier but still satisfying my tastebuds and typical cravings. My time post-spa in the relaxation room gave me a quiet place to really think and process all the new information I was taking in. I enjoyed journalling my thoughts and ideas, and thinking about ways to integrate these new habits once I got home. This wellness vacation was definitely a mental and physical way for me to hit the reset button.
The therapists in the spa were very skilled professionals. They were also personable and fun, very much like my time at Hilton Head Health. The people that work at H3 are required to go through the program as part of their training for new hires. Because of the H3 commitment to a healthy, happy well-informed staff, any staff member is able to answer questions that guests have, and can relate with them about all the things they’ve learned, and the nerves we might have about taking this journey. My advice to future participants would be to start your program off with some time in the spa for three reasons: They can answer any questions you might have and make you feel more at ease. It is a easy way to de-stress from travel and get mentally prepared for the visit. The treatments also enhance the weight loss program due to their specific design. Many participants travel great distances to take this wellness journey. Some guests stay at H3 for at least a week, many stay for two weeks or a month to make the this new perspective on living well a habit that can last a lifetime. Indigo spa is just one of the many pieces of this well-designed weight loss retreat to empower guests to get the most out of their visit. This attention to the spa design is exactly the type of attention to detail they teach guests, to maintain a healthy lifestyle going forward.
My spa tips:
Start your week off at with spa treatments to de-stress from travel.
Bring your spa bag. Make sure you include a pen and journal to capture your thoughts.
Drink plenty of water before and after your treatments.
Plan to visit the spa more than once during your stay, to fortify your body and mind.
If you are staying for an extended period of time, book a series of treatments to complement your program.
The spa recommends alternating a trim treatment with hot stone treatments as trim treatment works better in a series. I agree.
This is a sponsored post. My thoughts and opinions are genuinely my own. I was a guest of Hilton Head Health, but received no direction on the writing of this post. I would like to thank Hilton Head Health for this life-changing opportunity and I look forward to sharing more of my wisdom gained over the stay in future wellness posts. Keep an eye on my resort recipes. I am already cooking differently, and I am excited to share these changes with you all. I would also like to thank my fellow blogger, Michelle Rogers Healthy living for all of her support during this fun week.
There is definitely excitement in the air in Denver. Some might even say the town is buzzing! I found myself checking in at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver on a mission. I wanted to kick off our new “empty nest” status with a last minute fun trip. When I read about one of my favorite rock bands since high school days, The Cure, playing a rare stateside concert, I booked my flight and tickets literally the day before the concert! How is that for being available on the fly? Of course, one does not need to do a ton of hotel research when staying at a Ritz-Carlton property. They make it easy for both business and pleasure travelers and always seem to anticipate my needs. On this trip I wanted to rock out yet relax, and get some spa services, too! RiotFest and the Ritz-Carlton, I would have never imagined this combination in 1988, the year I graduated from high school. Life is good.
I was happy to spend my morning at the spa and head out for the music in the afternoon. The RiotFest was a weekend-long alternative rock concert hosted at Sports Authority Field, AKA Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos. Since I am so far out from my high school graduation, balancing pampering at the spa, with fine food and a fun evening of loud music provided just the right amount of yin and yang. One of the cool things about Ritz-Carlton spas is that most generally offer services tailored to the location, to give you a local taste of the culture. A perfect example is the Voodoo Love treatment offered at the Ritz-Carton in New Orleans. Denver is also known for more than 200 micro breweries, not just legalized marijuana 🙂 The spa had a couple of seasonal treatments with beer. Treatments like Hops and Honey Pedicure and Mile High Malt Scrub are seasonal. Be sure to ask about specialty treatments when booking.
Day one, I had an emergency nail issue! Two broken nails, one was broken deep in the nail bed and painful, and I had some large chips on other nails as well. I always blame it on laundry, but it was probably golf. I generally do not consider getting my manicure while at destination spas, as I consider a regular manicure part of my general maintenance. But, I had issues! I wear gel polish, which can be a little tricky to maintain on the road. For those unfamiliar with gel polish, it essentially is baked onto your own nail, using a special light, and it can last chip free for 10-14 days. It was not a problem for Kristin, she was lovely! She fixed me right up with a soak off and polish change. I must say I was very impressed with her skills. She gently repaired my nails and was even able to match my pedicure polish, even though the polish was a different brand than what I was wearing. Of course I wanted it to match my toes. It was sandal season. I am a little more particular than the average nail client, I can spot poorly filed nails or chunky cuticles like a hawk. Kristin was extremely professional, polite, and gave an incredible gel manicure. If I lived in Denver, she would be my girl!
Day two, Amanda, my esthetician and I bonded instantly. I could talk skin care and treatment regimens for hours. So could Amanda, she is extremely knowledgeable. But, we just had 90 minutes to swap secrets. She picked some delicious smelling products based on my preferences and skin care needs. I was looking for a relaxing facial with extra attention paid to my dry skin. And as always, I was looking for a way to look youthful and fresh. I was there to see a band I loved since high school after all! Amanda had a delicate touch, yet delivered a thorough exfoliation. I left feeling extremely relaxed, yet ready to get my riot on. My excitement could not be contained on this day. She could relate. She also introduced me to a few new products that I had not tried. She wrote down all my steps and products on a sheet so that I could remember them later. If I am lucky, I get spa brain and feel so relaxed post-service, at times I can’t recall all the many steps or products I want to remember, particularly on facials. She made it easy for me. I left with a print out and several samples of some of her other favorites. How kind! I definitely had spa brain. My skin felt moist and soft to the touch. It was an excellent facial by any standard.
Day three, did I really see the The Cure last night? Was I dreaming or was it just like heaven? Evenings at Riotfest were so fun. We sampled great food from the slew of food trucks at the venue. I met a lot a friendly people. It seemed like many folks were new to town and excited about the new green economy. I learned a lot on this trip. Weezer and Wu Tang Clan, all in the same weekend…yeah, I’m gonna need a massage. Noemy helped revive me. I booked a herbal peaks poultice massage based on a recommendation the ladies made in the spa on the previous day. It incorporates a poultice that is hand-made with organic herbs. The idea behind this treatment is to steam the firm, round, herb bag and use it as a roller over the muscles to help ease tension. It feels amazing and smells even better. Noemy used the ball part of the poultice to roll deep into sore muscles, mainly on my back and hamstring muscles (crappy airline seats!). On other parts of the body, the poultice is used for heat and pressure. By pressing the ball on my upper chest muscles it provides heat and releases the scents of lemongrass, lavender, and a handful of other herbs, making this treatment smell incredible and gives an added benefit of aromatherapy. Of course this is the Ritz-Carlton, so the poultice they used was super fancy. Noemy gave me mine to take home. If I lived locally, I would have definitely reused this poultice at home many more times by dampening it and popping it into the microwave for a minute. Since I was flying home, I decided to leave my herb-filled bag at the hotel. I have to admit I was a little freaked out about going through airport security with a questionable herb bag from DENVER! I did not want to have a long conversation with the TSA agent.
Day Four, my final day in Denver. It is sad, but I have booked a 75 minute tranquility wrap with Noemy to take the edge off. It has been a fun trip with lots of relaxation, music, cold beverages, and incredible food. I am feeling a bit dehydrated, I’m sure it’s the altitude 😉 Noemy is an excellent massage therapist. She does her best to make sure I leave the spa on a high note with a great massage followed by a wrap. As I marinate on the heated, cushioned, massage table all wrapped up like a gourmet burrito I can’t help but grin. I saw Manchester Orchestra last night. I love them! I bet some high school kids love them too 🙂 I am a 45 year old lady, an emptynester, with no business flying across the country with my husband acting like two kids dating 🙂 I think we have time to stop in the club lounge for one last glass of bubbly before our flight.
What to know before you go:
Excellent gym in the spa with a rock climbing wall
The spa is going through a two month refresh now, check to make sure they are fully open. I cannot wait to return to see the upgrades!
John Elway, the retired really cute quarterback for the Denver Broncos, owns and operates, Elway’s in the Ritz. It is an upscale steakhouse with some great Broncos memorabilia tastefully sprinkled throughout the restaurant. You might just run into him or one of his teammates in the lounge. It is very popular on game day.
Consider booking club level. The fantastic displays of food seemed to change all day long and provided a stress free way to just grab a bite or beverage and get out and enjoy the city.
Write down your appointment when you book services. Set a timer in your phone, or get a print out. Much like spas in Las Vegas, the girls in the spa said some some folks had trouble making it to appointments in the early morning or did not make it to the treatments due to their inability to “remember” booking the appointments at all!
Midweek spa specials have a flare for fun like Martini and Massage Monday, Wine Wenesday…I love this place!
No special consideration was given to me other than being a paying guest at the Ritz-Carlton. This is my life.
This was not my first visit to a salt cave, but definitely my very favorite. I might even say this could be my favorite day spa to date! The facility is extremely well thought out, clean and beautiful. My curiosity was at an all-time high when I first found out about this new spa. Photos on the website confirmed that I would be making a trip to White Sulpher Springs as soon as possible. The Salt Cave and Spa was just completed and opened to guests in July. It builds on the American tradition of wellness in Greenbrier County, with a focus on preventive and restorative health. The treatments offered at this unique and enchanting spa resonate with those of us who believe spa services are part of our integrated health care.
Offering a mix of alternative healing therapies and an impressive salt cave, this day spa is unique and gorgeous. Salt caves found in nature have been used for centuries to help with various breathing issues such as allergies, cystic fibrosis and the common cold. Interest has reawakened for halotherapy (salt therapy) as a modern healing modality due to the lack of side effects. Salt has a natural ability to reduce inflammation and boasts antibacterial and antifungal properties. Although the mechanism of action is not known, physicians and healers continue to prescribe the healing benefits of halotherapy. Personally, I love treatments that can be both soothing and restorative, particularly when received in such an inspiring natural environment. The cave itself is new, built with love and a passion for preventive health by the owners. The couple, both artists by trade, also live and farm on this one hundred acre property.
I enlisted an adventurous friend of mine, Denise, to daytrip with me to Lewisburg area in West Virgina. As a regular at the world renowned Greenbrier, I am very familiar with the scenic drive to the beautiful mountain town. After studying their treatment options and discussing Denise’s wishes for the day, I hatched my plot. We would leave at the crack of 9:30am. No need to get up super early for this road trip. I also “borrowed” my husband’s convertible for the day. I definitely think that helped give a cool vibe to our adventure. We enjoyed a warm, open air drive and arrived in downtown Lewisburg just in time for lunch. I suggested one of my favorite downtown restaurants from among the many excellent ones Lewisburg has to offer. Once we were properly fed and watered, we had some time to shop. We had to go to Yarid, an upscale shoe store downtown. Locals know that all the discounted stock from the several other locations are sent to the downtown Lewisburg Yarid location. With full tummies and now a trunk full of discounted designer shoes and handbags, we were ready to embark on our spa portion of the day.
To say that this day spa is unique or special really does not do it justice. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Michelle and given a Mason jar of water that she had retrieved that morning from a natural mineral spring just down the road. This spa actually has sulfur water available for guests and treatments, but natual mineral water is better tasting for drinking. This unusual greeting really set the tone for the day at the spa. The staff was eager to share their knowledge on the many healing therapies offered, and their own personal rituals for health.
I arranged the signature Edgar Cayce massage for both Denise and I. What makes an Edgar Cayce massage different from the popular Swedish massage is the philosophy, technique, and training involved. Edgar Cayce is known as the father of holistic healing. Michelle, our massage therapist, was trained at the famous Edgar Cayce holistic spa in Virginia Beach. Michelle uses a personal philosophy of being a channel for personal growth and wellness. She made her intentions clear on our arrival that restorative and healing therapeutic techniques would help soothe the mind and body. Her desire was to relax the body, and stimulate the nervous system, organs, and rotate our joints and limbs, in an effort to coordinate our mind and body for an overall feeling of wellness. So what does the Edgar Cayce massage looks like to the average non-new age trained client? The massage begins with special Edgar Cayce oil applied in long soothing strokes very much like a Swedish massage. During my 90 minutes on the table, Michelle would intermittently work on various body parts in a specific sequence as part of the Cayce method. She would pull and stretch our arm and leg joints alternately. Michelle also used Jin Sin Do techniques, which are a deep finger techniques applied to muscles and organs to as in acupressure. Done properly, this technique is known for inducing a trance-like state. She also took care to address my lymphatic system through massage. Her pressure was enough that the massage was therapeutic while still providing a relaxing experience. My experience was profound. I loved it!
While I was in with Michelle, Denise took advantage of an amethyst biomat and light therapy session. This heat treatment involved lying on a table on top of a special mat that has an amethyst core. Its infrared heat penetrates the body 6-8 times more deeply than a regular heating pad. The concept is to increase your core temperature and increase your negative ions, helping with cell turnover. The technology was developed for use in space. While reclined on a massage table with the biomat on top, Denise just reclined and let a second infrared light therapy shine down on her. This special infrared light was positioned above her . It also provided deep heat, but was not uncomfortably hot. Again, the treatment is intended to heat the body and speed up cell turnover for quicker healing. Denise enjoyed relaxing in the beautiful spa room.
My second treatment was the Sacred Journey–part mental health session, part meditation. Cari, my therapist, is also a psychic medium! This was a spa treatment so unique, it deserves a separate post, check back for part 2 of this journey. Denise and I catch up after our second treatments for our final treatment, a visit to the salt cave. This salt cave is absolutely gorgeous. A beautiful, tall, arching ceiling with embedded lights that simulate stars, and stalactites coated with Himalayan salt, support the overall design and function of this healing cave. I was mentally transported to a place that took me out of my normal routine. What a beautiful therapy to book following other spa services.
Salt cave time is booked in 45 minute sessions. Additional therapies can be booked in the salt cave as well, including guided meditation and yoga classes. This salt cave is large enough to accomodate a group of friends, yet has an intimate feel due to the stunning lighting and design. Micron-sized crushed Himalayan white salt is forced through a special air handling system in the cave to create a microclimate. The salt was not noticeable on our skin or clothing, but did make our throats a little dry. Denise and I were happy to rest post treatment and spend some girl time together chatting as we had the cave to ourselves.
What to know, before you go:
Regular visits to the salt cave achieve better results, but a single 45-minute session has the same healing effect as a three-day visit to the beach! Have you ever noticed how acne clears up on a beach trip??? Yup, antibactierial qualities in the salty air and water is duplicated in this cave.
It is advised that you bring your own clean white socks to wear in the cave. Walking on the crushed salt also provides a nice reflexology massage to your feet. Denise and I both wore comfortable street clothes, but yoga clothes would be a great option for added comfort.
The staff is well trained to book multiple guests with different treatments to maximize a full day at the spa. Call ahead and they can help take the stress out of a group outing.
Time in the salt cave is not recommended for people experiencing infections accompanied by a fever, patients with active tuberculosis, or people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Children are welcome to visit the salt cave.
The cave is kept at a constant temperature and is truly a four-season spa. I would love to snuggle in at this cave in the winter, or escape the heat as we did on this trip in the summer. Fall is a perfect time to visit, with spectacular fall foliage and mountain views enjoyed en route.
No special consideration was given other than being a paying guest at this spa. This is my life.
As I continue to experience more spas in North Carolina, I can’t help feeling grateful for living in this part of the country. Boone, North Carolina is just a three-hour road trip from my home and makes for a perfect weekend road trip. This part of the country has so much to offer with a beautiful mountain setting year round. On this visit, I spent a gorgeous summer weekend with my family exploring more of what Boone has to offer. The high season for this area is definitely the fall and winter season. Falls changing of the leaves and area ski resorts in the winter get most of the attention, but summer is also spectacular with light cool breezes in the evening and warm sunny days.
I booked the Inn at Crestwood to specifically to experience their spa. The mountain top setting is a wonderful natural escape from hot summer days. We arrived pretty late at night, and we were greeted with warm cookies at check in! I was not expecting such a thoughtful treat at such an economical resort. What a pleasant surprise! Our youngest daughter stayed in a cottage, and my husband and I stayed in the main building. When we woke up in the morning we took in the spectacular mountain view from our room.
Breakfast was included and it was definitely worth getting up for. Hubby is a huge fan of biscuits and gravy and I have to say, I don’t usually eat stuff like that, but had to give it a try based on his review. Whoa! Those were some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had. Coffee, Juice, breads to toast, pastries, muffins and eggs rounded out a hearty buffet. I do need a good base for my day at the spa.
The first treatment I booked was a 90 Minutes Swedish massage. My massage therapist, Tammy, was excellent. We chatted briefly about my preference for medium pressure and she had excellent touch. Tammy made me feel very comfortable and relaxed. Half way through the massage, when the therapist asks you to turn over, I was like a limp noodle. At the end of the treatment I decided I felt way too relaxed to be leaving the spa any time soon, so I took the opportunity to lounge in the sunroom and read some magazines. After resting, I took a dip in the pool. It was amazing. While I was in the pool area, I also checked out the steam and sauna rooms, but took a pass on the fitness room. Sorry, I need to work out before my treatments, not after!
Day two, I booked a facial, but due to a random eye infection that popped up unexpectedly, I spoke with the staff, and Diane easily arranged for a backfacial instead. It had been years since my last back facial. Earlier I had discussed my need to swap treatments with my husband. He had no clue that a back facial existed. He made some jokes about getting a “backside” facial. You can imagine the look on his face when I explain that is an option as some spas, but I would just have a upper back facial here at Crestwood.
Lori began my treatment by dry brushing my entire body. This technique uses a natural fiber brush to gently exfoliate the skin and increase circulation. Her brush would lightly remove dead skin followed immediately by and her soothing hands, providing a nice contrast to the course fiber bristles of the brush. It feels incredible. She then used warm towels to gently remove any dead skin, and used the steam, to help prepare my skin for the application of products.
She chose to use Priori Coffeeberry products on my back. Lori worked the revitalizing cleanser into a light lather on my back and again, removed it with warm wet towels. Just like a facial, she checked my skin for any irritation, signs of aging, and any acne. She even described a mole on my lower back. A benefit of a true professional asestitician looking out for my over all health. Once she determined that I was aware of it, and might want to get it checked by a dermatologist, she moved on to the next step. She had my back, literally. It’s not like I look at the small of my back regularly and this could be a life saving check for many who spend too much time in the sun, live alone, or are fair-skinned like myself and prone to have freckles and moles.
Lori applied an invigorating body scrub to my back with her hands firmly scrubbing and sluffing off any dull skin. She removed the scrub with warm, wet towels. Next, she applied a thick mask to my back to replenish my skins moisture. Using the antioxidant rich coffeeberry products to hydrate and revitalize skin damaged by the environment. For next 10-15 minutes, I basically melted into the heated table while she continued to give me a hand and foot massage while waiting for the mask to work.
The mask was then removed via warm wet towels and my skin was ready for an additional application of a moisturizer. The final step of the backfacial was a very gentle, swedish back massage using a lotion that provides skin nutrients to strengthen and repair my skin. My skin felt great. It was much smoother, cleaner, and definitely much moister. It took me a while to get up off the table. I was so relaxed. I was also grateful that I was still face down. I am pretty sure she did not witness me drooling 😉
This inn is adorable. It looks like Pinterest exploded into reality here. Many thoughtful details are throughout the property. I really liked the private picnic area and fire pit. It is in a gorgeous setting. Crestwood is very affordable, and a perfect place to host weddings. It is great for families, groups, couples, and even solo travelers. Room rates include a hot breakfast buffet. Lots of little loving details make this property very homey.
If I visit this property again, I would book a cottage for maximum privacy. I would also bring a few snacks (ok, I will be honest…champagne) as there is no room service. They do have a full service restaurant and a very nice bar. I would book my treatments a few days in advance to insure I score the best therapists, as they have many to choose from.
I was given no special treatment other than being a paying guest at this Inn. This is my life.
Why is it that I always get the best therapist when I go to the spa? Several of my friends call or text me when they get a treatment and either rave about it or lament the service. I would much prefer to hear your rave, rather than the rant, so here is my two cents.
Do some research in the area. Look for big brands like hotel spas, bed and breakfast spas, day spas, medical spas, Ayurvedic spas, healing arts centers, and unique retreats. Know all of your options. Ask trusted friends for input and read online reviews.
Narrow down your choices based on personal preference. Brands of spas or products, types of treatments, overall vibe, on-site or off-site treatments if you are traveling will help you make your choice.
Consider your cost-to-benefit ratio. If you will feel guilty about the amount of a service, you won’t be happy. If you only like luxury or “green” services, again, take this into consideration. Consider overall value. Can you stay the entire day by a pool? Can you workout or have lunch on-site pre or post treatment? Will your insurance cover a medical massage? The benefit of spending a day at a resort pool can offset the idea of higher priced treatments, particularly while on vacation.
When booking, I prefer to call and speak to a person. I skip online booking, even at my local salon. Ask if they have any specials or packages.
Ask for the best available. Definitely consider getting a male therapist! I know many people have a preference for the female therapists, but you are missing out on some very talented male therapists. If you prefer deep tissue massage, definitely let the staff know when booking your appointment.
Ask if a “master therapist” or a “master esthetician” is available. Many large resort spas will have this option. A small upchange may occur ($10-15 dollars seems to be a standard charge), but it is always worth it in my book. If money is a big concern, check to see if a gratuity is built into the service. Sticker shock at check out will kill a good spa buzz.
Consider the time of day for your treatment. What will you need to do after your treatment? I prefer to do any exercise like working out or golf, prior to services. Avoid smudges to manicures and pedicures by booking those appointments last, during a full day of treatments.
If you have to be dressed up after your treatment, consider adding a blow out and or make-up application to follow your treatment. Large spas usually have a full range of beauty services, but even your local day spa will offer a make-up touch up for no additional charge for facial appointments. Ask!
Speak up when you meet with your therapist. Know ahead of time that you will be having a conversation with them and make it count. Therapists and estheticians always ask you if you have any problem areas, medical issues, or allergies, even if you filled out a form. This is the time when you mention that you prefer deep tissue or a lighter pressure. If you don’t like oil, ask for lotion. If you don’t like chatting during a treatment, let them know. If you want to learn more about skin care and the products used, let them know. It can be aqkward to answer questions or bring up requests once you have your face pressed into a cradle and you’re undressed.
If this is your local spa and you visit it regularly, be a generous tipper. These are the people who can really help you out in a pinch. You will get more samples, better services, and even extended time or add-on therapies as a bonus.
Remember, these professionals chose their career because they are sensitive and truly want to help people. They are not mind readers. If you recieve a great service, ask for their card. “Spa brain” will no doubt make you forget their name. Referring friends is always appreciated.
Did I leave anything out???
Guests of the Ritz-Carlton have a choice six facials in this spa, if you include the one that they offer for men. I chose the Signature facial for the custom approach to this treatment. In my heart, there is only one option when it comes to facials, the eighty minute facial. This spa offers fifty minute facials as well, but those are just a tease in my book. By the time your esthetician discusses any skin issues, gets you settled on the heated table, customizes the treatment, and gets the steam going, that would make a 50 minute facial only 45 minutes of goodness. I am not down with that! My esthetician today is Kathleen.
Kathleen was able to understand what I needed from this treatment. She knows I’m on vacation, because she asked. She also knew my skin would be dry from the long flight and a bit dehydrated from some delicious beverages that I have enjoyed while on Bourbon Street. My intention was to get a moisturizing facial and address any signs of aging appearing on my face.
Sometimes I am in a quiet, meditative mood while in the spa, but today, I was not. I booked this appointment at 11am. I had already been in the spa for a while and was able to enjoy some Champagne (straight, no orange juice for me)! Intuitive staff already knew my affinity for Champagne from the day before. I was able to meet some other ladies in the plush locker room, also into town for the same convention. I was in a pretty chatty mood when I met up with my therapist. Beside being a knowledgeable esthetician, Kathleen was able to adjust to my mind-set and we had fun discussing other treatments and restaurants that I might like. She was professional, fun, and helped me my narrow down some of my many restaurant choices while in town. There are so many great restaurants to choose from!
About my treatment, I really like it when a spa is not tied to one product line. Multiple product lines means that I can get a truly custom facial. I can get products that I can’t find at home, find an old favorite, or just sampling something new. This spa has a serious arsenal of products so the options were amazing. After discussing my options, we quickly decide to continue on with the Dr. Gross product line. I was introduced to this line in January while at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes property in Orlando, and I really liked it. I also decided to add-on the alpha beta peel.
Here is the thing about add-ons. Usually, they do not add time to your service, and they will almost always cost additional money. But, it is a great way to try new treatments and products. Some of my favorite facials have had a scalp treatment add-on. Other popular add-ons are lip and eye treatments or hands and feet paraffin treatments. Kathleen was not pushy, but just simply offered the Alpha Beta Peel as an answer to my issue with aging. This peel uses natural alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) to lightly remove dead skin. The goal of this peel is to reduce appearance of fine lines, address acne, rosacea, and oily skin. Excellent! I have all that, sans the rosacea. This natural product was applied nearing the end of the treatment and followed up with the application of many moisturizers. There is no downtime with this particular peel. It is not as harsh as a chemical peel or other higher potency natural peels. Due to it’s lower strength, there will be no redness, flaking, or peeling. Expect more downtime with products found in physicians offices, versus a spa environment.
I loved this facial. Great news, I did not need too many extractions, and if I did, I already had my champagne, so no worries there! Kathleen did a great job explaining the many steps in this facial and the products used. She pampered me with lots of massaging strokes, all while answering my many questions about this fun city. When she finished the service, I was definitely more relaxed, my skin felt more moisturized, and I had a bit of a glow. She reminded me to leave the products on as long as I could, and to take care if I was in the sun. She also gave me a note with the names of the products she used for my reference. I find this helpful, as really good treatment tends to give me “spa brain.” She walked me back over the relaxation room where I met up with two friendly, local ladies enjoying a spa day. They were enjoying very fancy, mini cheese burger sliders in their robes in between thier services. No judgement at this spa! It is an oasis in the heart of the French Quarter.
Always discuss your current regimen with your esthetician, don’t forget to mention any peels, laser services, or other topical products that you use on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
If going to the beach or pool after a facial, be sure to wear a hat. Keep one in your spa bag along with sunscreen.
If you have not had a facial in a very long time, expect more extractions 🙁
Have you had any special add-ons to a facial you recieved? What was the add-on and was it worth it?