Thursday, July 21, 2016

Beauty Glows From The Inside Out--But it helps to have a great stylist!

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.  ~Author Unknown




It's summertime again and the heat is ON here in Los Angeles. Summer is always a time for trying out a new look. While searching for yet another trendy stylist in the heart of Hollywood to brighten my looks. As luck would have it, I discovered a certificate for a a certificate for a haircut in one of my swag bags (from all the gifting suites this year) It was from Lance Lanza. I had never heard of him before, but whenever someone is 'awarded' a place in the most coveted bag in the industry, you know he's got to be good.

As a self-proclaimed beauty aficionado, researching for the best of the best in beauty is a passion of mine.  In fact, the truth is just because someone works at the toniest salon in Beverly Hills doesn't mean they're all that! Many of the top stylists end up having all kinds of hair pros under the tutelage of their salon, but they may not be up to par with the ‘mane’ name on the salon.

With roots way too overgrown, needing a touch up, boomer women like me try to make sure we do the upkeep before it’s too late. I made an appointment with Lance and rushed over to his salon in the heart of WeHo, and was surprised to see that there was ample parking. Upon our first meeting,  he asked to see some of the photos of my own hairstyles that I liked.


When you get to a salon with a new stylist, do you bring in all the photos of styles that you like only to find out that your hair just doesn’t ‘go’ like that? After hunting through the trendy magazines and picking out other people's hair, like celebs or models, you realize it’s almost impossible to copy something exactly. There is always a bit of hesitancy with a new stylist. Will it end up like that Dutch Boy haircut (with bangs way too short) from when you were 8 years old or that bob Mr.Bob butchered right before your engagement dinner?

After a bit of research I found out Lanza had a two-year internship at a top Beverly Hills salon, whose clientele were celebs like Cristina Ferrare, Tori Spelling, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Mary Steenburgen, to European royalty like the Princess of Belgium and US politicians such as Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In addition, he even had his own very popular salon in Beverly Hills. After a few minutes in his chair, he was deep in concentration and not like most, who are doing ten things at once. Lanza is a real pro. His approach to styling for each client personally is very helpful. You know you are going to get a look that befits your face and style, not just another cookie cutter head off the chopping block!

“I like to take a moment to talk about the client's best features and how to accent each one, down to the color and texture of the hair and what best compliments the skin tone. Every person is unique, and it's important to bring out their best, and to show the client exactly what I'm doing and why during their cut," says Lance. “


When it's finished, I walk them through the styling step by step, giving specific tips so they feel comfortable with their hair when they go to style it themselves. People love to learn the little secrets that will make them look and feel great.”

Lance, like Edward Scissorhands, was in a trance-like state as he began his cutting and you could feel his focus for creating the perfect coif. After coloring my roots in a richer darker tone, he also added highlights.

Like a real pro, he took his time and concentration and did not rush, or run around checking on other clients. It was all about 'my hair' for that time. He goes deep into the process and the end result was even better than what I expected. Perfecto.

His philosophy about what styles are more youthful, he responded,”The best stye for a youthful look is a big smile on your face!”


 ”When people like the way they look, they feel good about themselves. When they feel good about themselves, they can make things happen.”

With a new style of rich undertones and bright youthful color, you I walked out of his salon beaming with a fresh cut, shine and highlights. Lanza seems to understand how to create the perfect blend of hi and low lights to create a picture perfect style. Just know that you can be proud to hold your head up high and prance around the city of Angels.

”A smile is the best makeup a girl can wear,” Marilyn Monroe


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Midsummer’s Night: Family Fun in the Sun



If you're a contrarian thinker like me, you may consider escaping to the desert while everyone else is running to the beach to beat the heat.

According to Inc.com: Contrarian thinkers are trailblazers in business. They are the polarizing visionaries who are just as likely to be called crazy as brilliant, and they have the foresight to see hidden opportunities and seize them at just the right moment.

I've discovered that I actually enjoy the clear, dry desert air and peaceful surroundings, which  are number one on my list. After living in Los Angeles for a few decades, I've also discovered that the traffic is so stressful that driving in the opposite direction to escape the crowds is exhilarating. Now, it's hot enough out there this summer in the city, but in the desert, you actually can experience a warm breeze and even rain. In the summer of 2012 there were downpours! Of course you probably won't go hiking in the mid-day sun, but a trip up the Aerial Tramway will be an thrilling experience. Especially since it is the worlds largest rotating tram car, and travels two and a half miles up to the mountain. It will surprise you when you hit the peak and feel as if you're in another dimension, but you arrive at the  Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

"Once you reach the Mountain Station—elevation 8,516 feet—enjoy two restaurants, observation decks, natural history museum, two documentary theaters, gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails."


However, if you're afraid of heights, just  visit a top level resort that is surrounded by water. One special place for the whole family is the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, California. There’s something special about a desert resort that boasts “seven heavenly pools to choose from.”

“This mystical palm grove of our children's water-slide, and fascinating indigenous plants showcase seven unique swimming pools, created for sun-worshippers and water-lovers, alike”


The truth is out, this Indian Wells oasis does have the absolute best water features in the desert  for families and adults in the Palm Springs area. This resort satisfies the sun worshiper, the swimmer who loves laps, the peaceful warrior who needs a stress free oasis away from the main action. However, even though is called the Children’s Pool, the Kid’s Corner is also the scene for big kids, like me who absolutely LOVE the 60 foot spiral waterslide! Not content to go up and down just a couple of times, our room overlooked this water adventure and we were beckoned to try it several times, consecutively, each day. While the little ones were racing up and down, over and over again, we also followed and became lost in the fun!

As a boomerbabe/health nut, there is no way I will go to a giant waterpark (as enticing as it seems) because of all the chlorine and chemicals in the pools. However at this Hyatt, you know the water is kept clean without overdosing on all the toxic chemicals. Since it is a ritzy resort, there are less people to crash into and more space to relax. But if you’re not a fan of the daytime summer heat, the pools are romantic at night under the starry summer sky.


The grounds of the resort are resplendent with lush green landscapes, and artsy oversized pots of palms aligning the passageway from one pool area to the next. There are meandering water features surrounding the 5 Star villas that feel like you are on a refreshing reflective lake in the middle of the desert.

The resort is close the tony enclave of chic El Paseo Shopping and dining. In the heart of all the local sites and activities, the resort felt nice to stay put and not even wander outside the grounds. Besides, the Agua Serena Spa on property is an organic spa that focuses on bringing well-being and balance to the body.

“Agua Serena translates to tranquil waters. Water is the source of life and in this desert region water is a coveted resource.”

The spa menu is unique with clever names like the “Spa Tapas Menu’ which offers two a la carte additions like reflexology or even Elementary skincare for kids! The Serena Skin Specifics and the Facial Summer Cooler Body Treatment for only $190 (That’s two fifty minute treatments)

Of course there's the golf and tennis that cannot be beat. Considering that this is the fav hangout for tennis pros during the tournament season.

If you’re seeking fine dining, there are many spots in the area. However, if you want a meal that will last in your memories, then make a reservation at La Spiga Restaurant in Palm Desert (off El Paseo).

This authentic Tuscan-style villa,  surrounded by rose gardens, herb beds and fruit trees hits the spot for a gourmet meal. In the season, outdoor dining is preferred, with three gazebo's and the patio that wraps around the entire building offering a spectacular view of the mountains. The service is beyond excellent, especially the waitstaff, bar and if you’re lucky enough to get the royal treatment from John, the manager. Everyone that works there takes pride in their being a part of this special eatery. The owners are highly regarded in the gourmet food world.

“Vince is a multiple award winning Chaine des Rotisseur chef who has cooked for prime ministers and other heads of state, ambassadors, movie and sports stars, and international business leaders. As hostess, Connie ensures each and every guest receives impeccable service.” There’s lots of photos, especially a great shot of one of America’s sweetheart couples, Ryan O’Neal and Farrah Fawcett, in their heyday. All the dishes are a great choice, but especially the homemade chocolate dessert!

If you want to Escape from LA to beat the crowds, cash in on some special discount packages, without going far, then a visit to the Palm Springs area is just the ticket.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Desert Oasis for All Seasons:The Best Kept Secret is OUT






It’s the launch of Summer and everyone is heading for the cool pool or beach. While everyone is complaining about the extreme heat across the country, sometimes “hot” can be a good thing. Especially when you live in Los Angeles. While everyone is headed for the beach, you can go in the opposite direction and head for the desert. According to the latest Tom Tom Traffic Congestion report, “Los Angeles is the most congested city in North America. On average, journey times there take 33 percent longer than when traffic in the city is flowing freely and 77 percent longer during evening rush hour. Rounding out the top 10 most congested cities are Vancouver, Miami, Seattle, Tampa, Fla., San Francisco, Washington, Houston, Toronto and Ottawa.”

No wonder you want to flee the maddening crowds, including the hoards of foreign tourists dashing to the US for cheap deals on everything from hotels to haute fashion brands. Shopping in the US outlet stores these days is like Hong Kong in the 60‘s. Many of you are savvy to escape from LA by going against the traffic. Here’s a great escape with very few hoards to crash into: Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa in Desert Hots Springs. While everyone is running to the night life and excitement in Vegas, you can be floating in a lagoon filled with the top rated mineral springs in the world!


In the desolate town of Desert Hot Springs, the rich and famous have retreated to a secret getaway for decades. Two Bunch Palms, a beautiful oasis, is an historical landmark setting for total relaxation, especially for Hollywood Honcho types. In fact, it was literally the clandestine hideaway for the infamous "gangsta" Al Capone. This desperado built the original stone fortress as his notorious hideout and exotic playground on a sacred Indian site. The most precious commodity, the mineral rich, high lithium content  healing waters, is surrounded by "two bunches of palms", a.k.a Two Bunch Palms. The healing waters induce a soporific effect that calmed the nerves of the most hardened 'outlaw'. Before it was fashionable to be a modern spa, this was the most sought after place to chill out and 'do nothing' except obtain the priceless benefit of the healing waters. Everyone would flock to this steaming hot pool lagoon, in the middle of nowhere, to rejuvenate like nowhere else on earth.



Without the slick trademarks of many new imitators, the signature treatments remain exceptional, such as the rich mineral mud baths, created from the unusual green clay. This vein of green clay was found next to the artesian well on Miracle Hill, and has been tested by biochemists at NASA's Aces Research Center. The 'Hydra-Terra" qualities have been found to store energy and to catalyze reactions, helping to restore the natural skin tone and balance, absorb toxins and create a rejuvenating effect on the skin. This clay is infused with the natural spring waters, and soaked for millenniums in high heat. Subsequent tests reveal rich mineral content in the natural spring's lagoon, especially high in lithium, which has a very soothing and magical effect on the nervous system.


If you don’t mind driving, the spa treatments are some of the best in the world, and worth the effort. Forget about the fancy-schmancy hotels with fine crystal chandeliers to assuage the corporate clients, wrapped up in a fake spa atmosphere, promising to help you de-stress.

Try the Watsu, a water therapy treatment in private pool that will send you into oblivion and set the tone for the rest of your stay. And don’t forget the Epicuren Facials-there are only a few spas left that use these products-the absolute best! In addition they are leading the trend for utlizing the Himalayan Salt crystals which are known for their exceptional healing qualities. Getting a massage with the smooth heated stones aligned on your chakras is beyond exceptional for quelling the nerves and letting go of the city vibes.

Most of the action takes place around the Grotto, day and night. The landscape also boasts a picture perfect pond with friendly fish and turtles who will chase after you so you better buy some fish food in the office! This is truly a romantic place, especially at night, with star gazing and incredible sunsets and moon risings. Forget leaving the property, there is no place better to experience nature and peace, you are privy to this incredible lush vegetation and subtle lighting. This is one of the most special places on earth. Many say it is located on an energy vortex.


The latest upgrades have really catapulted this resort into a leading edge twenty-first century destination. The resort has positioned itself as a e a leader in sustainability within the wellness-resort industry.

It’s two palms up for Two Bunch Palms when it comes to relaxation and shedding your suit of armor so you can have a total mind/body/spirit makeover.

“Sustainability basically calls for us to use protocols and practices that manage our natural resources and human capital responsibly in order to be efficient, do no harm and preserve those resources and quality of life for future generations.” Under new ownership, their savvy business acumen are at the forefront of  the hospitality industry. Not only have they upgraded the design of all rooms and suites, but the restaurant is au courant in decor as well as farm to table fresh fare.

“From better potable water conservation practices for irrigation, non-toxic and more natural cleaning and treatment products, recycling throughout the property, sell more sustainable retail goods, renovating our rooms with energy efficient windows, doors and hot water heaters or generate our electricity from 100% renewal sources, the company strives to meet its sustainable goals and be an inspiring thought-leader and example in the marketplace.”

The most outstanding advancement is the construction of their solar field. They are taking a stand for not only personal wellness but planetary health at large. They mean business in their attempts to honor the environment by  establishing a partnership with Pear Energy, by building a 3.5-acre solar field. This revolutionary gesture actually generates “the equivalent of 100% of its electrical power needs through renewable energy, making it the first resort of its kind in North America. In addition, it will save over 13 million pounds of carbon emissions and 375 million gallons of water over 21 years, thereby reinforcing our ethos about individual vs planetary health.”



Without question, their efforts will pay off not only for the resort but as a leader amongst the future of the wellness industry. No wonder they were awarded Corporate Brand Dedicated to Sustainability by the Green Spa Network 2015 Awards.

FYI-Many reality based television shows have been rediscovering the natural beauty of the resort. You may have caught a glimpse of some of the most picturesque spots on the "Bachelor" or "Average Joe", or "VH1", and even "MTV Dismissed". The most notable movie, The Player,features his exclusive Hollywood Hangout as a focal point of the film! This natural environmental treasure can be experienced by just making a reservation.

Don't forget to feed the friendly ducks, turtles and fish who will greet you at the peaceful lake.
They may not let you pass by without reminding you that they expect to get a treat!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ananda:The Bliss of an Ayurvedic BodyTreatment



 

Burke Williams Spa, Westfield Topanga

Visiting a day spa is one of the modern luxuries many of us seek to experience healing, pleasure and peace. In ancient times many cultures sought the healing waters, such as the Greeks, the Romans and indigenous peoples of the world.The Romans are noted in establishing the first spas which were well designed bathhouses built near mineral springs. The definition of the word, SPA means salus per aqua — health through water.

While many spas were cropping up in Europe, the ancient healing techniques of Ayurveda (whole body) healing systems were developed thousands of years ago in India. Based on the belief in the subtle balance of the mind/body/spirit, healing and wellness can be achieved.

In ancient times, a devout disciple and first cousin of the Buddha was a man who was said to have the highest purity of heart. This man was called Ananda, which means state of bliss, considered the highest state of being.

According to Bess O’Connor of the Chopra Center, Ayurveda is considered the highest level of the massage world. It has been around through the ages, not only for relaxation, but for “health benefits such as improving circulation, toning the muscles, calming the nerves, lubricating the joints, and increasing mental alertness. They are also used for supreme detoxification, skin health, energy, stamina, and better sleep.”

Today, the popularity of ancient Indian healing is showing up in spas all over the world. One spa, right here in the Los Angeles, Burke Williams in Woodland Hills, is located at the Village in Westfield Topanga. It is a delightful and fun location in the heart of the valley. The spa has introduced the Ananda treatment and it lives up to it’s name. The results are said to be a release from all sense of the body and its demands. This new location, a step above the rest of the BW family is by far the most fun, peaceful yet playful and airy! As mentioned in previous posts, it is a delight for all the senses. Because it was Father’s Day, the men outnumbered the women and in celebration, there were some yummy snacks for all.

When I arrived, my masseuse, Priscilla, gently escorted me to the treatment room which felt cool and comfortable. (It was almost 109 degrees outside) She explained the treatment process and asked me to smell three different oils which were in attunement with the doshas. According to this healing method, there are three energies believed to circulate in the body and govern physiological activity, Vata, Pitta, Kapha.

Each specific oil, according to your dosha, was infused with different metals. Dosha is a Bioelement that makes up your constitution. The three bioelements are always fluctuating in the body. They change with day and night, and with food.

The Doshas are defined as:Vata (airy element) characterized by properties of dry, cold, light, minute, and movement. All movement in the body is due to property of vata and in this treatment it is balanced by Brass. Pitta (fiery element) connected to hotness, moist, liquid, sharp and sour, its chief quality is heat. Kapha (watery element) is characterized by heaviness, cold, tenderness, softness, slowness, lubrication, and the carrier of nutrients.

The main features of this treatment are rhythmic motions, prepping the skin with a microdermabrasion scrub, utilizing hydrating oils and creams, to produce more balance and vitality.The feet, hands and neck are also addressed as well at specific points of energy on the body.

During the massage the ‘monkey mind’ may be racing with all kinds of thoughts. Calming the nervous system can be the first sign indicating the effectiveness of the treatment which can be palpable. As a journalist, one may tend to interview the practitioner while getting the treatment and it is advisable to make sure not to talk all the way through! After asking a few questions at the beginning, the masseuse can remind one to stop and became mindful of their thoughts.

Allowing oneself to become immersed in the rhythmic flow of the massage, noticing the treatment flying by, becoming relaxed and letting go of all the minutiae. It seems as if whenever one lets go and releases the tension, time flies quickly, while experiencing the peaceful and healing effects. However the 80 minute treatment felt as if it was over in a flash!

If you are seeking a new kind of spa experience and haven’t tried any Ayurvedic treatments, you may find that this will become a preference. The combination of the oils befitting your condition, while first doing the microdermabrasion to slough off dead skin and the rhythmic massage is just what the ‘doctor’ ordered. Next time you are thinking of a gift for yourself or your loved ones, this may be the ticket!

Beat the Heat! 114 Degrees in Woodland Hills, Escape to Burke Williams Spa

Can you believe the heat? So much for the climate change naysayers! Even the beach was a toasty  three digits in Santa Monica! Amazing!

On Father's Day there were lots of dads chillin' at the new Burke Williams Spa, The Village in Westfield Topanga mall.

Check this out!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Rockin it at the Montage Beverly Hills West Coast ISPA 2016 Media Event



It’s that time of year again, how time flies! The excitement begins with that first email inviting the media to attend on Wednesday, June 1 from 4-7 PM. This is a first class party atmosphere where some of the top spas show up to show off their unique spa treatments.

Media guests are urged to book their spa sample signature pampering so they get to experience 
firsthand to report to their readers.



This is the west coast version, a small taste of the huge ISPA Conference and Expo in Vegas,  where the best of the best share the latest in spa trends. With a powerful turnout of all media outlets, this is the ideal place for spas to see and be scene. From magazines, newspapers, television and radio stations that feature health, travel and mainstream media.

 The featured spas and products this year were Island Spa, Catalina, the upgraded luxury spa at Meadowood, in Napa Valley, Jurlique, (my Fav )Epicuren DiscoveryAspira the Spa, Massage Envy, The Oaks at Ojai, Kohler Waters Spa, Spa Atlantis in Reno, NV, Resort Suite, Bellus Academy and the winner of most unique—the Eastern Vibration Himalaya Singing Bowls!

The minute you enter the event, there is a feeling of peace and calm, while the festivities are amping up with the buzz of excitement. Waitstaff is greeting you with a glass of champagne, while a full hosted bar is also a stop over in between the pampering. A catered buffet of spa food  delicacies such as sautéed veggies, heirloom tomatoes with Buffalo Mozzarella, different kinds of pickled raw fish, hors d’oeuvres galore with a sampling of delectable desserts that are little bites of guiltless wonders.

The best part was the gift bag at the end so we could take home a sampling of the signature spa products and memories that will last until next year! The main focus is to entice the media to come and visit these palaces of peace and pampering, to share our excitement with our readers. Well, the whole experience was a success, while industry aficionados were able to meet and greet, while networking with media.

The setting could not have been better, with the tres elegant Montage Beverly Hills service and atmosphere. The event was a powerful reminder of how spas are becoming the go to places to destress and rejuvenate the mind/body/spirit. Because experiencing the benefits of wellness is not a luxury any more but a necessity!

If you are interested in learning more about the latest spa trends, please contact me at: the5starlife@gmail.com for a consultation. As a Spa Concierge, I create a bespoke spa experience for you and research to find the absolute best spa and treatments specifically tailor made to your dreams, desires and preferences.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hollywood Hip:Downtown Los Angeles' Ritzy Spa Indulgence


Lounging at the rooftop pool at the Ritz, downtown, Los Angeles

If you’re an urban warrior seeking a luxury pampering experience, The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles is the perfect escape from the daily grind. The city is a mecca of excitement, especially now that LA Live/Staples Center is the new hub. And this luxury hotel and residence has set the bar for luxe design and the spa is uber chic in style and treatments.

Aligning with the spa trend these days, to include natural resources, the spa menu is replete with a bouquet of choices. “As we developed our new menu, we focused on current trends that we are seeing in the spa,”said Kory Keith, Spa Director of The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles. “Guests are looking for more culturally-grounded, indigenous experiences with an increased interest on where and how products are sourced, while still seeking to capture the glamour and pampering of a Hollywood lifestyle.”
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Here are some of the new offerings right from the spa menu:

Champagne & Shimmer – A revamping of the spa’s signature treatment inspired by
Hollywood’s Golden Era, now uses a fully organic product line that incorporates seeds of
locally-harvested grapes to exfoliate the skin before a final dusting of 24-karat gold
shimmering powder.

Marula Ritual – A new, multiphase treatment utilizing African Botanics, a Santa
Monica-based wellness line that was shaped to capture the exceptional beauty and pure
floral wealth of Southern Africa.

Garden to Glamorous – Seasonal treatments that embody the ‘farm to table’ philosophy of using freshly harvested, natural ingredients – many sourced from the hotel rooftop garden.

Now that urban gardening is becoming a passion, to include natural ingredients that is sourced from the hotel rooftop garden is definitely a noteworthy trend. This is going to be hot in the coming years. People are concerned with the quality of the ingredients, both inside and out, not just with the food they eat, but what they put on their bodies. After all, your skin is the largest organ of the body and it drinks in the ingredients you put on the outside. This whole body experience is taken seriously at the Ritz Carlton Spa, LA.

The goal is to restore natural balance and the experience of shutting out the stresses of everyday life. The Aroma Journey Massage as well as the Cloud Nine Massage are results oriented treatments to soothe your body/mind/spirit.

If you’re seeking something that is regenerating and revitalizing, the Vital Rejuvenation and Slim Wrap will leave you feeling more light, eliminating toxins and a noticeable slimming effect.

If you want the basics, the 8,000 square foot spa has something for everyone.


The best part is the head to toe service and the warm, friendly atmosphere. The favorite prep for a night on the town is the Red Carpet Ready package which will make you feel like a star, and includes hair and makeup. Just hanging out in the co-ed sanctuary with a shagadelic decor will make you feel like you’re in a movie set. This atmosphere is dreamy and a step above most luxury spas, especially in a big city. You feel as if you are whisked away into some alternate universe, with electric loungers that adjust your body so you can nibble on snacks while sipping tea. The best is watching video screens streaming the most perfect shots of tropical paradise. This is a memorable virtual reality experience, so give yourself the gift of time and not rush through your treatments. If you’re lucky you can sneak up to the exclusive pool bar and have a glass of bubbly. (They even have some at the spa.) However if you do go for the detox wrap, it is best to drink your fill of pure water to replenish your body. (After a good dose of water, then go for the champagne.) There is also a private men’s and women’s relaxation lounge to do some deep meditation and relaxation pre-and-post treatment. The water therapy includes a eucalyptus steam room and cold plunge showers, so make sure you take the extra time to indulge in all the five star amenities.

The end result is feeling more pampered and indulgent.


Take a peek at the exclusive pool with views of the tall skyscrapers and if you’re lucky you’ll spot the Goodyear Blimp floating above the spires.

www.ritzcarlton.com/losangeles