Rejuvenation at Breeze Spa

The Breeze Spa at Koh Samui's Amari

Joy, my massage therapist, rolls the hot rocks gently over the back of my legs, sending a jolt of electricity through my body.

I’m laying, face down, staring at a bowl full of flowers, breathing the aromatic scent of lavendar and other essential oils, as she slowly works the stones into my muscles, using them as a replacement for the kneading her hands would normally do.

Amari's Breeze Spa

Deciding to try the hot stone massage was easy. The day before my appointment at Amari’s Breeze Spa, I took a few minutes to sip a sugar-rimmed tropical drink, sit with a spa consultant and fill out a quick form to narrow down what treatment would be best for me.

After less than five minutes, it is decided: I want to relax (naturally, I’m on vacation) and come away from my treatment feeling rejuvenated. She gave me two choices for a massage, and I opted for this one.

Unwinding at Amari's Breeze Spa on Koh Samui

As an expat living in Thailand, I get massages all of the time. I’m not exaggerating. During lunch breaks at the office, I’m known to skip lunch and head to a local massage joint to get an hour-long head, neck, back, shoulder and arm pit stop. At night, you can find me at the open-air massage shop on Loi Kroh. I live for these massages.

Breeze isn’t like these though, it is a true spa versus a place where you go and lie down on a mat and put your head on a pillow.

As relaxing music fills the dimly lit room, I let myself go. I clear my mind of everything — elephants, Chiang Mai, America, you name it — and I give in to the overwhelming calm that begins to envelop my body.

The massage isn’t all hot stone. A good portion of it utilizes just Joy’s powerful hands.

Towards the end of my treatment, the stones go away and she begins to work on my head. Applying just enough pressure, she provides the best head massage I have ever gotten. To say it is the crowning glory of my treatment is an understatement. It is perfection.

The after-massage goodie at Amari's Breeze Spa

At the end of the treatment, I head back down to the reception area of the spa and am handed some hot water lilly tea and a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut.

A sweet ending to an even sweeter treatment.

Editor’s Note: My time stay was courtesy of Amari Palm Reef, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

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Life is a dream at Dream Hotel

For someone that has only stayed in one hotel in Bangkok, and no idea where anything is, deciding on a hotel to find in the massive city can be … oh … just a tad overwhelming.

So, I simply go to Agoda to research hotels.

Given that this trip to BKK — and my escaping Chiang Mai —  is a must for my sanity, I decide my sanity is also in need of some posh indulgence.

That’s when I see the listing for Dream Hotel. Five stars. Excellent reviews. In the neighborhood I want.

Sold. Booked.

And, what a dream the hotel is.

Bangkok's Dream Hotel

The room

After breezing into Bangkok and hopping into a cab, my driver turns down Soi 15 in Sukhumvit and immediately I know Dream isn’t going to let me down. The sparkly, spin-y disco ball cube spinning in the middle of the driveway makes me smile. And, in this moment, I need to smile.

The lobby is swank, sleek … hip. And then, there’s the room.

My oh-so gorgeous room with blue mood lighting under the bed and on the wall. It oozes sexy.

Then, there’s the bed.

It speaks to me.

“D,” the fluffy white duvet whispers, “don’t I look amazing?”

“Put your head on me,” tease the pillows.

Compared to my apartment at Smith, this bed simply looks like heaven.

I toss my carry-on onto the little stand and immediately jump into the bed.

Holyshitmarshmallowgoodnessinasleepingapparatus.

This bed is heaven. Soft. Perfect. If I didn’t have a hair cut/color in two hours, and work to get done, I’d skip the entire day and just pass out.

Which I do later that night after dinner with friends.

Needless to say, the sleep I have is incredibly restful … and incredibly comfortable.

Dtravelsround at Dream Hotel in Bangkok

In the morning, I head down to breakfast in the restaurant and grab some food. While it’s lacking in vegetarian options, what I do manage to grab is good.

Then, it is off to the spa for some more ahhhh.

The spa

Because I book in early (before noon), I get a 1000 baht discount, which means the honey body scrub, oil massage and facial is only around 2000 baht AKA highway robbery in America.

In the spa, I disrobe and let my practitioner work the scrub into my dull skin. While it is super sticky (it is honey), the shower at the end of it leaves my skin feeling softer than a baby’s. Super soft. And, yeah, glowing.

Then, time for the massage.

I love massages in Thailand. LOVE. But, this? This isn’t a Thai massage. It is akin to my treatment in Bali at Grand Mirage … gorgeous.

I lay there as she rubs my muscles and try to get over my funk. To get over my rut. I repeat a mantra in my head for more than an hour as she massages my body and gives me a facial.

When the treatment is over, I feel like a new person. And, far happier than I was before. There’s something to be said for just letting yourself breathe.

The pool

Relaxed, I head across the street to Dream’s other location and up to the top floor to get some pool time on the roof deck. Immediately, I head to the bar and grab a white wine and sit back, getting lost in my own thoughts for a bit before I jump into the chilly waters. Once the initial shock of the cold subsides, I refuse to move another inch and just soak as I sit and laugh with my friends.

The bottom line

For the $74 I paid for a king bed each night, this place is perfect. Staff are great. Facilities are nice. Restaurant is a bit overpriced, but I didn’t even mind. This was my mini-vacation. As I leave back to Chiang Mai, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m ready to go back home. At least for now.

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Facial bliss at Tropicana’s Glow, a Mandara Spa

Review of Glow, a MANDARA Spa, at Tropicana Las Vegas’ Glo2 Facial

“It’s been, uh, awhile, since I had a facial,” I tell my esthetician, Jacqueline Zayed, when she comes into the dimly lit room at Glow inside Tropicana Las Vegas.

I search the corners of my mind to try and remember the last time I surrendered my face to someone else’s hands. October … 2009?

Yeah. It’s been awhile.

Laying in the room inside the megaresort of Tropicana marks my first treatment — ever — at a major Strip hotel.

Sure, all of the facials I have had in my life have been in Las Vegas, but never inside one of these behemoths.

Needless to say, knowing what I’m walking in to, and why others visit, I have high expectations.

Glow, a MANDARA Spa, is awash in mid-day sun when I check-in for my appointment. The hotel, which was recently renovated to emulate a South Beach vibe, added Glow in late 2011, so it’s pretty new to the Strip spa scene.

Glow Spa at Tropicana in Las Vegas

It a Blackberry photo, which means it’s no good. But, you get the point. The lobby of Glow.

Like the hotel and it’s new white wash overlay, everyone on staff here is clad in white. For some reason, seeing all of the staff in white instantly transports me to a place that is not Vegas. (Perhaps because it’s winter and white and winter don’t go together, even if I am smack dab in the middle of the Southwest and the desert.)

The man who checks me in hands me a mini bottle of ice cold water and instructs me to take a seat on the couch while I wait for my escort back.

Outside, the huge windows show a stunning late January Las Vegas day. The pool below glistens, even if a few stray leaves have begun to gather at the bottom and ropes announce it is closed for the season.

After a few minutes of waiting, another staff member greets me and takes me back into the delves of the spa. Which, in reality, isn’t that big compared to other Strip spas I have ventured through. Absent are the hot tubs, the sauna and other little touches that leave you elated to have access to the spa for the entire day.

“You have until 7 p.m. to enjoy the facilities,” she says to me. I look around. There’s the gym, a steam room and a shower (which looks divine with numerous jets coming out of the walls and the rainshower spout above).

It won’t keep me entertained for seven hours, but it’s still nice.

I am given a locker, a robe, some sandals, and then told to wait in the Relaxation Lounge, a dimly lit room filled with day beds and couches, for my esthetician to meet me.

Glow Spa at Tropicana in Las Vegas

The Relaxation Room at Glow. Photo courtesy of Tropicana Las Vegas.

Jacqueline is really nice, and seems to know what she’s talking about. Once I’m tucked into the spa bed, she asks if I have any allergies.

No one has ever asked me that before when getting a facial.

I explain I am allergic to Penicillin, but it shouldn’t matter. It’s a facial. Not medication.

“Thank goodness you told me that,” she says. “The chemical peel I was going to use has a derivative of that so we have to change it.”

Well, then. Glad I said something.

I close my eyes and let her work her magic.

First, she wipes my face clean, then applies the chemical mask — a glycolic peel. While the peel sinks into my skin, I get a scalp massage. I’m a sucker for scalp massages, and this one feels great as she runs her fingers up and down my scalp, applying pressure.

When the peel is done setting and tingling, she removes it and then preps my skin for extractions. While cream begins to penetrate my skin, she wraps plastic around my face and covers it with a warm towel. During this process, I get a hand and arm massage.

After about 10 minutes, it’s time for the extractions. Unlike other extractions, this one uses a metal spatula of sorts, called the Bliss Porefector Gadget. It pulses and glides along the skin, extracting and pushing the cream deeper into my skin to help give it a deep clean.

I then get a face massage, a nice once-over that helps send me further into relaxation.

Following the face massage, Jacqueline applies a combination of a triple oxygen mask and triple oxygen energizing cream. While it soaks, I get another massage. This time from my knees down to my feet.

Ahhhh.

I get distracted momentarily when the music, for some reason, gets louder. It’s not the typical spa music, but actual tunes with lyrics. It’s not music I’d like to hear in a spa, so I try to tune it out and just concentrate on her hands working out my legs and feet instead.

Then, it’s on to a daily detoxifying toner, an application of vitamins and a thin piece of gauze soaked in enzymes, left on my face below a hot towel.

During this, she gives me a décolletage massage.

Finally, the last big step in the 75-minute facial is the nebulizer with sea water and oxygen. It’s a light mist that showers my face for five minutes. Refreshing. Invigorating. My skin feels ridiculously clean and revitalized.

The last step in the process is the application of moisturizer and eye cream.

“You’re all done,” she says softly.

I slowly get up and wrap my thick spa robe around me. When I meet Jacquline outside, I go to touch my face to see how smooth it feels.

“Don’t!” She warns. “Wait until you wash your hands. It’s really clean!”

I oblige, then head off to the steam room for a few minutes.

The air is incredibly thick when I walk in and sit on one of the heated ledges. I close my eyes, but the rotating color of lights distracts me. I wish it would just stick on one relaxing color — maybe blue — instead of rotating through the rainbow.

Following a few minutes of steam, I hop in the multi-jet shower.

Amazing.

Then, it’s time to go.

The only down side? Having to walk through the smokey casino with my new, clean face.

The bottom line: The Glo2 Facial is $225 (including a 20 percent gratuity). The treatment includes all-day access to the spa facilities. I enjoyed the facial and even 24-hours later, my skin still feels clean and smooth. Plus, it has a great glow to it. It’s one of the only spas on the Strip to offer a medical treatment (chemical peel) with aromatherapy applications. While the spa facilities are a bit sparse, the facial will leave your skin gorgeous.

For more information on the services, visit Glow’s Web site.

Editor’s Note: I was a guest of Glow for this treatment, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy.

 

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