Razzle's Travels

Cocoon Urban Day Spa – Manis and Pedis
July 21, 2008, 12:05 am
Filed under: CA, Northern CA, San Francisco, Spa

So when my best girlfriend suggested we go after work one day to treat our little toes, I tried to find somewhere that was a midway point for both of us. Enter Cocoon Urban Day Spa in the SoMa part of town. Location is a few uphill blocks away from most of the financial district, but if you are lazy like me you take a cab.

It’s a bit hard to find from the street, as the building didn’t have an easily noticable sign, and shares a space with a restaurant. The space is on the second floor, and is also part yoga studio.

The manicure/pedicure room is huge! and has windows on two sides, so full of light. While you can occassionally hear the traffic from the street below, for the most part you forget that you are right downtown.
They had brownies and strawberries for us to snack on, and for the ladies that came in after 5 pm they offered champagne. It might have been because we were using a coupon? Coupons on thier website are pretty good, they are limited by time of day but that just gives you an excuse to cut out of work early!

Service was great, they were running late, but the ladies that worked on us were all very nice and sociable and did a great job. Even when I smashed my nails upon paying. We got the ultimate mani/pedi combo, which for some reason I thought included paraffin, but instead just had warm booties and mittens. Still very relaxing and a good way to spend an afternoon.

They have one person doing your nails while the other does your toes, so it’s efficient and you don’t have to sit around and wait too much. And so you know it’s sanitary they also use metal bowls for the pedicure water and not the sometimes unclean plastic tubs most places do. However, they do still have massage chairs. It would be a great place to go with a group of girlfriends for an afternoon of treatments.

I haven’t gone back to try any of thier other treatments, but it seemed they only had a couple treatment rooms. And the space that seemed to be the yoga studio seemed a bit small. Maybe they have small classes.

I will definitely return for another treatment soon! Oh and you cannot tip on your credit card, so make sure to take cash for tips (otherwise you have to pay the atm fee downstairs).

Location: 330 first street, second floor
san francisco, ca 94105


Small and Classy – Melt Spa
October 24, 2007, 12:18 am
Filed under: Boston, MA, Spa

Are you looking for a small, intimate day spa? Melt is your place. Yet another spa on Newbury street you say? Yes, but this one is different.
The waiting area is small, just three chairs, meaning it’s not the type of place that is so busy you have to wait around. There are 2 side by side pedicure stations (great for bringing a friend!), and from what I could see 3 treatment rooms. Satin sheets on the bed for facials, soft cotton flannel sheets for massages. The odd thing is there is one bathroom, no shower, and I had to change in the treatment room. There was a closet in the room for my clothes if I didn’t want to leave them on the chair.
I was offered water, wine or champagne after my massage.
The massage itself was incredible. Sheila listened to me and avoided the areas I was uncomfortable with. She asked me about the pressure more than once, leaving me comfortable to indicate if it was too hard or too soft. There was music in the room from an ipod. Next time I will ask if I can use my own tunes.
Their prices are on par with most places, but the intimate aspect of the spa and the great service is priceless.

Spa Safari – Blue Giraffe Day Spa
June 23, 2007, 3:32 am
Filed under: Ashland, OR, Spa

No vacation would be complete without a visit to a spa. On the last day in Ashland I visited the Blue Giraffe. I had wanted a scrub and massage, but due to timing and scheduling issues I opted for just a the epicurian geranium grapeseed body polish.
The location of the spa is off Main Street in the downtown section of Ashland, behind the creek and so if you take the stairs down from Main and walk up along the creek, it is scenic and very relaxing. I was greeted promptly when I walked in and shown the waiting area and into the changing room.
The decor of the spa is unlike any other I’ve been in. Bright orange walls, greenery, sculptures of animals and wooden masks. Very African safari influenced. I liked it.
The changing room is very small. It seems to be meant for one person at a time, which does give it an air of exclusivity, but does make it hard to want to blowdry your hair and put makeup on afterwards without feeling like you are keeping someone else waiting. There are smallish lockers, spa shoes and robes. The robes are amazing. A very soft cotton (or maybe cotton rayon blend), they drape well, and most of all come in a variety of patterns all coordinating with the safari like decor of the spa. I opted for a dragonfly robe, that I did have a bit of a desire to take with me, because it was so pretty.
I filled out my information sheet in the waiting room (co-ed), and was greeted by my massuese (Amy) shortly there after (and possibly before my appointment time). She led me to the steam room to help open my pores and soften my skin. The steam room also doubles as the shower and is at the end of the hallway. There is a curtain around it where you disrobe, take a small towel to sit on and go in. Obviously meant for one person, and the closed curtains are a good indicator of someone being in there. I am not a fan of steam rooms and luckily she listened to me and only had me sit in there a few minutes.
There seem to be a good amount of treatment rooms, and so the one shower/steam room seems to possibly put a crimp in thier scheduling. But perhaps they aren’t very busy, it being a relatively small town and all.
The room was large, and was thier couples room. I had initially asked for an appointment for my friend as well, but they couldn’t accomodate us at the same time, I guess due to not enough massueses.
Amy was great, she was friendly and interesting to talk to, had a good touch (not to hard, not to soft). I enjoyed our conversation and her professionalism. I was led back down to the shower afterwards, someone was in there and I went back to the waiting room for about 15 min, until Amy came and got me. A shower to rinse the scrub off, and back to the changing room. The woman who was in the shower before me was in there, so it did make for a bit of awkwardness trying to change and primp at the same time.
One interesting program they have is if you are already at the spa and decide to add another service that day it is 20% off. It was very tempting to see if I could schedule the massage while still there, but since my friend was over at Waterstone Spa, I didn’t want to keep her waiting. Definately a good way to get customers to add on services though!
Overall, it was a good spa experience, the only strange part was that I’ve always had a lotion application after the scrub. It seems that a moisturizer after a polish is a necessity. This is not to say my skin felt dry or parched afterwards, I suspect there was plenty of oil blended in with the polish, but the service did feel a bit incomplete.

Exhale Day Spa
May 7, 2007, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Boston, MA, Spa

Exhale is a high end chain spa. They have locations in Boston, several in NY, LA, Chicago, and TX. In addition to spa services they also offer yoga and core fusion classes. Which does give that part of the spa a bit of an aerobics studio feel.

My first experience was less stellar than I expected for the prices they charge. The $130 facial (z-peel) with Ella rocked! She is handsdown the best esthetician I have come across to date. Thorough, gentle, and super nice! My Pedicure Plus ($80) was rushed, and not completed in one visit (she didn’t do my polish, scrub the heels, work on the cuticles, use the paraffin, or the scrub mask) due to the pedicurist running late and having major attitude, like she was doing me a favor by doing her job. I also was not a fan of the location of the mani/pedi stations (next to the workout studio). I did complain to the manager, and was invited back for a second mani/pedi.
My second visit also included another visit with Ella (this time for a cool laser – for the money I would stick with the z-peel, my skin felt and looked a lot better after that, the cool laser did nothing for me). She still rocked. I will go back time and again for treatments with her. My mani/pedi was much better this time (different manicurist). Coincidentally my last manicurist came in halfway through my manicure with the same bad attitude, I realized she just isn’t professional in the least. You don’t complain and bitch in front of customers (or to customers about who was sitting there before them). I will recomment Sita for the mani/pedi, she was awesome and sweet and very professional. But I would probably stay away from anyone else there.

Thier locker room is enormous, although their showers seem to leak, as the floor around them is soaked more than it should be. They have all the amenities one could ask for, from razors to q-tips, and enough space at the mirrors for 3 people to freshen up simultaneously.
The relaxation den has some interesting tea choices and just plain water.
I’m sure had I not had to encounter the same girl both times my visit would have been far more pleasant, as the spa itself is gorgeous and very zen-like. They even have a steam room which scores major points! Overall, I would go there for facials and a spa day that doesn’t involve nails.

Bella Sante
May 7, 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Boston, MA, Spa

Newbury Street probably gives you the most spas/salons per square foot than anywhere else in the country. You can’t walk more than a few doors without seeing one. So after hearing about Bella Sante from various sources, and thier touting of being voted Best of Boston over the years for various services, I thought I should venture that way and try them out.
I made a last minute appointment for a cranberry enzyme facial. The spa seems large for being on the 2nd floor, and the seating area was comfortable, had lots of magazines, 2 kinds of tea and 3 kinds of water (plain, with lemon slices, and my favorite with orange slices). The seating area only had single chairs however, no benches or couches, so it was a bit austere.
My esthetician came out exactly on time and took me back to a candlelit room. I disrobed and crawled under the sheet and down blanket. She explained all the steps as she was working on me and had a gentle touch. However, I was a bit turned off with the constant mention of products that would be good for me. The facial consisted of a cleansing (cleanser wiped off with warm towel), the enzyme treatment, steam, and a mask. During the steam there was a hand massage, and during the mask a scalp massage. That was a nice touch, as I am not a fan of them putting the steam or mask on and then walking out of the room.
As I was getting dressed, she waited for me at the water bar with a fresh glass of water.
The locker room is under remodeling, but a few comments on its current state. Lots of lockers, but only 3 stalls, one shower, and one sink which is inside one of the stalls. This seems to be the regular configuration, so I hope they are fixing it. Three stalls is not nearly enough for how busy thier locker room gets (I was in there at 7 pm on a Monday with 5 other girls, I would hate to see it on a weekend). There are signs everywhere stating best as I remember “we offer you lockers to keep your items secure, please do the same by returning your robes, towels, and sandals, or bring them to the front desk for purchase”. Do they really have that large a contingent of clients stealing thier robes and towels? It was a bit weird to see the signage everywhere in the locker room.
Looking in the mirror I noticed the cleansing wasn’t very thorough. I don’t have skin that requires extractions, and when I wash my face at home with cleanser, I don’t have any clogged pores. But looking in the mirror I could see my pores still clogged. I’d like to feel my face is clean after a facial, it wasn’t.
When I went up to pay, the esthetician had left some products up front for me. Not surprised given the product mentions during the treatment, clearly they earn commission on sales, and perhaps that blatent in your face “buy this” works on some of thier clientele. But given that the products cost more than my facial (a toner and a moisturizer) it was annoying. I opted to just pay for my facial.
Will I be back? Probably not. There are more spas on Newbury for me to explore.

Aequis Spa Retreat
April 26, 2007, 4:22 am
Filed under: OR, Portland, Spa

There are lots of spas in Portland, and it was tough picking one for a good spa day with a friend, but we finally settled on Aequis.

Love this place! Took a few minutes of wandering around the street to realize it was in the Mark Spencer, but from the minute we walked in we were pleasantly surprised. The waiting/relaxation room is HUGE, and yet feels completely intimate. The decor is very Indian-esque with lots of pillows and deep reds and music.

The foot soak/massage at the start of the journey is amazingly relaxing and fun. I found thier method of picking the scents unique and accurate. I was supposed to have a female massuese, but for whatever reason we both ended up with males. This usually skeeves me out and keeps me from being relaxed. But both our guys were fabulous. (It helped a lot that I thought mine was hot- seriously where else could I get a cute tattooed boy to rub warm stones and oil all over me? Not any spa I’ve been to yet). The medley massage itself was great, we went to lunch afterwards and I wanted to nap I was so relaxed. Mostly I want to go back for another one today.

We did the couples room, and yet were enjoying our massages so much we didn’t talk to each other at all. It started off with a light feather run along our arms and backs, incorporated some hot stones, deep tissue and swedish styles. They do encourage a lymphatic massage, and the form you fill out does ask if you are comfortable with that. It was interesting, slightly uncomfortable for me since I tend to be very ticklish, but as he had noticed that from the foot soak, he was gentle and it felt strangely good. The massage ends with a scalp treatment, where they brush your hair (yes, cute boys brushing your hair, I swear this should be illegal!) and pour a warm oil over your hair. A warm towel is then wrapped around your head and you are left to relax for a few more minutes.

The only strange-ish thing, was that for a space this large, there were no lockers. But you put all your stuff in a garment bag in the changing area and it finds its way back to you in the shower. The showers were enormous and had beautiful tile work. I didn’t want to leave.

Ladies, go there and treat yourself to the best spa experience in Portland.

Beachside in the OC – The Hyatt Huntington
April 8, 2007, 2:10 pm
Filed under: CA, Hotel, Orange County, Spa

The Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort and Spa has to be my favorite of all the California Hyatts. It’s across the street from the beach location is ideal for surfers (or those who want to learn), sand castle builders, or those who want to spend the day biking casually along the beach. The hotel has a footbridge that goes directly to the beach so spare you dashing across PCH. It gives you all the southern California activities you were looking for in a soothing unique environment.
They have a large pool area surrounded by palm trees, with music playing underwater, and drinks and food served poolside. There is nothing better for me than laying out, getting a tan, while someone brings me a fruity concoction and something to nibble on. There is also a firepit after the sun goes down, which people seem to be drawn to. Maybe its the campfire feel, maybe it the romantic fire under the stars feel. There are several courtyards around the hotel with various fountains, the main one as you walk through the lobby is gorgeous. A long pool with fish fountains and palm trees remind you that you are now in Orange County and ready to relax.
Rooms are spacious (450+ sq. ft) with a desk area in case you are inclined to work. The beds are the good Hyatt beds, soft and fluffy with the down duvets, pillowtop mattresses, and high thread count sheets. All rooms have robes, CD alarm clocks, high speed internet access, and the very best part – a patio/balcony. There was nothing better than sitting out there sipping coffee watching the sunset over the ocean. Most rooms have an ocean view since the layout of the rooms are around several courtyards. The courtyards all also have hot tubs, so you don’t have to walk too far to sink into warm water.
The only downside to the courtyard layout is that your room can be quite a bit of a walk from the lobby depending on what building you are in. But the Spanish style architecture is just gorgeous and when you are surrounded by palm trees and water you really don’t notice.
The hotel has a casual and a fine dining restaurant, I’ve only had Sunday brunch at the Californian, it had a good selection of breakfast and lunch items and the food was very good.
There is also a spa allowing you to indulge in all sorts of treatments (the pricing is a bit on the high side) on your quick getaway, there are also early morning yoga lessons in the landscaped area (complete with koi pond!) in front of the spa. On complimentary aspect of the spa is the sunrise walk which covers around 3 miles. A great way to wake up and smell the fresh ocean air.
Location does require a car to get pretty much anywhere. But this is the OC and that’s just how it is there. Down the street there is good seafood at