Mohonk Mountain House: Something for all your Senses

MM5The Mohonk Mountain House, located in the Hudson Valley, just 90 miles from Manhattan, is an amazing place to call home for a few days. The resort is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. It was founded by Albert Smiley is 1869 and over 145 years later, the Victorian castle is still a site to see and experience. The magical Mohonk Mountain House offers unspoiled beautiful scenery, cuisine made using local ingredients, a serene spa and wonderful hospitality. Nestled among 85 miles of hiking trails of the Mohonk Preserve, its backyard is the spectacular Catskill Mountains. I had heard the property was something to see, but nothing prepared me for the thousands of acres of incredible fall foliage that was displayed in red, orange, yellow and green rows of trees  With so many possible paths to explore, each turn offers an even more spectacular view than the last.  mm6

The Mohonk Mountain House has something for everyone. It’s an incredibly romantic resort, as you can find so many secret nooks with benches within the hiking paths where you can sit and take in the views. The rooms are spacious with their own private fireplaces. There’s nothing like cuddling up with your loved one by the fire with a good glass of wine. The spa offers an array of massages, facial and body treatments for individuals and couples. Each locker room also has a sauna and steam room and there is a co-ed heated mineral pool outside. A solarium also offers a peaceful space with lounge chairs in which the two of you can just relax and stare at the gorgeous outdoors. Looking to unwind even more? They offer an array of meditation classes and private meditation instruction.

MM3 Mohonk is also great for families. There were many children enjoying the fun Halloween theme, haunted house and Halloween Ball. However, with the property and dining areas being so spacious, it did not affect the quaint romantic vibe. There is a ton of activities no matter the season. The property transforms with the season.

While it will be tough to choose what to do in a day with so many options, one thing you’ll be doing a lot of is eating! For breakfast, you’ll enjoy a large breakfast buffet with an omelet and waffle station. If you’re there on a Sunday, you’ll have the breakfast buffet and also a huge brunch buffet which includes a cheese spread, lox, shrimp cocktail, an array of hot and cold dishes, salads and omelet and carving stations. Lunch is also a buffet consisting of salads international hot and cold dishes and carving stations along with an extensive dessert spread. MM4 For dinner, you can choose the casual buffet option or dress to impress for a formal sit-down dinner with a quality three-course meal with an extensive wine list. They also offer alternative vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. MM2 The award-winning chefs definitely go out of their way to make sure your dinner is prepared with your specific dietary needs and requests in mind.

 

So if you’re looking for a gorgeous retreat, romantic getaway or a fun family weekend, you can get more information at www.mohonk.com. Keep your eyes out for special themes and activities for the holidays

The Texas Spa Roundup

deerlake1In Houston, the rodeo may have been in town, but after I landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, I was on my way to a lodge an hour outside of Houston to begin a very different roundup of health and wellness lodges and resorts for the week. First stop was the Deer Lake Lodge and Spa. The flight to Houston is not expensive on United Airlines, and the lodge offers a car service to pick you up at the airport. Brian from Creekside Limousine picked me up and gave me a great intro tutorial to the lodge on the way.

I originally chose to come here after meeting them at an organic spa event in NYC last year.   I have covered health and wellness facilities like Canyon Ranch (now known as Carillon Hotel and Spa) in Miami and Chiva Som in Thailand, but I’ve never done a true detox.   Based on what I knew about detoxing before arriving, I thought I was in for a few days of vegetable juices and wheatgrass shots throughout the day in combination with some light soups. When I first saw my program, the words shot out of my mouth, “Is this it for everyday?” deerlake2Normally, I eat very healthy at home, so I didn’t think the whole program would be such a shock. However, it was a bit different than expected. Most of the time, I was very full, except for the second night after my soup dinner and yoga. Had I gone to sleep early, I probably wouldn’t have realized just how hungry I was! But other than that, you are drinking vegetable juice once a day and making a detox drink twice a day, which consists of a choice of green powders, a detox powder made up of apple pectin, flax seeds, acacia, and Benonyte Clay, a teaspoon of Clark’s minerals, and coconut oil. Mix that into a paste with some apple juice and add water. Very filling. Plus, in one of the food classes taught by the very informative and bubbly April Ree, you get to sample the amazing raw pudding she showed us how to make in the vitamix.   She is chock full of fun simple recipes you can take home for you and your family. IMG_7491

April, whose website is http://www.oceansofabundance.com, not only teaches some food classes, including the one about how to eat when coming off of a fast, but also will take you food shopping and show you aisle by aisle what you should be buying and items to avoid.   Again, even as someone who knows quite a bit about healthy eating, I still learned a few new tidbits, which were helpful. It also reinforced some of what I may know, but don’t practice.   The lodge offers a variety of packages from which to choose, but you can also purchase additional services, including a full array of traditional spa treatments, as well as colonics, which are administered by a certified hydrotherapist, Paula Hobbart.

There are also lectures and sessions offered by a hypnotherapist, acupuncturist and iridologist, which I had not heard of before. It’s the reading of your eyes.   While some alternative practices may seem “out there,” she said this is based on true science. Cheryl Lemoine Kainer took a picture of my eye and then told me a few things I should know about my body based on the different areas of my eye.

IMG_7493The setting of Deer Lake Lodge and Spa is one of pure serenity. It really is in the middle of nowhere, so there is no temptation to leave and explore the area. In your down time, you can enjoy the infrared sauna, which has many benefits over a standard sauna, or just sit on your screen- enclosed porch and listen to the sounds of nature.   As a girl who lives in NYC, with constant stimulation, it’s forced relaxation that is sometimes needed to truly unwind. It was really nice to alternate my day with classes and treatments and hours that were just mine with nothing I needed to do, but could spend writing or reading.  The rooms are very comfortable with organic linens and Jacuzzi tubs.  It’s simply a great escape for a few days if you need a long serene weekend away or can incorporate it into another trip to the Houston area. Be prepared to slowly go back to your eating regime, as I did experience some stomach pain and adjustment time. You’ll also need to consult your doctor to get clearance for the colonics.

IMG_7554Next stop on the spa roundup was Lake Austin Spa Resort. A complete 180 from the Deer Lake Lodge and Spa, this resort is for those looking for a more active retreat with delicious healthy food and wine and beer selections. This gorgeous resort on the lake is great for girlfriend getaways, romantic retreats and just a relaxing getaway for one, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  In beautiful Texas Hill Country, this resort includes all food, fitness classes and informative classes in your package price. IMG_7556 You can get whatever you’d like from the resort, from relaxing on a hammock by the lake listening to the ducks play, to working out and participating in the group hikes. My days consisted of taking out a kayak and paddling past blue herons, followed by a TRX class, a foam roller class, a NIA dance class, and a high intensity cardio and weight training class in the gym, and a relaxing swim in their pool barn. lakeaustinpool

Enjoy the breakfast buffet, which includes fresh fruit and berries, yogurt, oatmeal and chia, flax and hemp seeds. There is also a menu of hot food from which you can order. Lunch was also a fresh buffet of vegetables picked from their organic garden. Dinner is a large selection of soups, salads, seafood and meat entrees, and vegetarian options. The spa also offers an alternative menu with healthy dishes such as their refreshing watermelon gazpacho soup and yellow fin tuna corn tortillas (I substituted bib lettuce for the tortillas) with vegan aioli sauce and avocado. lakeaustinfood

After a day of fitness classes, treat your muscles to a massage molded to your personal needs. Glen was my therapist, and not only gave me the most amazing neuromuscular type of massage for my persistent rhomboid stiffness, but also showed me some stretches to help target the area.   I opted to have my massage outside so I could listen to the relaxing sounds of the waterfall.

The very comfortable beds and pillows and the serene setting also made for some great sleeping. The stars and moon also shined bright at night. I highly recommend a visit to Lake Austin Spa Resort as a visit on its own or with a few nights to spend in Downtown Austin, as you won’t want to leave the property during your stay.

After an hour and 45 minute drive, the next stops on my spa roundup were in San Antonio.   The Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa and the Mokara Hotel and Spa in downtown San Antonio on the River Walk. The two properties are very different, with the huge JW Marriott situated on a PGA golf course with a huge six acre water park, pool, and kids club. The JW Marriott is one of three resorts in the US with two PGA golf courses.   The hotel boasts 1002 rooms and 265,000 square feet of meeting space.   The beauty of this property is that the whole family can visit if someone is there on business.   Mom can enjoy the spa while taking advantage of the kids club, and because the property is so large, even though it can hold thousands of people, it never feels crowded. 18 Oaks, its fine dining steakhouse is a great spot for a romantic or business dinner. There are seven restaurants and bars on property.

The Lantana Spa is a full service spa with a fitness center and exercise classes with a Jacuzzi, steam room, and private outdoor pool. My experience began with a unique seven knots ritual-tying a ribbon with seven knots completing a circle to release your stress and start anew. The 26,000 square foot spa is the largest in Texas. I was treated to their signature massage of the Curanderos. Compresses are filled with a blend of organic herbs that not only relaxes, but works on sore pressure points. It was a massage unlike any I’ve had before. The compresses worked deeper than a hot stone massage, since there is the ability to place it under a certain part of your body and apply pressure.

mokara spaIf you are staying in downtown San Antonio to be in close proximity to the River Walk, Alamo, and the Missions National Park, the Mokara Hotel and Spa is a beautiful property on the River Walk. When I was there, a wedding party from NYC was at the spa prepping for the big day. The high-end spa offers services for  both men and women including everything from an express mani and pedi to hour or longer treatments. I opted for the alpha beta peel facial, which was an amazing in depth 80-minute treatment. It was a chemical facial treatment consisting of alpha and beta hydroxyl acids to minimize the appearance of surface lines, smooth out rough texture, aid in clearing acne and help fade hyperpigmentation. The esthetician was terrific, telling me along the way about all the SkinCeutical products she used throughout. In the women’s locker room was a Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna and relaxation lounge as well.

IMG_7655In keeping with the healthy trend, if you’re looking for a Mexican restaurant that utilizes fresh fruits and vegetables in all its dishes, check out Chef Johnny Hernandez’s The Fruteria, inspired by Mexico’s beautiful and colorful fruit stands. The name means, “green grocer” and the space is modeled after a Mexican Botanero for tapas and cocktails.   During the day, the Fruteria serves smoothies made form fresh fruit along with tostados and tortas, and at night, the bartenders are mixing fresh fruit with regional tequilas.   The restaurant is a short five minute drive from the River Walk and also has other locations throughout Texas.

image_11179Even though I was on a spa tour, I always love incorporating other attractions into my travels if time allows. After I had finished my three and a half days at the Deer Lake Lodge and Spa, Brian took me back into Houston, where I did go to the final day of the Houston rodeo, a huge yearly event drawing hundreds of thousands of people. I stayed at Hotel Sorella CityCentre which was in a great new complex with shops and restaurants and a big green area with live music and a place for kids to play. It’s a great business hotel as well. At the end of my spa tour, I stayed in the Galleria area at the Royal Sonnesta, which was also a great business hotel with a large lobby and bar. It’s an easy thirty minutes to the airport and also close to downtown Houston with plenty of shopping and restaurants in the area.

So the next time you’re looking to give your body a break from the everyday grind, learn a few new health trends, some wonderful spas and detox lodges are waiting for you not too far away in the Lone Star state! As they like to say, everything is bigger and better in Texas!

Winter Blues? Head South for Sun, Sand and Serenity at The Carillon Hotel and Spa (formerly Canyon Ranch Miami Beach)

IMG_7135It was a few days into the New Year, and I had finally escaped the cold city for a few days and hopped on a flight to South Florida. I didn’t know exactly where I was going to go after my trip to the Keys for a few days, but I desperately wanted to relax and rejuvenate somewhere, and when a friend I met in the Keys invited me to come see the Carillon Hotel and Spa, where she lives on the property, I knew immediately I needed to spend a few days.

The Carillon Hotel and Spa, formerly the Canyon Ranch, is located on Collins Avenue and 69th Street, so close enough to the scene of South Beach if that’s of interest, but an oasis onto itself, and in my opinion, you never need to leave the property. Set on the ocean, there are three buildings, the north and south towers, which are residences with their own pools and Jacuzzis, a couple of workout rooms outside with views of the ocean, and the central tower, which houses the hotel, spa, fitness center, health and wellness area, lecture rooms, and an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi overlooking the vast ocean. IMG_7117

I met one couple who goes once a year for their annual doctor’s visit with Dr. Koffler, the medical director at Carillon Hotel & Spa. They followed her from her practice in Chicago. An integrative medicine physician, she works with clients on a number of issues, ranging from weight loss and food allergies to getting to the bottom of whatever ails you. At Carillon Hotel & Spa, you can get advanced, on-site diagnostic testing, and the personalized care to figure out what may be the underlying causes of what is going on in your body, in a non-rushed environment, which we so often encounter at our own doctor’s office.

IMG_7100With tons of options, you can make your visit work for you and your specific needs. Many go with specific goals in mind, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual, and some just go to relax and enjoy the incredible spa facilities and participate in the wide variety of workout classes. Aside from setting up your own personal appointments with doctors, spiritual leaders, and therapists, there is a full daily schedule of fitness classes and free informational lectures covering a wide variety of physical and spiritual health and wellness topics. For the typical person from New York or New Jersey, it’s easy to get wrapped up in feeling as though you need to do everything. This time around, I did not schedule any one-on-ones, so I used my time to take full advantage of the classes, lectures, spa facilities and a deep tissue treatment, and left time to just lounge on a chair right on top of the ocean listening to the sounds of the waves crash against the shore as I closed my eyes and dozed off into a deep state of relaxation.

Since I wanted to make sure I got a taste of everything, I did the fitness classes I don’t usually do at home, like the TRX circuit class, which is held outside overlooking the ocean, and the gyrokinesis class that did a phenomenal job of releasing neck and back tension. The classes in the pool overlooking the ocean, such as tabata, were also quite invigorating and made for great workouts. I even got on the rock climbing wall as part of a rock climbing boot camp class. My muscles definitely got a workout, but when they were telling me how sore they were, I knew I could just hop in one of many hot Jacuzzis, or the Aquavana thermal suite, comprised of several hot and cold therapies to get your muscles to relax and detox. I have been in many steam rooms and saunas over time, but none have smelled as wonderful or relaxed me more than those at the ranch. IMG_7077 Just one foot into the Aquavana area and I’m certain my blood pressure went down. I let myself enjoy an hour alternating between the Finnish sauna, the igloo, which sprays three different aromas into the air, the crystal steam room, the showers which have three different storm settings to ignite the senses, the hydrospa and footspa, and the herbal laconium, which provides gentle humidity infused with fresh herbs. The heated chairs cradle your back and neck perfectly for complete relaxation. Downstairs is the treatment area, where Richard Herrara worked his magic with my deep tissue massage and bath. The 80 or 110 minute treatment starts with a therapeutic bath infused with Dead Sea salts and mustard products that massages every part of your body, followed by a deep tissue massage. Richard is an incredible therapist who knew the perfect amount of pressure to yield results, while still ensuring a relaxing treatment.

IMG_7097The food at Carillon Hotel & Spa is not only healthy, with all of the calories and fat, carb, protein, fiber and sodium content written on the menu, it is phenomenally delicious. For breakfast one day I ordered the tofu scramble, which was prepared with just the right flavor of spices, a side of delicious smoked salmon and fresh berries with a greens juice on the side. Second day was their Mediterranean breakfast, which was just as amazing. The warm artichoke salad with a side of wild salmon was the perfect lunch to enjoy on the beach. While relaxing by the ocean or pools, there is cabana service, serving food and drinks.

We are very lucky in the northeast to have such an amazing facility so close to home. For the perfect combination of sun, ocean, fitness, wellness, healthy and delicious cuisine, insight and relaxation, look no further than Carillon Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered to help with the winter or anytime blues.

http://www.carillonhotel.com

Chill Out at Chiva Som : Thailand’s Top Health Retreat

IMG_1215Wheatgrass and green juices with breakfast on the ocean,  hundreds of skin, body and mind treatments, fitness training and group classes, tai chi and yoga, and the most delicious buffets and sit down meals; all made with no processed ingredients.… for what else could one possibly ask? To me it was heaven on earth. My sanctuary for what was too short of a time…this sanctuary is Chiva Som in Hua Hin, Thailand. I paid a visit to the health and wellness resort after my ten days of travel throughout Thailand. I signed up for the three day program, the taste of Chiva Som. IMG_1238 However, after my first incredible dinner there, I knew three days was definitely not going to be enough time to truly immerse myself and relax. However, I think I did a pretty good job in the few days I had. I met people from all over the world, and not one of them said it was their first time to Chiva Som. People had been back there numerous times and were staying for at least five days, but most planned to stay two weeks to a month! There were people there of all ages and visiting with various goals in mind. IMG_1234 Some were there to take advantage of the detoxing program, while others were healing from an injury, and some to regroup after emotional trauma, or to become more focused in their daily life. Whatever the goal, Chiva Som provides the perfect peaceful setting and magnificent doctors, therapist, visiting consultants, and skin care professionals to address your concerns and put together the best plan of action for you. When I arrived, I met with the consultant who looked at the form I filled out to determine what concerns or issues I had, and talk to me about my goals while there. That night was BBQ night, and it was a far cry from your typical American BBQ! IMG_1228They had a huge spread of various salads, fresh sashimi, huge prawns, lobster tails and scallops, and healthy meat dishes prepared with seasonings that aid in digestion. The fruit selection for all three meals included succulent papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, dragon fruit, watermelon and pomelo; local and from their organic farm. A typical breakfast includes the buffet with the fresh fruit, homemade and greek yogurts, cured salmon, raw breads (made with nuts and seeds only), a selection of fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and then the option to order something from the menu, which included a wide variety of eggs, buckwheat pancakes, and sides like seaweed salad and pickled vegetables. The first night, I felt guilty going back up for thirds and fourths, considering I was at a health resort, but the food was so good, and as one guy said, everything is so healthy and you’re doing so much activity, that you’re still going to lose weight. Every dish on the menu and the buffet has the calorie count, so you can monitor how many calories you’re consuming. Many who go to Chiva Som decide to do their detox program, which can be done with a minimum of three days. On the detox program, you will be given fresh vegetable and fruit juices throughout the day, along with soups, or light meals, depending on the day. There is a separate menu for those choosing to give the liver a rest. If you are considering a detox, Chiva Som is the perfect setting for it because you can relax as much as you’d like, and there are doctors and nurses to speak with if you experience any side effects. Lobster-SteamedH If you’re not used to eating a certain way, you may get a headache the first day, but that’s your body telling you it’s getting rid of the toxins. Lunch was also the buffet plus menu, and for dinner, you could choose to eat at the Thai restaurant right on the beach, or the Emerald Room, which had a huge selection of healthy, whole food appetizers, entrees, and deserts from which to choose. For seating, many choose to sit alone and enjoy the serenity of the resort, but if you’d like to meet other people and share experiences, there is a talk table as well. Therefore, whether you come alone or with others, you’ll have whatever experience you’re seeking. While I was by myself, I enjoyed eating dinner staring out at the ocean. I also enjoyed how friendly everyone else was, and how easy it was to meet people who had come from places like Singapore, India, Katar, Switzerland, Denmark, and New Zealand. One night at dinner, the five of us were all from different countries. That is something you probably won’t find at a health resort in the United States. Another benefit to going to Thailand for this amazing retreat is the alternative approach to healing and the eastern style treatments. IMG_1217 One day I had a consultation with the naturopathic doctor and we discussed a lot in an hour – time you don’t normally get with your own doctor. He then made recommendations for things to do and try when back home. If you plan on staying longer, Chiva Som also offers blood testing and intolerance testings. The treatment selection and practitioners are outstanding. I was mad at myself for falling asleep through some of them, but when I asked the therapist to wake me up if I did, they told me it’s best to fall asleep during a treatment, because it means you are in a deep relaxation, and that is when the body can accept the most healing from their work. CS032H The therapists are incredible, so it was tough not to fall into a deep relaxing state. I had an acupressure facial treatment, in which they use a tool to press the points in your face that correspond to other parts of your body, craniosacral work, an invigorating massage in which they massage and chop your body, and an herbal signature massage, using warm packs. I also met with the physical therapist and she did a comprehensive analysis of my back and then I worked on their neural equipment (neuromuscular activation) with a therapist.  It’s a great way to learn how to fire up those unused muscles. They also offer some great hydrotherapy treatments; my favorite including one in which you are gently swept through the water while just relaxing and letting your mind go. CS200808-94H They say some equate it to being back in the womb. I did find myself having flashbacks, but not as far back as the womb! Chiva Som is really a magnificent health resort. No matter your shape, level of activity, or health condition, they will make sure you leave there feeling incredibly better than when you went in. If possible, I would spend at least five days on property, but some time is better than no time. Going there has inspired me to slow down, stick to my clean diet, and even add in a few spices to my cooking. You can read all about the various packages and more about Chiva Som here: http://www.chivasom.com

Raw Goodness!

P1060857When I say I love to eat raw food, what’s the first thing you think of? When I did a features piece on raw food restaurants a few years ago, responses included everything from raw hamburger meat to bugs that are eaten on the show Fear Factor.   Well it couldn’t be further from the truth.  Since I did the story six years ago, the raw food diet has gained some additional recognition and more raw food restaurants and juice bars are popping up, but still there are many people not familiar with the whole way of eating. I feel they are missing out tremendously on what is probably the healthiest way of eating for optimum health.  I have known about the raw food lifestyle for awhile and whenever I met someone who told me they had a dehydrator or a vitamix, I would get super excited, but also jealous that I did not have one and I wasn’t preparing delicious raw food desserts and entrees like they were.  Therefore, when I saw the email in my inbox advertising the Raw Food bootcamp weekend in DC, I canceled all my weekend plans and knew I had to go.

Originally I was going to drive down from NYC, but my friends suggested I take the Vamoose bus which left right from 30th and 7th avenue and dropped me off in front of the metro which was one stop away from NIH, where the Raw Food Institute’s bootcamp was going to be for the weekend, so it couldn’t have worked out better!   I read recently about a couple who used to commuted every weekend on the Vamoose bus to visit each other.  It was a beautiful love story. 1542-Vamoose-100a When I called to book my ticket, the woman told me another couple recently met on a ride from New York to D.C.  and he proposed to his then girlfriend on the bus!   With odds like that, I figured, why not?!  Maybe I’d be next!  As I type this, a pretty cute guy is sleeping in the seat next me, so who knows how this trip will end!  The ticket is only $30 one way from New York to the DC area, with stops either in Bethesda or Virginia.  Between gas, tolls, and the aggravation of driving, it was a no brainer!  The Vamoose buses were really comfortable both ways, and full, but not overly crowded with plenty of room to spread out. P1060844  They do offer internet and outlets on the bus, but like on many buses, you have to be a bit patient with the internet.   If you need to pay a visit to Washington D.C., Maryland or Virginia from New York, this is an extremely relaxing and economical way to travel.

I arrived at the Raw Food Institute’s bootcamp Friday evening and met Lisa Wilson and Michael Bergonzi, who run the institute in Simsbury, Connecticut.  They joined forces recently after Lisa left the DC area for Connecticut and Michael left the world renowned Hippocraties Instiitute in Florida.  Usually they do a seven day immersion program in which people come to detox and learn the A to Z’s of the raw food lifestyle.  They decided to do the bootcamp in an effort to get people there who could not normally take off for a week at a time to do the program.   It was a jam-packed weekend in which we heard testimonials from people who are now survivors of stage 4 cancer after adopting the raw food lifestyle for healing, lessons on how to prepare and make delicious fresh veggie juices, entrees, how to sprout, grow and juice our own wheatgrass, and the medicinal benefits of essential oils. P1060849 I didn’t sleep much for the weekend I was there, as I was also catching up with friends, so I was yawning in the morning, but as soon as I started drinking the rejuvenating reishi tea, the delicious vegetable juices, and eating raw samples (kale chips, macaroons, icecream, soup, etc), I was wide awake, alert and excited!  Lunch was amazing, catered by Khepra’s, a local raw food owner and chef in Washington D.C.  It consisted of kelp vegetables, raw hummus, nut burgers, seaweed wraps, creamy collards, spicy broccoli, and some other phenomenal raw food dishes that gave me so much energy.

P1060853Lisa and Michael complement each other nicely, as Lisa focuses more on the raw food aspect of the weekend, while Michael is a master grass grower and taught us how to make our own mini greenhouses, grow our own wheatgrass, and sprout many different protein rich beans.  In addition to teaching us all about the importance of certain vitamins and minerals in our diet,  and why certain foods are called superfoods and more nutritious for us than others, they also emphasized the mental component to making a change for the positive in our lives.  They were both very motivational and I learned a lot in just two and a half days.

If you would like to partake in a life changing  week at their institute where you will detox and start your journey to a new, healthier you, or participate in the next bootcamp weekend, you can read more and sign up here.  I promise you it will be money well spent!  Think of all the money you’ll save in doctor’s bills in the future!

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Rejuvenate Without Going Far

With the price of airline tickets on the rise and gas prices so high, the idea of having a great getaway close to home is priceless.   And I’m happy to say, I have a found a place just two hours from New York City and from most regions in New Jersey in the Pocono Mountains.  It’s a perfect romantic getaway, girlfriend getaway, and solo retreat…a spa at which you can recharge and rejuvenate.  It’s the Lodge at Woodloch. 

At The Lodge at Woodloch, your all-inclusive visit comes with three delicious, healthy meals, most fitness classes and outdoor activities and cooking clinics.  Breakfast and lunch include a buffet as well as a sit down meal.   Dinner is a three course menu with a full drink list for puchase.  All soft drinks, tea, freah squeezed juices and smoothies are included.  Each day you are given an itinerary of the day’s fitness classes and activities which include hiking, biking, kayaking, and classes that range from spin, and kickboxing to drumming on exercise balls.  There’ also a full day of mind and body classes including Qigong, yoga and pilates.  For a small fee, you can enjoy a wine tasting class as well.  In addition to all of the activities, they have a wonderful spa with a steam room, sauna and whirlpool in each locker room, as well as a co-ed outdoor whirlpool, two whirlpools with waterfalls that give a great back massage and a pool big enough to swim laps or take one of their many aqua classes.

Of course with a great spa comes a wide variety of treatment options.  You can choose  from a traditional Swedish or hot stone massage, a number of facials, body wraps, or manicures and pedicures.  The treatment I’d most recommend is not your typical massage and you do keep your clothes on, but will hit on all your pressure points, and if you are having any issues, herbalist Nathaniel Whitmore will work magic.  I was having major stomach pain from something I had eaten a few days prior and he focused right in on the stomach and other pressure points that corresponded to the area.  While he was working on the different spots, he was also giving me great information on natural herbs and cures. I left there feeling not only better but very relaxed.

So if you are looking for an active yet relaxing getaway close to home, you must visit the Lodge at Woodloch! You will leave feeling refreshed and fit!  I can’t wait to go back!

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Dorset Manor Spa…Beyond Your Typical Hotel Spa

After a short taxi ride to Union Station in Toronto, I hopped aboard VIA rail, which is a great way to travel throughout Canada! It was about an hour and a half ride to Cobourg, which is just outside Port Hope, Ontario, the home of the Dorset Manor Spa.   VIA rail is very comfortable, whether you are riding in coach or business class.  In business class, you will be spoiled with wide seats, free drinks and a great meal.  The food was outstanding.  I had salmon cakes with basmati rice and vegetables and it was better than any airline food I’ve had!  There is also free wi-fi on board, which makes the trip fly by.

Upon arrival into Cobourg, a representative from the Dorset Manor Spa was there to greet me and take me to the spa.   As soon as I stepped into the old Victorian home overlooking Lake Ontario with beautiful lush views, I knew it would be easy to relax.  I began my day with a delicious lunch full of fresh vegetables from their gardens and a delicious potato and leek soup followed up by a fruit cup for dessert.  After lunch, I changed into my robe for what was going to be a day full of two treatments, the first called Caribbean Therapy in Which Rob, who is an awesome therapist, exfoliated my skin and then massaged seaweed all over!   After he wrapped me up, he proceeded to massage my neck and scalp, which got me into total relaxation mode.  After showering off the seaweed, he followed it up with a 20 minute massage which focused on releasing the muscles around my shoulders and pulling them back, which most people should get done since they sit at a computer all day or drive a lot.    After my session with Rob, my skin was as smooth as butter!  I definitely need to exfoliate more often!  I had an hour before my next session, so I had some of their homemade tea and an apple as I took in the sun on my room’s balcony.  It was then time for my 90 minute Swedish massage which was just as out of this world as the last treatment.  I told her the area on my body that was hurting and I wish I could tell you what she did throughout the session, but I fell into a deep sleep!

After dinner, which was also extremely good, especially the trout over warm apple appetizer and the sorbet for dessert, I relaxed in the outdoor whirlpool and sauna before settling into my Victorian style room full of antiques and soft classical music playing in the background.   Dorset Manor Spa is the sister spa to the widely popular St. Anne Spa, which has been voted Canada’s number one spa for five years in a row.  I am told this is just a smaller version of that spa.  It doesn’t have the wellness classes of St. Anne’s, but instead of being set on a large property, you have the quaint town of Port Hope to work to.  The therapists work at both, so you are going to get the same caliber of treatment no matter where you stay.  It’s really the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a quiet retreat.  It has just nine luxurious guestrooms, making for a very intimate setting. 

I slept like a baby and while I didn’t sleep long enough in what was such a comfortable bed, the nutritious breakfast woke me up.  The multigrain pancakes topped with apples were delicious!  Every breakfast also comes with a continental bar including fruit, yogurt, granola and pastries and your choices or juices or tea/coffee.   After checking out, I did a quick tour through Port Hope and Cobourg and was back on VIA train for my next stop in Ottawa.

Hop Onboard the Spa Train!

I have trouble relaxing and I’m always running around, so when I heard about the opportunity to jump aboard the spa train in Canada, I was very excited.  Not only did I want to explore parts of Canada I have not seen, but the idea of being pampered for a few days with no choice but to relax, was very inviting.  What a perfect escape for you to rejuvenate or escape on a romantic trip with your partner or grab some friends for the perfect girlfriend getaway. I flew into Toronto aboard Porter Airlines, a Canadian airline with great service and one of the few airlines that serves you a meal on board!  Many of the airports have lounges where all passengers can relax before the flight.  I flew out of Newark and was in Toronto in a quick hour and a half!  After arriving at the lovely Delta Chelsea hotel in the heart of downtown, I walked next door to the Elmwood Spa for what would be a day of complete relaxation.  After changing into my bathing suit, I enjoyed their water therapies for an hour, swimming and sitting in the steam room.  After that, it was time for the three course lunch which was made with all fresh, healthy ingredients, and even thought it was supposed to be “spa food,” the portions were enough to have me leaving there very full from the spinach and avocado salad, salmon with asparagus and the rhubarb pie with a side of mango sorbet.  (normally comes with ice cream, but I substituted!)

After lunch, I had the elmline facial, which was out of this world!  The esthetician evaluated my skin and decided to go with the hydration line.  The combination of the face massage while applying the products, and the hand and feet massage while I was getting steamed was enough to put me into a very deep sleep! I left there looking very refreshed for someone who was on three hours of sleep and the wrinkle lines between eyebrows were not visible!  I liked that fact that she told me every step of the way what she was doing and explained a lot to me about how to take care of my skin after leaving there. If you are looking for a peaceful oasis in the middle of a big city, this is the place to go as part of the spa train or as part of your Toronto visit.

I would highly recommend staying at the Delta Chelsea for any occasion if you are in Toronto.  The hotel has every amenity, including two pools, one in the adult fitness center, which also houses top of the line equipment, a whirlpool and sauna.  There is no shortage of restaurants and bars, including everything from a gourmet serve yourself restaurant to their elegant bistro.  It is the largest hotel in Toronto and if you are traveling with kids, this is definitely the place to stay!  With a kids and teen center, there is plenty for them to do, from playing with the in house rabbit to video games and billiards.  If parents would like some time to themselves to explore the city or to go see a show, they can pay a nominal fee for babysitting.

I finished my stay at the Delta Chelsea with their great breakfast buffet filled with fresh fruit, yogurt, and eggs benedict.  After a quick taxi ride, I was at Union Station and hopped on VIA rail for my trip to Port Hope and the Dorset Manor Spa.  Could it get any better than this?