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?

Buh-Bye Hair!

As you know, I am always looking for some great places to recommend to help us all look and feel our best.  I was introduced to electrolysis years ago by my mom to get rid of some stray unwanted hairs.  Since then, I’ve been going for different parts of my body and have definitely had my share of electrologists over the years, and I can tell you there is definitely a difference between the good ones and the ones you pay to basically pull your hair out with a tweezer.  People go for electrolysis for pretty much any body part…from your eyebrows to your toes and everything in between!  Many women like going for their bikini line so they never have to worry about shaving or waxing again.

Having moved back to New Jersey recently, I was looking for someone good and found Lori Jay from The Center For Skin Enhancement on a website that lists board certified electrologists in New Jersey.  She works with a dermatologist, Dr. Kurnick, so that made me feel even more comfortable.   In the past, I have gone to people who have left some pretty bad scabbing after the treatment, saying it was normal, but I knew after having gone to a few others that this was not normal and could have been from an older machine or the current that was being used.  For those of you who may be new to electrolysis, there are three common types of treatment…galvanic, thermolysis, or short wave, and the electro-blend method.  Without going into too much detail, the galvanic is the oldest method and is done very slowly, thermolysis is what most electrologists are using these days, which is the fastest method, but hasn’t always been the most effective for me and can have a high regrowth rate.  I have found the blend method to work well because time is taken with each hair and it really gets into the root, but is not as slow as galvanic.  Depending on who you call and what method they use, you will probably be told different things about each, but all I can tell you is that I have found the blend to work best for me.

In addition to finding the method that works best for you, you have to find a good electrologist who really knows what they are doing and doesn’t cause you to scab on a consistent basis (every so often and at the beginning can be normal) and knows how to target  the root, otherwise it will grow back as if you had just pulled it out.  The point of electrolysis is to kill the root so it comes back thinner and then  never again.  Not only is Lori a knowledgeable and skilled electrolysis, but she is very engaging and will explain everything in detail to you in your initial consultation which includes a free 30 minute treatment, so it’s a no brainer to try it out.  You can reach Lori at (609) 314-0344 at The Center for Skin Enhancement in Willingboro, New Jersey.

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Find your Inner Curl!

For all you women with curly hair, you know how difficult it can be to get a good haircut.  You try to get rid of the bulk around your face, so they take a razor to thin it out and before you know it, your hair never curls the way it used to.  So many places can give you a good haircut if you are willing to blow your hair straight everyday, but how many places really know the intricacies of curly hair, keeping each curl full of bounce and vibrancy so you’re not a slave to your blow dryer or flat iron?  Don’t get me wrong, for professional meetings and work, I blow my hair straight, but on an everyday basis, I would like to be able to throw in some gel and go.  

When I lived in NYC, there were a few curly hair salons that I heard about, but I had never tried one out…until now.  It was a Friday and I decided I needed a fresh look so I called up Ouidad, an upscale but friendly 5000 sq. foot salon specializing in curly, wavy and kinky hair on 57th street between 5th and 6th avenues.  I worked with Ana, the artistic director and educator, who has been at the salon for over fifteen years and before we even got started, she talked with me all about my hair..what I like, what I don’t like, etc.  She made sure to know exactly what I wanted before getting started.  Right away, I knew I’d be in good hands.  She suggested brightening up my color a bit for the summer and added beautiful highlights around my face and to the crown of my head.  She knew the perfect color combination.  It came out looking natural, but bright with contrast.  She mixed three different shades to achieve the look, which also worked to fix a bad color job from another salon.

Next up was the cut, and again, we discussed the length and look I was going for.  I like my long hair, but I wanted something fun and sassy, so she cut a few inches.  But it was more than just a trim off the bottom.  Ouidad’s stylists use a technique called carving and slicing as they address each individual curl.  Throughout my cut and color, Ana’s assistant, Sondriel, explained everything to me, from how to shampoo and condition my hair for the best looking curls to the types of products to use and how to style.  She also kept asking if I had any questions.  I think it’s great how much time they spend with you explaining everything, unlike in many salons where you almost feel like you’re bothering them by asking any questions.

A big part of managing your curly hair is how you treat and style it so Ana showed me a technique for getting a certain look when blow drying it straight and then explained the rake and shake technique they use for keeping it curly.  It definitely takes some practice, as I’ve not yet perfected it, but it’s a pretty simple way of getting the full head of curls and volume you’ve always wanted!  Even without spending the time doing the shake and rake throughout my hair, it still comes out really curly with just some gel.  I was amazed at the all of the beautiful curls on the women as they left the salon.

After you are done with your appointment, they hand you a booklet with their products and directions for how to style your hair, but I was so surprised that they did not pressure me into buying any of the products.  Usually at salons like these, they will tell you that you must buy their products to achieve the same look.  Instead, Sondriel suggested I finish the products I have at home first and then I can always go back in or order them online.  I know I will be getting the Ouidad products because I believe they work well, but it’s nice to know there’s no  pressure of adding a long list of products onto your bill that day.   I walked out of the salon feeling confident with my new found curls…ones that were always mine, but were hiding under a bad cut.  Thanks Ouidad!

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Central Jersey Salon Seeker

While I tend to write a lot about travel, I think it’s important to find some other local greats here in New Jersey for our other lifestyle needs.  Awhile back, I had written about a spa in Southern Jersey, so I figured this time I’d find a place in Central Jersey that specializes in hair, since as women, we are always trying to find the perfect place for a good color and cut. I’ve had my share of experiences where I’ve gone in hoping for one look and came out with hair that looks like it’s been dipped in bleach or  gone in as a blonde and came out as a brunette with grey highlights (he called it ash, but it definitely looked like I was turning grey before my time).  So I went online and googled best hair color in New Jersey and up popped   B and B Hair Color Studio, the color corrective specialists, in Princeton.

I read the impressive bios of the stylists and watched the videos of co-owner and master stylist Tim Bricker. I thought their site was very well done and figured since they are located in Princeton, they have a high standard to uphold. I went in for a set of highlights and lowlights plus a cut with Tim.  I really enjoyed hearing his stories about his time on Fox’s “Ambush Makeover” and TLC’s “A Makeover Story.”  He has also been a regular at NYC’s Fashion Week.  You can check out their photos from this year’s fashion week here.   With a background in theater and photography, Tim has always been creative and focuses on making his client’s hair fun and modern, yet very wearable and easy to maintain.

In addition to making his client’s very happy everyday, he and his wife, Kate, have been master color specialists, educators, and platform artists for  Loreal, Redkin, and now an elite educator for his own company, which you can read about at www.brickerhairdesign.com. Stephanie Pappas and Christina McDonough were also turning out some great looks for their clients and the nice thing about this salon is that depending on your budget, there are different prices depending on who you chose to see.

I have to say that I left B and B Hair Color Studio so happy!  He really listened to the look I was going for and also used some of his own creativity to give me the perfect combination of highlights and lowlights to make my hair “pop” and look really shiny.   I will definitely be going back and can see why the salon had a steady stream of customers for the two hours I was there.  While the salon was always busy, each stylist was right on time and had their system down to a science so no one was waiting for very long.  The salon is located at 49 State Road in Princeton and you can reach them at (609) 683-4455.

South Jersey Spa Seeker

As an avid traveler, I always love reading up on cool destinations, and of course, awesome spas.  I was always envious of the people who worked on the tv show, Spa Finder, and their sole job was to seek out the best spas.  Well, I decided to take it upon myself to find the best spas in New Jersey, and this week I’m focusing on South Jersey.

As someone  with a back injury, I’ve tried everything, including chiropractic care, physical therapy, prolotherapy, and awhile ago, massage.  However, I always viewed massage as an indulgence and therefore would only get one if on vacation or if someone gave me a gift certificate.   But recently, I came across a promotion for a 60 minute massage for just $50 at the Laurel Creek Salon and Day Spa in Mount Laurel, NJ.   I had just returned from Barbados and was very sore from surfing and felt run down, so I decided I was going to treat myself.   I was just hoping the therapist would be good, because you never know what it will be like when trying someone new.  Well, Kelly was incredible!  She took the time to find out exactly where the pain was and she dug deep into those muscles!   Since I opted for a mix between Swedish and deep tissue, there were parts of the massage that were a little more painful as expected, but I left there feeling phenomenal.  She told me most of my pain was not just from surfing, which I pretty much knew.  She advised I come at least once a month to work through everything, but just ten days later, I was tight again from all of my workouts, so I called her up, she squeezed me in, and again, another amazing treatment. 

We all need to have a balance in life, and massage is so beneficial for so many reasons.  I’m so happy to have found an incredible therapist for such a reasonable rate.  Even at full prices, the 60 minute massage is not going to break your bank.  She also does pre-natal, reflexology, Reiki, a desert stone massage, the raindrop technique, and couples massages.  The full service salon also offers facials, peels, makeup, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and hair services such as color, highlights, cuts and blow outs.  I look forward to going back real soon to try out one of their other treatments.  I’ll be sure to report back!

Why save the massage for when you’re away?  With all the day to day stress, you usually need it most when you’re home.  With a salon that is so conveniently located off of 295, why not escape, even if it’s just for an hour?  The effects will last for  days afterwards.  Check out their website at www.laurelcreeksalonanddayspa.com.