By Debbi Karpowicz Kickham
Forget military-style boot-camp spas. My style is to receive pampering treatments, work out, eat healthy foods, get diet tips, attend cooking classes and indulge my inner-goddess.
First stop: the award-winning Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. More than a first-class spa destination, Canyon Ranch is a wellness lifestyle based on daily exercise, nutritious food choices, rejuvenation of body and soul and an optimistic attitude.
My four days began with a “Tools for Living” workshop that offered these inspirations.
1). Take folic acid; it controls levels of homocysteine, which is closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
2). Relax for at least 15 minutes per day.
3). Smile and say “I love to exercise,” which tells your brain that it’s happy (very handy when ambition goes AWOL).
4). Forget about white foods; they’re all bad (except oatmeal, milk and cauliflower).
5). Eat organic berries, whose thin skins aren’t subjected to pesticides.
6). When you do indulge in a special treat, add pomp and circumstance – light a candle or just sit down and savor.
My favorite part of Canyon Ranch is the meals – so nutritious, low-calorie and delicious, they’re the real Weapons of Mass Fat Destruction. Dining is an upscale experience that includes fine china, starched tablecloths, and menus presented in leather folders (which also list calories and fat grams). I’m like a kid in a candy store; a typical meal for me was a huge salad plus pumpkin bisque, mashed butternut squash with maple syrup coconut-crusted scallops, homemade ice cream (110 calories, 3 fat grams), nonfat fudge and one chocolate-chip cookie made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate. You really can have your gateau – and eat it too.
I indulged my inner-Emeril with “Lunch and Learn” cooking demonstrations, given by Canyon Ranch’s excellent chefs. This four-star Cook’s Tour shows how to make delicious, heart-healthy foods.
Treatments include the aptly named 100-minute Euphoria (scalp massage, body mask and massage) and anti-aging facials with its private-label Nutrition For The Skin products (with niacin and nicotinic acid). Canyon Ranch also offers classes devoted to Muscular Strength, Aerobics, Flexibility, Education and Mind/ Body, from Abs Express to World Beat dance workout and Yoga – and everything in between.
Prices vary according to season, but start at $2,300 for a three-night stay in a double room that includes a $110 allowance for health and healing services and a $200 allowance for spa and sports services. No tipping is allowed, and you should pre-book so you can arrive and immediately start to enjoy. (800) 742-9000; www.canyonranch.com.
It’s A Winner
After that I experienced The Wonder of It All at Foxwoods in Connecticut. Besides housing the world’s largest casino, Foxwoods features a sparkling, sunkissed spa, situated next to the ninth-floor rooftop pool and terrace. Was it a great experience? You bet.
The spa has a relaxation room with complimentary fruit and juice bar; robes and terrycloth slippers; welcome gifts of Pevonia products and The Full Monty of massages, aromatherapy, body treatments and facials, including seaweed wraps and Moroccan rassoul mud wraps.
The advantage of Foxwoods is that after your tony treatments you can see any number of shows or famous entertainers (such as Toni Braxton or The Moody Blues), shop at a wealth of stores, or dine at 24 restaurants.
If you want to go from high roller to thigh roller, is Foxwoods the place? Bingo. (800) FOXWOODS; www.foxwoods.com
We also visited The Spa at Norwich Inn (which, like Foxwoods, is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation), just a 15-minute drive away. This award-winning spa is a state-of-the-art destination with more services and fitness classes than you can shake a stick of butter at. It offers classes so you can stretch, dance, push, pull, lift and breathe; energy work (such as Reiki); hand and foot treatments, including some with the spa’s signature apricot cream; at least 10 facials (one with rose oil, another spa specialty), and a United Nations of services: Bindi Ayurvedic facials, Swedish massage, Norwich native flowers wraps and Native-American hot stone therapy. I received an anti-aging facial with the spa’s custommade products ($105 for 50 minutes), and an Opening The Upper Gate hot-stone massage that was the ultimate Stone Soul Picnic ($115 for 50 minutes). Because of its comprehensive, cashmere care in a superb setting, the spa at the Norwich Inn does a brisk business with destination weddings, corporate events, and girlfriend getaways; the Overnight Personal Escape Plan starts at $365 per night and includes, among other things, two spa services and two fitness services.
Make this your new mantra: Norwich Inn…Norwich Inn…Norwich Inn. (800) ASK-4-SPA; www.thespaatnorwichinn.com
When it’s apparent you’re to be a parent, take yourself to Edamame, the new maternity spa in Natick. Edamame – soybeans in the pod – is the whimsical name for this stylish spa, situated in the Destination Maternity Superstore on Route 9 West, which also houses A Pea in the Pod and Mimi Maternity clothing. Nestled between the baby books and Mustela skincare products is an adorable two treatment room sanctuary offering pregnant women the ultimate luxury – comfort. One of Edamame’s advantages is a padded body-length maternity pillow with a hole in its middle; placed on the table, “it actually allows women to lie face down on their stomach,” said masseuse, Danae. A mom-to-be massage ($98 for 50 minutes) featured Italian-made Comfort Zone Illipe-butter, lightly scented with the spas’s citrus and clove signature Tranquility Blend. Later, you can take free prenatal classes in breastfeeding, yoga or even belly dancing, or purchase $300 Kate Spade diaper bags or the tiny bestselling “Milk Junkie” T-shirt.
Route 9 West ( inside the Destination Maternity Superstore), Natick. (508) 653-1605;
Can’t get away? Try these silken spa servicesin and near the Wellesley-Weston area.
In August, Jesamondo relocated to 154 East Central Street in Natick – and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever. Jesamondo, which has won Tab Reader’s Choice awards for its massages and as the overall best salon, will become a state-of-the-art 4,000-sq.-ft. oasis. It will feature sleek architectural details, a waiting-room fireplace, and even a terrific Play Bar that lets clients sit and sample products while waiting. Because of its huge volume in hair color, Jesamondo is a Goldwell “Titanium” salon – one of only nine in the States to have this distinction.
178 Linden Street, Wellesley. (781) 237-0655; www.Jesamondo.com
Looking to save money on stellar services? Grettacole’s VIP program offers 10% discounts to clients who book three services in advance. This hip, happening spa has received numerous awards from Boston magazine, including Best Day Spa west of Boston. First-time clients even receive a free Trish McEvoy makeup application.
95 Central Street, Wellesley. (781) 237-5201; www.Grettacole.com
Elizabeth Renee Esthetics
Named the “best day spa in New England” by Channel 7 news, Elizabeth Renee Esthetics offers 12 facials, all using its private-label products formulated for 12 skin types. “We deal with 17 labs,” says owner Elizabeth Kosky. Try the Photofacial with intense pulsed light that boosts collagen production. The spa menu also features manicures, pedicures, massages and body treatments. The “Facial with a Friend” program offers 15% discounts to two friends who receive their 90-minute facials simultaneously.
26 Grove Street, Wellesley. (781) 237-SKIN (7546); www.erespa.com
Daryl Christopher Salon & Spa
The flagship of their three locations, the Waltham setting of Daryl Christopher Salon & Spa is enhanced by the fact that it occupies space inside of the amenity-rich Healthpoint, also home to the Boston Sports Club. After a few hours on a treadmill be tempted into some lush indulgences here: the expected facials, with organic vitamins and mineral-rich masques, are offered, as are “body facials,” a sybaritic treat that begins with an aromatherapy shower, and is followed by a complete body wrap in warm, soaked sheets, all topped off with a lotion-intense massage. Waxing, massage, makeup treatments, and sybaritic body treatments, such as the Chinese “Herbology” Wrap, where citrus oils and Chinese herbs are locked in under wraps, are also available.
840 Winter Street, Waltham. (781) 890-9211; www.dchristopher.com