Spa Vacations

massage

Spa Vacations

You’re the kind of person who enjoys the senses, who wants to be pampered, or who wants to make a healthy lifestyle a part of your everyday life. You take candle-lit baths (or wish you could), enjoy aromatherapy and appreciate the stress-relieving effects of a good massage. When it comes time to vacation, you’re not just thinking sun and surf but health, diet and a mud bath! You are exactly the kind of person who may want to consider treating yourself to a spa vacation.

The word spa, taken from the name of the famous mineral springs in Spa, Belgium, has become an all-inclusive term for a commercial establishment with facilities for exercising, bathing, and treatment. The range of facilities and services available at spas run the gamut from what you might find at the local YMCA to high-end specialty spas, where your entire body-mind is completely immersed in the experience for hours at a time. The former offers fitness and health assessments, body composition analysis, personal training, physiotherapy, gymnasiums with state-of-the-art equipment, and an outdoor pool for activities like
volleyball and aqua aerobics, while the latter offers a full menu of services from massage to body wraps to herbal saunas.

The scent of lavender lingers in the air. The soothing sound of softly flowing water swirls gently into your ears. Warm ginger tea tingles your taste buds. A soft robe rubs gently across your skin. A spa vacation excites the senses, but the benefits don’t stop there. There’s also the luxury of experiencing the long lost art of relaxation and revitalization, with no end to additional health benefits. The toxic environment and diet of the modern world exposes us to pollutants and substances that accumulate in our body tissue and bloodstream. Some spas specialize in treatments that can eliminate toxins through a combination of massage, sauna, oils, mild fasting and colon therapy. Don’t be intimidated though. Nothing is more important on a spa vacation than reminding yourself that the experience is all about you! After all, sometimes simply a good sweat is all you need to feel healthier. You can do as much or as little as you’d like to improve the feeling of your own body, and you can relax knowing you’ll be under the eye of skilled therapists and nutritionists who have your best interests and desires in mind.

Yoga

Two major decisions in planning a spa vacation are 1) what experiences you want from the visit, and 2) where you want to go. A wide variety of spa options are available; some focus on your diet, others on physical activity, relaxation and pampering, and/or your spiritual health. Some spas are very structured in their approach to treatments, while others allow for individual variation. Those spas focusing on diet and exercise are typically the most structured in their disciplines and scheduling. Your goals for a spa vacation will largely dictate the type of spa you choose and your willingness to forgo flexibility during your stay. Destination? Have you always wanted to visit New York? Miami? Los Angeles? What about someplace more exotic? India? Budapest? Let your imagination roam. Spas are available around the world, allowing you to find a vacation just about anywhere your heart desires. Your travel consultant can provide you with details on dozens of spa vacations and themes and the amenities provided by each. Most spas will offer week-long packages that include meals, activities and accommodations. In some instances, steeply discounted airfares are also included.

If you are on a budget or only have time for a short trip – consider a stay at a hotel famous for its spa treatments, and you can recreate the luxury of a dedicatedcircle tub spa vacation on your own. Your travel agent can recommend hotels with specialized spas in most locations and may even be able to obtain special rates for you. With a spa pass, a few therapy appointments lined up, room service, and several visits to the pool, hot tub and gym, you can enjoy a few days in near heaven on your own schedule.

Upon arriving at a typical spa, you’ll be greeted by a staff member who will assign your accommodations and can give you a brief tour, explaining how your time will be structured and how to prepare and dress for any planned activities. For most body services, you will undress completely, but your therapist will allow you to disrobe in private and will keep your body draped in sheets or towels, only exposing areas as needed for the treatment. During wet services such as body scrubs, body wraps and hydrotherapies, you will not be draped, in order to reap maximum benefits – but swimsuits are usually optional. Depending on the character of the spa, many aspects of treatment can be modified to your taste and budget.

Most spas have overarching dietary philosophies, and your diet during your stay will be of particular importance. Some serve alcohol and caffeine but many do not. Again, make sure to match your personal preferences closely to the character of the spa so you’ll have the experience you expect and will get the most from your visit.

Spa Etiquette

Before entering a shared pool, always shower. When enjoying the dry sauna or steam room, sit on your towel and wear the sandals provided by the spa. Customs vary in terms of whether or not to wear a swimsuit in wet facilities. Most people enjoy wet rooms in the nude with a wrapped towel, but if modesty is an issue, wearing a swimsuit is generally acceptable as well, and you can always ask about a specific spa’s policies in advance.

Infinity pool

Share public space respectfully with other spa goers. Smoking is prohibited at most spas. Turn off your cell phone when you enter a spa, or better yet, leave it in the room with the rest of your valuables – or at home, so you can truly relax.

Tipping is common practice. Some spas will include tips in their package prices. Ask the spa staff or your tour operator if you’re unsure. The rule of thumb in spas is 10%-15% of the cost of service, or about $10.00 to $15.00 for a one-hour treatment.

Preparations

In general, check the weather before you go so you know what to pack – and pack with your comfort in mind. Depending on your spa’s activities, you may need to bring a swimsuit, workout wear, a jacket, running or walking shoes, hiking boots, and casual shoes. At some spas, clothing and equipment are available for purchase and a robe and sandals are usually provided at no additional charge. You might find that you can pack fewer toiletries, since the dressing rooms of many spas have razors, soap, shampoo, skin lotion and deodorant.

hut

If you’re going on an international trip, a valid passport and sometimes a visa is required – make sure to obtain these items well in advance of your travel dates. To protect against baggage loss, trip cancellation or interruption and unexpected health emergencies, consider purchasing travel insurance. Your travel agent can assist you with these details and any others that will help you relax and prepare for you trip.

One of the most important things you can do before your spa vacation is give yourself a day or two to mentally unwind before leaving. Though this might sound counter-intuitive, since unwinding is often the whole point of a spa vacation, this time will give your mind a chance to become more open and receptive to the experience. It is often difficult to leave work and responsibilities behind, but the sooner you start, the more benefits you’ll receive from your spa vacation.

So go ahead. Pamper yourself. If you don’t do it, who will? Contact Jadd Fong Travel, an Albuquerque travel agency and get started.

 

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Alaska remains a land of mystery

To many travelers Alaska remains a land of mystery, and that is a shame. Sure, many parts are rugged, barely accessible and nothing seems to be near anything else. Seeing Alaska by car or train will require a significant amount of time; however, the cruise lines have an answer for you. You can discover all Alaska has to offer by doing a cruise coupled with a pre or post cruise-tour. From majestic Mt. McKinley to the jagged edge of Glacier Bay, is unlike any place else in the world. It is one of the best (if not the best) to explore or ideal for a family vacations.

Norwegian star in Alaska

Norwegian star in Alaska

Ketchikan is an ancient city that is both fascinating and enjoyable. Even though there are some American restaurants and stores, (and it is part of the States, of course), it is certainly not your typical American town. If Anchorage at one end of the Alaskan spectrum, you will definitely find Ketchikan at the other end. This small city contains more totem poles than anywhere in the world, and is set at the base of Deer Mountain.

Sitka is a small yet lively town in Southeast Alaska that is full of surprises. Just when you think that you have seen all there is to see in this remote city, you stumble upon something that will instantly catch your attention. This is the case for the best restaurants and a few of the premier shopping outlets. They simply spring up out of nowhere, making for an interesting and exciting stay. There are a couple of great museums and the scuba diving and sea kayaking in Sitka is marvelous. The calm, protected waters make these two sports very popular among both tourists and locals.

Eagle eating Salmon

Eagle eating Salmon

Skagway is a Southeast Alaskan paradise, full of culture and brimming with life. Parts of the city seem stuck in 1897, never progressing beyond the height of the Alaskan gold rush era. This is speaking in architectural terms though, as some of the restaurants and shopping facilities offer distinctly 21st century fare. This unique blend of old and new really enhances the atmosphere of Skagway. There is so much to see and so much fascinating history to soak up. The saloons and bars, some of which date back to 1898, are splendid, full of artifacts and local heritage.

Mendenhalll Glacier

Mendenhalll Glacier

A visit to Alaska would not be complete (at least it should not be considered complete) without a visit to witness the magnificence (probably not a better word to describe them) of a glacier. One of the best glacier viewing vantage points is College Fjord — which deserves a bit of an introduction. In the summer of 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman, president of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Washington Academy of Sciences undertook a two-month expedition, intended initially as a family vacation; but eventually wound up as a scientific research trip consisting of an illustrious group of scientists, naturalists, writers, and artists. It was the Harriman Expedition party who named College Fjord as well as the glaciers that line it. The dozen or so glaciers lining this fjord were named for the Ivy League schools that members of the party attended. On the northwest side of the fjord, the glaciers were named after the women’s colleges, such as Smith, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, Wellesley, Barnard, and Holyoke. On the southeast side, the glaciers are named after men’s colleges Harvard, Yale, Amherst, and Dartmouth.

While the coastal towns are spectacular, it is recommended that travelers to Alaska take some time (preferably a few days) to explore the interior of the state. From the moment you step off the Alaska Railroad at the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, where skyscrapers and traffic jams have been replaced by snowcapped mountain peaks and flocks of native birds. This park truly defines the Alaskan experience. Towering above it all is t Mt. McKinley, the highest point in all of North America.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

At 20,320 feet, its summit welcomes more than 1,000 climbers each year who brave the elements for the chance to scale its majestic face. Located 240 miles north of Anchorage, Denali encompasses 6 million acres of forests, tundra, glaciers and mountains (to put that number in perspective, think the size of Massachusetts). Yet only 90 miles of main road traverse the park, leaving the moose, caribou, sheep and bears free to roam a wide area of land untouched by man.

What are you waiting for? Contact Jadd Fong Travel at 505-999-1039 or john@jaddfongtravel.com and get ready to visit one of the best vacation spots in Alaska.

 

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Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel

Sheraton Hotel

Sheraton Hotel

I stayed at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino during a four day stop in Puerto Rico as part of my eight island swing through the Caribbean. During my visit I obtained information on tropical  Caribbean cruises and family vacation packages in the region. I enjoyed every minute of my stay in Puerto Rico, and in particular my lodging at the Sheraton Hotel. I considered it one of the better hotels to vacation when visiting the island as it is very comfortable, perfectly located and provided exquisite services.

Convention Center  near Sheraton

Convention Center near Sheraton

The hotel is also known as the Sheraton Convention Center Hotel and is part of the Starwood family of hotels. The hotel is located on 200 Convention Boulevard in San Juan, the capital. It is approximately 10 minutes from the main airport, Luis Munoz Marin International airport. The hotel provides easy access to a lot of local activities including cruise ship ports and the old San Juan historic district. In fact if you reserve an ocean view room, you can see the cruise ships when they are in port. The hotel is much closer to the Pan American cruise ship terminal where the Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity docks. If you are cruising at the Old San Juan cruise ship port, it is a short distance of approximately 10 minutes across the river.

This stylish 503 room hotel was built in 2007 and contains 22 luxuirious suites. There are 4 conference rooms occupying 35,000 square feet of flexible event space equipped with the latest technology, including high-speed Internet access. It is also opposite to the fabulous state of the art San Juan convention center and next to the San Juan Marina. As a result, it is an ideal location for meetings and of course conventions. The hotel has three restaurants, the award winning restaurant “Choices” is on the first floor, the distict bar is near the casino and lastly the pool bar and grill can be found beside the beautiful infinty pool on the fourth floor. The latter restaurant is part of a 57,000 square foot sun deck littered with umbrellas and chairs for sun bathing. There is a kiddie pool and 3 adult pools. The infinity pool takes advantage of the hotels ocean view, you can lean over the ledge and enjoy the gorgeous coast from the fourth floor. The main eating area is the nightly buffet at the Asian Grill. The eating house is so popular that an advance reservation is required to get a seat. I am unable to provide a review of the food as I was unsuccessful on two occasions as they were booked two days out.

Sherton Hotel View

Sherton Hotel View

I think the biggest asset of the hotel is its staff. I felt very much at home as the staff went out of their way to make my stay an enjoyable experience. They were also knowledgable about the island and were able to provide valuable information about the islands attractions, which made getting around very easy. My room was very comfortable and spacious although it was a standard room with two double beds. It contained a flat screen TV, a tub for showering and free coffee and water daily.There was also free complimentary Internet service and a 24 hour in room dining service. Other hotel amenities included an Internet cafe and a well equipped gym.

Sheraton Rooms

Sheraton Room

I wish to strongly recommend this hotel to the potential visitor to Puerto Rico. I was impressed with the service provided and would give them thumbs up for excellent service and caring for the guests.

 

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