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with julie james

The Ten Passionate Best for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is especially challenging, presents-wise.  Flowers triple in price, chocolates are cliché, and you already gave him that sweater at Christmas.  A massage, however, is one of those utterly luxurious gifts that light up any hard-working valentine’s face; what’s not to love? 

Here are a few of the best of the best spas we’ve sampled from East to West.  Granted, most are in places that are pretty easy to take in the first place, such as Maui and West Palm Beach, but since spas are one of the fastest-growing businesses around, chances are there is a luxury spa package somewhere near you, and you can find a similar heavenly treatment for your honey---and, hey, for you, too!  

The Four Seasons on Maui, Hawaii is a Xanadu-like resort built along 15 oceanfront acres.  Their world-class spa features a menu of creative and soothing upscale treatments, from facials to Lavender and Aloe Wraps to couples massages.   One of the more unique experiences is the Wai aulia (graceful flowing water).   Sinking down into a warm cocoon bed, totally supported, you float weightlessly and are gently rocked, massaged and stretched by their experienced therapists. Deeply relaxed, you’re coaxed into suspending conscious thought, as rich moisturising creams nourish your skin. Cool scented towels finish your treatment.  Other treatments include the Wailea cocoon experience, the Lomi Pohaku (original La Stone therapy plus Lomi Lomi), Thai massage, Ayurvedic massage, Four Seasons signature treatment, Hawaiian temple bodywork and others.  Whichever you pick, get ready to be pampered as never before. 

The Spa Grande at nearby Grand Wailea Hotel is an upscale delight; the 50,000 square foot treatment center offers unique spa treatments and exceptional service. Uniting Thalassotherapy, Ancient Eastern and Hawaiian Philosophies, Spa Grande has something for everyone. If you’re sunburned, take advantage of a soothing mud bath.  If you want to rejuvenate your skin, try the seaweed bath.  Internationally experienced therapists carry out the more than 100 treatments, many uniquely infused with Hawaiian grown ingredients, including such signature therapies as:Seashell Massage, Haleakala Dream Bath, Volcanic Ash Facial or Wrap, Pohaku (Hot Lava Stone) Massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage, Signature Massage, Ali’i Honey Steam Wrap, Awapuhi (Ginger) Salt Scrub & Hot Wrap.  Choose any; you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

The Breakers resort in West Palm Beach, Florida is an experience in and of itself, what with its castle-like demeanor harkening back to the days of ye olde Inn---except this Inn has 140 acres, 560 guest rooms and a staff of 1800. Their 20,000 square foot indoor/outdoor spa offers a variety of world-class packages.  With 17 treatments rooms, 9 salon stations, a state-of-the-art oceanfront fitness center, outdoor lap pool and whirlpool spa, there is something for everyone, and each treatment is sinfully relaxing. A one-of-a-kind massage created by the Guerlain Institute is especially sensual and rejuvenating; your treatment is administered with a special Guerlain crème garnered from France and not available for sale in any store.  The Breakers (1-888-BREAKERS)

The nearby Ritz-Carlton is the area's only Mobil Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond luxury resort.  The cares of your world will wash away when you indulge in a Salt Glo rub followed by an aromatherapy, Hot Stone or Deep Tissue massage in their intimate Massage and Fitness Centre.  Afterward, a long visit to the steam and sauna rooms will soothe and relax the body, mind and soul, leaving you rejuvenated and ready to enjoy the many area attractions nearby.  Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach (561-533-6000)

The lovely, stately Equinox Resort in Manchester, Vermont recently added the Avanyu, a 13,000-square foot spa.  It’s both a sanctuary to escape the pressures of life and, at the same time, a place to let yourself relax and rejuvenate in the picturesque Vermont countryside.  Avanyu, the ancient Tewa Native American name for a mythical water serpent, evokes the restorative and life-giving power of water.  Fittingly, the centerpiece of the facility is a 75-foot, heated indoor swimming pool.  The spa is also home to a fitness center, steam and sauna rooms, a movement studio for classes, and a cozy relaxation room with a fireplace.  Grab a book and curl up among the pillows in the window seats or in front of the fire.  Your senses will be awakened and your soul soothed with a full menu of massage therapies, facials, and body treatments, including the signature Maple Leaf Scrub and Red Clover Treatments.

The Old-World charm of Mohonk Mountain House has been given a 21st-Century spin at the recently opened spa.  You can find your own perfect balance of activity, rest, and play here, and the Spa offers yoga, Pilates, Qigong, aerobics and water classes as well as a full menu of services and signature spa treatments.  While in the Spa you can relax in the solarium or near the stone fireplace, take a dip in the indoor heated swimming pool, or if you’re visiting in the warmer months, in the outdoor heated mineral pool.  The Spa also houses a state-of-the-art Fitness Center, steam and sauna rooms, and The Elixir Bar, with a variety of teas, sports drinks and snacks.  Make your queenly visit complete with an Energy Balancing Massage, Stress-Buster Back Therapy, Cedars Exfoliating Body Glow or an Herbal Rejuvenation Ritual to balance body, mind and spirit before your return to the real world. 

The newly opened Roosevelt Bath and Spa in Saratoga Springs, NY, is a quiet, cavernous, tranquil spaceoffering soothing local inventions like the Saratoga Sugar Scrub or Moor Mud Wrap as well as traditional treatments.  In the same town, stop by the Crystal Spa and bask in their mineral baths, European facials, and a wide assortment of specialized massages and treatments.  Roosevelt Bath and Spa (518) 226-4790  Crystal Spa  (518) 584-2556

The International Orange Day Spa in San Francisco is a full-service spa that’s the closest thing to heaven. Greeted by milk-white walls against dark Brazilian cherry wood floors, you can choose from a variety of relaxing and rejuvenating body and facial treatments.  The spa also offers yoga and an assortment of products for your skin and spirit.  After pampering, visitors can continue to relax by window-shopping at boutiques or sit at a café enjoying an afternoon coffee.

Harbin Hot Springs also in San Francisco, is a non-profit retreat and healing center. Guests soak in the natural spring pools, sun on the clothing-optional decks, indulge in massages, attend workshops, hike the hills, or relax. Their menu of treatments is impressive; Swedish, Deep Tissue, Foot Reflexology, Shiatsu, Cranio-Sacral Balancing, Orthobionomy, and Harbin's own Watsu® (Water Shiatsu) in the warm pool are soul-soothing, and additional services often include Lymphatic massage, Thai massage, LaStone Therapy, Aromatherapy, Amanae, Energy Work, Spa Treatments and more. What’s more, if you like the place, they offer rooms and cottages at reasonable prices, and their clientele is a diverse, accepting bunch; you need not feel self-conscious of your body whatever your shape.

AmaZing Tips:

Turn up the heat and request any of your chosen Treatments as a Couple’s Massage. Ooh la la!


Why not be your own Valentine and give yourself the most indulgent gift of all? Make it a “Girls-Only” outing, complete with Brunch and Pedicures!

about julie james

Julie is not only a performer and talk show host, but has been actively promoting diverse body types in national media since 1995. She was one of several Fashion Retail Editors for MODE magazine as well as the exclusive host for the launch of the Tommy Hilfiger Woman Fashion line.  

She has performed in opera and musical theater productions across the country and with her husband, Josh Max, formed Josh Max’s Outfit, now called “The Maxes”. You can catch Julie weeknights during her own show on SIRIUS Satellite Radio. She stars as the "Retro Redhead" on Outlaw Country, channel 36, M-F from 8 PM to midnight. Then explores the other side of her split personality by hosting the Late Evening Opera on Classical Voices, channel 85, M-F at 12 midnight.

She and Josh, also a writer, enjoy exploring new and exotic destinations in the U.S.A. When not making music together, they journey to such places as Maui, West Palm Beach, Santa Cruz, Boston, Nashville, Memphis as well as dozens of getaways on the East Coast.

julie james

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