Spa Relaxation: Your Complete Reward – by Voda Spa

25 04 2008


We are always looking for creative and refreshing spa concepts to deliver to our readers and also keep the industry on it’s toes. Which is why it was so pleasant to receive an introduction to the Voda Spa, West Hollywood. This spa brings patrons a very international feel with gents facials, VIP rooms and Russian Banyan treatments. Caviar wrap anyone?

They’ve taken every pre determined desire for their clients and turned it into a well delivered concept, from privacy to a luxurious and unique spa cafe. In their own words they talk about the foundations influences. “At the Los Angeles, voda spa, a variety of world traditions are taken into consideration, as among the four saunas are a Swedish/Finnish cedar dry sauna, a Turkish wet steam bath, and two Russian banyas, one ‘wet,’ the other ‘dry’. Each of the banyas is filled with hundreds of pounds of superheated rocks, producing a pleasantly intense heat.” Voda Spa

Memberships are offered with several levels of benefits and VIP treatment, and Kids from 6 -16 are welcome, encouraging you to make this day resort a family tradition. All of this is just in time for Mother’s Day, and the prices are so bad either, so you can book a treatment with your Mom while your at it. Give this outstanding Los Angeles spa a call for your membership opportunities and to book a treatment. We know this is one spa to keep an eye on. Na zdorovje! To your health! Enjoy the following article presented by Voda Spa themselves.


Everyday stresses necessitate us to avail of some sort of therapy to help us get by. However, it can be rather impractical to keep going to the doctor each time we feel something aching in our bodies. Spa therapy is a great alternative to seeking traditional medicine as it rids us of everyday muscle pains and rejuvenates our health.

Spa massage therapy is not cheap at all, but it provides countless benefits not only to our physical health but also to our mental and emotional well-being. At Voda Spa a famous LA day spa, located at Santa Monica Boulevard, you can choose from various spa massage techniques, the more popular ones being Thai, Swedish, and Shiatsu.

There are current spa massage trends that are slowly carving their own niches in the industry. There’s the deep tissue massage, the medical massage, and the sports massage doing the rounds of the rich and famous. And as soon as skin care can not be imagined without a body scrub, the goal of which is to tighten, revitalize and activate skin circulation, giving the skin a youthful and vibrant glow, Voda Spa offers a great scrub massage addition to your overall spa experience. Scrubs are a great and effective way of thoroughly cleansing your entire body while providing it with an overall skin care treatment.

Alternative therapy making use of spa massage is nowadays undetached from traditional medicine. Many physicians have begun to see the advantages of recommending spa massage therapy in conjunction with the work done by podiatrists, chiropractors, and physical therapists.

Career men and women who work hard also make it a point to play hard. For them, an excellent spa massage is their just reward for all the hard work they do, day in and day out. To relieve yourself of the accumulated stress, treat yourself to an out-of-this-world experience and get a rejuvenating spa massage today.

7700 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 654-4411

Take your virtual tour at Voda Spa today. Click here.


Earth Day and Spa Business Marketing – April 22 2008

22 04 2008

A Little Bit of All of Us For Earth Day

So many of us, including many ‘green’ minded spas, are sharing our ideas and resources for helping make Earth Day a success. That can mean combining your philosophical and environmentalist selves, with your spa business success. If you haven’t already put together some marketing mix to take advantage of this well celebrated holiday, it’s time to get your creative mind together, and put together a fantastic development by tomorrow. Whether that is a branding idea with a well place logo, that can also get people to be aware of doing at least one small thing for Earth Day, or something less obvious. It’s just creating word of mouth. Give away water bottles with your spa logo on them, to remind people of reuse, not overuse. Start making some calls now, and invite your local TV and radio celebs into your location for complimentary organic product, or a natural treatment just for TODAY ONLY, and then start entertaining in your spa with an open house. Don’t have a high profile? Get some of your spa professionals out into the street to offer giveaway’s, attract clientele and otherwise bring a spot light to your location. Partner with a non profit to benefit someone with your spa profits from Earth Day,  the possibilities are endless. If your not taking advantage of every holiday as a reason to entertain and bring attention to your location, your not doing your job. Spas across the planet are putting their best foot forward, here’s a few reviews;


Mandara Spa Celebrates “World Earth Day” in their Shanghai location by partnering with a US. non profit, Arbor Day Foundation, that boasts nearly one million members to help conserve and plant trees, a life source for us all. Anna Bartram of China Economic Review says $1 from each treatment will be donated to the foundation in support of Earth Day.  It looks like Marriott International and other Mandara Spa are also making the effort to support this project. “Marriott International has recently signed an agreement with the State of Amazonas in Brazil to fund US$2 million to an environmental management plan to be carried out by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation. Guests at Marriott hotels will be able to contribute to this fund by the end of the year.” Anna Bartram This is a great example of high profile support. Do you think they are also using this to let the media know what they are doing? You bet, otherwise they wouldn’t be taking care of public relations very well. You can still be a philanthropist and be a successful business owner, that uses every opportunity to bring attention to your spa.

Elle Magazine has also jumped on board with their Earth Day themed bus tour.  “Elle Magazine’s Eco-Salon & Spa Celebrates Earth Day in So. Calif and Goes Green with Goodies for YOU!” says Stevie Wilson of L.A.  Story in her recent interview and article with one of their PR guru’s. Almost every magazine will have an issue or at least a section of showcased eco-products, businesses and trends to try to get people informed and on board for more long term sustainable living. A subject I am a fan of. I’ve recently gotten rid of my gas hoggin’ car, gone paperless in my business, and gotten off junk mail lists, and that was just last week. Of course in the scheme it’s not much, but we do what we can.

Along these lines Elle Magazine has decided to take it beyond just their green issue and into the street, literally. ” What Elle Magazine did was create a bus — not just any bus- but a biodiesel-fueled eco-salon and spa bus that’s green inside and out will be traveling around Southern California from Tuesday, April 15, 2008 – Sunday, May 4, 2008 making one-day stops at exclusive shopping areas and attractions.” Stevie Wilson

They will showcase what hot in eco products and trends, giving beauty treatments, and attracting awareness for ecologically efficient changes withing each of us. Want to make sure to meet up and support this crazy media tour? See their calendar below to get on board. Elle Magazine ECO BUS;

Tuesday, April 22 – Earth Day celebrated at Third Street Promenade from 11AM -7PM

* Wednesday, April 23 – The Grove (park in front of Nordstrom’s) from 11AM -7PM

* Thursday, April 24 – Kinross Ave & Gayley Ave in Westwood (in front of Gamestop) from 11AM-7PM

* Friday, April 25 – Weyburn Place & Broxton Ave in Westwood (in front of CPK) from 11AM-7PM

* Saturday, April 26 – Main Street in Santa Monica (front of The Victorian) from 11AM-7PM

* Sunday, April 27 – Malibu Country Mart (near Taverna Tony) from 11AM-7PM

* Tuesday, April 29 – Third Street Promenade from 11AM-7PM

* Wednesday, April 30 – Third Street Promenade from 11AM-7PM

* Thursday, May 1 – Manhattan Beach (at the El Porto lot) from 11AM-7PM

* Friday, May 2 – Manhattan Beach (at the El Porto lot) from 11AM-7PM

* Saturday, May 3 – Montana Street in Santa Monica (in front of Wild Oats Market) from 11AM-7PM

* Sunday, May 4 – Main Street in Santa Monica (in front of Monkie) from 11AM-7PM

Here’s a quick inspiration for a different look on celebrating Earth Day;



I’m not done yet, here’s a few more eco friendly spas that are making their own contributions to a sustainble world. The Sunrise Earth Day Spa, has gone all green in it’s building. It’s earth inspired decor, includes natural materials such as dark wood, bamboo, silk, leather, and Asian flora. Before treatment, guests are served fresh juices and are treated to a hot foot bath integrating the client’s choice of Dead Sea salts, sugar, or milk powders. The menu of services includes fresh fruit facials and body wraps, reflexology, manicures and pedicures, mineral makeup consultations, and waxing services. Taking it all natural.

How about organic products to add to your spa, create private label and increase your branding? It can be done with both of these organic spa product developers.  Raw Botanicals is a handmade organic product made in Costa Rica, with natural exotic products and certified organic ingredients.  You can see an article I wrote on sustainable living here, that includes Raw Botanicals giving back to the community, as published in Spa Management Journal March 2008. You can also contact organic spa product developers, YUM, with Preston Inc., for organic private label options with volcanic mud, licorice etc., Both great for giveaway’s, client gift bags, Earth Day and everyday. Check it out.

Other spas are contributing to their clients well being and the world’s bottom line, by asking people to bring in any old bliss bag to any spa location on Earth Day, April 22, to receive 20% off any purchase of bliss and Laboratoire Remede products. This and other product offers are highlighted  by Laurie at Beauty Spot.

Create your own Earth Day idea both at the spa and home, and don’t be afraid to share your results with us, we love great feedback.  So get crafty, shop wisely, save electricity, high a tree, recycle, save gas, and pay it forward. The earth is for all of us! Happy Earth Day!

How Costa Rican Spas Rate in Global Standards and Quality

11 04 2008


With tourism being a large attraction and vital currency source of Central American countries, including Costa Rica, it is no surprise there is also a surge in North American influences and foreign investments. When it comes to amenities and bringing our creature comforts, as they say, to less developed countries, there is definetly a demographic that appreciates luxury living. There are already a variety of destination retreats, spas and training centers in operation with more “spa communities” with on site spas, currently in development. While some have gained recognition, and are backed by a management company that ensures quality standards, there are still quite a few who have yet to receive recognition in the industry, or provide key quality standards. With healthy living, on the rise, it is almost a pre-requisite for any medium to large hotel or destination spot to include their spin on the benefits and uses of the local indigenous flora and fauna, and entice you with promises of tropical spa delights. Whatever the location you find yourself in, I encourage you to be aware of the level of spa standards and the training of the staff, after all you are paying good money your experience.


I have reviewed 10 popular spas in Costa Rica, and will leave it up to you to make the final decision. Since I have been based in one of the most popular destination spots, on the Central Pacific coast of Manuel Antonio for the past four years, I took an in depth look at our local community spas, and how they have followed trends, or not, and where they fall in global standards ratings. I have also reviewed some major players in the Central Valley, and north to Playa Herradura, Papagayo, and Playa Grande. With the International Spa Association, and Spa Quality LLC, who both provide assessment and monitor compliance with internationally recognized standards, as my guide, I will be looking at the following main points. Experience of the therapists, number of treatments offered, customer care, quality of environment, extent of facilities, health and safety, nutritional or medical consultations, water based therapies, along with display of trade association memberships, and accreditation logos. Accreditations are usually displayed quite openly, since it is a way for spas to differentiate themselves from other non-accredited spas, and boast high standards, that is a perceived added value for clientele, which is always good for business.


During my reviews I always keep in mind the current and past trends in the industry. As stated in Massage Magazine; some of the top trends to watch in 2008 include;

Feng Shui’ed gyms;Spas’ décor will inform gyms, and waterfalls and fine art will share space with swimming pools and weight benches.

Luxury Detox and Bootcamps;Many spas are beginning to treat weight loss and detox less as punishments and more as celebrations. Dovetailing with this trend is the “spa-ification” of drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation centers, which are incorporating massage, fitness, nutrition and meditation into their programs.

Spa Condo and Spa Community Living;There are now more than 250 residential communities with a spa/healthy living component in the United States. Including one on our Costa Rica list; Serenitas Medical Spa Community, is not in development of luxury tropical villas for $30,000.00 each with a spa membership.

Hydro and thermal super experiences: An increased appreciation for the benefits of water therapies combined with spas’ desire to offer staff-free treatments is leading to a renaissance in taking the waters. Whirlpools, waterfalls and specialized showers are increasingly popular at spas. *find out more at

Sleep Health; spa and resort packaged offered to elicit much needed sleep in key environments. 2008 trends will continue with other insights, according to Susie Ellis of Spa Finder. “This morning, I received a press release with this headline: “NEW YORK STATE HOTELS AND INNS HELP GUESTS GET A RESTFUL NIGHT DURING NATIONAL BETTER SLEEP MONTH” It seems there are a variety of hotels offering packages and products to guests in May for Better Sleep Month. These are “designed to celebrate the healthy quality of life difference that only a good night’s sleep can provide.” Susie Ellis, April 2008

These trends sound pretty familiar, and alright with me. One luxury we have in the spa industry is the ever evolving treatments, spas, styles, training, and leaders to better provide for a growing clientele. For more trends check Spa Finder or Massage Magazine, and check back here.


With my visit to Bath, England last October, I saw for myself the impressive lengths the people of our past went to, to enjoy the traditional taking of waters for health, and the history behind it. At Agua Sulis the ancient natural hot baths, water provided social and physical health benefits, and the aesthetics that surrounded it, suggest the first ingenious influences that create the serenity of spas today. Spas today still turn to tradition with hydrotherapy treatments, such as thalassotherapy, watsu, and water therapies, and continues to be a rating standard for global affiliation.. The renovation of the ancient Bath Spa, projected to open this year is eagerly awaited.

As a spa image advisor, who has also put my time in as a body worker, spa manager, trainer, speaker, and sports clinic owner, I am able to asses a wider scope of key points that can qualify a location as a major world class spa. In my personal experience, there are key things that suggest a caring and knowledgeable staff, which are consistency, cleanliness, certifications and the experience level of staff. In other words, a back room, or one massage table under a “toldo”, does not a spa make.

Industry trends for past years and our current 2008 have a growing list of treatment offerings, and spa concepts. This also contribute to the changing face of spa tourism and spa travel. According to Spa Finder, and Massage Magazine, arising trends and evolving demand include some of the top 10 listed above and highlights from past year’s, such as, acutonics, spa culinary schools, peptides, skin brightening, manaka tapping, idebedone, indigenous ingredients, eco-spa, detox, and other exceptional and less known treatments.


I have provided the spas and their locations from my review below, and given them a rating on the amount of points it met in my experience and the where they stand in trends and quality. Five points being they met the most standards of treatments, therapists, amenities and property, with one & two needing some work.

Spa Uno, Manuel Antonio: Overall rating 4

Serenitas Medical Spa, Guachepelin Overall rating 4

Serenity Spa, Manuel Antonio: Overall rating 2

Pacifica Spa, El Parador, Manuel Antonio: Overall rating 3 ½

Raindrop Spa, Manuel Antonio: Overall rating 2

Los Suenos Fitness & Spa, Marriot, Playa Herradura: Overall rating 4

Pura Vida, Alejuela: Overall rating 4 ½

Martino Resort & Spa, Alejuela: 4

Nosara Retreat, Guanacaste: 3

Four Seasons Spa, Papagayo Peninsula: 5


Overall not many of the reviewed spas, provided many of the rising, trendy treatments on our list, or had the training support for it, though many provided great treatments of their own. More innovative spas have jumped on board for more training and new treatment design. Fours Seasons Hotel and spa is one of the leaders here, having launched a key training program for it’s Spa Director’s that includes international internships, training and support for a year to return with new outlooks for increased spa benefit. Spa Uno is also a leader here, having opened a local massage and spa training center to ensure a minimum level of training before working on clientele and strict protocols.

There were some spas on our list who had a form of hydrotherapy or water therapy, detox, anti aging, and indigenous ingredients, but they didn’t provide a separation within the global standards, or boasted many accreditations. That is not to say they are not working towards meeting more of those standards, and we can agree that the spa arena is an ever developing industry that demands keeping up on development. One thing that seemed to be repetitious was the type of treatments offered on spa menus, too many of the same thing, more focused on the indigenous product than accrued benefit or creativity. Though I agree if something works, don’t fix it, it is also sometimes nice to distinguish yourself, and if you are a spa adventurer looking to try several Costa Rica spas, you may find yourself choosing from very similar versions of the same thing. This is most likely due to the remote areas of some, and the lack of resources to provide training or product, and in some cases a lack of knowledge. I would suggest that where needed, spas should invest in follow up training or certifications to keep staff knowledgeable and consult a professional when necessary. With a more remote location, it is sometimes difficult to entice qualified therapists, which makes the overall quality less. It also shows at a larger volume facility, when they are not able to get staff up to date on the variety of menu services they offer, or keep up with staff turn over, they may not be ready for the investment of training, or upgrading.


Each experience is your own, and I encourage people to try whatever is within their reach. You may enjoy your experience at a lower rated spa, but I would recommend looking for some of the points listed above, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, your therapist or the director should welcome it. One thing you may not be aware of, is you will be paying prices comparable to the U.S., so you want to be sure to get the best value and your money’s worth. To be fair, staff, standards, treatment, and overall experience may have changed. Though at the time of publishing, everything was up to date.

If you would like further information on spa suggestions, including the destination details of the spas reviewed in this article, my favorites, or locating and researching a spa or retreat for your next vacation, please feel free to contact me with your questions. I am also happy to provide information for other types of retreats, and medi- spa treatments.

If you’d like to share your own spa experience in Costa Rica or anywhere, please post it here, or contact me personally. My best to you in your travels, and happy tropical spa adventuring!