Pampered Like Queens

Oh, wow. Now I remember why I chose massage as a profession. Karen and I just received 80 minutes of relaxation heaven and after I felt like I was floating on clouds.

We woke up this morning to a very chilly and extremely windy day. One look (and one toe out the front door) and we decided to spend the day inside. After breakfast we made a quick run to a department store to get a duffel bag so I could send a few things home with Karen and then we lazed around until 3:00 when we headed over to the spa. I can’t describe how beautiful and well-done the spa is here at Pueblo Bonito. You walk in and to the left is the gym filled with weight machines and treadmills. To the right is a wooden walkway bordered on each side with flowing water that leads into the spa reception area. We got there an hour before our treatments (we each chose an 80-minute body scrub and wrap) so we could relax in the hot tubs. The “hot tubs” were located in a big tiled room that consisted of a large hot water pool, a jacuzzi, a steam room (which, unfortunately didn’t work), a rainforest shower that ran from hot water to cold to back again, a mist shower, a shower that sprayed water on you from all directions, a cold water plunge, and a hydro-reflexology path, which was a short walkway of small pebbles and misters. The pools were lit with green lights and there were lounge chairs, towels, and a refreshing iced lemon tea for our enjoyment. After soaking for awhile, we were shown to a waiting room with big comfy couches, cucumber water, dried fruit, and a large screen tv playing a video of beautiful places around the world to a soundtrack of serene music. After about ten minutes our massage therapists met us and showed us to the treatment rooms. First we were scrubbed down with a salt scrub and wiped off with warm towels. Then we were lathered with a body mask cream and wrapped up in plastic for 20 minutes to let the cream work its magic while our therapists did a facial massage. After being unwrapped we were sprayed down, on the table, by a hot Vichy shower – a shower that pours warm water over you while lying on the massage table. The water drains through holes in the table and onto the floor. Then we were warmed up again by a heated blanket and the final step was a body lotion massage and head rub. It was bliss.

To finish off the day we ate dinner – I made a delicious concoction of eggplant, chickpeas, olives, and roasted red peppers – and played a game of scrabble to the melodious voice of Rafael Rodriguez Tovador. He was so good Karen ended up buying three CDs.

Livin’ in Miami

I made the promise to some friends and family that I would start up my blog again as I continue my travels with Lindblad, this time as the Wellness Specialist. So, here I am, sitting on a swinging chair with the breeze rustling the palm trees and the sun filtering through the latticework arbor above me. The ocean is a few hundred feet away, preceded by an infinity pool ringed with chaise lounges and umbrellas. There’s a fire pit off to my left, protected by a circle of wicker walls and padded cushions and behind me is a garden of tropical flowers, trees and manicured lawn. I’m in Miami at the Standard Hotel and Spa. It may feel (and sound) like vacation (and it is, I guess…) but I’m also here to meet with my boss, Mina, to go over a few treatments and details of my new job. As a Wellness Specialist, I’ll no longer have to serve meals, make beds, scrub toilets, etc… Instead, I’ll be giving massages, teaching a stretch class in the morning, leading hikes, helping with the kayaks, and eating with the guests at dinner. It’ll be a big, but much welcome change. Not that I didn’t enjoy stewarding, but this is more along my line of interests.

So, back to Miami. The hotel is beautiful. It’s also a full spa with a hamam (a Turkish steam bath), a yoga room with lots of classes, multiple choices for treatments, an amazing and healthy restaurant and plenty of places to sit, relax, and read a good book.  Mina has helped create the spa program, so she comes down pretty regularly to work with the owner. I feel insanely lucky (and slightly guilty) to not only be here, but also take Mina up on her offer to enjoy as many treatments and yoga classes as I’d like – on the company. Which is in addition to my room and meals. I think I’m going to like my new job…

I’ll be in Miami until Friday, then I fly out to Seattle, which my Dad pointed out is pretty much as far from Miami as I could possibly go. After a night in Seattle, I’ll catch a plane up to Juneau, then puddle jump over to Sitka where I’ll meet the Sea Lion. I have a week of training with another Wellness Specialist, then I’m on my own for the next eight weeks. I can’t wait!

Well I didn’t have time last night to post what I wrote yesterday, so I’ll just continue on here. Last night, after dinner with Mina on the oceanside patio, I took an amazing Jivamukti yoga class with Loren. It brought me back to the classes I took at YYoga in Vancouver because I left completely soaked in sweat and completely blissed out. It was a hard class, but it was exactly what I needed after the flight down and I even did some poses I’ve never done before (like put my ankle behind my head).

This morning I woke up at 7 to do another yoga class, this one on the dock facing the rising sun. The teacher, Wayne, is an incredible Ashtanga yogi, and he led the class (primary series) with only a little direction, mostly showing us the poses and having us follow him. It felt great! I’m getting more and more into Ashtanga yoga because it makes me feel so open and light after the practice.

After class, I slurped down a coconut, date, green apple and soy milk smoothie (sooo good!), changed into my robe and headed up to the spa for my massage and coconut oil body scrub. I was told to wait in the hamam – a large cavernous room, dark with candles flickering along the circular walls. As I walked in, there was a round stone table with bath towels, lemon water and a bowl of apples in front of me. Behind the table was the two-tiered marble hamam, heated from below so that the stone is warm like sun-baked rocks. Even better, though are the faucets that pour warm water over the stones so that when you lay down on a towel, you’re lying in a shallow layer of moisture.

As I was fiddling with the faucets, my massage therapist came in and led me away to my treatment room. I had an hour massage and it was so very relaxing. I think getting massages is one of the best ways to learn how to give a good massage because you learn new techniques and experience what feels best.

After the massage, I donned my bathing suit and robe and we went back into the hamam where my therapist set up a ‘bed’ of towels for me to lie on. She doused me with warm water, then began to scrub a mixture of coconut oil and salt all over my body. The warmth of the hamam and the exfoliation (plus the previous hour massage) left me feeling limp and very relaxed. After I was rinsed with more warm water, I was left to lay for as long as I wanted or use the steam room or sauna. I chose the steam room and spent the next 20 minutes breathing in the thick air. To finish the whole experience off, I took one last rinse under a waterfall shower before heading downstairs to drink some tea and read my book.