travel

Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa

“While we can’t change our genes, we can alter our lifestyle to protect the longevity of our skin, body and mind.”

– Dr. Claudia Aguirre

Just 2 hours away from LA in the desert landscape of Corona, Glen Ivy Hot Springs is a wellness enthusiast’s ultimate playground built around mineral hot springs and their incredible health benefits. It’s been around for over 150 years but it has certainly evolved over time, including in recent years to cater to today’s eco-friendly luxury seeker. With its 19 different pools, mineral hot springs, exceptional spa treatments, gourmet cuisine, Scandinavian-inspired Starbucks-serving cafe. cocktail bar and the one-of-a-kind Club Mud and Grotto, Glen Ivy has all the makings for an epic spa day with a loved one or friends.

Last month, Glen Ivy celebrated the new skincare line /skin regimen/ (launched Feb 2018) at their spa and invited bloggers and influencers to learn more about the science behind the products, enjoy the facilities and experience the line firsthand with an Urban Longevity /skin regimen/ facial. Dr. Claudie Aguirre spoke about the

  • Effect of psychological stress on skin
  • The psychological power behind touch and music
  • DNA only being a factor not a determinant in how we age (we are not locked into our DNA)
  • and other skincare science topics.

The Urban Longevity /skin regimen/ Facial Review

This expertly designed facial is for stressed skin or skin showing the first signs of aging. It is customizable to correct dullness, dehydration and expression wrinkles, it deeply renews the skin and leaves it glowing and protected.

The spa has a beautiful entrance where /skin regimen/ products, Jane Iredale, NuFace skin tech devices, COOLA and other products are displayed and several treatment rooms. The facialist began with aromatherapy then proceeded to cleanse the skin. As it was a mini-facial there was no steaming involved. She used a 16% acid peel mask which felt very tingly and included a massage session using a Qigong and Rolling Roulage technique with her fingers, which felt like she was rolling my skin continuously. It also included  Macro Waves Sound, which uses both natural and synthetic sounds that help the mind detach, and a shoulder and upper back massage to provide a deep relaxation effect as the mask sat. Finally, the mask was wiped off and /skin regimen/ MicroAlgae Essence and Jane Iredale BB Cream SPF 15 was applied. My skin looked brighter and luminous, though I’m sure with the full facial you would reap even more benefits. The facialist also advised to reapply sunblock every hour not every few hours when in the sun.

Sole Focus Massage Review

This indulgent foot massage uses a technique called Zone Theory which stimulates points on the feet that improve circulation, stimulate mental calm and relieve physical tension throughout the body. 50 minutes felt like 5 with my massage therapist using her expert fingers to knead, rub, pull, and tap her way into the souls of my feet. If I get a massage I usually go for a full body one, but there’s something interesting about the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy that the foot is connected to everything in the body. Perhaps there’s some truth in this as I still felt relaxed and like I was walking on clouds after.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs Review

I’m not even sure where to begin, but Glen Ivy is simply beautiful- it’s like a tropical oasis wonderland with every kind of amenity you would desire. Need a pool filled with red clay mud? Check. Need a pool with a panoramic view? Check. Want to lie in a pool that’s basically a giant Epsom salt bath? Check. Healthy cocktail during the day? No judgement. Healthy cuisine crafted by an executive chef? Check. I could go on and on. It truly is an adult playground and an all day affair. I don’t believe a day here is complete without complementing it with one of their spa treatments. Can it really be a spa day without some sort of massage? To give you a better idea of all that Glen Ivy has to offer, here are the deets:

  • 19 mineral baths and pools
  • Club Mud (Californai red clay pool)
  • Women’s Bathhouse with our own indoor pool
  • 2 stylish saunas
  • Ivy Kitchen serving healthy, Mexi-Cali with a coastal twist and farm-to-table philosophy
  • Bar & smoothie café
  • Spa treatments

 

About /skin regimen/ skincare science-focused line for the stressed out urbanite

I wanted to wait to until I had tried out the /skin regimen/ products we were sent home with so I could share my experience. Please note I’ve only used these for about a week so these are merely my first impressions and not a real review. This is not an organic line, but takes a natural approach with zero synthetic fragrance, silicones, animal derivatives, artificial colorants, mineral oils and parabens. /skin regimen/ was designed for the urban-dweller living a fast-paced and stressful lifestyle. This kind of lifestyle alters the skin’s normal cellular processes, particularly DNA methylation, glycation, oxidation and inflammation, contributing to cellular breakdown and eventually hindering skin health, even in biologically young skin. The /skin regimen/ products target the most common stress-related signs – dehydration, city-gray skin, wrinkles and imperfections using their signature Longevity Complex™ an exclusive mix of organic superfood extracts and a high-tech molecule, counteracting the effects of stress and aging accelerators. It contains the anti-inflammatory Wild Indigo, modulating excess cortisol and boosting beta-endorphins, Maqui Berry with powerful antioxidants anthocyanins, and anti-glycation Spinach and Carnosine, a dipeptide. Spinach, thanks to its folic acid content, also promotes a correct DNA methylation.

MicroAlgae Essence Iluminating Lotion

This is definitely more of an essence and a thick toner than a lotion. It gives a nice glow to skin and I use it underneath my serum and moisturizer, but as far as “illuminating” it does not contain any shimmer or mica. This has to be my favorite product out of the three I tried. It gives a major boost of hydration to my dry skin and has an invigorating scent that reminds me of cinnamon. The essence is concentrated with unicellular micro-algae and their Longevity Complex to recharge the skin and maintain optimal hydration.

Tulsi Booster

This is a super lightweight concentrated oil featuring Tulsi, an adaptogenic ingredient used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote antioxidant activity and is designed for particularly dry and depleted skin. It feels almost like a serum than an oil, provides lasting hydration and I love that it incorporates Ayurveda. The scent is the same as the MicroAlgae Essence- a spicy cinnamon like scent.

/night detox

This is another very interesting product – you leave it on overnight rather than washing it off after it dries and it works to detoxify the skin from accumulated pollution. It contains Gluconolactone and alpha-glucan yeast to boost the skin’s ability to eliminate the toxins accumulated during the day. The mask has a balm-like texture and a beautiful natural scent I can’t quite put my finger on. My skin feels softer and looks clearer and significantly more toned the next morning.

Thank you Glen Ivy Hot Springs and /skin regimen/ for this unforgettable experience!

 

 

Alpine Eco Luxury at Whitepod Hotel

I’m so excited to feature not only a Swiss luxury hotel but an eco-conscious award-winning one at that! Located in Monthey, Switzerland the Whitepod Hotel combines Swiss alpine luxury & sustainability with 15 cozy igloo-shaped “pods” designed to run as much as possible on renewable energy and with little impact on the environment. They even have private ski slopes & a lift for guests, an on-site restaurant Les Cerniers, sauna, all kinds of snow equipment and amazing Alp views from each pod. I loved getting away from it all and enjoying the peace and quiet in this remote destination.

At check-in a friendly receptionist explained how the pods work and what activities they offer on site which include skiing, snowscooting, snowshoe hiking, dogsledding & more. Then I was handed a backpack with headlamps, map and other emergency equipment and walked about 15 minutes to pod lucky number 7.

I then headed to the central chalet a few steps from my pod to enjoy the afternoon Tea Time. There were a variety of pastries, fruits & organic teas sylishly displayed and cozy couches to enjoy them on. I also discovered a “movie theater” room filled with bean bags and a large screen.

.

I stayed in a Deluxe Pod which features:

King Size bed
mezzanine with another bed
flat screen TV with Apple TV
Nespresso machines
WiFi
complimentary mini-bar
breakfast delivered
electrical outlets
heating

 

Whitepod’s Restaurant Les Cerniers serves gourmet Swiss cuisine using locally sourced and fresh ingredients. The menu offers succuent meat & fish dishes as well as a variety of mountain specialties like Assiette Valaisanne and Swiss fondue.

The breakfast is simple yet high-quality and delicious. There’s fresh pastries & bread, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruits, cold cuts, cereals, dried fruits & fresh orange juice.

Whitepod also has 3 new pod suites, the Forest Suite, 007 Suite & Swiss Pod Suite, each stylishly decorated according to its theme.

i

I loved being able to take a luxury vacation while also being mindful of my ecological footprint by staying at Whitepod. I hope that more and more hotels will take this direction as the resource consumption and waste produced by the hospitality industry is substantial. While Whtepod does not have a rating I would personally give it 5 stars as it had a level of service and quality found at traditional 5-star hotels. The staff went out of their way to make my stay as comfortable as possible, which is no easy feat as the pods are a 20-min walk from reception.

I also included shots of the organic bauty products I brought along. The lighting at this altitude is amazing – perfect for a photoshoot!

NU Evolution Complete Coverage Foundation – code ORGANICBEAUTYLOVER saves 15%
Au Naturale Lip Su/stain in Camel
Au Naturale Powder Bronzer in Kissed

Earthwise Beauty Sungod Mask
Earthwise Beauty Tigress Face Balm
code OBL saves 15%

Max and Me Sweet Serenity Collection
Max and Me Purity & Grace Oil Cleanser
Max and Me Enchanted Face Oil

Thank you Whitepod Hotel for making my Christmas special!

Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort

I finally visited the Canary Islands after wanting to go there as a college kid studying abroad in Europe and can only recommend it if you’re looking for a truly unique island vacation. Situated close to the coast of Western Sahara, Gran Canaria is the 3rd largest island in the Canaries archipelago but has the largest population. The landscapes are sweeping, dramatic and vary from the north to the south to inland.

I stayed at the Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort, a 5-star resort located in the south of the island near Maspalomas and beside a two 18-hole golf course. Its standout amenities include:

Multiple pools on different levels with panoramic views
Stunning infinity pool that feels like you’re floating mid-air
Aloe Spa using natural beauty products
Extravagant breakfast & dinner buffets
New Sens Kitchen Patio Garden dining area
Tons of free yoga and fitness classes daily

The spa pool at night

The Aloe Spa is also equipped with a hammam, steam room, ice fountain and air room as well as lounge area with snacks, tea & water.

The various sunbeds scattered throughout the topmost level of the resort

The best buffet breakfast and dinners I had on the islands

The other best part of this resort was the breakfast & dinner buffets.  Everytime I have a superb dining experience at a hotel and think it can’t be topped I’m proven wrong and this time it was the Sheraton’s. The selection, sophisticated presentation, quality of ingredients, gourmet options and attention to detail was outstanding. Pictured above is the fresh juice station where you could order customized juices but they also had pre-prepared detox juice blends in individual bottles.

and smoothies. There were so many different food stations you could easily miss one.

Dinner was equally fabulous with a different theme each night ranging from Asian to seafood and Tierra (meat-focused) to Spanish. Due to lighting I wasn’t able to take pictures, but there was most notably:

Chef’s stations for freshly prepared fish, calamari, sausages and other meats
Wok station for customized wok dishes prepared by a chef
Dessert selection with perhaps 30+ different desserts including a molten chocolate lava cake station and candy section
Gourmet hors d’ouevres
Excellent 5-star service

The room I stayed in was Double Deluxe with a balcony offering views over the golf course. There are no rooms with views of the ocean but the rest of the hotel more than makes up for this. I stayed at other 5-star hotels that did and didn’t offer ocean views and this hotel surpassed them by far in every way.

The room has a modern Asian aesthetic with accents of red, wood and slate and came with ample amenities including a welcome champagne bottle. Air conditioning worked perfectly, the bed was uber comfortable and the size of the room though on the smaller end was perfectly cozy.

Having stayed at a few other reputable 5-star hotels on the island I’m so glad I got to experience the Sheraton Gran Canaria because it truly did stand out. Anyone who comes to this island and chooses not to stay here is without a doubt missing out on an experience that no other hotel can offer.

 

 

Lanzarote & Seaside Hotel Los Jameos Playa

With volcanic landscapes of colored soils, craters, unusual rock formations and gently sloping mountain that evoke complete awe and fascination, Lanzarote may very well be the most interesting island I’ve been to.  I may never step foot on Mars in my lifetime, but I think Lanzarote comes pretty darn close to it.

El Golfo – a green lagoon and the ocean separated by volcanic sand

I stayed at the Seaside Los Jameos Playa, a resort conveniently located 5 minutes from the airport and considered among the best places to stay on the island. With so many different activities on site there’s something to please everyone. When you walk into the lobby you’ll notice the decor is inspired by Spanish and  Hispano-Arabic traditions which integrate Mudejar, Andalusian, Galician and Castilian influences. Step further into the resort and you’ll find the pool and lush garden leading to even more activities like archery, petanque, mini golf and more.

The view from the balcony over Los Pocillos beach

Sunset views with organic skincare by COOLA & Earthwise Beauty’s Farizad’s Veil

The wine here is very special and unlike any I’ve tasted before because it’s grown in volcanic soil. They’re placed in these human-made depressions that are shallow enough to capture sunlight and trapped water from the volcanic soil. The artisan wines are then sold in bodegas run by the vintners themselves. The best one I visited out of 3 was El Grifo which dates back to 1775 and is the oldest one on the island.

Wine tasting at El Grifo is a must even if you’re not a wine lover.

The pool while packed during the day is empty and romantic during the evenings. It’s perfect for a quiet solo dip surrounded by the lush greenery and twinkling lights.

The spa has:

Finnish sauna, Steam bath, Biosauna & Unisex Sauna
Relaxation area with sun loungers
Multi-sensory showers
Scottish shower with light therapy
Plunge pool with flower petals
Foot baths with scented salts

The resort also has 3 bars: poolbar, piano bar and Bar Belingo. The lobby and piano bar had live music playing every evening which added immensely to the experience.

Overall I loved my stay Los Jameos. It’s a super fun, activity-filled family-friendly hotel with so much to discover daily. The staff are warm and friendly and seem to genuinely enjoy their work despite the hotel being so large and filled to capacity. While the island of Lanzarote is rather small and quiet, the Los Jameos universe is vast and energetic.

Papagayo beach on the right side

Papagayo beach on the left side

Playa Famara

Caleton blanco beach with clean white sand, volcanic rocks and shallow water

Algarve Portugal Travel Diary

 

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Algarve before even during my 4 years working in Europe and I wasn’t CRAZY excited to go knowing nothing about it. But I wanted a quick getaway and I love discovering new places so I went ahead and got the ticket. I wish I had known of it sooner because Algarve is truly breathtaking with its limestone cliffs, sculpted rock formations, clear emerald seas & pastel-colored sunsets. *Also, I decided NOT to edit these shots like I normally do because I’d rather you see Portugal’s beauty in its natural state.*

The first night I stayed in Albufeira which is a cute little coastal village about an hour from Faro airport. I couldn’t do much sightseeing because i needed to work remotely but the beach is only a few blocks away and I was able to enjoy the sun, sea, and sand in the afternoon. I also highly recommend going to The Beach Basket – I went there twice because it was that good and the panoramic views of the sea are an added plus. The beaches in this region have orange golden sand and sea green waters that I haven’t seen anywhere else in Europe. Utterly unique and a welcome change if you’re used to seeing the crystal clear waters every summer.

The next day I headed to Ria Park Hotel located in Algarve where I was invited to stay. A 5-star hotel located between Vale do Lobo & Quinta do Lago and just a 9-minute walk to the beach, Ria Park has a stunning lagoon-style pool, spa, golf course, FIFA soccer pitch, restaurants and rooms with views over the gardens, pool & sea. I also met up with the Marketing Director of the hotel group (Ria Park actually has 3 hotels – Quinta do Lago which is a classic 5-star, Ria Park Hotel a more modern 5-star hotels and Ria Park Garden which has 4 stars for the budget traveler) and was able to share with her my journey as well as learn more about the hotel. It’s actually frequented by all 3 Portuguese soccer teams and even Cristiano Ronaldo himself because they train at the hotel’s FIFA pitch & chill together as a team at the hotel. There were 2 teams staying at the hotel while I was there but I think they were division 3 or 4.

The lagoon-style pool

I was so touched by  the Pasteis de Belem that had toothpicks with my “name” on them. Pasteis de Belem is to die for- I can’t even explain it – it’s orgasmic. There were also some tapas, Portuguese wine & fruits waiting in the room.

I stayed in a suite on the top floor that had a King size bed, Minibar, marble bathroom and spacious balcony

I did need to work remotely from the hotel so I didn’t do any sightseeing that day except kayaking to the Bengali Caves in the evening. These pictures don’t do it justice at all.

So the next morning I had a buffet breakfast on the restaurant’s veranda and laid out by the pool before heading to a few nearby beaches.

As always I brought several SPF products to stay protected under the sun and I didn’t get sunburned despite the strong sun raysl

Falesia Beach which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe

Praia da Marinha, the most famous beach of all in Algarve and the one I’ll never forget

After lying out and soaking in the beauty, I went back to the hotel to lie out by the pool and visit the spa, which has an indoor pool, Turkish bath, sauna, relaxation room and gym.

I had an amazing time in Algarve thanks to the breathtaking beauty of the region and Ria Park Hotel. I was there for about 4 days and it felt like I had been on a relaxing vacation for weeks. The beaches are close to the hotel that it was easy to get from place to place and the Portuguese hospitality combined with 5-star service was excellent. Everything is so affordable including high-end restaurants that you can really live it up and I appreciated that coming from Switzerland. I sincerely hope that I get to visit Algarve again and be able to spend more time exploring the region and enjoying everything it has to offer.

The last few hours before taking my flight back home were spent exploring a bit of Faro.