What Do You Know About Spas?

January 13th, 2023 by dayat No comments »

Today Norm Goldman, Editor of … & … … Susie Ellis, … of Spa Finder Inc. … you tell us a little about yourself and your … in spas, a

Today Norm Goldman,Guest Posting Editor of Sketchandtravel.com & Bookpleasures.com interviews Susie Ellis, President of Spa Finder Inc.


Could you tell us a little about yourself and your expertise in spas, and why you became interested in them?


I was athletic in my youth and naturally gravitated toward being as healthy as possible. After college in the mid 70′s, I began working at the Golden Door Spa which, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the top spa in the country. After spending many years on staff, I became enthralled with how people’s lives were transformed after just a one-week stay at this famous place. I decided to make spa my life’s work, and the combination of movement, good nutrition, spa therapies and a mind/body/spirit approach to wellness became a passion. And lucky for me, the spa industry, which was just emerging at the time, was poised for explosive growth.


Why have spas continued to grow and have become popular over the past several years?


I see three general trends that have come together to precipitate the popularity of spas.

1. The aging baby boomer. This demographic wants to maintain youth and vigor. Spas are a perfect place to achieve these goals.

2. Stress. The non-stop bombardment of information and connectivity is creating a need for people to have places to decompress, de-stress, slow down and pay attention to their body, mind and spirit.

3. A troubled health care system means people of all ages must become more responsible for their wellness and health.


How do you go about identifying top-notch romantic spas in terms of quality of treatment, fitness, relaxation, location, atmosphere, and staff?


Truly the best way to identify romantic spas is to consult the romantic/honeymoon spa category on www.spafinder.com. There are almost 50 romantic spas listed. Spa Finder’s mission is to connect people with their ideal spa experience, and we also present spas in 20 other categories such as: weight loss spas, spas for horseback riding, hiking spas, spas for yoga, etc.


As a follow up which ones would make the top ten on your list?


Here are a few of my favorite romantic spas in the U.S.:

Mirbeau, New York

Chateau Elan, Georgia

Miramante Resort & Spa, California

Silverado, California

Emerson, New York

The Spa at Sundance, Utah

Hampton Retreats, New York

Mana Lani , Hawaii

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Arizona

Westglow, North Carolina

Outside of the U.S.:

Brenner’s Park, Baden Baden, Germany

CuisinArt Resort & Spa, Anguilla

El Santuario, Mexico

Samas, Park Kenmare Hotel, Ireland

Echo Valley Ranch Resort, Canada


What are the benefits of spa treatments for honeymooners and romantic getaways for couples in search of de-stress?


There are many ways to de-stress and spas specialize in this. Exercise is an excellent de-stresser. Bathing in hot water is a de-stresser. Massages are for many the ultimate de-stresser. At spas people typically leave their outside world behind, they slow down and their bodies become more relaxed. A spa has nurturing staff and there is lovely food that doesn’t intoxicate but rather revitalizes. I think that what spas do is help us get back to who we really are and connecting at that level is always romantic.


What spa treatments are especially recommended for those new to the spa experience?


I think a good place to start for a newcomer is with a Swedish Massage and a facial. These are still the most favorite spa treatments because people love them. Although there are many wonderful treatments on most spa’s menus, such as hot stone massage, Ayruvedic treatments or even body scrubs and wraps, I would not recommend them for the first time spa-goer.

For a first time romantic experience, I would suggest choosing a “couple’s massage” where both of you are in the same room for your treatment. Sometimes this can include a bathing ritual for the two of you together before or after…very romantic!

And finally, if a spa has a “signature treatment” that might also be a good place for a first time spa-goer to begin. Often this is an experience with more than one element – like a scrub and a massage, or a foot ritual and massage, etc.

And I do suggest that a person let the receptionist know that this is their first time spa experience so that the attendant and therapist can be a bit more thorough about explaining procedures and protocol.


What is meant by “destination spas,” and how do you differentiate them from other spas as well as between themselves?


That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked. In the world of spas we segment them into various categories. The most general categories are resort/hotel spas, day spas and destination spas. The resort/hotel spa is part of a hotel or resort where there are also activities such as golf, tennis, fine dining, etc. The spa is one of the amenities. A day spa is a place where people go for a spa experience but do not stay overnight – this can be for one spa treatment or for several or even for an entire day. Then there is the destination spa. Think of them as places to stay overnight with programs that makes it a full immersion spa experience. In other words, everyone is there for the spa experience. Canyon Ranch Health Resorts and the Golden Door are good examples of a destination spa. La Costa or The Doral are examples of resort/hotel spas and Bliss or Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door are examples of day spas.


Can you tell us something about the new developments and trends in the spa industry, particularly as it affects those couples seeking romantic getaways together with spa treatments?


We are seeing a variety of trends in the spa industry. I will share with you the 10 trends that we predicted in January of this year:

Medical spas (medicine and spas coming together)

People mixing business and spas

The arrival of the “destination day spa”

More affordable spas and more inclusive

International treatments and unique and inviting spas internationally

Spa cuisine going mainstream

Travelers deciding on where to go and stay depending on the spa

Pets are welcomed at some spa

More men are going

More families, including teens and preteens

Of these I think one of the interesting trends for couples is that more men are going to spas. This means that it is becoming easier and easier for a woman to get her guy to go with her to a romantic spa get away. Increasingly, they already want to go!


I have come across the term “quality assured” spa, what does this imply, and why should we believe the spa when it has this designation?


To be honest, I am not aware of any such designation on a large scale. There are over 10,000 spas in the U.S. and no one has been to all of them or able to rate them in terms of quality. There is no easy way to conclude the level of a spa’s service. In fact, sometimes quality comes down more to an individual therapist than it does a facility.

That being said, there are some ways for the consumer to have more information that could help them make an informed decision. There is an association called the International Spa Association (ISPA) that has a “voluntary standards and practices designation” that spas may choose to apply for if they wish. This could be of some help. But even here, many spas don’t know about this so I wouldn’t necessarily rule out selecting a spa if they don’t have this designation.

A Garage Conversion Project starts with a Garage Conversion Plan

November 13th, 2022 by dayat No comments »

A garage conversion project is a simple and great way to add 200 to 400 square feet of living space to your home at a fraction of the cost of building a new addition.

A Great way to add Living Space to Your Home

A garage conversion project is a simple and great way to add 200 to 400 square feet of living space to your home. Frequently garages are converted into bedrooms,Guest Posting bathrooms, and family rooms. Due to the fact that a garage already consists of a foundation, four exterior walls and a roof it is relatively an inexpensive solution for adding more living space to your home, compared to building a brand new home addition.

A garage conversion project has some of the same concerns and problems as finishing a basement. There are cold concrete floors and various protrusions and obstructions in both a garage and a basement that must be worked around.

When developing a garage conversion plan there are a number of items you should first consider before actually moving forward with such a project.

Check first with your Local building Inspector

Local code requirements may vary on garage construction versus living space construction. You may want to first check with your local building inspector to determine if there are any structural or zoning issues with converting your garage into a completed living space. For example, it may be okay for garage roof trusses to be spaced 24″ apart in your municipality, however local building codes may also specify that these may need to be 16″ on center for formal living space. It is worthwhile talking to your building inspector first before completing a garage conversion plan and hiring contractors. You will need to pull permits anyway, so you might as well learn up front any code issues / restrictions before submitting plans to the building inspector and beginning your project.

Garage Conversion Projects and Plumbing

When considering a bathroom, kitchen or wet bar as part of your garage conversion project special upfront attention needs to be paid to plumbing. Most garage floors are concrete, and as a result, you typically only have a couple of choices to address plumbing requirements. You can either cut out swaths of concrete flooring to run drainage pipes or elevate the floor. Elevating a bathroom or kitchen floor is typically less desirable, unless of course you plan on elevating the entire garage floor. I will discuss this issue/concept in more detail later.

The alternative to elevating the bathroom / kitchen floor is to cut out swaths of concrete flooring. This task is extremely messy, dusty, and requires a great deal of hard manual labor, but in the end you will achieve a better product. Consequently, my recommendation is to first consult with a plumber before you develop detail floor plans of your garage conversion project. He can help you decide where the best location is for your bathroom / kitchen / wet bar, and recommend a layout. Ideally you will want to locate the rooms requiring plumbing near each other and near the existing sewer/septic drain pipes within the main home to minimize concrete cutting.

Once you have completed your garage conversion floorplan, have your plumber mark the locations for where the concrete needs to be cut away. Remove the concrete prior to beginning any other work on the project. Cutting concrete is an extremely dusty and noisy endeavor so make sure everything is out of the garage prior to cutting. I would also recommend hiring either the plumber or another subcontractor to perform this work.

Framing in the Garage Door Openings

When converting your garage into formal living space you will probably want to frame in the existing garage door openings. You may want to consider locating a standard door or windows in one or more of these openings as you frame them in. Cutting new door openings and windows into existing walls is a more expensive effort, as external siding and potentially interior sheetrock will need to be disturbed that may not otherwise be required. If aesthetically and functionally it makes sense, replacing a garage door opening with a standard door and/or windows can potentially save some money.

Also, when framing in the garage door openings, first build up the base of the openings with either concrete or concrete blocks to the same height of the adjacent foundation walls. This will help to ensure a finished external appearance that blends in well with the rest of the home’s siding.

Garage Floors

Garage floors can be cold. Garage floors typically consist of just an un-insulated concrete pad. Also, frequently garage floors are sloped so that water runs toward the garage door opening(s). To address both these issues it may make sense to raise the entire garage floor using 2″x2″s, 2″x4″s or 2×6″s depending how much floor insulation is desired. Shims can be used to level the raised subfloor. Alternatively the 2″xNs can be trimmed to level the floor. If there is sufficient ceiling height in the garage the use of 2″x6″s could eliminate the need for concrete cutting for installing drain pipes. Using 2″x6″s can frequently provide enough height to support sufficient drain pitch. Again, you may want to discuss this with your plumber if you plan to elevate the entire garage floor.

Ducts, Pipes, and Other Obstructions in a Garage