So THIS is why The Golden Door Spa near Scottsdale is Booked Up for Spa Week

By Mary Rambin

If you’re a spa addict then you know The Golden Door name means creme de la creme of spas. The original is in Escondido (the destination of Spa Week’s Get Fit For Summer giveaway with Jillian Michaels – remember?); the one I visited is a lot easier to access. Just north of Scottsdale I found The Boulders Resort with a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, two award-winning golf courses, and a Golden Door Spa. It’s no wonder the resort has been named one of the world’s best several years in a row by Travel + Leisure. (Are you counting Phoenix locals, that’s three good reasons for you already!)

As you would expect, rates are usually on the high end, but their offering for Spa Week sweetens the deal, especially since you then have access to their other amenities like the pleasant pool, fully-equipped gym with group fitness classes (including yoga and spin), and the cafe. Saturday was already completely booked when I visited a few weeks ago and now I hear that they completely booked up, so if you’re interested, call ASAP and beg!

The services I found most notable are not on the Spa Week menu, but I would pay full price for them if not for just the reasons I already mentioned.

Ask about their signature turquoise wrap experience that involves exfoliation with blue corn meal after which you’re drenched in honey, rinsed, wrapped, and rubbed, then relaxed with a rain dance! Other unique Native American ritual experiences include shaman ceremonies and labyrinth meditations that have been said to be life-changing. They also offer Metabolic Typing and a monthly dinner under the stars in their natural herb garden (it sells out so book in advance).

In the back there’s a private suite for couples or girls’ retreats where you can get your treatments, enjoy an organic lunch, sun bath, and soak in the hot tub.

The decor is what I would call dessert chic and minimal. It’s not “cozy” if you know what I mean. Unlike most spas, the common areas are flooded with light. No complaints from me though; the pampering was superb.

The Golden Door Spa at The Boulders
34631 North Tom Darlington Drive
Carefree, AZ 85377

$50 Spa Week Treatments:

  • 50 Min Aromatherapy Massage
  • 50 Min Golden Harvest Facial
  • 50 Min Radiance Body Wrap

Mary Rambin of is a professional blogger and travel features writer for The Houston Chronicle. In NYC, she co-founded NonSociety and produced a weekly web series called TMI Weekly. Now she trains small businesses in the basics of social media amidst her travels all over the world. Follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryRambin.

(Full disclosure: Lunch was comped by the spa.)

Pelican Hill Resort & Spa, An Ocean-Front Spa Week Hideaway

By Mary Rambin

Admittedly, I’m a spoiled gypsy travel writer.  So when I say my Saturday at The Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach California was pretty much perfect, that should make you curious as to why. I actually got out of this delicious bed early for an early workout.

Spent the morning playing a round of golf on one of two plush beachfront courses. Devoured a delicious lunch on this lovely terrace. Layed out by the pool overlooking the ocean with a surprisingly lively crowd drinking and mingling to a Jimmy Buffet cover band.

Spa-ed the rest of the day away with a soak, steam, and massage.

And dined on traditional, hand-crafted Italian food. What more could a girl want?!

I’m not the only one who touts this property as extraordinary. The Pelican won The Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards in 2010 for #1 California Golf Resort,  #2 of the “Top 100 U.S. Mainland Resorts” and #22 of the “Top 100 Best in the World.” The Spa has won the Forbes Five Star Award in 2010 and 2011. The golf courses have won so many “The Best…” awards I don’t have enough space to list them all. So, this place is legit.

The Pelican resort is what I call a “fully furnished” destination – it has everything. Anyone can find something to fall in love with, and in my opinion, it’s the ultimate vacation for a golfer with a family.

The sprawling property designed with Palladian Italian symmetry and style (that honestly seemed very Tommy Bahama to me) includes 204 bungalows and 128 stand alone villas, two golf courses constructed by Tom Fazio (clinics and all-inclusive packages available), a gigantic pool with cabanas, multiple restaurants that serve fresh pasta and olive oil produced on-site, wine tastings, a huge spa, kids’ activities for all ages, free wifi, and coaches to drive you around the meticulously landscaped, palm-tree lined streets.

Should you want to enjoy this little adult wonderland without the room rate, simply book a spa treatment or buy a day pass!  They offer weekday specials to locals who aren’t guests. Otherwise you can expect regular spa prices.

For Spa Week (October 10-16), The Spa at Pelican Hill will sweeten the deal:

  • $50 for a 50-minute Amber Gold Massage
  • $50 for a 50-minute Classic Cleanse Facial

In additional, they are also have other special offers in honor of Spa Week that aren’t listed

  • $30 for lunch at the Coliseum Pool & Grill, overlooking one of the world’s largest circular pools and the Pacific Ocean
  • $25 for one-day Coliseum Pool access (a rare opportunity as pool access is usually reserved exclusively for Resort guests)
  • $50 for a 50-minute Personal Training Session at The Spa’s Fitness Center (full-price regularly $76)
  • $20 for an add-on Bright Eyes Facial upgrade (conducted within any facial treatment) to rehydrate the delicate eye area and soften fine lines and dark circle in the orbital area.

The Pelican Hill Resort and Spa
22701 Pelican Hill Road South
Newport Coast, California  92657

Mary Rambin of is a professional blogger and travel features writer for The Houston Chronicle. In NYC, she co-founded NonSociety and produced a weekly web series called TMI Weekly. Now she trains small businesses in the basics of social media amidst her travels all over the world.  Follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryRambin.



(Full disclosure:  A generous media rate and comped golf was provided for my stay.)

Amen for Emin! And More Magical Moments at the ZaSpa

By Mary Rambin

I’ve been rubbed down, stretched out, bathed, splashed, scrubbed, tugged, the whole nine all over the world. And I’m here to tell you, there is not one person on this planet that gives a massage better than Emin at the ZaSpa at Hotel ZaZa in Houston, Texas. That’s right, you heard me, Houston.  Isn’t he a cutie pie? And so sweet too! (His name is pronounced A-meen by the way.)

The rest of the spa delivers in a magical day of R&R as well.

Because I’m native Houstonian (and I’ll be honest, I dated an employee of the hotel briefly), the Hotel ZaZa is like a home away from home for me. A very NICE home I might add. There aren’t many boutique hotels in Texas; mostly major chains dominate the market. The smaller establishments thankfully are done right – luxurious, comfortable, and above-and-beyond accommodating. The Hotel ZaZas, both in Houston and Dallas, are like a plush W Hotels featuring trendy decor, a witty attitude, a hip crowd, and a lot of velvet.

The spa itself is quite small but lavish.  They spared no expense on chandeliers and more importantly their staff and equipment.  I’m not sure why this is, but all of their treatments are reasonably priced. Plus, they offer a daily discount treatment and seasonal specials. If you plan it right, it’s SpaWeek all the time over there.

On to the services.

I’ve never seen mani-pedi chairs that fully recline like this, have you? They fully recline and support my legs so I don’t have to wiggle my legs constantly, and the esthetician doesn’t break her back.

The Starlight Facial with Skin Ceuticals products (one of my favorite skin care lines) is also exceptional.  It cleared up my breakout in a couple of days.

I’m not sure what this room is for, but it looks like fun!

Like I said, Emin is amazing.  When I first got a massage from him years ago, I thought he used hot stones the whole time.  Come to find out afterwards, those warm and smooth solid-as-rocks surfaces were his hands!

His understanding of the muscular system is extensive so when I pointed out my pain, he knew exactly how to attack it.

Along with your treatment, you’re welcome to use the pool, which is often desolate on weekdays. Weekends you’ll find the scene to be a little like Vegas.

Don’t leave without eating at The Monarch downstairs.  The deconstructed Ahi Tuna Roll is delicious.  Say hi to Alex the manager.  I’m sure he’ll happily buy you a glass of champagne!

If you’re in Dallas, I love the ZaZa there as well.  The original property is the go-to spot for celebs when they’re in town.  I ran into Kid Rock and his entourage after a weekend of partying.  Needless to say they looked like they could use a spa day!

Both the Houston and Dallas locations are participating in Spa Week Oct 10-16. Their $50 treatments are:

  • 50 Min Big Chill Swedish Massage
  • 50 Min Deep Cleansing Facial
  • 50 Min On the Rocks Pedicure

ZaSpa at Hotel ZaZa
2332 Leonard Street
Dallas, TX 75201

ZaSpa at Hotel ZaZa
5701 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

Mary Rambin of is a professional blogger and travel features writer for The Houston Chronicle. In NYC, she co-founded NonSociety and produced a weekly web series called TMI Weekly. Now she trains small businesses in the basics of social media amidst her travels all over the world.  Follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryRambin.

ARIA Las Vegas: All You Ever Wanted in A Spa

By Mary Rambin

To me, Vegas is more than poker and all-night parties. I’m really only there for Spearmint Rhino. Kidding! I like to spend all night wining and dining at one of the many fabulous restaurants and all day melting away at the luxurious spas. For years I’ve headed straight to Canyon Ranch on the top of the Venetian. If you’re a “spaddict” and haven’t experienced one of their resorts (Michelle blogged Canyon Ranch Miami last winter), you’re missing out. However, when the Aria finally opened, I thought such a expansive property must have a spa facility to knock my robe off.

I will not tell a lie and say their spa is THE BEST on the strip, but what I can tell you, is that you can pinch EVERY PENNY out of your treatment fee.

Let me explain. I called ahead to see what facilities (steam room, sauna, etc) they have. The kind receptionist said, “you will have access to the pool, the gym, and all of the specialty rooms.” SCORE!  My 5 star hotel, I won’t name names, had a small gym and no pool to speak of (if you know Vegas, you’ll guess it). So I planned to spend my whole day at the Aria for the price of one massage!

First I hit the gym. As an avid gym rat, I’m not happy without at least an hour workout to detox after a night of heavy Vegas intox. Most gyms in Vegas will charge you an entrance fee, even if you’re a guest of the hotel. More importantly there are two unique qualities to this gym: natural light floods through the wall of glass AND it’s populated. Other people are there working out so I could fuel myself off of their motivation. Because let’s be honest, in Vegas, no one really wants to be in the gym. The equipment is new and clean, and even had a legit spinning bike for me to conquer my cardio. If you really need an extra kick in the butt, they also offer group fitness classes.

I’m sure you’ve guessed my next move was to the pool where I ordered a lime beverage to recharge my energy (gatorade, margarita, they’re the same color). An hour nap by the pool would have been nice, but I decided to people watch instead. It’s Vegas; the crazy characters walking around there are priceless!

When I went up to the spa itself, I found it to be modern and minimal. Spas these days don’t really have an ambiance, have you noticed? I slipped on my delicious robe and found my way to the steam room where I sprawled out and commenced detox 2 for the day. After my muscles were thoroughly heated and I gave my body a quick rinse, I headed into the massage with John. As an athlete, I often opt for the intense deep tissue massage that often can be more painful than pleasurable. John was able to find a nice middle ground so I could doze off as he rubbed my aching feet. They offer an array of Thai massages but sometimes the straight ahead deep tissue or aromatherapy wins me over for its simplicity.

Afterwards he led me to the Shio Salt Relaxation room which cleans out your lungs, but it was too bright in there for me. Instead I de-robed again in “hot stone room” which is technically called the Ganbanyoku beds. The Aria is the only facility in the US to offer these traditional Japanese stone beds that enhance your circulation and metabolism. Wait, there’s more!  Other relaxation areas include: soaking pools, a fireside lounge, and co-ed infinity pool.

Needless to say, after the entire day at the Aria, it’s a miracle I was able to walk out of there on my own two feet.

Bottom Line: If there’s availability, book the reservation and enjoy an entire day at the Aria.

And this isn’t the first time a guest blogger recommended this!  Check out Sarah Berkley’s review of the Spa & Salon at ARIA.

Their $50 Spa Week treatments this Fall are:

  • 50 Min Seaweed Wrap
  • 50 Min Signature Exotic Manicure

The Spa & Salon at ARIA is located at 3730 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada. Call 702.590.9600 to book your appointment (and all-day relaxation) now!

Mary Rambin of is a professional blogger and travel features writer for The Houston Chronicle. In NYC, she co-founded NonSociety and produced a weekly web series called TMI Weekly. Now she trains small businesses in the basics of social media amidst her travels all over the world.  Follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryRambin.

Gym photo via