The Best Shiatsu I Have Ever Used: M Cushion

Shannon Smyth
M Cushion memory foam, heated shiatsu massager designed by Jay Godfrey. via @agirlsgottaspa Wondering how to squeeze in a little more relaxation each day without having to book a treatment at the spa? Aside from using my aromatherapy diffuser to add a little more zen to my life, I've also fallen in love with using a shiatsu massager to work the tension out of my upper back. But let's face it, 99% of shiatsu massagers are not pretty. Am I right? In fact, they're pretty much an eyesore. Most are also relatively small (or bulky looking) and don't support your entire back during the massage. The massager I was using prior to now also interrupted my HD signal, so there was no relaxing while watching my favorite entrepreneurial shows like Shark Tank and The Profit. When M Cushion approached me about their shiatsu cushion designed by Jay Godfrey, my eyes lit up. A shiatsu that came encased in a memory foam cushion with an attractive design? Sign me up! Fashion designer, Jay Godfrey M Cushion shiatsu massager via @agirlsgottaspa
Let me get straight to the point just in case you are short on time and don't want to read this entire review - this is literally the best shiatsu massager I have ever used. Invest in yourself and get one. If you're sticking around to read the entire review, let's get to the things I love about M Cushion:
  • One side of the cushion is a gorgeous design making it a great home decor piece.
  • The other side of the cushion is a solid color and is the shiatsu machine. It's well hidden by dual core memory foam.
  • The cushion is large, but not bulky. It's just about as big as one of my back pillows on my sofa. (18x18)
  • The cushion spans my entire back, so when using the shiatsu, I'm perfectly supported so that there is no straining or leaning too heavily into the shiatsu.
  • Did I mention that this is a heated shiatsu massager???!!!
  • The massage nodes are bi-directional and change direction every 60 seconds.
  • The shiatsu has automatic shut off. I believe it massages for 15 minutes, but I was so deep in relaxation, I honestly didn't pay attention.
The heated nodes are just enough to tame the tension in your neck and relax every muscle, but not so much so that the pillow is too hot. There are also interchangable cushion covers that you can choose from as well. The cushion I received is the Black & White Greek Key design. I also received a 100% cotton washable, Floral Green cover. Pantone green washable shiatsu cover for the M Cushion. Review @agirlsgottaspa

(Realizing now that I snapped this pic of the pillow upside down!)

I've used this shiatsu almost everyday since receiving it. It delivers the perfect amount of pressure and heat when in use, and is super cushy when I am leaning against it as just a cushion.

Each pillow is $139, which may sound steep, but if you consider that one spa massage usually goes for about $100 plus a 20% gratuity, then getting the M Cushion is a solid investment.

Questions? Let me know!

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Exfoliation Massage (Mandi Lulur) At Bodyworks Bali

Gail Lewis

Exfoliating massage at Bodyworks #Bali review #spa

Nothing says complete and utter relaxation to me quite like indulging in a massage, especially a 75 minute long massage, followed by total body exfoliation, body mask and a luxuriating soak in a warm flower-filled bath.  This is how I spent two hours at a spa in Bali thanks to the suggestion of a woman I was lucky enough to share a taxi ride with.  As soon as I got out of the taxi I knew where I was headed to next: Bodyworks spa in Seminyak, Bali.

Bodyworks #Bali #spa treatment review

Bodyworks has been in business in Bali for over 15 years and they always seem to be insanely busy.  The Bodyworks Spa Menu includes a wide variety of services ranging from traditional Balinese massage to  facials, nail care, hair removal and hair treatments.  Pretty much everything on the Bodyworks Spa Menu looked pretty enticing, but none as much as the Exfoliation Massage, otherwise known as the Mandi Lulur, and this treatment was everything I had expected and more. The treatment began with a deliciously relaxing 75 minute massage, after which my entire body was covered with a grown granular paste (the traditional Javanese lulur.)  The paste is made up of turmeric, sandalwood, cinnamon, ground nuts and rice.  After letting the paste dry on my skin for a few minutes it was gently rubbed off to exfoliate my skin.  My skin was then rinsed off and cooling fresh yogurt was applied to my entire body; including my face.  I was told that the yogurt contains enzymes that stimulates cell activity and restores the pH balance of my skin.  After letting the yogurt mask sit for a few minutes, my skin was again rinsed after which I was led to a bath tub filled with flower petals in which I soaked for the last 10-15 minutes of my treatment. I emerged from this treatment utterly relaxed with smooth, soft, glowing skin.  I have tried a lot of spa services and I can honestly say that this is one of the best, most indulgent spa services I have ever received and it was only about $45 US dollars! Bodyworks is a definite "must" if you happen to find yourself in Bali. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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The French Manor Inn and Spa Massage Review

Shannon Smyth
The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa Up on Huckleberry Mountain lies an enchanting stone chateau with 20 miles of magnificent views of the northern Pocono mountains. Whether your view is of the prominent snowcapped peaks in the winter, the lush greenery in the Spring and Summer, or the spectacular colors of the Fall foilage, you are guaranteed something breathtaking even before stepping foot inside The French Manor Inn and Spa. If you long for a peaceful hideaway that is elegant, a place to simply retreat to whether you are local to the Poconos or are venturing in from out of state, you won’t be disappointed with what The French Manor has to offer. I’m blessed to live local to The French Manor, and having been previously to their Le Spa Foret for a Spa Pedicure, I know that the team here is top notch. The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa Prior to your spa treatment, and on this day it was a Therapeutic Relaxation Massage for me, you are greeted with small, brown, glass bottles of essential oils. Every spa treatment at Le Spa Foret is completely customized to your needs and only with natural or organic products. In dire need of a floral fragrance, I chose Soft Beauty which contains jasmine and smells heavenly. The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa The Therapeutic Relaxation Massage ($95) is a Swedish-style massage that promotes relaxation using long strokes and kneading of the superficial muscles. It was much needed, as the launch of my natural body care line has kept me at my desk long hours and feeling exhausted. Robin immediately picked up on the tension in my neck and upper back and kept much of her focus there. While I don’t typically chat too much during a massage, I found that Robin and I actually had a lot in common, so I didn’t mind the great conversation while her hands worked magic on helping to relieve the pain I was feeling in my muscles and the absolute need to relax my mind. It’s worth noting that if you love huckleberries (as I discovered I do after my trip to Idaho’s Spa Ssakwa’q'n), The French Manor offers a huckleberry candle in their spa boutique. My advice? Buy one. The sweet scent has filled my office daily and is such a pleasing fragrance. To learn more about The French Manor Inn and Spa, visit thefrenchmanor.com. If you found this spa treatment review helpful, please Like, Share and Pin it! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Disclosure: Spa treatment comped for review.

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Mount Airy Casino and Spa Review

Shannon Smyth
mount-airy-casino One of the many reasons I love living in the Poconos, is that there are a variety of things to do. Since the area is a popular tourist attraction, especially now that the Jersey Shore is still being rebuilt, there's not too much you CAN'T do in Northeast PA. Back in 1998, Mount Airy Lodge was the location chosen for my honeymoon with my first marriage. Unfortunately it did not live up to expectations when it came to cleanliness, activities and overall impressiveness (and I'm sure my ex-husband would agree.) Soon the Lodge became an eyesore and an undesirable place until the DeNaples family were given a gaming license and completely demolished the old Mount Airy Lodge and crafted an amazing luxury experience that is now Mount Airy Casino Resort. The transformation is amazing. The resort is continuing to transform as it adds outdoor cabanas and a pool to their luxury spa. I recently had the opportunity to stay for a weekend with my fiance. This is my review:  Mount Airy Casino Hotel: The hotel at Mount Airy Casino is stunning. As soon as you walk into this AAA Four Diamond Award hotel, the air smells of vanilla. I loved it because casinos and the smell of cigarette smoke typically go hand and hand. This was refreshing, especially seeing that the casino entrance was just above check-in. There is an elegant waterfall feature in the center of the lobby with sparkling blue lights to illuminate the water and a seating area to the left and right. On the right hand side there is this amazing art design of fire, giving the illusion of a roaring fireplace. Just down the hall from the hotel elevator is the entrance to the spa. mount-airy-casino-lobby We stayed on the 5th floor and our room had a gorgeous view of the 18-hole championship golf course across the street. Even when laying on the posh bedding, you could still see the hillside of lush greenery and the well-maintained course. view-from-hotel-room-golf-course-1 All rooms are non-smoking, although that didn't keep the person staying in the room next to us from smoking in the hallway. The rooms are spacious and the bathroom was luxe. It was very quiet with the exception of a few enthusiastic guests in the middle of the night discussing their winnings in the casino as they strode down our hallway. If you place the do not disturb sign outside your room during the day, housekeeping respects your privacy and won't come in. They do leave a note hanging on your door that if you want them to come back, they will.

King Size Suite IMG_2497

Le Sorelle Cucina: mountairy-restaurant mount-airy-scallopsThis is Mount Airy Casino's luxury Italian Restaurant. It only opens at 5pm and requires a reservation.  The interior design and artwork depict the DeNaples mother and sister's in paintings, as well as the DeNaples family crest. The DeNaples name may come with a bit of controversy in our area, however, you can't help but appreciate the warm, friendly and family atmosphere of Le Sorelle Cucina. A variety of warm rolls and drinks are served immediately, appetizers (Insalta Caprese and Roasted Beet Salad) came out about 20 minutes later and dinner arrived approximately 1 hour after being seated (Chicken Parmesan and Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops). The food was out of this world and delicious. The serving size was generous. However, it did seem the 40 minute wait from when we received our appetizers (which only took 5-10 minutes to eat) until dinner was served was a little too long. We had two waiters, who were very friendly and attentive throughout our meal. Betty's Diner: This is Mount Airy Casino's 50's style diner. It has a jukebox playing duwop (and a lot of Cher) at the front of the restaurant, as well as a poster-sized picture of the old Mount Airy Lodge. The photo is a reminder of the stark contrast of old and new. The diner is open 24 hours and is affordable to most guests. We ate breakfast here, which was delicious with an attentive waitress, but food here also took a while to receive (although less time than Le Sorelle.) Portion size is good and we left feeling full. Red Steakhouse:mount-airy-filet-mignon This luxury steakhouse has an incredibly decadent feel to it. Upon entering, there is a piano to the right of you with live entertainment on Friday's and Saturday's that can be heard throughout the restaurant. Since Red Steakhouse and Le Sorelle Cucina are adjacent to each other, they share a lobby with a bar separating the two. While both restaurants themselves are completely separated, there is this amazing 10-person room, with frosted glass doors on either side that can be reserved, in the back center of the restaurants. Guests who reserve it, can choose from the menu of either restaurant. Additionally, there is another private room off to the back right that has a curtain that can be used to make the room more private. There was a bachelorette party going on in this room while we dined there. (Bachelorette parties were a common theme during our stay with many happy brides-to-be on the casino floor, and hosting private parties in the hotel rooms.) Dinner begins with warm rolls, butter and a hummus red pepper spread. My fiance ordered the Classic Cesar Salad as an appetizer, but I chose to skip an appetizer here. The steakhouse was very busy on the evening we ate there and it took 1 hour 15 minutes from the time we sat down and ordered until we received our meal, while we had two people waiting on us, only one was really attentive. We both ordered Filet Mignon, which was mouthwatering and cooked to perfection. I had a side of asparagus (delicious!), baked potato (literally the largest potato I have ever seen) and roasted wild mushrooms (out of this world in a sauce that tasted almost sweet and cinnamony.) He chose to get steak fries as his side, which paralleled the size of my baked potato. For dessert, he chose the cheese cake and I had the chocolate mousse pyramid. Both desserts were decadent. The resort has other places to eat as well, such as the Noodle Bar, Starbucks and the Buffet. So you are not without options for the type of food or price range. Spa & Salon: the-spa-at-mount-airy mount-airy-casino-spa My favorite place of all (of course!) The spa and salon is open to both resort guests and non-guests. The first level of the spa consists of a boutique, hair and nail salon and top of the line fitness center. You take the elevator to the bottom level where you'll find a gorgeous waiting room with a water feature, the steamroom, sauna, changing rooms, showers, bathrooms and women's lounge. The air is scented and you feel immediately relaxed.

mount-airy-casino-spa-womens-lounge

I chose the Bamboo Massage with Allison. I was in heaven with the amount of pressure Allison used (medium to deep), as my neck and upper back are always in constant pain from working at my desk all day. You are given the option to include aromatherapy into your massage and I chose Purification, which is an oil from Young Living. First Allison uses her hands to massage one quadrant of your body, then repeats the massage using bamboo sticks. The ends of the bamboo sticks are covered with fabric so that it doesn't hurt you. The bamboo provides a much stronger and deeper massage than Allison does manually. She was very accommodating when it came  using a lighter pressure for a few sensitive spots (like my neck and the underside of my knee.) This type of spa treatment is definitely for those who do like a stronger, more aggressive massage. (Which I do.) I would definitely return in the future and request Allison for another massage!

spa-treatment-room

Mount Airy offers a variety of spa treatments, some unique and some traditional. 18-hole Golf Course:

mount-airy-casino-golf-course

Just across from the hotel and casino are the stunning grounds of the Mount Airy golf course. While my fiance loves to play golf, it was only my second time hitting the links. On this particular day, there was a charity golf event scheduled in the afternoon, so guests and non-guests were trying to squeeze in a round of golf prior to kick off. (That included us.) This meant that due to so many people on the course, that we had to be paired up with another party. While the guys we were paired with were nice and understanding of my lack of skills, they were far more advanced than either my fiance or I. This proved to be frustrating for us in the beginning because we had a hard time keeping up. (They'd hit 4 on a par 4...I'd hit 8 on a par 4.) By the third hole, management came by in their golf cart and told us that the line was backing up waiting to play and that there was a 2-hole gap ahead of our party. We were told that if we couldn't hit the right pars designated for each hole, then we'd have to pick up our balls and just let the guys we were paired with play through. While we understood why we were told this, it still didn't make it feel any less unpleasant. We asked the guys we were paired up with if this was usual for this golf course (as they said they've played here many times before) and they said that on weekends it is, but the same holds true for other golf courses in the area as well and wasn't just specifically Mount Airy. We chose to skip a hole or two (we only played 9 holes) so that the guys could play through and we didn't back up others waiting to come onto the course. Once we had no one visibly behind us or ahead of us, we chose to let the guys play on their own, and we went at our own pace. Golf, to me, should be relaxing and fun, and certainly not rushed. shannon-mount-airy-golf bryan-mount-airy-golf Aside from this, I have to say that Mount Airy's golf course is fun, challenging and absolutely gorgeous and well-kept. The views are also spectacular. At one point there was a small pond aside a hole that had huge bass in it! You could see their huge shadows from atop the hill. At another hole there were mother and father geese with their new babies waddling by a pond. I liked that this course wasn't predictable, but also appreciate that it isn't for a beginner like myself! It was probably by the 7th hole that I felt more "warmed up" to the clubs I was using and began to really hit the ball far down onto the green. My fiance had a great time as well, which is making me consider giving him a round of golf here for Father's Day. Casino: While neither my fiance or I gamble, we did marvel at how large the casino floor was. Gaming tables are in the center with slots surrounding them on all sides. There are also high value slots in their own room, as well as high playing tables in their own rooms as well. One side of the casino allows smoking and the side closest to the restaurants do not. The air does not smell of cigarettes though, which is great for a non-smoker like myself. There is also a nightclub here as well called Gypsies, and entertainment galore every weekend. Mount Airy also is a great place to hold indoor and outdoor weddings, as well as the reception. The outdoor space is alongside the large pond adjacent to the golf course. I can only image how beautiful this must be! If weather is not accommodating, they have ample space indoors to hold the wedding as well. On the day we were leaving it was raining and they were setting up for an indoor wedding. I was hoping I would've caught a glimpse of the bride! All in all, it was a great weekend at Mount Airy Casino even despite a few hiccups. I would definitely recommend booking a weekend here, or if you live locally as I do, checking out the spa, golf, casino and nightlife. For all upcoming events and casino/hotel details see www.mountairycasino.com. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! for more beauty reviews! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! *Disclosure: This review was made possible by a media trip.

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Spa Review: Canyon Ranch Spa Miami Beach

Gail Lewis
Receiving an invitation to visit the largest spa in South Florida (70,000 sq ft to be exact), was definitely one of the highlights of my year in Miami and it just happened to materialize when a visit to the spa was very much needed…at the tail end of the moving process when I was sore, running low on energy,  and anxious about fitting a studio apartment’s worth of stuff into a minivan to go across the U.S.  So the invitation to visit The Spa at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach was a very welcome diversion from the moving process.  As soon as I checked, in the staff was very welcoming and friendly...something that was rare during my year in Miami.  The Canyon Ranch Miami Beach property is impressive and absolutely breathtaking to say the least.  The service I received from the spa is called Yatra.  Yatra, as explained to me by my service provider, is a Sanskrit word that means journey.  The treatment  is a journey through the senses and is intended to unwind every sense, relax every nerve and melt every muscle.  My  100 minute sensory journey began with a natural rice scrub.  The scrub was gentle, but left my skin feeling uber soft and smooth.  I was then escorted to  a rose-scented, salt-infused bath where I lay soaking in bliss for about 20 minutes while also exploring a color-therapy journey. Finally, I received a gentle massage as I reclined on a therapeutic neuroauditory-sound table, where specially selected music vibrated through my body, melting away a lot of the “moving” tension.   The journey was truly incredible and each sense with the exception of taste was fully engaged and invigorated. One of my recommendations when visiting the spa is to either arrive early for your service(s) or stay later…at least an hour, to make sure you explore  Aquavana thermal suites, which will definitely enhance your spa treatment(s).  I especially enjoyed the Crystal steam room, Finnish sauna and Igloo.  The Thermal Heated Loungers also looked pretty amazing, but unfortunately I did not allow myself enough time for that experience.  I also recommend having lunch at the Canyon Ranch Grill while soaking in an amazing ocean view or taking one of the spa’s fitness classes.  The spa has a lot to offer so it’s probably best to make an entire day of your experience or better yet a very long relaxing weekend.

 *Disclosure, spa treatments were comp'ed.

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Spa Review: Blue Harmony Spa, Orlando FL

Gail Lewis
What’s the best way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon for that matter) in Orlando, FL? At the spa of course! And that is exactly where I found myself on such an afternoon, at the amazingly beautiful and tranquil Blue Harmony Spa at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort. Upon checking into the spa, I was immediately offered a beverage and opted for a glass of water mixed with PURE Inventions Blueberry Antioxidant Fruit Extract (which is also available for purchase at the spa).  I was then taken on a brief tour of the facility which includes indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, Relaxation Lounge, outdoor spa garden, outdoor hot tub, full-amenity locker rooms, men's and women's steam rooms and chromotherapy experience showers, Couple's suite with side by side soak tubs, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. I also learned that each Blue Harmony experience reminds guests of the nourishment provided by the great blues of the world, water and skies.  After the tour I could’ve honestly just hung out in the serene relaxation lounge for the rest of the day indulging in healthy snacks, sampling the other flavors of the PURE Inventions Antioxidant Fruit Extracts while curled up with a magazine.  I was then taken to the women’s locker room where I slipped into my super soft spa robe in preparation for my massage. 

My massage was a truly amazing experience, I emerged feeling at peace…not to mention relaxed and rejuvenated at the same time.  I would highly recommend setting aside time before or after your spa service to indulge in the the steam room, outdoor hot tub or chromotherapy experience shower….or just hang out in the relaxation lounge.  For those of you planning a family vacation to Disney World this summer, a visit to the Blue Harmony Spa should definitely be on your “to do” list…trust me after the Disney chaos you’ll need it!

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