Pamper Me

The spring winds have begun to blow, heralding warmer weather and the chance to fling off the confines of jackets, sweaters and socks. To pamper your skin, face and feet, we sampled local day and resort spas to find the most decadent, luxurious and unusual ways to prepare yourself (or someone special) for spring.

 Santa Fe Bliss

Santa Fe Bliss’s I AM Balance dual treatment—massage combined with acupuncture (or acupressure if you’re needle sensitive)—is deeply relaxing and rejuvenating, says Janice Bequette, who, along with business partner Yvette Powell, created the experience. The massage stimulates the body’s circulation and lymph system, while acupuncture awakens and strengthens the flow of chi. Because, really, we could all use a little stimulation and flow to get us moving after the closed-in energy of winter. “We’ve found that people hit a really deep state of relaxation with I AM Balance,” says Janice. “They reach bliss every time—their cheeks are rosy and they float out with an incredibly great feeling.” $70 for 50 minutes or $95 for 80 minutes, the I AM Balance is an affordable pampering and the perfect blend of East and West in the City Different.



Absolute Nirvana Spa and Gardens

One of winter’s nastier leavings is the itchy, dry skin that has been hiding under clothing layers and socks. Give your body a good once-over with this Bali-inspired treatment from Absolute Nirvana Spa and Gardens. The Lemongrass and Coconut Indulgence, as owner Carolyn Lee describes it, “starts with a ritual foot cleansing to ground and center you. Then a full body massage using lemongrass oil transports you away. Next, we use a natural, organic coconut and raw cane sugar scrub for added exfoliation. A masque of warm, organic, virgin cold-pressed coconut oil moistures the entire body. A short stay in a private steam room allows pores to open and the oil to penetrate more deeply. After you rinse, your therapist leads you to a hard-carved granite tub sprinkled with rose petals….” (Tropical fruits, handmade truffles and Javanese ginger tea are served tubside.) OMG! At $250, you can’t NOT afford this.



Q Beauty

Now that your skin is silky smooth and ready for spring, how about your tresses? Q Beauty’s clinical hair treatment, the brainchild of master stylist Cenneth MacDonald, comes with diagnosis and cure for what ails your locks. Using the purest proprietary plant formulas developed by Rene Furterer, of France, MacDonald customizes the 60 to 90 minute session for your particular problem—dry and damaged, oily, weak, limp or unruly. “This is the best-kept secret in the hairdressing world,” he says. “In my 30-plus years in this business, these products are the most highly performing in the world and the only products that work.” Each treatment comes with a neck, shoulder and head massage to relax you, too. So whether you have long-term concerns like hair loss or weakness, or temporary issues stemming from pregnancy or hormone changes, Q Beauty’s got the cure for $50-$100.



Inn and Spa at Loretto

Men enjoy a little pampering, too—and the Inn and Spa at Loretto is ready to oblige. Their Peaceful Warrior package was one of the best that we found. Combining a Thai herbal massage, facial and manicure, Peaceful Warrior is 80 minutes of masculine well-being. The treatment starts with Samunprai, a traditional hot Thai massage that has remained unchanged for centuries. A hot poultice of balancing, healing herbs soothes the muscle aches and bruises of your battle-weary soldier, opening the pores and bringing a deep medicinal heat to the muscles to release tension and revitalize the mind. Then the Gentleman’s Indulgence (available separately) facial addresses general skin needs like aging, fine lines and clogged pores and the specific complaints of a man’s skin—ingrown hairs and over exfoliation from rough shaving. A manly manicure scrubs and buffs away rough cuticles and dry patches. For $338, the Peaceful Warrior turns your savage beast into a smooth operator.



Aurora Skin Care

Speaking of fabulous facials, Aurora Skin Care’s natural skin treatments use Dermalogica products exclusively. Aurora’s Chinese acupressure facial blends Eastern medicine’s view of the body as a holistic being with European techniques. On a quiet Downtown Santa Fe street in a charming adobe casita, clients experience the bliss of stimulated circulation and lymphatic flow as well as the release of toxins, cleansing, exfoliation and moisturization. Says Aurora’s Dawn Christensen, “Of the 365 known acupressure points in the body, 26 of them are on the face. I use finger pressure to encourage the chi to flow smoothly. This facial is gentle, safe, and effective for conditions like dry skin, sensitivity, aging and toning. It has the added benefit of releasing endorphins, increasing healing and boosting the immune system, too.” At $75 for a one-hour treatment, Aurora’s Chinese acupressure facial is luxury worth repeating.



Great Face & Body

What the Japanese call Koh-Do, or “incense appreciation,” is the basis for the E-Koh-Do body scrub at Albuquerque’s Great Face & Body. Owners Andre and Keith West-Harrison brought their incense-inspired body scrub with them when they relocated their spa to Albuquerque from New Orleans several years ago. Of the $85, one-hour treatment, Keith says “The sense of smell is one that triggers memories and provides ambience, so we created this service that not only exfoliates and puts moisture back into the skin, but also triggers deep emotions through the lighting of one of the Nippon Ko Do incense line of five scents—earth, air, water, space, or fire—during the scrub.” The scrub itself is blended specially for the client’s individual needs to address skin type, potential allergies and age, using a house-manufactured base of fair trade organic sugar and oils (also available for retail). Don’t let the winter itchies follow you into spring, people.




Albuquerque Baths

While you’re in the Duke City, head to Albuquerque Baths, the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning spa culture. Centrally located near Downtown, this venture launched by massage therapists Michelle Collins and Henry Bruner came out of a desire for a soaking experience that didn’t require driving to Santa Fe, Ojo Caliente or Truth or Consequences. Try the deeply relaxing Hot Stone Massage to loosen knotted muscles and melt away tension before or after you soak. “For people who have very tight muscles, the heat of the rocks goes right into the tissues. We leave the rocks on to transfer heat or as a therapeutic tool to get into tight areas. It’s like sitting on a hot rock warmed by the sun; using rocks to transfer heat isn’t a new idea, but it’s  a really great one.” A 70-minute massage is $90 and 90 minutes is $110. Affordable and close to home, Albuquerque!



Estrellas Moroccan Spa

Estrellas Moroccan Spa’s henna body art is just plain fun—not to mention ideal for parties, wedding or other celebrations with a group. The traditional symbols represent blessing and well wishes to help celebrate many important milestones.  In fact, the use of henna to draw designs on a pregnant belly is an ancient calming practice. Owner Jay Payne also offers a crystal water henna service that’s unique to the area. “You write something on a water vessel, which is then frozen. We then microscopically look at the frozen crystals and create a henna design of that pattern.” Crystal water henna starts at $50 (depends on how long the tattoo design takes). Regular henna body art treatments begin at $50 for 15 minutes, with most designs taking 20 to 90 minutes. What a way to express your love for someone special—or to express yourself on a special occasion.



La Bella Spa Salon

La Bella Spa Salon, with two locations in Albuquerque, has a wonderful opportunity for family—specifically female relatives—to spend three hours of pampering time together. The Mother and Daughter Package ($220 per person) invites the lucky recipients to share 60-minute Fountain of Youth facials and 60-minute Aroma Journey massages side by side. Then they’ll finish with an hour-long Express Manicure/Pedicure to alleviate stress. The Fountain of Youth facial combines anti-aging, stimulating and invigorating properties to bring a radiant and youthful complexion to mom (the benefits accrue for daughter, too). For the massage, a personalized blend of flower and plant extracts leaves skin feeling silky smooth while delivering a relaxing and therapeutic rub down. The mani-pedi uses an exfoliation soak followed by a gentle nail and cuticle grooming complete with choice of polish. Better yet, La Bella gives you a candle with the scent you chose for your massage to continue the experience at home!


Story by Kelly Koepke


La Casa Sena Wine and Spirits Shop

In the coming months, localflavor magazine is embarking on series of articles featuring some of Northern New Mexico’s independent fine wine stores. “Independent” is an apt description of the people who operate our local retail wine stores. You have to have the audacious passion of a Broadway producer to invest the capital necessary to get a license, let alone to purchase inventory chosen from the estimated 10,000 different grape varieties, which translates, exponentially, into hundreds of thousands of wines. What is clear is that each neighborhood wine store—grand, storied, or mom-and-pop—is operated by individuals of unique and resolute vision.

            A palpable transformation is occurring in the wine community here and around the country, not unlike that of the “farm to table” movement. Any chef worth her fleur de sel is adamant about sourcing her products, be they natural, sustainable, organic, or simply the best out there. Owners and managers of our fine wine stores are pursuant of the same prevailing desire: to bring this global, whirling life back into our own hands, to give credence to craft, and to heed what we consume. Spend time in any fine wine shop in the Santa Fe or Albuquerque area and you will find fervent “cork dorks” guiding customers away from industrialized brands and toward grower Champagne, natural wines of Loire, garage pinot noir from California Central Coast.  We can’t all be farmers, winemakers, or sommeliers, but we can all participate in how and where we choose to spend our money. In this highly competitive business, there is, nevertheless, a collective spirit that unites these purveyors: the celebration of craft, honor of the land, and the art of winemaking.

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