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Talking Art From Great Heights: Let Kenzo Digital Help You Fall In Love With New York City All Over Again

Summit One Vanderbilt, in collaboration with artist Kenzo Digital, aims to impress even the most jaded New Yorker.

This is not your typical skyscraper observatory. Visiting Summit One Vanderbilt is a breath of fresh air. Think of your earliest memory of seeing the New York City skyline, combine it with the feeling of floating on air, and you might come close to experiencing the Kenzo Digital art installation called “Air.” The immersive multi-sensory and multi-floor experience begins to build up in the lobby tunnel, but the anticipation never seems to stop. You get whisked up to the 91st floor by a mirrored elevator, accompanied by colorful flashing lights. The dramatic ride could be symbolism for the wild ride we have had (and continue to have) in real life, but then you exit onto the main Air exhibit floor, appropriately named “Transcendence.”

Air, an immersive art installation created by Kenzo Digital for SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, promises to be a mind expanding and wholly unique experience for all those who see it. Courtesy of Summit.

Stepping onto the German-designed annealed glass, installed by Snøhetta, you feel like there is no bottom and you might be levitating. There is a sense of relief, excitement, a bit of fear (if you happen to be afraid of heights), but the breathtaking views make for a pleasant reward. Unlike your typical art exhibit, this permanent installation offers a point of view along with bird’s-eye-views of the city, which include all the classics: Empire State Building, Bryant park, Central Park, George Washington Bridge and the Chrysler Building. The glass invites a lot of natural light and a view of the sky, something we often lack in our cramped city apartments, so really try to spend some time with it and soak it in.

Look down from a balcony onto the main space.

This god-like perspective on the city is an excellent reminder to take a deep breath and rise above your every day problems (even if just for the day). Whether you are sitting, lying down, or walking around, at some point you begin to understand that the space is limitless with artistic potential. What makes this installation special is that no individual visit is alike; as the glass reflects both the inside and outside elements. It is an ever-changing and enlighting experience.

Summit Kenzo Digital Affinity Room is filled with floating silver baloons.

The exhibit does not stop at “Transcendence.” It spills over to another floor, with a balcony that overlooks the main space. From there you make your way to find “Affinity.” The far more intimate mirrored space is filled with round silver balloons that float and float around, making you feel like a kid again. You are invited to play, and believe me when I tell you that it is hard to resist. The dreamlike room invites an emotional response, and for me that meant feeling a childlike sense of freedom.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt aerial view.

It should be said that Summit stands above another architectural marvel, the Grand Central Terminal, and has 93 floors. In order to truly feel like an immortal god, make sure to experience the last part of the installation, “Ascent”. Ascent is a glass elevator ride, carefully operated and monitored by engineers, that takes you to the highest point of Summit. This is where your imagination really takes flight. You stay inside the glass elevator, which stops at 1,200 feet. I felt like pinching myself. Here is where you might think or say the official slogan known around the world: “I love New York.”

Yayoi Kusama’s silver Clouds on view before you enter the “Affinity” room.
Kenzo Digital’s Air exhibit at Summit, One Vanderbilt.

Air started as a dream that, with a lot of work, ended up coming true. It guides you on an emotional journey by combining lighting (provided by Arup), sound (provided by Joseph Fraioli), and visual effects. Kenzo Digital is an idealist that has accomplished a lot in his life, but I have a feeling he is looking forward to wowing us with more powerful projects in the future. Kenzo being his real name, and Digital a representation of his work, the artist makes it clear that technology is his main driving force.

I spoke to the artist behind the jaw-dropping Air installation, and his answers were very revealing.

PK: What are your early beginnings in the world of art?

KD: I’ve been an artist my entire life, so that is my native lens on life and the world. One of my earliest memories was seeing my great-uncle Nam June Paik’s opening at the Whitney. His work was one of the foundational inspirations for me as the first artist to truly use technology to build worlds and communicate large philosophical concepts. And just being around artists creating had a profound impact on me and my life. It shaped how I see and interact with the world around me. When I was in middle school, I was a graffiti artist, so I was always exploring the city at odd hours and seeing how it changed at night. I began to see the city as an organism, in how it breathes and evolves throughout the day and in its connection to the people who inhabit it. I was really blown away by how much one space can change as well as the different worlds that can exist in the same space.

PK: How did you partner with Summit One Vanderbilt?

KD: I was brought on and began working on the design in September of 2019. The project is a partnership between myself and SL Green, the largest commercial landowner in New York City. Marc Holliday, the CEO of SL Green, and I are deeply invested in the future of New York City. And this project was birthed through that intention of generosity and giving back to the city that is our home. It was an accelerated process with a lot of work before construction began in the Spring of 2020, which was also when the pandemic started. It was intense, and I spent most of 2020 in a CDC suit with a gas mask in an abandoned and empty Manhattan. It was like building an art installation while living inside of a dystopian science fiction film.

Now, as we are beginning to emerge from the pandemic in some way, releasing Air to the public feels synonymous with NYC coming back to life in whatever this new normal is. In many ways Air is a monument to the future, something that points to the future of New York City while unifying people through shared wonder and optimism.

We need healthy outlets to help us process everything that we have experienced over these last two years—loss, grief, isolation—and Air is an unequivocal invitation for people to go back inwards and reflect on what we’ve been through as a collective, and most importantly look towards the future and our individual and collective role in what that will become.

PK: The experience starts with the elevator. What is the feeling you try to evoke here?

KD: The experience actually starts before the elevator with the long dark hallway that leads to the elevators—and that’s intended to be a sensory reset, like a palate cleanser. We’re all rushing around from one thing to another, carrying so much with us, and overloaded with everything going on internally and externally, that we rarely get to fully experience the moment we’re in. The entrance is meant to provide an opportunity to shed all of that, so that visitors can fully experience the unique, immersive form of storytelling that Air offers—an experience of being fully present, of embarking on a journey that’s as much internal as it is external.

While there’s no right or wrong way to experience Air, it is much more than just a cool Instagrammable experience; it’s one where you’re invited to be the main character and to make discoveries not only about the world around you, but about yourself as well, whatever form those revelations might take (the experience itself is meant to be unique to each visitor, even upon revisiting).

And with the elevators, I wanted visitors to really feel that they were leaving this world behind and stepping out into a totally new, unfamiliar one.

PK: How long did this project take, and did you find this work more or less challenging than your other exhibitions?

KD: Air is by far my most ambitious project to date. The first challenge was creative—what is an idea that I believe can truly add value to the city and give back in a way that is authentic, actual, and deeply meaningful? All of my work is about personal transformation, and this once-in-a-lifetime canvas required something truly extraordinary. Air is my attempt to give back to New York City and celebrate the innovation, creativity, and chaos that is part of the DNA of the city. At its core, it’s a concept I’ve been working on my entire life (it’s inspired by a recurring dream I’ve had since I was a kid, and I created the first iteration of Air in my closet when I was 14 years old).

There were many obstacles to bringing Air to life—construction started at the beginning of the pandemic before we even really knew what Covid was or how much it was going to impact our lives.

My goal with Air was really ambitious from the start—how do we evolve storytelling and bring a new medium to life when so much of art has become just content and has really lost all intended meaning behind it? How do we get visitors engaged and truly present in a world where we’re all constantly being pulled in 20 different directions, where it seems like everything is competing for our attention, and we’re all overloaded and exhausted? My aim was to make a living entity that inspires a journey back to yourself for those who come to Air with an open mind and a willingness to really engage with what the experience offers. Air is about bridging the past and the future for me, a revival if you will, just like what we collectively are going through now post-pandemic.

PK: What do you want visitors to feel as they move through the space or what is it you want them to take away?

KD: Air is intended to facilitate a mind-expanding, personal journey of self-reflection. At the same time, it is a combination of many things that are not commonly experienced together. It is both cerebral and joyous, maximally engaging as it is distracting. The concept of reflection is physically built into Air, so that the journey is unique to each visitor, each moment in time, with the story unfolding in infinite ways through nature, weather, and your own personal psychological and emotional disposition. Every person who steps into Air is invited to embark on an existential journey of self-discovery, of getting to know themselves and the world around them on a deeper level, while becoming more attuned to their inner life and grounded in their place in the universe.

It is also something that is extremely connective. I believe what we have built is the most joyous and humane place that has ever existed in the history of New York City.

That’s what I really want, to encourage self-reflection, connection to other humans, and a return to nature, whatever that means to each visitor, whatever form that may take. As humans, we’ve created a world of duality, especially here in NYC. In the “concrete jungle,” the ways in which we’ve shaped our world are in stark contrast to nature. And yet we too are part of nature, so in that duality also exists a unity, a harmony, a blending of the natural and built world.

Air is a love letter to exactly that—to all that NYC is (that’s why it literally reflects NYC back at itself). It holds a mirror up to our city and ourselves. What visitors take from that is entirely up to them, and how they reconnect with their home and see themselves in the future of this city.

PK: In your statement you say that Air compels you to live in the present moment. Do you think this is something the world needs more of right now?

KD: Yes, absolutely, for our own mental well-being. It’s so easy to lose track of what is real and what is really important. We’re constantly battling sensory overload to the point that it’s easy to become closed off to the world around us. And with so many screens, emails, messages, and notifications competing for our attention, it’s no wonder we’re chronically distracted and burned out. Finding ways to reset, ground ourselves, pay attention to how we’re feeling, and reconnect with nature is vital.

Air is really an invitation to go inward and figure out what’s truly important to you—what you want to spend more of your time and energy on as well as what you want a little less of in your life. The truth is, what you’ll discover is personal and specific for each person, but I do believe that if you really engage and commit to this journey and to being present, you’ll walk away from Air with a lot more than if you go through the motions or get distracted with shooting Instagram content.

PK: Do you think immersive art is the future?

KD: It’s most certainly one future path, and the one that I’ve been dedicated to exploring for the past decade-plus—well before it was in style. As technology advances, opportunities to create truly immersive art—new worlds that we can inhabit—will proliferate. That may mean physical and technological experiences, like Air, and even virtual experiences, like in the metaverse.

Stories are the very fabric of our culture. Naturally, the next step in the progression of storytelling is becoming part of the story yourself. And that’s exactly what immersive art offers. Air is one of several things that I’m working on that will truly push the boundaries and reveal what is possible to people through the expansion and evolution of storytelling in physical space.

PK: As a New Yorker, did working on this exhibition change the way you personally view the city?

KD: Certainly in creating it, but even just spending as much time in Air as I have has had a profound impact on my relationship to the city.

Building Air has reconfirmed my love for NYC and made me even more determined to really showcase what makes this city so special. NYC is such a unique place, and I really want Air to be another way of experiencing it and all that it has to offer.

This is a permanent installation that will grow and change with the city. As the skyline changes, grows, and is reshaped, Air will congruously do the same as it mirrors it back. One of the things that’s so incredible about Air is that no two visits will ever be the same. Just like the city itself, you can go back and experience something totally new and different each time.

PK: Tough questions but..How can we ensure that inspiring art like this gets to be seen by everyone, not just those who can afford it?

KD: This is such an important question. It can be challenging because as artists, we rarely get a say in what tickets cost. I’m really glad that SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, where Air resides, is committed to making art accessible, especially to our local communities as well as veterans and their families. Committing to that belief, that art is for everyone (and to the fact that we share this city and this planet with one another), is crucial for art to thrive. And Air is very much intended to be the most democratized expression of art for everyone. In many ways the art is the energy of the combination of people that are in the space, and it’s actually more about the effect of the unique physical context of Air on the people that gives the space a unique power.

In creating Air, I wanted to build something that could be enjoyed by people of all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all ages. I particularly wanted it to be something for people who aren’t necessarily well-versed in art, who may feel like art is inaccessible or closed off or are intimidated by it.

Air is also built to be accessible to those with disabilities as well as anxiety. This includes full wheelchair accessibility and a path of non-reflective glass panels (instead of mirrors) spanning the experience so that anyone who isn’t comfortable with full reflection—for any reason—can still enjoy Air.

QC Terme Day Spa Opens on Governors Island: Come Along As We Experience The Charm of Italian Spa Culture in New York City

Enter the fantastical world of QC NY, a New York City Wellness Experience Unlike Anything Else In The City

New York City might be known for its hustle, not its day spas, but one Italian wellness brand, QC Terme Spas & Resorts, is looking to change that. This past spring, the Italian spa and wellness experts celebrated their first property opening within the United States. The location of choice? New York City’s Governors Island. Admittedly, we often dreamed of a lavish day spa opening right on Governors Island, and had to try it as soon as they opened. For owners and brothers, Saverio and Andrea Quadrio Curzio, it proved to be the most ideal location, with plenty of space for diverse wellness experiences and water therapy. The Milan-based company is known for honoring Roman bath culture, making hydrotherapy an important aspect of their wellness philosophy.

Aerial view of QC NY day spa on Governors Island. Courtesy of QC NY.

Governors Island truly is the ideal short getaway in close proximity to home. The island has 120 aces of open space, nature, and empty historical structures. It is one of the few places New Yorkers come to in order to unwind and spread out. Over the years it has increasingly become a popular destination offering weekend experiences, like the Poetry Festival and The Lawn Jazz Festival. The once abandoned and secluded part of the city was mostly used in the summer and on the weekends, but all that changed in 2021. It is now open all year, prompting us to believe there are more plans for recreational and cultural properties in the works. In fact, QC NY is open 365 days a week, 10am to 10pm.

Governors Island, New York City. Courtesy of http://www.govisland.com

When visiting Governor’s Island, one cannot help but notice its raw beauty and rich history. The island was rich in oak and chestnut trees, which made it ideal for hunting and foraging. The land was once home to indigenous people called Lenape. Today they are the indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands. As far back as 1776, the island served as a military training base and installation, and even as a strategic defense point during wartime. In 2003 it was sold to the public and is currently managed by the parks department.

Governors Island Ferry

Our journey to QC NY started with a ferry ride. Governors Island is in close proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn, and is just a short 5-10-minute ride. The ride is pleasant, costs $4 both ways, and while we recommend reserving a time on the ferry, you do not need to book a return time. To get on the ferry in Manhattan go to 10 South Street, and in Brooklyn find it at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. From there QC NY is just a short walk from the ferry and is located right on the water.

Whimsical details in two QC NY lounges
QC NY themed saunas: Cedar sauna and Alpine Mountain Stube sauna

The breathtaking Italian spa is housed inside three historic army barracks that were once used as officer quarters, featuring Collegiate Gothic architecture dating back to the early 1900s. Architect, Bob Henry, made sure to prioritize the building history while managing to transform the 74,000sq. ft space into a spacious oasis. Entering the spa you truly feel like you left the city, and entered a whimsical escape. It is clear that being in the spa business since the early 1980s, and overseeing nine other wellness destinations throughout Europe, QC Terme understands what the client needs and wants.

After going through a pandemic, it is fair to say that we are all in dire need of a respite. This is the exactly the kind of spa New Yorkers deserve. The CEO of QC US, Janine DiGioacchino, said it best.

“Now, more than ever, we all need and deserve mental and physical self-care. QC NY is the perfect place to relax, revive, and restore.”

Relaxation lounge at QC NY day spa. Courtesy of QC NY.

After admiring some of the details in the lobby, we headed straight for the changing rooms, where we received a robe, slippers and a tote bag. The changing rooms feature Dyson hair driers and luxurious scents – we were instantly hooked. Marrying Italian hospitality with New York ingenuity, QC NY highlights the specialness of each room with unique details and gorgeous furniture. When visiting, make sure to take notice of vintage-inspired and imaginative objects, like a binocular tripod, toy airplanes, and art around each and every corner.

QC NY, view of downtown NYC from the pool. Courtesy of QC NY.

The biggest draw of the spa are their pools. The pools feature underwater hydro jets and seats designed to massage the body and increase lymphatic circulation. While the pools were not operational during our visit, they are now, and we hear they are as luxurious as you might expect. If you plan to visit in the winter, you will be happy to know that there will be heated sidewalks and the spa plans to open in all types of weather.

Upside Down relaxation room & art hanging on the wall of a water lounge

What makes the indoors of QC NY stand out are their themed rooms. Whether you are looking to unwind or to be energized, you will find an experience to please all your senses. There are about 20 wellness experiences to choose from, and there are plans to add more. While every room has its own unique esthetic, the entire place feels like an opulent, but laid-back, island getaway. You are invited to walk from room to room, discovering diverse experiences and creating your own personal spa journey. Once you get the lay of the land, linger wherever you please. For sustinance, make sure to stop by the food and bar lounge, which offers items like Aperol spritz, Illy coffee, classic cocktails, and healthy lunch options. Make sure to hydrate, especially between sauna visits.

The waterfront property includes an outdoor courtyard with a variety of natural designs that blend right in with the island esthetic. No matter if you choose to spend time indoors or outdoors, there is no shortage of things to do or places to lounge. We especially enjoyed spending time using the Vichy showers, relaxing on the Infrared-beds, reading messages from other guests in the scent room and using the Cedar sauna.

An essential part of spa healing is understanding spa etiquette and the basic known-how of hot and cold therapy. Alternating between the two can provide many benefits, like improved circulation, low blood pressure and muscle relaxation. For help, read our Ultimate Spa Guide to Spa Etiquette and Basic Know-How.

Relaxation room, curtesy of QC NY.

Who To Bring: Come to QC NY to get lost with your fellow wellness worshipping friends, partner, or make it a special day with a parent. From a gorgeous smelling alpine sauna, to the foot bath, this spa is a magical getaway. After a couple of hours we felt restored and ready to take on another day in the city.

QC NY shop in the lobby.

QC NY Spa is open to guests 21 years old and over, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with extended hours on Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Be prepared to spend extra money on food and drinks.

QC NY Spa

Governors Island

112 Andes Rd

Main Photograph: courtesy of QC NY Spa

Finding Wellness in the Adirondack Mountains and The Newly Opened Eastwind Hotel

As summer neared the end, I longed to squeeze in a getaway that would shake off the persistent stress of the city and provide me with a wilderness escape. The allure of the Adirondacks lies in the region’s many lakes, hiking trails and ice age history. This was going to be my chance to go further north and hike around the 5 million year old national landmark that is the Adirondack Mountains. On the agenda was adventure, forest bathing, grounding, sauna time, and swimming in lakes. Staying at the newly opened Eastwind Hotel & Bar in Lake Placid was just the cherry on top.

Scandinavian Lushna cabin – Glamping at Eastwind Hotel, Lake Placid.

The Adirondack Mountains have a captivating history – not only is this where you can find the fifth highest mountain (Whiteface Mountain) within the United States, it was once the home of two Native American nations (the Iroquois and the Algonquins). The historic intrigue continues well into today. A great example of this is Eastwind’s new property. The three owners, Bjorn Boyer, Julija Stoliarova, and Dan Cipriani, took over a 1950s motor lodge from a WWII survivor. During the war he was taken in and protected by a Czech family. When he moved to the United States and opened his Lake Placid inn, he lovingly named it Prague Motor Inn. I have no doubt that the beauty of the Adirondacks reminded him of the mountains in Bohemia. Once he was ready to retire, he passed the property onto that very same Czech family and their younger generation. The founders of Eastwind ended up purchasing the inn, revitalizing it back to its original glory. The renewed feeling of excitement can be felt as soon as you drive in.

Eastwind Hotel property, bonfire and barrel sauna.
Eastwind Hotel King Room in the pool house has a breakfast nook and soaking tub.

The village of Lake Placid is five hours away from New York City, with the last stretch of it being impressively scenic. The closer you get the more hikers you will see. Olympic history can be seen everywhere, starting with the ski jump complex peeking high above tall trees. Driving into the Eastwind property, which looks more like a small village than a hotel, gave us a touch of summer camp nostalgia. The Eastwind complex at Lake Placid provides guests with 26 designer-curated rooms, including their famous Scandinavian style Lushna cabins. The tranquil property includes a pool (will not be open until next year), a barrel sauna, living room with a bar, a bonfire gathering area, hammocks and guest bikes. The newly opened hotel still has more special additions in mind. The latest being a dining room for guests looking to plan a dinner party or take a workshop.

Eastwind Hotel communal living space and interior of King size room in the pool house. Creative direction by
Co-Owner, Julija Stoliarova.

It is easy to see why Eastwind stands out for its interiors alone. Thanks to Co-Owner and Creative Director, Julija Stoliarova, each room has its own charm. From furniture to fixtures, every item is carefully selected to inspire your stay. Julija says, “I’ve long admired the clean lines and wood elements of Scandinavian design, but was inspired by fellow female curators, some of which I found on Instagram, to play with the abstract forms and bold colors of the postmodern movement. With vintage and found objects, we’ve been able to put our touch on every room making each a different experience, all with a unifying warmth only home can provide.”

Main house and pool house, Eastwind Hotel & Bar at Lake Placid.

Unsurprisingly, I chose a room with a soaking tub. There is no better way to end a day of hiking than with an Epsom salt bath. Our King spacious room was in the pool house, and while it was hard to choose my favorite part, it would likely have to be the breakfast nook. I liked to spent quiet moments here with a book. The design resembled a traditional European style breakfast nook that helps invite conversation. Eastwind makes breakfast easy by offering a large and nutritious morning basket. The well-balanced breakfast is just the thing to help get you on your way to hiking some of the most exciting trails in the Northeast. If you prefer venturing into town, try the breakfast club, etc. on Main Street. The food is well worth the wait.

Petite Lushna cabin and breakfast basket by Eastwind Hotel & Bar.

If you have your heart set on staying in a Lushna cabin, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that both the Suite and Petite options include a queen size bed, private bathroom and an outdoor patio. Admittedly, this is a much better version of camping, especially if you have children or pets with you. I made sure to take a tour of the cabins and can report back that they are quite welcoming and comfortable. The suites have large windows that swing open, making it easy to get fresh air as you admire the view. The all-weather cabins are cozy, plus feature luxuries amenities like Zenology bath products, bluetooth speakers, and an electric kettle.

Eastwind Bar sangria cocktail and smoked trout plate.

No stay at Eastwind would be complete with a cocktail at the bar. Mirroring the first location in Windham, the bar offers a refined food and beverage program, directed by co-owner Dan Cipriani. The intimate living room and bar area is inviting enough for you to stay a while and chat with fellow travelers. The same can be said for the nightly bonfires. At night we found fellow hikers gathered at the fire, comparing travel itineraries and making friends.

Scenic Chubb River runs right behind the Eastwind Hotel.
Break from hiking with a quick soak in Lake Placid with incredible views.

Waking up at Lake Placid truly awakens the senses. In the mornings I found myself rushing to spend time in nature and Eastwind makes that easy with a park right in their backyard. The gorgeous landscape and Chubb River allowed for relaxing walks, picturesque views, and even more importantly, gave me a place to meditate. The prettiness of the Adirondacks is undeniable. Consisting of both private and public lands, the wilderness of the Adirondacks can be enjoyed by all, and for free. Adirondack Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, and contains the most expansive protected wilderness area east of the Mississippi. While not a national park, it is the largest National Historic Landmark in the US.

Rocky Falls hiking trail inside High Peaks.

Even the most inexperienced hiker will enjoy the Adirondacks. Thankfully the Adirondacks have over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, with plenty of variety to choose from. Make a plan, make sure to pack essentials, and choose a trail based on difficulty and elevation gain. Remember that exceeding your limits can have uncomfortable, even dangerous, consequences. I recommend visiting the High Peaks Wilderness area. It is well taken care of, has clear signage, an information center, and includes both easy and advanced trails.

Hiking the High Peaks Wilderness, but first stopping for Heart Lake views.

We opted for easy to moderate trails, including the Peninsula Trails, Rocky Falls, and High Falls Gorge. Peninsula Trail was the easiest of the three, with Rocky Falls, within the High Peaks, being the most difficult. Each has its own beauty and pleasant surprises along the way. You will find yourself admiring picture-perfect waterfalls, lakes, and variety of flora and fauna. For a day filled with adventure pack a light or waterproof backpack, swimming suit (you never know), water and snacks or lunch (very important), hiking shoes, a cooling towel and a quick drying towel. For quality backpacks I recommend Skog Å Kust, Cotopaxi, Venture Pal, and Rains.

Lake Placid Legacy Sites Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and Skyride

Lake Placid hosted the Olympics in 1932, and again in 1980. Even today, Lake Placid continues to be the capital of winter sports in the East. Getting to experience being at the top of the 1980s Olympic Ski Jumping Complex was memorable, especially because it is still used today. The next World University Games are this winter, January 2023. Until then, you can take The Skyride, which takes you to the top of the HS-128 meter jump. At the top is a glass-enclosed observation deck, which has impressive views of the mountains, and a deck leading to the very bar the athletes launched themselves from. For more Olympic history visit the village and museum. Eastwind Hotel & Bar is located about 5 to 10 minutes by car from the historic Main Street. The street and shops are always bustling with tourists, allowing me to imaging what it was like during the Olympics. Here is where you can also find Mirror Lake for swimming, water sports, and hiking.

The Adirondack Mountains offer something for everyone. While one week was not enough time to experience it all, it is an unforgettable place to visit for nature enthusiasts.

Healing Waters Of The World: Wellness Destinations With Water Therapy On The Menu

From birth we are drawn to one of the most powerful sources of life and tranquility – water. Healing waters and bathing culture has been around for centuries. In countries, like Greece, Turkey, Russia and Italy, bath houses and self-care was a way to ensure citizens remained happy and calm. It was a communal and social activity. Rich or poor, public baths were available to all. This might explain the discovery of many ancient community baths and public hammams. There is a lot we can learn from these ancient cultures. For me, the most thrilling travel itinerary always includes a soaking tub in the hotel room, map to finding a secret swimming hole, or finding respite at a thermal hot spring. Needless say, I look to take the plunge whenever I can – it just makes the getaway feel complete.

There are many health benefits and pleasures water therapy can offer to a weary traveller, but the most therapeutic type of soaks can only be found in special places. Allow me to take you on a deep dive into researching the healing waters of the world.

Karlovy Vary, famous Czech Republic spa town

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

Our first stop is Karlovy Vary. This charming spa town does not get the proper attention it truly deserves. Not only is it one of Bohemia’s famous spa destinations, it is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Its historical significance, architecture and healing waters make this town worthy of your travel bucket list. Karlovy Vary gets its name from Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Bohemia. Once the founding father stumbled upon the area’s hot spring, he made it his mission to make it into a place of healing. You might recognize the name and architecture from films like Casino Royale and Last Holiday. Yes, Grandhotel Pupp is a real hotel, and I highly recommend you see it in person. The International Film Festival holds its annual fathering here, making Karlovy Vary synonymous with filmmaking and artistry.

Hot mineral spring in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. A traditional spa mug is used to drink the healing water.

Other places might be famous for its baths, but what makes Karlovy Vary stand out is its “Drinking Cure”. While bathing at Karlovy Vary is just as restorative, the “Drinking Cure” offers its own benefits. The impressive quality of the mineral water here has remained consistent for centuries, and can help treat metabolic disorders and gastrointestinal diseases. Karlovy Vary healing water has attracted stressed out and famous visitors, including Mozart and Freud. One of the other unique ways Karlovy Vary stands out is the spa drinking cup. The “Drinking Cure” requires you to use a special cup (lázeňský pohárek), traditionally made from porcelain or glass. The Czech Republic is known for their glass and crystal, making these spa cups a great souvenir for your loved ones back home.

Karlovy Vary spa cup for the “Drinking Cure”

There are fifteen springs around the city, and in order to drink from any of them, you are advised to visit a medical professional. While that might sound bothersome, it is for your benefit, and very easy to do. Hotels are more than happy to provide you with an appointment with their resident spa doctor. You can even bring them your medical files. You will be instructed to drink the water in a way that targets your specific health goals. The steps in your instructions include the spring you should be drinking from, how much to drink, and even what time of the day you should drink. Yes, the springs are public and anyone can drink from them, however they differ in temperature and dissolved carbon dioxide content. Colder springs tend to have a slight detoxifying effect, while warmer waters slow down the formation of bile and gastric stomach juices.

Karlovy Vary, also named Karlsbad in German, has a long history of spa tourism

Thermal water, formed below earth’s surface, saturates the body with beneficial nutrients that indirectly affect the state of bone and cartilage tissue in the body. This means that in order to take proper advantage of the “Drinking Cure”, you have to seek the knowledge of those who studied the benefits and can help you do it safely and effectively. If you do come for a short stopover, taste the water without overindulging. A travel experience like this is surely to stick with you for years to come.

Karlsbad Taking The Waters. Drawing by Mary Evans, via Picture Library

Karlovy Vary Drinking Cure Commandments

For a proper treatment consult a spa physician first. Allow the hotel to make the appointment.

For hygienic reasons do not touch the faucet or pipe.

Use a special porcelain or glass cup.

Do not spill the water unnecessarily.

Water should be consumed within ten minutes and right at the site.

Combine your Drinking Cure with light exercise, like walking.

Do not drink alcohol or smoke while taking part in the Drinking Cure.

Cedar tub, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan – Hayakawa, Japan

Take the plunge like samurais and emperors. Our second stop is Hayakawa, Japan. Hayakawa is home to the oldest hotel in the world. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is nestled amidst numerous hot springs, and is famous for hosting guests since 705 AD. While the thought seems inconceivable, the inn has stayed in the same family for 52 generations. That is quite the accomplishment. Traveling here will help you see a different, and likely more authentic, side of the Japanese culture. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan currently holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest hotel, and is aiming for another – world’s most productive hot spring. This is all thanks to their new bath that pumps over a thousand liters of naturally heated water per minute. Since the country is rich in hot springs due to its volcanically active geology, they have a long and refined bathing culture. While in Japan, familiarize yourself with their spa etiquette. First, you should know “onsen” is a Japanese hot spring or bath. The Japanese enjoy being one with nature, making Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan the ideal place for you to experience an onsen like it was truly meant to be.

Japanese Onsen by artist Torii Kyonaga

Over the last 1300 years Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan has seen all types of visitors, including dignitaries and samurais. The inn is revered for its history alone. Being secluded, with the closest attractions to the inn being two to three hours away (including Mt. Fuji, Jigokudani Monkey Park and Zenko-ji Temple), this fascinating place is truly a place of respite. Come here if you seek to escape the hustle and bustle of city tourism.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan

True to its Japanese aesthetic, the inn’s minimalist interiors allows you to focus on what is important – mind and body relaxation. There are six pools, four open-air baths (one cedar), and two indoor baths. What the area lacks in tourist attractions, it makes up for in abundance of hot springs. The water is fed to the inn directly from its source, and although the onsen produces 52℃ water at its source, the average temperature of the baths is a comfortable 43℃. Throughout the years the hotel has seen some updates and renovations, but overall this Japanese Onsen is as authentic as you can get. Come here to unplug (you might not get wifi) with remote mountain views and soak those achy muscles like many in history before you. It is an unforgettable experience.

Wild Snow Monkeys enjoying a private onsen, via Jigokudani Monkey Park

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan Commandments

Choose to visit this countryside onsen for its serene surroundings and traditional Japanese bathing.

Be respectful of the property and study up on how to navigate the Japanese bathing culture.

Japanese baths are mostly nude. If you are feeling shy, take advantage of booking a time for a private bath experience or book a room with a private open air bath.

Bathing at night is wonderful here. The Japanese believe in unwinding with a bath at night rather than the morning.

Shower or wash before you get in the onsen. The wood benches are meant to be used for washing. The onsen itself is for relaxation only.

You can use a towel for modesty when out of the onsen, or wrap it around your head while in the onsen.

Make sure to stay hydrated, get out if you feel dizzy, and rest for an hour afterwards.

Take a walk around the property. Guests are invited to drink directly from the mineral springs.

Saratoga Springs, Deep Dark Fountain. Postcard from the 1920s via Ephemera Obscura

Saratoga Springs, New York

While the typical American family might not dedicate their vacation time to visiting the spa, this was not always the case. You might be surprised to know that in the late 19th and early 20th century Saratoga Springs (among others, like the Mystic Hot Springs in Utah, Ojo Caliente Hot Springs in New Mexico and Warm Springs Pools in Virgina ) was one of the most popular wellness destinations. In the early 20th century swimming in healing waters was a way to help treat polio. Over time, the centuries-old act of bathing and soaking in healing waters became less popular. We can only speculate why, but the reasons might be that old civilizations themselves have had to leave spas or bath houses behind due to wars and changing perspectives. Spas went from providing medical treatments, to becoming a place of relaxation, to simply being considered too frivolous and expensive. Today we see a drastic shift towards wellness travel once again, with special emphasis on natural treatments and water therapy.

Congress Spring inside Congress Park, Saratoga Springs, NY

Saratoga Springs, also known as “the Queen of the Spas”, is known for its mineral baths and horse racing. I visited this friendly spa and recreation city with the goals of following a map of their mineral springs. It is not unusual to see locals and visitors with jugs, aiming to go home with the city’s naturally carbonated and medicinal water. I recommend you bring a cup or jug of your own. There are 21 public springs scattered throughout the city, each with its own distinct mineral content. To save time, visit the city website and find out their exact location. It would be hard to mention all the springs, but if you find yourself downtown, and in need of a relaxing stroll, taste the springs at Congress Park. One of the more fascinating and unique springs is the Deer Park Spring (formerly named Fresh Water Spring). This historical spring was repaired and beautified in 2018, making it one of the more prominent jewels of the park. The park, its area and this spring have a long history, one that includes Iroquois native-americans, a wild buck, and eventually the design of the victorian-era style fountain you see today. It was during the park upgrade in 1876 that the present cast-iron fountain was installed. This spring, originally a source of freshwater was appreciated by those who had no taste for mineral water. Unfortunately, with the city unable to keep up with the quality of the fresh water spring, the city re-tubed the spring in order to carry mineral water instead.

Deer Park Spring in Saratoga Springs Congress Park

It is said that Saratoga Spring’s healing waters can help with skin conditions, digestion, arthritis, even cancer. Modern balneotherapy is mostly used to help with achy muscles, but there are a lot of people who claim the waters here help with so much more than that. Native Americans respected, cherished and bathed in the healing waters of Saratoga Spring. They referred to the High Rock Spring as “Medicine Spring of the Great Spirit.” Thankfully the magical waters continue to flow today. Take a tasting tour and experience one of Saratoga Springs’ famous resorts, such as the Roosevelt Springs Spa Resort. Established in 1935, the Roosevelt Baths & Spa resort opened thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt’s act to preserve the healing waters of Saratoga Springs.

Outside of Széchenyi Bath, Photography by Patrick Burke

Budapest, Hungary

What Central Europe lacks in beaches, it makes up for in healing waters. Our fourth stop is Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is known for its impressive architecture and spa tourism. While there are many baths to choose from, Széchenyi Thermal Bath should be experienced by all spa enthusiasts. The large complex is supplied by two thermal springs, making it one of the largest medicinal baths in Europe. You can easily spend hours here. Built between 1909 and 1913 in Neo-Baroque and Neo-Renaissance styles by Gyozo Czigler, and expanded in 1927, Széchenyi Bath has a distinctive look that can be recognized all over the world. Before it was built into the architectural marvel that stands today, the old “Szechenyi Bath” was called the Artesian Bath. It was a popular stone-walled bath built with marble. Soaking and swimming here will mean getting to experience history. The orginal hot spring water supply came from the artesian well, drilled by a Hungarian engineer Vilmos Zsigmondy, who specialized in geothermal well drilling. Make sure to notice a bust of the engineer at the entrance. Wars, and even economic crisis, could not stopped this public spa from providing relaxation to anyone who needed it.

Vintage photo of spa goers playing chess at Szechenyi Baths

Szechenyi Baths water comes from a naturally hot water spring, containing various healing components: minerals, sulphite, sodium, calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, fluoride and metaboric acid. Even in the winter, getting to experience an outdoor bath here means having a pleasant experience. The bubbling thermal water offsets the chill in the air, allowing for your mind and body to simply relax. Many come here for help with arthritis and digestive issues. The typical temperature at Széchenyi Thermal Bath is between is 74 °C and 77 °C. Depending on the time of day, you might find it to be a calming and quiet experience, or a place to come party with your fellow spa lovers.

Inside of Szechenyi Baths

As is the case with many Central and Eastern European cultures, you can find locals playing chess with the chess while floating in the water. Try not to invite yourself to play, they prefer to do the inviting. Before you go, familiarize yourself with the rules of the place. Come here if you enjoy gothic and baroque revival architecture, experiencing different cultures, and soaking in healing waters. If you prefer swimming for exercise, come early as it is less crowded and bring a swimming cap.

Other historical baths worth visiting are: Gellért Thermal Baths (attached to a hotel) and Rudas Baths (a Turkish bath experience).

Budapest Spa Commandments

Always do your research before traveling to a new country. Check for spa etiquette, rules, and when in doubt, ask questions beforehand.

Some large spas do not offer robes, towels and slippers. You have to bring your own or buy them from the spa.

Shower before soaking in the baths.

Take advantage of hot and cold therapy – alternating between hot and cold water with breaks in between.

Some pools require a swimming cap, so make sure to pack one just in case.

Always check for signs before entering a new room or area of the spa.

Some spas and cultures require you to go nude when entering certain areas. This means you do not wear your bathing suit in some parts of the spa, like the sauna. It is mainly for hygienic and comfort purposes.

If the sauna is nude, bring a towel to sit on.

It you are taking up a large area by laying down and there is no space, it is polite to move over for any newcomers entering the sauna.

Do not initiate loud conversations in tight spaces, unless other guests become willing participants.

Geothermal water at Hveravellir Nature Reserve, Iceland

Iceland’s Hot Springs

Blue Lagoon might be on everyone’s travel itinerary, but spa aficionados can tell you that hiking in Iceland can lead you to some of the most natural and beautiful bathing destinations. Due to volcanic activity Iceland is rich in hot springs. The people of Iceland are very serious about preserving nature, and hot springs are their pride and joy. Experiencing the bathing culture in Iceland is about so much more than rejuvenation. The magnificent Icelandic landscape, theatrical skies and nordic culture allow you to relax and stay in the moment. The people of Iceland value wellness, hygiene and cleanliness, even in the most remote parts of the country. Hiking you might stumble upon old farmhouses with pools right at the property. While private, some are open to the public. From early settlers, vikings, to children on the farm, hot springs were enjoyed by all. Living in a cold climate these springs became a respite. Bathing culture is an important part of the Icelandic heritage. Today the people of Iceland combine the past and present with spas and modern facilities, but seeing historic hot springs formed by Mother Nature will make your trip extra special.

Once early Nordic settlers found the hot springs, and realized their healing power, bathing in them became a routine social activity. Geothermal water is naturally heated beneath the earth’s surface, then rises naturally, bringing with it a high mineral content. Additionally the springs in Iceland contain calcium, potassium and sodium. Potassium and magnesium in hot springs help promote skin health, while calcium and sodium help regulate the lymphatic system. The rich-mineral content content and warmth help increase circulation and oxygen flow, while reducing muscle pain and inflammation. Soaking in one of the hot springs can even help with eczema and acne. Needless to say, in Iceland nature truly has the power to heal.

Here are a few natural hot springs worthy of your bucket list: Hrunalaug hot spring, Lake Mývatn Nature Bath, Gamla Laugin, Hveravellir Nature Reserve, and Sky Lagoon

Photography courtesy of Sky Lagoon

Iceland Hot Springs Spa Commandments

Before taking a dip, make sure the body of water is meant for swimming. Often time you will see a sign or have a guide to help keep you safe.

Shower nude before you bathe in any hot spring. It is considered rude not to do so.

While the Icelandic people come to the hot springs for wellbeing, they also come to connect and chat. This does not mean throwing a party. Voices are kept a minimum volume. Do enjoy yourself, but keep your noise level down.

Cool off afterwards in Icelands cold air, or with a cold plunge. Some remote places will have showers.

When visiting any spa or hot spring, respect the environment and do not pollute. This is especially important in remote areas. The cleanliness and preservation of these springs is vital to the environment and the people of Iceland.

Rest for about an hour afterwards, and hydrate.

Peru Hot Springs

Many visit Peru seeking spirituality, history and hiking adventures. The country is extremely diverse in its landscapes, with some of the most recognizable being the Andes Mountains, the Amazon Rainforest and the majestic Rainbow Mountain. Keep in mind that depending on the area, hiking in Peru can be a strenuous activity, plus you might need time to acclimatize before an excursion. When in Peru, you will likely stumble upon a hot spring. Speaking from personal experience, there is nothing better than taking a break from hiking with a healing soak. Bathing in Peru’s hot springs is a no-frills experience. You will find that many of the springs are community baths, located in natural and scenic environments, and containing healing mud. One of Peru’s most important civilizations, the Inca, were said to use ceremonial baths in their spiritual practice. Traditional healing practices, whether using water, shamanism, or plants, continue to be a big part of the Peruvian culture.

Image courtesy of Colca Lodge & Hot Springs

Peru’s hot springs offer many benefits. Bathing here can be a spiritual experience, help improve metabolism and digestion, lower blood pressure and improve circulation. If you wish to take part in Peru’s bathing culture, plan your travels and hikes carefully. Here are the springs travelers frequent the most: Baños de Aguas Caliente (near Machu Picchu), Lares Hot Springs (located high in the Andes Mountains), Baños Termales de Chacapi (overlooks the Colca River), and for a more upscale travel experience, stay at the Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs.

Pamukkale (Cotton Palace) springs. Photography via Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Pamukkale, Turkey

For a real history lesson in the ancient Roman spa experience, visit Pamukkale. While this is not exactly a spa destination, history buffs will be pleased. The Instagram-famous images of Pamukkale show blue cascading thermal pools, however they are not for swimming, as they need to be preserved. With that said there are surrounding areas where you can dip your feet in or take a soak in the water. Do not let this disappoint you. This magical landscape is so much more than what you see on social media. Due to its historical remains and unique views, this destination is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The surrounding area remains include Greco-Roman period baths, temple ruins, a monumental arch, a nymphaeum, a necropolis and a theatre. Pamukkale is a small town, but it can be accessible by car, train or a tour bus. From there, all the sites are walkable. While tour buses come here just for the thermal pools, for an authentic travel experience I recommend you get to know the area’s rich history and visit with the locals. Make sure to stop by the nearby spa town of Hierapolis. Cleopatra bathed here.

Dipping yourself in the water here can help with cardiovascular diseases, rheumatism and skin conditions. The striking snow-like landscape, and more specifically the white lime-stone travertine terraces featuring thermal pools, make for out-of-this-world photography. Unfortunately that means this destination gets very crowded. For a tranquil time at the springs, plan your trip around the crowds. For a truly relaxing experience, travel off-season or go early in the morning, but remember it can get cold during certain months of the year. Take a walk around the historical sites, the pools (UNESCO requires visitors to take their shoes off in certain areas), and take a dip in the Cleopatra pool. A day trip or two days is all you need.

A typical hamam © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Besides Pamukkale, turkey has other hot springs and spas you might like to try: Oylat Thermal Spring, Cesme Thermal Spring and Gazligol Thermal Spring

Beauty Memo: Best Summer Skin And Hair Products We Can’t Get Enough Of

This summer we tested products that can help you withstand hot temperatures and bad hair days. When looking at summer beauty, we take into account the packaging (has to be travel-friendly), ingredients, and most importantly, effectiveness. With the right tools in hand, sun-kissed skin and gorgeous locks are just quick beauty ritual away.

Supergoop! (Re)setting 100% Mineral Powder SPF 35

The best purchase of the season is most definitely the Supergoop! Mineral Setting powder. This summer superhero product helps keep away unwanted sweat, helping you create a flawless matte look. The packaging is light, product lasts a long time, and it can easily be re-applied throughout the day. SPF is the key to healthy skin all year long. The powder adds an extra layer of protection, making this product a staple in our makeup routine. We were lucky to get to know Supergoop! when they launched in 2007. It was the first time we saw a sunscreen brand that was cruelty-free, made with clean ingredients, and looked stylish at the same time. Years later, Supergoop! just keeps getting better.

VERSED Doctor’s Visit Instant Resurfacing Mask

Summer exfoliation can be tricky. While many dermatologists recommend you continue to exfoliate, they often throw in the words, “but less”. If you exfoliate two or three times a week in the winter, we recommend giving it a break in the summer, and depending on your skin, limit it to once or twice a week. As is the case with all VERSED products, this Resurfacing Mask is gentle but very effective. They call it the pot of gold because not only does it help dissolve dull skin, promoting cell turnover, it helps fade dark spots and calm redness. All of this just under three minutes. Think of it as a gentle in-office peel or facial. There is no downtime, just smooth glowing skin. We love a mask that rescues us between facial appointments.

OLIKA Ultra-Hydrating Hand Sanitizer, Orange Blossom

A hand sanitizer does not get any cuter than this. The Birdie has been with me since before the pandemic and I was grateful to try it again when the brand approached me with new scents. Don’t let the shape deceive you, this product lasts a long time, is easy to carry around, and the scents are divine. The formula has been reformulated with hyaluronic acid, aloe + glycerin to provide 24-hour hydration, while being effective against 99.9% of germs, using a 65% ethyl alcohol-based formula. With brands like OLIKA there is no need for sticky and goopy hand sanitizers.

Pai The Impossible Glow Drops

With dangerous heat effecting many parts of the world sitting outside is not always a pleasant experiencing. If you are like us, and stopped tanning years ago, try getting a bit of color and radiance from Pai’s Hyaluronic Acid & Sea Kelp Glow Drops. Pai’s does everything really well, and these glow drops are no different. This product is made with a certified organic formula, works on all skin types and adds just boost of color with luminosity. While it is great for every day, we love to use it before special events for extra radiant skin.

CROW AFFAIR The Comb No. 001

Tangled summer hair is no match for Crown Affair. The modern hair care brand has established itself as one of the chicest on the market. The combs are a combination of present-time materials and romance of vintage aesthetic. The Comb No. 001 is small enough to carry with you on-the-go and handmade in Switzerland from 100% plant-based cellulose acetate. The look and efficiency makes Crown Affair heirloom-worthy.

Summer Worship: Slow Beauty Rituals To Help You Relish The Golden Days of Summer

Be mindful to stop and face the sun.
Take a lover that you can dance with arm in arm.
Run to feel the rain on your skin,
let it dissolve like a blissful sin.
Float on the salty sea of calm,
shed winter’s dead skin,
then heal it with nature’s balm.

Summer ceremonies wake up the spirit, and allow it to run free until the sleepiness of autumn. This is your time to bathe in the sea, under the sun, and in the wilderness of the forest – then come home to a soothing self-care ritual. Play with your six senses by incorporating scent therapy, hydrotherapy, dry brushing, and massage into your every day routine. With the right tools in hand, smooth summer skin, and a relaxed mind, is never out of reach.

3rd Ritual SUN Body Gel

SUN is an ironic name for this product, because it makes us feel cool in all the best ways. We made it an essential part of our apothecary tool kit, bringing it with us on road and plane trips. The tingling sensation and invigorating scent makes it a welcomed summer skin partner. Dreamed up by an aromatherapist and meditation teacher, Jenn Tardif, 3rd Ritual products are intentional in all the best ways. SUN is a luxurious gel that uses plant-based ingredients, like aloe vera and mango seed butter, in combination with eucalyptus, mint leaf, and ginger. If you enjoy a tingling sensation, revitalizing scents, get motion sickness, have allergies, or sore muscles, this body gel is for you.

How To Use

Trust us when we tell you that taking deep inhales of this one-of-kind scent is a sensational experience. It is scent therapy in a tube. To revive the senses, fix mid-afternoon fatigue, or soothe your sinuses, apply to your hands, cup them over your nose, and take deep breaths. To comfort sore muscles, sun-kisses skin, or motion sickness, apply to the area that needs it the most. The cool-to-warm sensation increases blood flow, keep you alert and ready for your next summer activity. Keep it close by and apply to an area that needs attention.

Pursoma Tubmarine Seaweed Bath

Bath aficionados only! The dog days of summer require that you stay in, and sweat it out in a bath instead. Our goal is to make everyone into a bath convert, and there is no better way to do that than with the right tools in hand. Pursoma is a well-known at-home spa brand, with a wellness philosophy that aligns closely with our own. When seeking a wellness product, pay attention to how the brand sources their ingredients, treats their employees, and make sure your beliefs match up with theirs. What you bring into your self-care ceremony matters.

How To Use

This is no mere bath experience. The Submarine Deep-Dive Detox Treatment is both invigorating and calming. It strikes the perfect balance with ingredients like eucalyptus, ginger and peppermint, plus minerals and antioxidants like French green clay and organic seaweeds.

Before you run this hot bath, make sure to keep a cool glass of water near by, unplug from technology, and have a comfortable space for an after-bath sweat session and relaxation. Hot water will help soften the pores, and as you sweat it out, breathe in the lively aromas allowing your mind to wander. Continue the detox afterwards by sitting comfortably or laying down under a blanket. Ignore all screens. We often think of our self-care rituals as resets back to our factory setting. The more we practice, the more desirable the outcome. Perspiration and rest are the key here.

Gilded Body Black Flower Marble Body Brush

Gilded Body focuses on bringing us luxury skincare essentials for the whole body. Tapping into ancient restorative practices Gilded Body has managed to create the ultimate dry brushing experience. The brushing of skin can be traced back to many civilizations, but the true art of dry brushing and massage likely came from India. This ritual allows you to tap into the power of touch. Besides dry brushing being good for your skin, it engages the nervous system.

Gilded Body’s marble brushes are made from firm sisal bristles – a sustainable, cruelty-free natural fiber derived from the Agave sisalana plant. The brush is assembled by hand and its quality will allow you to enjoy it for years to come. The brand stands by their quality and purchasing this brush includes an annual complimentary brush refresh to replace any bristles that may have shed during use.

How To Use

The Gilded Body dry brushing experience allows you to relax because it uses an exact grip, easy gliding, and quality you can count on. Dry brushing is best done right before you shower. To use start from your feet and make your way up towards the neck. Use gentle, but energizing, strokes or circular motions in order to increase blood circulation and help promote lymph flow, paying extra attention to particularly dry areas of the skin. Avoid this ritual if you suffer from eczema or psoriasis.

After you shower, follow up with a gentle body gel or body oil to help replenish, and lock in, moisture. Do this as soon as you get out when your skin is still slightly damp. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Applying moisturizer after a bath is absolutely key because it provides an artificial barrier that can help prevent water loss and also keep out agents bacteria, viruses, and irritants that we don’t want to get into the skin.

Omorovicza Firming Body Oil

Bring the Hungarian spa home with Omorovicza. The impressive line from Budapest has plenty to offer for your summer worship, but if your priority is to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and gain smooth skin, try their Firming Body Oil. As we always say, spa skincare is the most effective, and Omorovicza is no different. Body oils are a good way to deeply nourish and hydrate thirsty skin, reduce premature crepiness, and provide a healthy looking glow.

How To Use

Dry brushing is one of the best ways to get your skin in its best summer shape. See above. Omorovicza’s award-winning Firming Body Oil makes a lovely partner to your dry brushing. This oil is a treat to use because it smells like the spa. In order to get the most out of the product, massage it into desired areas, using circular motions, and as soon as you get out of the shower. Honor yourself for a few minutes with a self-massage or have your partner massage the oil in for you. Massage improves circulation, improves organ function, prevents injuries and helps quality of sleep.

I Have a Major Depressive Disorder, Here Is My Guide To Treatments You Should Ask About

Clinical depression is an illness that is so good at targeting its victim that many times it convinces everyone around you that you are happy and healthy. This makes it an invisible illness, making healing a lonely and frustrating process. My personal story is not an uncommon one. My family and I immigrated to United States from a communist country, and started a new life. This meant obstacles and some hardships, putting mental health at the bottom of the priority list. Depression was not a word we used to describe the way we felt, and therapy was not an option as it would be too expensive and shameful. Besides, therapy and depression were a made up problem or a luxury, not a real life problem. The problem with that is that my depression was very real, and because it was never addressed during my childhood, the healing fell on my adult shoulders. As an adult, it was up to me to figure out what I was feeling and eventually realizing, and admitting to myself, that I needed help from medical professionals. I am not alone. Many go about their lives living with depression, without getting the help they need. We have an epidemic on our hands, and it is not the one you think. Since 2019 nearly 50 million, or 19.86% of American adults, experienced a mental illness. Out of those adults, 24.7% report an unmet need for treatment. This number has not declined since 2011. Youth is especially vulnerable and would benefit from proper treatment, but according to the Mental Health America report, over 60% of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment. There are number of factors as to why that is. Whether it is an insurance problem, homelessness, stigma or lack of education and resources, the fact remains that self-advocacy is a must. The burden falls on the individual, because society and community still looks at mental health as a secondary need. The problem with advocating for ourselves, while dealing with a mental illness, also means that it often gets neglected. It can be hard to take care of ourselves and get daily tasks done, making a bigger picture of healing a daunting task. This can be true even for those who are highly functioning. Even as an adult who is in therapy I feel I often have to dig up my own research and ask a lot of questions before I find out about treatments available to me. We know the conversation around mental health needs to change, but whose responsibility is it to change it? Collectively we can all start to make a difference. Let’s talk about mental health and let’s talk about it openly and often.

Knowledge is power! A good place to start is knowing what questions to ask, and what treatments might be available to you.

Questions that you should ask your doctor

What is my diagnosis?

What are the medical terms for what is happening to me?

Have them show you an image of the brain and explain your illness. This is especially important if you are going to take medication.

What is the most successful treatment available?

What is the average length of treatment for this type of illness?

Types Of Treatments to Ask Your Doctor About

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is my personal favorite treatment because it incorporates the mind and the body. The right professional can assess whether you are ready for this type of treatment. The treatment involves a few steps, including following a ball with your eyes. This treatment is excellent for anyone looking to heal from trauma. While it can be very triggering, it is also one of the most effective ways to get to the core of your traumatic memories and start healing. It should be done in-person and with guidance of a professional who can teach you how to process your memories and go to a calm place afterwards. EMDR therapy proves that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma as much as the body can recover from physical trauma.

CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychological treatment that involves verbal and written exercises. This type of therapy is meant to help you with your thinking pattern. It often times puts emphasis on turning the patient into the therapist so they can help themselves. This therapy is widely used and can be beneficial to anyone who suffers with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, substance abuse, and more. In clinical settings it is often done in a group setting, or you are given a take-home booklet and can start learning on your own.

DBT or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is more involved than CBT. Besides helping you change your thinking and behavior, DBT helps you accept and love yourself. This makes it a good option for anyone looking for help with depression, self-harm, borderline personality disorder, and more. There is evidence that DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders, suicidal ideation, and for help you change behavioral patterns.

Systematic Desensitization Therapy can be extremely beneficial for anyone who suffers with an anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD or a phobia. Your therapist will teach you how to relax your body through relaxation and breathing exercises. Then you work through your fears through visualization and exposure. This therapy aims to remove the fear response of a phobia, and substitute it with a relaxation response.

Always consult with a board-certified doctor, or a professional that is licensed.

How The Well: Free Ways To Practice Self-Care Without Having To Buy One Product

Wellness and spas might seem like a luxury, but in fact, they are a necessity.

Spas and wellness have become part of a billion dollar industry, and while that means more people we are willing to pay for self-care and healing, it also means that those who cannot afford it get left behind. With new and innovative brands and treatments on the horizon the next frontier of wellness might become even more expensive and inaccessible. Wellness and spas might seem like a luxury, but in fact, they are a necessity. This is especially true when you, or someone you love, suffers with an “invisible illness”, and could use extra self-care. An invisible illness is a label that explains what it feels like living with a chronic illness that often does not exhibit obvious physical symptoms to those around us. Major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, PTSD, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and Crohn’s disease are just a few examples of illnesses that are painful but not always visible. Invisible diseases are not invisible to those who lives with them – to them the effects of the illness are very real, debilitating and often times chronic.

Social media would have you believe that you need to buy a ton of products in order to practice self-care. We scroll, compare ourselves, shop unnecessary skincare, and worry that we are not doing enough for our wellbeing. The good news is, you are being sold products and a wellness lifestyle you might not need.

Vintage spa ad from Budapest

Presenting four ways you can practice self-care in ways that are beneficial and free.

Water Therapy. Ancient texts tell us that humans worshipped, and understood, the healing power of plants and water. In the past, medical community often prescribed trips to the country or to thermal spas in order to heal all types of ailments. German priest, Sebastian Kneipp, is a great example of someone who advocated naturopathic medicine. After healing from tuberculosis with the help of cold baths in the Danube river, he proceeded to help cholera patients. People travelled to seek his treatment and he gladly provided it for free. During the course of his research on the powers of hydrotherapy, Father Kneipp supplemented his forms of therapy with additional healing methods: plants, exercise, nutrition and balance. To this day, these are the Five Pillars of the Kneipp brand. The “Water Cure”, in addition to Kneipp’s other healing methods, is meant to strengthen the entire system and promote circulation.

Image courtesy of Kneipp.com

How To: Try the Contrast Shower

A contrast shower is exactly what it sounds like. Alternating between very warm and very cold water. Try it 2 or 3 times at the end of your shower routine, always ending your shower with cold water. Cold showers are a good way to wake yourself up and gain more energy. The benefits of contrast showers are similar to those you might get from a hot and cold plunge at the spa – improved circulation, help with muscle aches, energy boost, healthier skin and hair, but most importantly depression alleviation (cold shower boosts a flow of blood into your brain, causing a quick release of endorphins). The results are euphoric. If you have a heart condition, make sure to check with your doctor first.

As a hydrotherapist, writer, and inventor of the American Costume (a less restrictive dress for women), Harriet N. Austin was a woman ahead of her time. This is her manual on how to take baths.

At-Home Baths

Sebastian Kneipp is not the only example of someone who helped prescribe the “water cure”. The father of medicine himself, Hippocrates, prescribed and documented hydrotherapy as a powerful treatment. Whether you enjoy meditating to the sound of waves, swimming in the lake, drinking water, or playing a water sport, you are taking part in healing and nurturing yourself with the powerful force that is water. Baths are known to have many benefits, and one of them is better sleep. If you have trouble sleeping a warm bath one or two hours before bedtime will likely result in better and deeper sleep. Studies have shown that when we soak in a warm bath the increased blood circulation helps rid us of warmth through our hands and feet, therefore lowering the core body temperature. Since our body temperature lowers around bedtime, giving the process a nudge will help you fall asleep faster. This proves that baths are not just for hygiene or relaxation, but can be therapeutic.

Photography by Melissa Askew

Grounding or Earthing. I know what you are thinking – grounding sounds like a wellness buzzword, but this is no trend. Humans knowingly, or unknowingly, do this since birth. We enjoy putting our bare feet in grass or sand, feeling the earth. It is as simple as taking your shoes off and making direct skin contact with the surface of the earth. Your local park, forest, or backyard is available and free. Earth supplies endless electrons to heal and recharge you. Studies have shown that doing this helps with inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. One could say that grounding is a free gift from Mother Earth. Try it for yourself, and get the kids involved.

Tapping and Acupressure. Tapping works like accupresure. This ancient Chinese remedy uses fingers instead of needles, so it is free and available for you to do at home. Tapping is becoming a legitimate form of therapy used by the medical community with studies being done on the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for anyone who suffers with depression and anxiety. This self-help therapy can be taught to you by your doctor or you can try it out on your own. Tapping stimulates the flow of dopamine and can help with anxiety, stress, PTSD, pain, and depression. Learning about acupressure points can also help you with muscle and headache pain, stimulate circulation, improves sleep and digestion, and promote lymphatic drainage.

Getty Images. The karate chop point is first in your 9 point sequence.

How To: Using The Tapping Technique

Tapping can help you relax because it sends calming signals to the brain, but it can also help you with a specific goal. No matter what you seek (ex: more self-love, anxiety-relief or anger management), come up with a positive affirmative statement to repeat to yourself while you go through your tapping routine. The typical statement begins with: “Even though I have this anxiety, I love and accept myself.” You can fill in your own “even though I have.”

Instructions: Choose a side. The side of your body does not matter. Tap with two fingers, your point and middle finger will do. Then learn the main points where you will start tapping.

Hand. More specifically the karate chop point of your hand, where the fleshy part is.

Brow. More specifically where the beginning of your eyebrow begins.

Cheekbone. Slide down the eyebrow, more specifically to the side of your face where the eyebrows ends and your cheekbone begins.

Underneath the eye. More specifically, in the middle of

Underneath the nose.

Chin. More specifically on the crease between your lip and your chin.

Both sides of your collarbone. You can take your whole hand and with extended fingers tap both at the same time. One other way of doing this is by crossing your arms and tapping with your fingers on the collar bone.

Underneath your armpit.

Top of head.

DIY Skin Care: Store bought skin care is convenient, but expensive, and full of ingredients you can’t pronounce. From Ayurvedic skincare to Slavic herbal treatments, many women all over the world rely on ingredients picked directly from nature. You might have all the skincare ingredients you need right in your refrigerator or garden and not even know it. If you find yourself low on cash and in a bind, get innovative. You would be surprised to know how many celebrities rely on their homemade recipes to get that glowing and camera-ready complexion.

Stephanie Gerber’s Hello Glow recipe book is one of our favorite DIY recipe books out there. The Hello Glow website provides free recipes.

Our tried-and-true at-home recipes

Anti-inflammatory And Brightening Face Mask: Mix 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt with one teaspoon of turmeric and one spoon of honey. For an even more effective mask, add in a few drops of lemon (be careful with adding too much lemon as it can be acidic).

Nettle Hair Extract For Shiny Hair:

  • Pick fresh nettle in your garden. Nettle is a weed so it is widely available. If you are in a bind, purchase it from an herbal shop. Be aware: Do not handle nettle with bare hands! The plant is harmless but stings. My grandmother picked it with her bare hands as she swore it helped with arthritis.
  • Depending on how much extract you will need, either use a medium pot or a large pot of water, and bring to boil.
  • Remove the pot from the burner and throw in nettle leaves or whole plants.
  • Allow the plans to steep for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain with a colander and you will be left with just the liquid. What you are left with is a natural hair extract to be used after your shampoo. To cool it, put it in the refrigerator.
  • Simply rinse your hair after washing. There is no need to keep it on your hair for longer than a new minutes. Rinse out and follow with conditioner.

Wellness & The City: 10 Wellness Temples for Spa Worshiping New Yorkers

Living in one of the busiest cities in the world means we love escaping to the spa whenever we get the chance. At the start of the pandemic we naturally worried about the industry and its employees. We missed our community! This year, the International Spa Association re-launched its conference in Vegas, and the industry reunited. The International Spa Association has been the voice of American spas since 1999, and is known all over the world. Their latest statistics on the industry’s recovery prove that people value wellness more than ever. A Power Session at the 2022 ISPA Conference revealed the Big Five Statistics with the help of a study commissioned by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The US Spa Industry revenues grew from $12.1 billion in 2020 to $18.1 billion, an increase of more than 49 percent and just below the industry’s all-time high of $19.1 billion in 2019. The number of spa visits grew from 124 million in 2020 to 173 million, while the total number of U.S. spas fell only slightly from 21,560 in 2020 to 21,510 in 2021. A notable increase in revenue per spa visit—up from $97.5 in 2020 to $104.5 last year—played a crucial role in elevating industry revenues. The number of industry employees also rose in 2021, increasing to 345,000 from 304,800 in 2020. The good news is that the industry has seen a return to near pre-pandemic revenue levels, even as staffing challenges persist.

ISPA President, Lynne McNees, said: “We are thrilled to report strong signs of recovery for our industry, including a six billion dollar increase in total revenue. We are confident that this positive trend will continue, and we look forward to seeing how members use this new industry and consumer data to further elevate the industry.”

In honor of these numbers, and the Mental Health Awareness Month, we give you our ultimate list of wellness spaces where New Yorkers come to get away from it all. From the hidden, to the influencer-famous, wellness spaces in New York City provide much-needed sanctuary from noise, pollution, and the never-ending hustle.

The Well

Meet Your Wellness Community. The Well brought New Yorkers a real holistic wellness experience. There is no other place like it. This is a full-service spa, education center, shop, restaurant, and a healing retreat. From vitamin-infusion drips to Biologique Recherche facials, The Well is a place where you can meet other likeminded people or come to for much-needed alone time. The stylish interior and friendly service beckons you to stay a while and focus on your health.

La Maison Valmont at The Carlyle

Luxury on the Upper East Side. The Carlyle is world-famous, but as of late it has also seen a new type of visitor. Gen Z and Millennials have started to flock here for the well-known Bemelman’s Bar. As of this year there is an even better reason to visit – La Maison Valmont. Valmont’s first ever New York City flagship retail shop and spa opened inside The Carlyle, giving us an insider look into all things Valmont. The Swiss luxury brand is known for long history of effective anti-aging skincare and cutting edge spa treatments. Come here to get your skin analysis, shop, book a treatment, and have a cocktail afterwards. When it comes to luxury, The Carlyle truly has it all.

Great Jones Spa

Where New Yorkers Take The Plunge. For a quick hot and cold plunge or hours long relaxation, visit the Great Jones Spa. Native New Yorkers have been coming here for the “water-cure” since the early 2000’s. The affordable day pass and oasis-like environment makes this the ideal spa to meet friends or even a date. Come here for the amenities, like their water lounge, or book a massage. The no-frills spa delivers tried-and-true spa treatments, refreshments, and a shop with all your spa skincare essentials.

Chillhouse

Step Into Your Chill Space. Chillhouse is a modern wellness space for trendy treatments, like an infrared sauna, gel manicures, and creative chill lattes. If you find yourself in need of a special manicure in a comfortable place this is the place to do it. The posh and clean interior helps you take a time-out from the stress of living in the city. Invite a friend or two and share the stress-relief. We love the uplifting energy of this space and the branded products that can help you chill at home.

Bathhouse

For The Modern Wellness Warrior. Manhattan is not the only place stressed out New Yorkers go to relax. Bathhouse is a chic Williamsburg spa offering attractive spa amenities like hot and cold plunge pools and a private bath soak sanctuary. This is the kind of place that makes you want to spend a few hours. Try the Hammam Scrub, it is heavenly? For an all day event, we recommend booking a couples massage, enjoying the amenities and making a reservation for dinner at their restaurant afterwards. Forget the influencer hype and try it out for yourself.

Modrn Sanctuary

Healing Every Part Of You! Whether you need a quick lunch break respite in a pink Himalayan salt room, or see the chiropractor, Modrn Sanctuary has it all! This healing space offers an extensive menu of options to help you on your journey towards a healthier you. Our favorite way to relax here is with the Infrared Salt Sauna, Salt Room, or getting a Lymphatic Drainage treatment. In fact, we recommend doing your research on all their treatments and find one that suits your needs. This place is full of surprises.

ZZ Day Spa

Make It a Self-Care Day. ZZ Day Spa is a hidden sanctuary in Herald Square. From the moment you enter, to the moment you leave, you are treated like royalty. This spa might be small, but it has one of the most comfortable lounges. If you seek experienced aestheticians, come here to get pampered with reputable brands like Repechage. We came in to try the brand’s new Hydra Dew Facial, and walked out feeling absolutely refreshed.

QC NY

Wellness Experience Unlike Anything Else. QC NY is a newly opened Italian spa located on Governors Island. That’s right, we said Governor’s Island. QC Terme Spas and Resorts built a stylish escape just a few minutes from Manhattan. From elegant relaxation lounges to water therapy, this is exactly the kind of day spa New Yorkers deserve. Do yourself a favor, book a trip on the Governor’s Island Ferry and have yourself a mini getaway. Beware, the outdoor pools might not be open yet!

Salt Live Energized

Breathe Easy with Salt Therapy! If you cannot make it to the beach, the next best thing is Salt Live Energized in the West Village. Considering the city pollution and the effects of Covid-19 on our lungs, a salt air therapy center is exactly what New Yorkers need. The natural anti-bacterial salt air widens your airways, loosens clinging mucus, and reduces inflammation. The duo behind this wellness space takes lung health seriously.

Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel

Worthy Of a Staycation! Last, but not least, is Shibui Spa. Entering this luxury hotel spa in the West Village transports you to a Japanese-style wellness oasis. Interior details, like wood and stone, help make this space look traditional. Practitioners here are trained in both ancient and modern treatments – we recommend booking an Onsen Ritual. This is the kind of place where you forget about being in New York City, sit back and breathe in tranquility. Try yoga by the pool or relax with a hot tea in the lounge. Come here with someone special, because it truly feels like a vacation!

Earth Day 2022: Love Your Mother By Cleaning Up Your Act With Brands That Care

The beauty industry is a big contributor to pollution. Every year beauty companies produces 120 billion units of packaging globally, and according to the CEO of Prose, 20 and 40 percent of beauty products (depending on the category) end up being thrown out. Compare the Market Australia gathered the data on the world’s biggest plastic offender. China has the first spot with over 169 million plastic waste produced every day, followed closely by the U.S (109.96m) and the third spot goes to Germany (40.31m). The US Environmental Protection Agency reported that less than 10% of plastic gets recycled and the average person consumes 40 pounds of plastic in their lifetime. Needless to say plastics is a big problem. The solution? As a consumer you can only do so much but you do have buying power. Choose personalized skincare that you know is effective and you use to the last drop. Another great option is shopping at zero waste businesses, and learning to get in the habit of refilling your products. Always read up on brand philosophy and transparency before you buy. Lastly, help put pressure on the government with your VOTE. Accountability matters!

To celebrate Mother Earth, we give you some of our favorite eco brands. These brands are on a mission to improve the industry and were built with the environment in mind.

Bite deodorant refills in paper packaging.

Bite

Bite started out with oral care. Founder, Lindsay McCormick, wanted to correct the plastic problem in commercial toothpastes and decided to make her own. The Bite line of products expanded to body balms and deodorants. We cannot wait to see what they come up with next. Appealing to both men and women, Bite’s deodorant packaging is likely the most attractive on the market right now. We know the outside is 100% plastic-free, but what about the inside? All three scents are baking soda-free, aluminum-free, palm oil and palm oil derivative-free, and contain safe synthetic fragrances. We are in love!

Haoma Earth Mask for a more toned, refreshed complexion.

Haoma

Anti-aging, but make it natural! Haoma combined the ancient wisdom of plants with modern science. Their beauty philosophy focuses on aging gracefully while slowing down the process naturally and with quality ingredients in mind. While searching for the highest quality ingredients the brand considers the environment by ensuring their supplies use organic farming practices. Haoma further loves the planet with their recycling program, and reforestation partner, Trees.org. Trees For The Future has planted 250,000 million trees since 1989, and when you purchase from Haoma, you can be a part of that. We love their aluminum tubes. Try the clarifying Earth Mask for breakouts or when your skin needs a refresher.

Bathing Culture Outer Being Face & Body Oil is offered in two sizes and is refillable.

Bathing Culture

Bathing Culture speaks to our soul! Their philosophy on getting clean could not be more straight forward, yet it speaks volumes with style and environmentally friendly practices. Working and manufacturing in the US, the founders continue to make innovative improvements on packaging. When you fall in love with a product you have the option to get a larger refill, never having to get rid of the original bottle. The Outer Being Face & Body Oil is a great example, and because it is a multitasker you can save on having to buy other products. The oil was designed to give reprieve from the harsh elements of the salty Pacific and windy Sierra peaks, reducing inflammation, locking in moisture and even soothing acne-prone skin.

Attitude shampoo bars are a good way to become a responsible consumer.

Attitude

Keep your routine, but ditch the plastic! Attitude is a Canadian company that truly has all the personal care products you could ever need. Not only are they natural, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, their ingredients are EWG Verified. From bar shampoos to biodegradable baby diapers, this brand teaches their consumer that there is a better way to shop. We love their shampoo and conditioner bars. The hydrating bars leave your hair shiny and soft, proving that quality has no need for a plastic bottle. Solid beauty bars are one of the best ways to get on a path towards being environmentally conscious.

Minimalistic skincare, but make it eco-friendly.

Typology

Demystifying skincare with Typology. Typology figured out a way to be stylish, environmentally friendly, and make skincare products you want to use. For example, their recyclable flat shaped bottles help reduce the carbon footprint by optimizing shipping volume. The amber color of the glass vials also protects the serums from light. With founder Ning Li at the helm, this brand continues to innovate and improve the way they present packaging to the consumer. The French skincare brand offers gentle peels, toners, eye products, and more. For glowing skin we recommend the Plumping Serum and Gentle Peeling Serum. The website helps you figure out the right product for you with a diagnostic test.

The Earthing Co. can help you make good choices for you and your planet.

The Earthing Co.

Ditch the waste! The Earthing Co. is truly plastic-free and teaches its customer that daily routines don’t require waste. The soft Bamboo Cotton Rounds are a great example of a way you can reduce waste, which in turn saves you money. When you are done using them, simply throw them in the washing machine in the provided mesh bag. We love The Earthing starter kit, (which includes a bar of shampoo, conditioner, soap, soap dish, and a soap saver bag), as a way to get started on your sustainable journey. The brand prides itself on its transparency and partnerships with The Plastic Ocean Project, Re:wild and Global Greengrants Fund.

Easter Bathing: Slavic Easter Traditions To Help You Stay Healthy All Year Long

What would you say if I told you Slavic people celebrate Easter with whips and water fights? I know what you are thinking. Whipping? Bathing? Allow me to explain. As is the case with a lot of Catholic holidays, Easter is a mix of christian and pagan traditions. Pagans celebrated the festival of spring, and what a celebration it was! They jumped over fires, danced, hung eggs from tress, and made time for love. The resurrection of Chris was far from their minds.

While Good Friday and Easter Sunday say Easter to most of the world, in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and other countries, the celebration continues on Monday. Monday after Easter Sunday is a national holiday in these countries, and it is purely reserved for eating and socializing. Here is where things get a little weird. It is on this day that women and girls prepare for company that comes over to whip them, and either gently sprinkle water on them, or outright drenches them in buckets of it. If you live near a river, a dunk in the water is not out of the question. The Easter whip is made of willow branches, or other bendy twigs. It is artfully braided into a long whip and girls decorate it with ribbons. It is a symbol for fertility and the one doing the whipping recites a rhyme. Of course some traditions are the same all over: homes and tables are proudly decorated with artisanal eggs, there is plenty of food for hungry visitors, and to satisfy the sweet tooth, there is the Easter lamb cake. While most of the visitors include family, neighbors and school mates, a stranger (or a group of them) might attempt a visit as well. Whether you let them in, or not, is up to you. These customs used be taken very seriously, but be assured, the days of strangers coming to whip you and throw you in the river are gone. In modern day Slovakia, the whipping holiday custom requires consent and knowing your visitors. A normal visit consists of a respectful exchange, or a fun water fight in the back yard. Any aggressive ambushing is not accepted by the new generations of Slovaks. Before the company leaves, you feed them, present them with your best decorated egg, and tie a ribbon on their whip. Shots of vodka are another common way to thank your visitors. By now, you might be thinking: What, and why?

To Pagans Easter is a day that symbolizes re-birth, fertility, and the welcoming of spring with health in mind. Looking at the Slavic traditions, one cannot help but think of these rituals as something nature-worshipping celts and pagans might have done. It is these traditions that make Slovakia and the Czech Republic special.

When I was a child growing up in Slovakia, Easter both excited and terrified me. I loved dressing up and weaving a special flower headpiece, but made sure to wear pants under my skirt. Looking back, I find the custom of whipping interesting, but certainly problematic. My family continues the tradition even in New York, and it is always civil, fun, and even rejuvenating. Many women welcome visitors in the name of beauty, fertility and good health. If you visit Slovakia during Easter and see men chasing women around in their back yards, do not be alarmed. It is very likely that they are having fun, and before you call the custom sexist, be assured that women get to play their part in whipping as well. It all ends up being a fun game of chasing each other with whips and water. Yes, the tradition is strange and has murky history, but most holidays do. The Slavic people grew up celebrating Easter in this manner, and to them it is normal. With that said, good luck explaining it to the rest of the world!

Upstate New York Experience At Kenoza Hall, An Upscale Wellness Retreat In A Class Of Its Own

These Are Not Your Grandmother’s Catskills

Before airplane travel became the norm, New York families sought easily accessible refuge in the Catskill mountains. Then the grandkids stopped going. My own immigrant family settled in the Catskills in the 1960s, acquiring property that would help the slavic community vacation. Even though I live in New York City I consider upstate to be my personal refuge. Today’s upstate continues to reel in a new kind of visitor – younger generations from all over the world come to the mountainous region for relaxation and inspiration. Fortunately, some things remain the same. From blueberry picking and hiking, to nighttime campfires and vintage shopping, some aspects of upstate still remind me of childhood.

Photo courtesy of kenozahall.com

It is safe to say that the Catskills are in their heyday once again. New and restored hotels sprouting all over Upstate New York have plenty to offer to new and loyal visitors alike. Among the many new retreats, Kenoza Hall is in a class of its own. Not only is it awe-inspiring and well-preserved, it has everything you could ask for. The historical Catskill structure was once a boarding house, dating back to the 1800s. The impressive 55 acre property includes 22 guest rooms, a fine dining restaurant, full-service bar, Hemlock spa, walking paths, pool, and private access to a lake. My decision to stay here was driven by Hemlock Spa’s wellness philosophy. I was excited to find out that the spa offers Kneipp-inspired body treatments and hydrotherapy.

The five pillars of the Kneipp philosophy: water, plants, exercise, nutrition and balance, allow you to experience the full effects of nature. Known as the “water doctor”, Sebastian Kneipp was a priest who studied the healing benefits of water and medicinal plants, applying his knowledge to helping cholera patients. It is no wonder that naturopathy and hydrotherapy are at the core of Kenoza Hall. Whichever way you spa, eat, or relax here, you are sure to find bliss and rejuvenation. Upon entering the spa, I had to try the Kneipp Walking Path. Grounding, or Earthing, is among one of the most accessible but neglected ways we can connect with nature. You simply touch your bare feet to the earth, and in this case, different textures. Connecting to the earth’s electric charges is an excellent mood booster. After spending some time in the barrel sauna I enjoyed unwinding in the relaxation space. Listening to bird songs and sipping on warm tea near a roaring fire was the perfect antidote to city stress. Past and recent studies have shown that listening to birds lifts our spirits and allows us to feel safe. Coming here with goals of soothing sore muscles, it was not long before I was tempted by the outdoor hot tub. As soon as I walked out into the cool air and entered the hot water I felt euphoric. It was the highlight of my stay. The overnight storm provided a blanket of fresh snow, providing a magical backdrop.

The blissfulness of the spa is not the only perk at Kenoza Hall. Depending on the season you can either choose to have a tranquil retreat that calls for quiet evenings with a glass of wine and a board game by the fire, or an activity filled stay with lake sports and hiking escapades. In the Catskills there are whimsical details and activities everywhere. Both the indoors and the outdoors have a way of luring you in. Sinking into rich toned chairs by the fire and taking a brisk walk to the lake were equally welcomed.

Foodis will find that the in-house dining and drink menus, along with service are nothing to sneer at. Anyone fond of the Old World Continental Cuisine will find Chef de Cuisine Matt Ranalletta and his team offer delicious classics such as Oysters Rockefeller, Dover Sole a la Meunière, and Gnocchi Parisienne. We opted for a Red Wine Chilean Sea Bass and Gnocchi Parisienne. If you seek dinner and drinks outside of the hotel, we recommend visiting The Junction in Roscoe.

The Victorian style boarding house was lovingly restored by Foster Supply Hospitality’s husband-and-wife team Sims and Kirsten Foster. Foster Supply is behind other Catskill getaways: The DeBruce, The Arnold House and North Branch Inn. The two hour drive from NYC is worth it, but don’t take our word for it. Whether you choose to stay in your room soaking in the tub or explore the outdoors, this wellness retreat is a must-see in person.