A Wellness Retreat by the Beach

January 16, 2017

Checking in with Casa’s NYE Band Soul Station

Valentine’s Day Recipes from Shutters and Casa

Rachel Stacy

We know. January is barely half over and it’s been difficult to keep those resolutions to improve your life that you made late last year. Time is marching on and taking you with it, heedless of your vows to find time to look younger, get fitter, and eat healthier.

What you need is a time-out: a weekend (a long one) during which you can put those resolutions into practice, get inspired (and perspired), and return home with a plan. Which is where the spas at Casa del Mar (Sea Spa) and Shutters on the Beach (ONE Spa) come in.

Don’t think of these spas just as a place to get a couple’s massage, although that should be part of the program. With a bit of advance planning, you can harness all of the spas’ resources—which include the concierge staff of each hotel—to jump-start those New Year’s resolutions.

Let us start with that march of time: Both spas have a menu of treatments designed to slow it down. Remember, Valentine’s Day is coming up and to help look your best over a candlelight dinner by the beach, Shutters and Casa offer a special lineup of spa packages only offered in February at ONE Spa and Sea Wellness Spa.

Rachel Stacy, Director of Spa Operations, specifically cites Casa’s 90-Minute Ultimate Caviar Lifting Facial, which rouses skin cells naturally (caviar-based products) and technologically (Impulse Microcurrent), and the 60-Minute emerginC Signature Radiance Facial (“the ultimate wrinkle-fighter,” she says). At Shutters, there’s the 60-Minute Microcurrent treatment and the 90-Minute Red Carpet 3 in One Facial, “our ultimate anti-aging treatment.” These can be made part of a couple’s package, which also includes morning yoga on the beach, and they are included in the February spa specials.

Part of slowing down time is speeding yourself up, meaning being active. Weight loss or maintenance is only one of the benefits. Exercise dissolves tension, promotes beneficial intracellular chemistry, lowers blood pressure, and allows you a dietary night-off now and then.

To begin with, Shutters and Casa have one of the best gyms in the country on their doorstep: the beach. You can run or bicycle down to Venice or up through Santa Monica. If you are at an advanced level, go all the way down to LAX or up to the Palisades. The hotel concierges can even book a morning of mountain biking on the fire roads above Sunset Blvd.

But what you really want to do is to have the spa book a personal trainer for each day of your stay (sessions are 50 or 80 minutes long). You get in touch with the trainer in advance, give them the details of your workout, and let them fine-tune it, supplement it, or scrap it and give you a new one that will take less time. (Same goes for yoga.)

The gym at Casa (open 24 hours) is compact because it has a suite of TechnoGym machines—the Swiss Army knife of equipment. (You can easily adapt the various exercises to your gym’s equipment.) If you travel often on business and find yourself exercising inconsistently, let the trainer know. You will probably learn three key words: own body weight. Exercises that use your own body as the equipment and that can be done in a hotel room. And if you live near a beach, let the trainer know that, too, because he can make your beach an alternate gym.

Exercising well depends a great deal on flexibility, which is where massage comes into the picture. The spas have simplified the massage menu to four words: “As You Like It.” Tell the therapist the massage that you want (deep tissue, Swedish, therapeutic, pre-natal, hot-stone). According to Stacy, the spa can also arrange a Thai massage, which is not usually offered at boutique luxury hotels. It is done on the floor on a mat—you wear a T-shirt and gym shorts—and it is all about stretching and flexing the body so it performs better.

Finally, the hard part: diet. We are not going to kid you. Neither Shutters nor Casa offers formal spa cuisine, but the menus at both restaurants have a number of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian choices (white asparagus soup, roasted beets, Thai chicken salad, grilled and roasted fish), all clearly denoted. Seafood is, in fact, the focus of the restaurant at Casa del Mar, Catch.

This is the perilous part, as of course there are other indulgent dishes beckoning. But this is a dress rehearsal for what you are going to do back out there in real life: Make healthy choices. In golf, tennis, baseball, and other life pursuits too numerous to name, it is called follow-through. It is time.

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