Tagged mineral baths

olympic spa salt room

Olympic Spa in Koreatown: Where ladies get scrubbed, buffed and puffed

Written by Nadia Ibanez

Warning: This post is not intended for the conservative, demure, modest or perverted.

There are several benefits of being a woman: That whole child birth thing, the ability to get free things with the bat of an eyelash…that’s just the beginning. But one of my favorite things of being of the female gender are women-only day spas. There’s something so exciting about spending a couple hours or the entire day among femininity, beautiful women, plush robes and spa services. This past weekend, I spent the afternoon at the Olympic Spa in Koreatown.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would she go all the way to Koreatown, Los Angeles for a spa day? Not only are beauty services cheaper in these neighborhoods, but it’s the only place you can actually visit an all-natural Korean Day Spa.

These spas aren’t like others and they’re not for the weary. One of the requirements to enter into these spas is public nudity. So if that’s something that skeeves you out, I suggest you take a look at our other beauty and wellness stories.

If you’ve never heard of a Korean Day Spa, here’s the gist. You sign in, are assigned a locker and are required to take a shower before you start any service or enter into any of the public spaces. Most of these spas have a number of cold and hot tubs, relaxation lounges, saunas and steam rooms. You can opt for a Day Pass, giving you all access to the aforementioned locales, or you can splurge on a traditional Korean spa service that will leave you squeaky clean and a bit in awe of the nude experience.

olympic spa salt room
The Himalayan Salt Room at Olympic Spa. Photo courtesy of CBS Local Los Angeles

After spending a few hours baking in the sun at the Taste LA (more about that foodie fest later), I was in desperate need of a place to cool off, unwind and prep for that evening’s event. Let me start the story with this: For $100, I spent four hours getting scrubbed, soaked, buffed and puffed. FOUR HOURS.

I initially had the idea that I’d just go for the Day Pass and relax in the tubs and saunas for a couple hours, but their spa service menu was calling my name. I locked in an appointment and had about two and a half hours to kill before my Milk and Honey Body Smoothie treatment.

After dropping my things off in the locker and putting on my robe, I headed straight to the showers. The idea is that you’re supposed to be pure and clean before entering any of the steam rooms or tubs. It’s actually seen as poor form and bad manners if you don’t rinse off first. And trust me when I say that I desperately needed a rinse down.

If naked women – of every age, ethnicity and shape – make you nervous, this isn’t the place for you. Boobs, butts, vaginas and bushes are everywhere. There’s no getting around it. You’ll see boobs of all sizes, small butts and big butts, 1980’s bushes and well-manicured nether regions. And given that this spa is in fact located in Los Angeles, you’ll likely see some botched boob jobs too.

So if you can’t be naked and accept your body, or be around women who embrace their nudity, turn around and go to another shi-shi spa.

olympic spa jade floor
The Jade relaxation lounge has a heated floor, which invites you to take a nap or relax before your service. Photo courtesy of CBS Local Los Angeles.

Olympic Spa has hot tubs, cold tubs, relaxation lounges with jade floors and three different types of saunas all with their own unique offerings. The idea is to go from one tub or sauna to another, alternating between hot and cold, to soften your skin, promote circulation and detoxify. I had my pick of the following:

Warm Mineral Spa for soaking
Cool Waters Pool used to cool down and tighten pores
Jade Steam Room which also emitted the scents ancient herbs through its vents
Hot Mugwort Tea Pool to help boost immune system, detoxify and regulate sleep and menstrual cycles
Dry Red Clay Sauna, which emitted far infrared rays to increase blood circulation, promote better sleep and aid stiff joints
Oxygen Charcoal Sauna, with walls lined with oxygen stones from Korea and a ceiling lined with bichotan charcoal from Japan, the room promotes natural detoxification
Himalayan Salt Sauna, which housed 84 different minerals to aid sinus allergies, relaxation and muscle soreness

After two and a half hours, my number was called by an older Korean woman who was wearing black granny panties and a black sports bra. This is normal attire for Korean spa therapists because they’re constantly splashing warm water on patrons and scrubbing their bodies from head to toe.

I started my Milk and Honey Body Smoothie treatment by lying on a vinyl massage table and getting doused with warm milk. We’re talking milk straight out of the gallon jug from your local grocer. If you’ve never bathed in warm milk, and I’m guessing you haven’t, it’s pretty exhilarating.

Next, I was scrubbed from head to toe and everywhere in between with silk mitts. We’re talking about the knotch behind your knee, behind your ears, up and down your limbs, your belly button, butt crack and your upper thighs. These ladies don’t hold back and they don’t stop at anything less than a smoother-than-a-baby’s-butt softness. I was scrubbed for a second time after the milk bath with a body shampoo that smelled absolutely heavenly.

If you opt for the Akasuri scrub, your spa therapist will use a special solution that will literally scrub all of your dead skin cells off your body and onto the massage table. The treatment can be a bit unsightly so prepare yourself ahead of time.

After a quick rinse off in the nearby shower, I was doused with a blend of jojoba oil and pure clover honey. Needless to say, I wanted to lick myself out of curiosity. She massaged my limbs before flipping me around and rubbing every inch of my achy body. And when you’re on a vinyl-lined table, the flips become much easier and much more comedic. With peppermint oil, she massaged my scalp and applied a pineapple-scented cream to my face before massaging that too.

cucumber maskHand’s down, my favorite part of the treatment was when she applied freshly grated cucumber to my face. The cold veggies on my warm face were stimulating and invigorating and I could tell my face was happily soaking up the much-needed moisture.

Using towels as props underneath my back, she then proceeded to wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner on the table before toweling me off like how my mom used to when I was a little girl. By the end of the hour and a half service, your body feels like a noodle and all you want to do is take a nap. There’s something so sweet about these ladies. Maybe it’s their gentle tone, or their strong hands…or maybe it’s their silly work “uniforms” that make me want to keep coming back.

If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area and have a few hours to kill, I highly suggest you visit Olympic Spa or any Korean Day Spa around town. Throw your modesty out the window, embrace the beauty around you, and give in to the relaxation. For more information, visit http://www.olympicspala.com.

 

 

Water pools are ideal for reflection

Find tranquility at Yellowstone National Park

Written and photographed by Andrea Verdin

Water pools are ideal for reflection

Let’s consider this time of the year the eye of the storm. It’s not quite Halloween, but the moment All Hallow’s Eve is past, we’ll be attacked with the insanity that is holiday festivities, celebrations and family and friend times. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it can be hard to find your focus, center and feel at peace.

The bison take over the fields every night.

I’ve found that to make it through by reflecting on some of the more beautiful places that I’ve seen this year. One of the top destinations that I wasn’t expecting to love so deeply was Yellowstone National Park.

My family has been camping for years, but those trips did not prepare me for the gorgeousness that comes with being in the heart of the country’s greatest wilderness. Not only do you have the

Yellowstone is brimming with beautiful views.

world-famous Old Faithful spewing while surrounded by hundreds every hour, but you’ve also got smaller geysers and hot springs sprinkled throughout the wide valleys.

There is even a “Grand Canyon” of Yellowstone, which changes colors as the sun sets and the clouds move over the depths of the canyon. I genuinely was not anticipating it, and couldn’t help but gasp when I arrived.

Old Faithful waits for no man!

Bison and bald eagles are common sights, as are moose and elk. You can’t help but feel one with nature here.

It’s oddly quiet here. If you want to get away from it all (with all including your cell phone, your emails, and your TiVo list), then this is where you want to go. It’s several hours from anything civilized, but you can still access a few small towns for a few activities. Jackson Hole, Wyo. has a plethora of white water rafting, canoeing and even standup paddle boarding on the river year-round. That’s right, you can jump on a paddle board in the middle of January snowstorms if you wanted to… but don’t expect to stay upright.

To dry off, grab a meal at a mom and pop restaurant, then head back to your tent for a

Elk come out to the water to play.

chance to laugh at each other’s antics. Or if you would rather, find one of the springs where it leads into the river and warm up there. It’s not uncommon to be driving by the river and see a pack of families splashing in the warm water that has been cooled by the ice-cold water, leveling out the water to being the perfect temperature for bathing.

This is not a trip that you should do over a weekend; you need more than a few days to have the full effect of this beautiful place.  The reminiscing of these trips are the types of experiences that will keep you from going insane when inundated with the wrap-up of the year.

For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs for some serious soulful rejuvenation

 by Nadia Ibanez, Chief Scribbler

Photo courtesy of Glen Ivy Hot Springs
Getting dirty in the best possible way

It’s no joke that people call traveling a hobby. With all of that packing, unpacking, walking the streets of expansive neighborhoods, chatting it up with boutique owners, trying on clothes, and gorging on some stellar food, traveling is definitely a contact sport. Sometimes a woman just needs a day to relax and unwind from a trip, or maybe just make a day with the ladies to celebrate putting our latest magazine issues to bed.

FIRST THING’S FIRST

Andrea and I decided to get a little muddy – and a lot relaxed – at Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona, California. While the area is known for its motocross riders and industrial parks that seem to be scattered all over the place, Corona has its own gem in the form of mineral pools, lush greenery, relaxation pools, delicious grub and so much more in an oasis in the middle of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

We started out the day with a tour and got to see nearly every nook of the hot springs. With more than a half dozen pools, massage villages, outdoor yoga, private cabanas, and so much more, Glen Ivy Hot Springs is perfect for a day of with your girlfriends, your mom, and even your boyfriend.

I suggest you start the day with a soak in the natural mineral baths. While the warm waters may be a little funky in your nose, the springs offer healing agents that are absorbed through your skin. After about 15 or 20 minutes in the 104° waters, walk over to Club Mud where you’re encouraged to slap on some red clay mud that will absorb impurities, help exfoliate dead skin cells, and tighten and revitalize your skin.

Glen Ivy Hot Springs
Set some personal time aside at Glen Ivy

Trust me, you’ll want to let out a little holler because you’ll look like an Amazonian woman straight out of the rain forest. I told Andrea we need to bring feather headdresses the next time we go to Glen Ivy Hot Springs to really complete the look.

Once the mud dries, it’ll become powdery so you can brush most of it off with your towel. Make sure to enter into their quasi-outdoor showers to wash off the rest of the mud with Glen Ivy’s own lavender-scented shower gel. The mud might stain, so make sure you don’t bring your new, favorite white teeny bikini.

TREAT YOURSELF

Do yourself a favor and check out the site’s monthly deals and you could find some great discounts on Glen Ivy’s seasonal treatments. I’d opt for a massage or rejuvenating body treatment. Or do what Andrea did and sign up for an 80-minute Watsu treatment where a massage therapist helps you flow through the water in a private Jacuzzi to wash away your stressful woes.

Make sure you make an appointment beforehand at The Grotto, a seriously rad spa experience that I haven’t seen in my many years of spa scouring. You’ll take an elevator underground to the granite Grotto where a spa attendant will brush on a thick, aloe-vera based concoction that is aimed and moisturizing your tired skin. You’ll sit in a sort of humidor for about 15 minutes where youre skin sucks up all of the goodness from the lime green sludge. Wash it all off before entering a cool mist chamber while sipping on some tea and noshing on a fresh green apple. I’d recommend planning a date with the Grotto toward the end of your spa day as you won’t want to wash off your body to get the full effect.

Do yourself a favor and don’t pass up on a visit to The Grotto

If you ever find yourself traveling through San Diego, Orange County or Los Angeles, do yourself a favor and spend a day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs. Your body will definitely thank you.

For more information, visit www.GlenIvy.com.