Sunday, November 23, 2014

De-Stress: Tips for Drawing the Best Bath Ever

With winter in the air and the stress of the holidays just around the corner, there is no better way to relax
than with a bath.  
Immersing the body in water has been medically proven to be a very relaxing, therapeutic and a complement to a healthy lifestyle or those in need of improved well-being, this is why at Lapis Spa in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach offers water therapy in various ways and at varied temperatures.  The deep muscle relaxation associated with a good hot bath helps to reduce cramps, tension headaches and improves muscle elasticity. The process is similar to a massage and beneficial for everyone from athletes to those who sit at a desk all day.  It has even been said that taking a bath takes you back to a time when you were in the womb thus creating a comforting and relaxing environment. So, next time you have a stressful day draw a bath and use the tips below from Josie Feria, Director of Spa at Lapis, The Spa at Fontainebleau  to create the ultimate soaking experience. 

  • Use Scented Bath Oil- Choose scented bath oil; floral scents like lavender, jasmine, iris and rose are associated with relaxation and can help to ease you into a relaxing state quicker. Add oils to the tub when the bath is halfway full, this will help them disperse evenly throughout the water.

  • Bath Temperature- A warm bath is best for relaxing the body.  Ideal water temperature for a warm bath is 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use your wrist, not your hand to test the water since your wrist is a better gauge of how the water will feel once your entire body is submerged.

  • Body Scrub- Most people are used to being active all the time, so when they get in the tub their minds start racing and they become unable to relax. Gently massaging your body with a sponge and body scrub will help engage your mind as the scrub buffs away dryness and leaves your skin supple and moist.

  • Closing Your Eyes- It is important to close your eyes during the bath to enter deep relaxation, so anything that forces you to keep your eyes closed is a great.  Try cold cucumbers, an icy compress or eye pads which have been soaked in chilled chamomile tea.

  • Bath Salts- Tough workout? Bath salts are like external muscle relaxants. If you have soreness, pain or swelling, bath salts reduce inflammation and stiffness, and help detoxify skin and increase circulation which helps to ease tension and revitalize the body

  • Candles- Bright bathroom lights tell your body its go-time — not bath time. Instead, light a few candles and place them around the room and on the edge of the tub.

  • Cold Water- If you’ve set your water temp right (somewhere between steamy and very warm), you should be feeling quite toasty in the tub.  A warm bath raises your body’s core temperature, so you’ll start sweating. Before getting into the tub, set a bowl of ice water and a washcloth next to you and use it as a cold compress on your forehead or the nape of your neck to help keep you refreshed throughout the bath time.  I also grab a tall bottle of San Pellegrino and force myself to drink the whole thing to hydrate.

  • Bath Robe/ Nice Bath Sheets- Nothing jolts you out of a Zen state like going from a warm, luxe bath to a measly, threadbare robe or old dingy towel. Get a plush terry cloth robe or fluffy towels that allow you to feel warm and comfortable. 

  • Relax afterwards- Leave the smart phone alone for an hour or so and just enjoy time for yourself.  Get a glass of tea and read or listen to music.  Want more coziness? Heat a towel in the microwave and wrap around your neck and take a deep and well-earned nap.

  • Multitask - Make the most of your bath by using the time to also give yourself a face and hair treatment. Both the skin and hair respond very favorably to the moist environment created by a steamy bath.  To cleanse your face, apply a clay mask to the skin avoiding the eyes, allow to remain on the skin for 7-10 minutes then remove gently with wet washcloth. Need to soften and hydrate your hair? Apply conditioner or hair mask to wet hair then cover in plastic cap and hot towel and allow the conditioner or mask to remain on hair for duration of bath for 15- 20 minutes.  Wash and rinse thoroughly.

  • Music- Play relaxing music to sooth your mood and aid in the process of relaxation. Visualization is also a great tool to enhance relaxation in the bath. Complimented by music visualization exercises can transport you to your own private Nirvana.  Caribbean beaches anyone?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Skip The Store & Score Cyber Monday Travel Deals

Black Friday has evolved into a Thanksgiving tradition of hitting the stores immediately after filling up on turkey and standing in long lines to save on the year’s best deals. However, with the simple click of a mouse, savvy in-the-know travelers can save big with the following Cyber Monday deals—no long lines required! 

Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys has launched a special Black Friday sale available for 72 
hours only starting on November 28. Travelers can save 25 percent off on guestroom and villa accommodations during stays of two nights or longer starting from November 30, 2014, through June 4, 2015. This offer is subject to blackout dates and is based on availability. To book, click here.

Hawks Cay Resort, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and an AAA Four-Diamond award recipient, is the premier destination in all of the Florida Keys for outdoor fun. Alongside the emerald waters of the Atlantic Ocean, guests enjoy offshore, flats and backcountry fishing; diving; kayaking; kiteboarding and stand-up paddleboarding programs; the Cliff Drysdale tennis program; Segway tours; and the only resort-based Dolphin Connection program with complimentary daily viewings. The 60-acre resort boasts 177 guestrooms and 225 two- and three-bedroom villas, a full-service marina, four restaurants, saltwater lagoon, five swimming pools, kid and teen clubs and the award-winning Calm Waters Spa. For more information

On Cyber Monday only, Plantation Beach Villas in Tobago is slicing an extra 10 percent off already-discounted winter rates, resulting in a total savings of 20 percent. This offer is valid on stays from December 20, 2014, to April 30, 2015, and includes the first dinner and first breakfast as well as a fresh fruit basket, cold beers, soft drinks, juices and milk. In addition, Plantation Villas will also offer a 10 percent discount on the Island Girl Catamaran, plus a free day of car rental for every seven days booked from Sherman's Rentals through the hotel.  For more information, email, call (868) 639-9377 or

Castara Retreats in Tobago is cutting rates by up to 25 percent for bookings of eight nights or longer. Guests who stay in June or September 2015 will receive 20 percent off while guests staying in July or August 2015 receive 25 percent off. Castara Retreats is a highly-rated eco-resort located between the Caribbean Sea and the Rainforest Reserve on a hillside above Castara, a working fishing village on the northwestern coast of Tobago. For questions and booking information email Lorna or visit

Guests can stay three nights and get the fourth night free at Grafton Beach Resort in Tobago. For travel December 1 through December 20, 2014, rates start at $150 per night. For travel from December 21, 2014, through April 30, 2015, rates start at $188 per night. The 106-room resort features awe-inspiring views of the Caribbean Sea, a swim-up pool bar, an onsite dive center, a business center and four restaurants and bars. For booking information, email or and use booking code FBFREE5.

Tobago’s adults-only resort, Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort, is offering one night free for every two consecutive nights booked. Rates start at $188 per night for travel December 1 through December 20, 2014, and $225 for travel from December 21, 2014, through April 30, 2015. The 83-room luxury resort is a tranquil sanctuary featuring breathtaking views of Stone Haven Bay and a long stretch of soft, sandy beach. For booking information, visit or email and use reference code FBFREE6.

This Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Viceroy Anguilla is offering guests the option to “linger longer” with a complimentary fifth night. The “Linger Longer” promotion is available for stays through September 20, 2015, and is subject to availability and blackout dates.
Situated on 35 acres, the Viceroy Anguilla boasts two white sand beaches, a glimmering saltwater infinity pool, and three resort pools. The resort features five dining options and a range of cuisines, including Middle Eastern, Asian, and American seafood and steak. Two-level villas of four and five bedrooms overlook the bay, while private residences offer the option to call Anguilla home. For further information or to book, visit

Skip the holiday shopping lines and box wrapping by giving a gift of fun in the sun. Ocean Club Resortslocated in Turks and Caicos, invites guests to take advantage of their Cyber Monday special. Guests who book from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST on December 1, 2014, will receive every fourth
night free on stays from May to August 15, 2015. Please note this offer excludes studio accommodations at Ocean Club West. To book, call 800-457-8787.
Ocean Club Resorts, comprised of two all-suite properties, is the perfect home away from home with spacious accommodations ranging from studios to three-bedroom suites. Guests can do as much or as little as they desire at the resort, from exploring the coral reef on a snorkel excursion to lounging under one of the resort’s signature pink beach umbrellas to learning how to stand-up paddle board. For more information, please visit 

The all new, all-suite Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is offering a Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale. Rates start from $259 for a Junior Suite, including taxes. Guests also receive one complimentary bottle of tequila, one massage for two, and
daily a la carte breakfast for two. This special offer is valid for stays from November 1, 2014, through December 18, 2015. The special rates are non-refundable and non-transferable. Blackout dates apply.

An affiliate to the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World collection, Grand Residences features sprawling suites designed as private residences, blending all of the comforts of home with the luxurious amenities of a five-star resort. Nestled in a private enclave between scenic Riviera Maya and bustling Cancun, this exclusive hideaway is ideally located between the world’s second largest barrier reef and a tranquil nature preserve. The resort sets the new standard in luxury beachfront living:  spacious suites, all with private outdoor terraces and many with private Jacuzzis; gourmet dining; a world-class spa and salon; personalized beach and pool service; and much more. Book online at

Monday, November 10, 2014

Travel + Leisure - America's Best Cities for Girlfriend Getaways

Travel + Leisure readers ranked the best cities for decompressing with your gal pals, while also
partaking in shopping, yoga, gallery-hopping-and perhaps a cocktail that tastes like a candy bar. 

The article featured yours truly, Casey Wohl, The Getaway Girl®!
Click here to read. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Girls Getaway to Carmel-by-the-Sea

A place with “by-the-sea” hyphenated in its name must be quintessentially charming. At least that
was my mindset visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea for the first time, and the miniscule Californian coastal town doesn’t disappoint. There are no spotlights or neon signs, no addresses and no postal delivery. On residential streets there aren’t even sidewalks, so we literally needed a flashlight to find our way back to our cottage.

Get to know Carmel
This haven for artists, writers and eccentrics has been home to John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, and Jack London. Presently, Doris Day and Clint Eastwood call Carmel home. Eastwood was even the mayor from 1986-1988. Thank goodness he overturned a law outlawing ice cream. I would have voted for him based solely on that! The town even requires that anyone wearing “shoes with heels which are in excess of two inches in height and less than one square inch of bearing surface upon the public streets and sidewalks” have a permit! Carmel-by-the-Sea has certainly remained trapped in time, as quirky as when it was founded in 1902.

Since Carmel is only one square mile, everything is within walking distance. The population of less than 4,000 supports a community of more than one hundred art galleries, 50 restaurants and as many cottages and inns to stay in. It’s no surprise that visitors from around the globe are the lifeblood for this precious town. You can undoubtedly uncover plenty to do just wandering on your own, but if you’d like a tour, Carmel Walks offers a great primer. For a more culinary-focused adventure, Carmel Food Tour features seven food and drink tastings in a three-hour walking tour. Our guide, Staci, was fun and engaging, and happy to provide recommendations for dining in Carmel outside the tour. Winos will enjoy the Wine Walk Passport, which allows you to try flights at any nine of 14 tasting rooms, including Scheid Vineyards and Caraccioli Cellars, a couple of my favorites. Pace yourself and do the wine walk over the course of two or three days or the imbibing will catch up to you!

Luxe Life
The pinnacle of luxury in this laidback oasis is L’Auberge Carmel, a charming Relais & Chateaux property first built in 1929. I’m greeted with frothy rooibos-infused iced tea before crossing the courtyard to my antiquated but homey room. Supple caramels on the desk seem like an apropos welcome to Carmel.

Aubergine is hands down the most exquisite dining experience in town. The table next to me was a couple from Mexico celebrating their 25th anniversary. They weren’t even staying in Carmel but drove two hours from San Francisco, which doesn’t exactly have a shabby dining scene.

At Aubergine, I had the best abalone of my life – tenderized and served with briny seaweed, sea foam
and smoked avocado – capturing the essence of the ocean in each bite. Other seafood highlights included kumamoto oysters with ossetra caviar and Japanese snapper served simply with baby bok choy and blood orange sauce. Executive Chef Justin Cogley and Chef de Cuisine Aaron Koseba are masters at procuring the best fish and complementing it with simple, bold accents to let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Relax – live in the moment
The Refuge offers a zen-like experience that is very different from a traditional spa. You can get a massage here, but no facials, body treatments or nail services. Instead, the focus is on the health benefits of a hydrothermal cycle and there is a silence rule throughout the facility to encourage deeper relaxation.

You begin by heating up in a Eucalyptus steam room or Finnish dry cedar sauna for five to 10
minutes before plunging briefly into a cold pool, then relaxing for 15 minutes near the outdoor fire pits or in a zero gravity recliner before exploring the thermal waterfall pools. It’s rare to be given step-by-step instructions on how to behave at a spa – I’m used to freely exploring on my own. However, the cycle did get my heart rate up and I felt invigorated after repeating it a couple of times. Plus, the cycle relaxes muscles, flushed toxins from the body, boosts the immune system and is even supposed to increase metabolism. What’s not to like?

With a now lightning fast metabolism, head to Grasings for dinner. The abalone here is delicious as well, served over a vibrant salad of mixed greens, haricot verts and pomegranate seeds and scallops and wild-caught sea bass are deftly prepared too. For somebody as environmentally conscious about seafood as myself, it’s a dream to be eating local seafood in Monterey, where chefs are just as careful about sourcing.

For breakfast or lunch the next day, La Bicyclette, a bustling, rustic European café, is a sure bet with
a weekly rotating menu of specials. The wood-burning oven pizzas are a staple and although flavors may change, the butternut squash purée with arugula and speck ham and the local mushroom and caramelized onion pie are to die for.

Although there is so much to do to keep you busy, take some time to relax and live in the moment. If you see a passageway and you wonder where it leads to – take a wander. Give yourself time to sit on one of the many benches scattered around town and soak up the sun and people (and dog) watch. Frolic on the beach and wiggle your toes in the Pacific Ocean. Don’t turn on the news, leave your worries at home and feel the joy of being alive.

Author Amber Gibson is a Food/Travel Writer, Model & Actress from Chicago currently contributing to the Girls Getaway Guide. To find out more about Amber, visit