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Around the World in Comfort 

Diverse influences shape salon and spa treatments.

Whether your regular work week consists of toiling for hours on a computer, attending stressful meetings, lifting heavy items or hoisting children and running a household, you undoubtedly could benefit from stress-relieving treatments that abound at area salons and spas.

All in One

Those seeking relief, relaxation and enjoyment can go around the world in one stop at Belladonna (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393), which recently expanded its spa menu to include exotic global influences and has opened a new Tranquility Garden to enhance those services. The new garden provides a lush indoor/outdoor space with three open-air treatment rooms, a massage suite and whirlpools. There's even an Eden-like river rock waterfall to enhance the soothing atmosphere.

"One of my dreams has been to create an easily accessible space where people can feel far removed from urban stress," says Belladonna owner Kim Dudek. "After spending time in the Tranquility Garden, one can be transported to anywhere they want to be."

Some of those places are reached through refined spa treatments, including Indonesia wellness rituals designed to create a cross-cultural experience using ingredients indigenous to various Indonesian islands and the expertise of Belladonna massage therapists.

The Jamu signature massage uses Hindu, Chinese and European techniques of acupressure, rolling motions, long strokes and percussion. Darphin's Earth, Moon and Sun Korean Massage is an hourlong experience designed to bring the 12 main meridians of the body into harmony and focus, helping the body's natural energy, or chi, flow more effectively.

Cleopatra's Pedicure includes a milk soak for the feet, which then are scrubbed with a milk-scrub mixture to soften, exfoliate and add proteins. There's also a milk bath for the entire body.

From Java comes a lava ritual that uses a volcanic clay body mask to detoxify and cleanse the skin, followed by an application of Bali fruit massage oil.

The Japanese influence comes through in a sake soak, traditionally used by geishas to cleanse and clear the skin. It uses sake, ginger, radish, pomegranate and valerian as well as a rice face wash. The body then is massaged with rice oil to invigorate the chi.

A Babassu sugar rub sauna hails from the Amazon jungles of Brazil, and from America (although still exotic) is the Maui Wowee Body Ritual, which includes a mask of peach, pineapple, apple, pomegranate, and guava and a cocoon of banana leaves, followed by a coconut-papaya salt scrub and a moisturizing treatment.

Also employing disciplines from around the globe, The Center for Longevity and Wellness (3601 Houma Blvd., Suite 300, Metairie, 885-7360) offers a range of medical and spa therapies to improve the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of its customers. Under the direction of internal medicine physicians Drs. Leonard Kancher and G.M. Weiner, who are on the medical staff of East Jefferson General Hospital, this clinic offers both medical and wellness care.

The "longevity massage," which can last a half hour, hour or 90 minutes, starts with essential oils that relax the nervous system, as well as manipulations to de-stress muscles and "re-balance" the mind and body. Some of the unusual treatments include a "mother-to-be massage," which is designed to relieve common symptoms of pregnancy such as insomnia, cramps, headache, anxiety, back pain and more. The "sinus and cold-relief massage" is a head and scalp massage that alleviates the headaches and sinus pressure brought on by allergies and colds, plus incorporates essential oils to drain blocked passages.

In addition to other massages, such as one that uses ancient healing stones, there is a full range of facials, including the "gentlemen's longevity facial" that includes deep cleansing treatment, an enzyme peel, extraction, stress-relieving massage and hydrating mask, followed by treatment advice to help alleviate shaving irritation.

France

At Salon du Beau Monde (612 Julia St., 568-0050), just having your hair done can be a mood-altering experience with the therapeutic three-step program designed to make your hair healthier while bolstering your overall feeling of well-being. The Parisian-based Kerastase has designed a line of products and therapeutic treatments that provide sensory stimulation as well as nutritive restoration for hair.

It begins with trained professionals who assess the individual needs of your hair and give you an invigorating scalp massage. They then recommend a simple three-step ritual for you to perform at home between salon visits, choosing from the two dozen products Kerastase makes for hair from normal-to-dry types to curly-and dry and combinations in between.

Francophiles will admire the treatments developed at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans spa (921 Canal St., 524-1331), which are based on therapies popular with the ruling classes in France of old. The Four Hands Royal Massage, for instance, was a favorite of Marie Antoinette during the extravagant reign of the Court of Louis XIV at Versailles. It is performed by two trained massage therapists who perform a symphony of movements in synchronization on the entire body for about an hour, and the senses are stimulated with hot and essential oils. To induce total relaxation, the experience ends with an application of heated, moist towels.

The favorite treatment of Imperatrice Eugenie, Napoleon III's wife, inspired the La Massage sous Cascade, a body effusion in which warm water drops lightly on the body, which is then covered with a clay-based cream of marine and algae extracts mixed with essential oils and trace minerals. After that mask is applied, a masseuse massages the ingredients into the skin, then it's all washed off with hot water from multiple showerheads.

The Ritz-Carlton's version of Napoleon Bonaparte's Royal Massage begins with a soak in a hydrotherapy bath that includes sliced rounds of citrus, followed by a tonic Swedish massage infused by eau-de-cologne, favored by the ruler. The Ritz-Carlton's spa treatments recently gained the spa a rating as one of the top 10 luxury spas in the country by Celebrated Living. There are lots of other treatments to choose from at the Ritz, and the spa experience is accentuated with luxurious surroundings, relaxation lounges, a sauna and steam room, whirlpool and even a Spa Cafe. There also is a warm stone massage, a couple's massage, reflexology, deep tissue and Swedish massages, aromatherapy and a long list of other treatments.

India

Calling on the 5,000-year-old Indian discipline of Ayurveda, described as a "science of life" that teaches the balancing of mind, body and spirit in order to achieve overall peace, harmony and lasting beauty, Earthsavers (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Lakeside Shopping Center, Metairie, 835-0225; 5501 Magazine St., 899-8555; 434 Chartres St., 581-4999; 3414 U.S. Hwy. 190, Mandeville, 985-674-1133; 528 N. Columbia St., Covington, 985-875-0300), in the fall will introduce a new line of spa treatments using Sundari products and therapies. Sanskrit for "beautiful woman," Sundari products are made from herbs that originated in the Himalayas.

Earthsavers owner Karen Adjmi says she was so impressed with a Sundari aromatherapy-balancing facial she tried, that she revamped her whole menu to include the product lines and Ayurvedic treatments.

"It works on every level," she says. "It works on your senses; you have a whole sensory experience. It smells wonderful while you're having it. (Afterward), your skin feels completely balanced." Because extensive training is needed, the new menu won't go into effect until October.

For an all-encompassing experience, Earthsavers will offer the Head-to-Toe Nirvana Body Treatment, which begins with a dry-brush exfoliation and a second exfoliation with a blend of natural lemon, calendula, chamomile and peppermint oils massaged into the skin to hydrate and nourish it. That's removed with warm towels infused with geranium, rose and orange oils for restoration of the skin and a healing and cleansing mask of neem, carrot root and aloe leaf juice oils chosen for your specific skin type. Therapists will then wrap your body and give you an Ayurvedic scalp and hair mask treatment. "It's truly restorative," Adjmi says.

Other Sundari treatments -- the line will be exclusive to Earthsavers -- will include an intensive herbal body polish to stimulate circulation and exfoliate the skin followed by a massage with essential oils and warm-towel oil treatment and a neem-enhanced body mask that nourishes the skin while encouraging the body's own natural healing process. Other treatments feature an Ayurvedic hair mask and massage and a Sundari facial that uses essential oils, botanical extracts and herbal preparations to cleanse, hydrate and renew the skin.

Sundari has almost two dozen skin care products and prescribes them in combinations derived from assessing an individual's skin type according to Ayurvedic principles. Under the premise, everyone is classified according to a theory that holds that individuals are a combination of three elements, or doshas (air, fire and earth), found in nature and that balance will be found by balancing these elements so none of the three is dominant.

"Doshas relate to the entire body," says Ayla Hussain, CEO of Sundari. "The skin, the body's largest organ, is the first place to show signs of any internal imbalances. When the body is balanced, the skin's appearance will be clear, radiant and exude a healthy glow. When there is an internal imbalance -- stress, disease, unruliness -- the skin shows blemishes, ruddiness and uneven tone.

"What Earthsavers and Sundari will deliver are positive energies, atmosphere, services and skin care that will treat the body as a whole."

Turkey

Bliss Day Spa (200 Metairie Road, 828-1997) offers a special Turkish Rose hand and foot treatment that begins with a massaging salt scrub that exfoliates those hardworking extremities as well as preparing them to better absorb the antioxidant treatment that comes next. The "fresh start" antioxidant oxygen treatment softens the skin and makes it look younger and less labored. Therapists finish with a Turkish rose spray on the hands and feet that rejuvenates them as well as your soul.

The Turkish Bath at H2O Salon and Spa (441 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-4377) is a controlled water-pulse bath with essential oils for nourishment and hydration, followed by body buffing to stimulate blood flow and relaxation. The bath is followed by a "calm-down" massage. The Turkish Bath is part of the salon's Great Escape package, which also includes a complete facial, lunch, manicure and pedicure, shampoo and hair styling as well as makeup application and lesson.

The Turkish Treatment at H2O is designed especially for men and includes the Turkish massage, a deep cleansing facial, sports manicure and pedicure and a haircut and style.

Combinations

Everyone needs a break sometimes, a place where you can go and be pampered, with your specific needs met with a smile and a comforting hand. The Retreat (575 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-SPA4) is such a place, with body wraps, dermabrasion, massage, manicures, pedicures, its own line of p.u.r.e cosmetics, permanent makeup, sunless tanning and even educational seminars to help improve your life. Massage therapist Jennifer Crandall takes a worldly view of curing ills of the body, calling on Eastern influences and anything else at hand that can be useful in bringing about a customer's total comfort.

"I generally do a lot of deep tissue work ... acupressure, shiatsu as well as Western methodologies," she says. "Everyone is different; I generally kind of mix [the different philosophies] up for the clients so I can get every single aspect and need that they have. If I just did one thing, it wouldn't work for everyone."

Borrowing ideas of relaxation from cigar and martini bars, The Retreat owners Cindy Welch and Caroline Roberson also have instituted a men's only program from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month.

"It gets bigger every month," Welch says. "The men really like it; they can have all their things done without any women being around." Favored services include manicures, facials, pedicures and massage.

Paris Parker Salons and Spas (4900 Prytania St., 891-8874; 1400 Annunciation St., The Saulet, 528-1962; 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Lakeside Shopping Center, Metairie, 846-5256; 333 Canal St., Canal Place, 568-1124; 4900 Hwy. 22, Mandeville, 985-945-4404; 888-990-2468) offer Aveda products and therapies to rejuvenate the skin and hair as well as help each customer achieve an overall balance and better sense of well-being. Professionals follow Aveda's holistic spa philosophy that incorporates the five natural elements of infinity, air, fire, water and earth that are found within each person. Customers are asked to fill out a questionnaire that allows Paris Parker therapists to create personalized treatments and self-care regimens for each individual. All body treatments begin with the customer choosing an aroma for use in his or her therapy.

With the Hydrotherm Massage, which can last an hour or 90 minutes, you are cradled on warm, water-filled cushions that alleviate strain on your muscles while a therapist massages deeply stressed areas. There's also a version of the hydrotherm massage for pregnant women.

The salons also offer warm stone massages; a Neti Massage, which combines massage techniques that relieve facial pressure with aromatic steam inhalation; and Tranquilessence, an Ayurvedic treatment that provides relaxation by having warmed botanical products stream between your brows and off the back of your head. There also is the Aromatic Sun Massage, a Caribbean-inspired treatment that focuses on the scalp, knees and feet. From India and the Ayurveda philosophy comes the Himalayan Rejuvenation Treatment, which combines exfoliation and massage as well as the Tranquilessence therapy to relax the body and calm the mind.

Asia

Jin Shin Jyutsu, offered at Pampered Soul and Body Day Spa (4826 Magazine St., 895-5333), uses the Japanese philosophy of harmonizing life energies employing 26 "safety locks" along energy pathways that feed life into bodies. Pampered Soul's Nicole Boyd says the technique encourages "self-study and self-help." The treatment usually is performed without the therapist actually touching the body, she says, and the customer remains fully clothed. The therapy involves "channeling energy from one area of the body to others that need aiding," Boyd says. It is a healing art that addresses the underlying energy flow of the body and is particularly helpful to cancer survivors and leukemia patients.

Pampered Soul and Body also offers Reiki, of which owner Lorraine Demberg is a master who has practiced for six years. Reiki is based on the chakra (energy points in the body) system of divine energy in which the practitioner is a vessel to be used for the channeling of energy. It is a spiritual approach, in which the energy can sometimes be channeled outside the body. "Reiki is the laying on of hands, but not always with laying on of hands," Demberg says. "You can send energy to victims of a mudslide in Africa. A lot of Reiki books refer to it (like) the laying on of hands similar to Jesus, from the days of the Bible."

America

Stemming from the Hopi American Indian word meaning "sacred circle," the Kiva Massage at Glenn Michael Salon & Day Spa (1623 Metairie Road, Metairie, 828-6848) is a scalp treatment that uses massage techniques to stretch, pinch and stimulate blood flow to the scalp and hair. It also is designed to relax customers and help them retain their hair. It's used in conjunction with Anasazi treatments that feature a range of hair balms for different conditions.

Combining homegrown and European therapies, Dr. Pelias' Medi-Spa at the Skin and Hair Clinic of New Orleans (324 Chartres St., 566-1706) combines surgical and non-surgical cosmetic services to help customers look and feel their best.

Plastic surgeon Marilyn Pelias handles the surgical side of the operation, which includes Botox treatments, breast augmentations, liposuction, microdermabrasion -- which can be used to stimulate collagen production in the skin, remove age spots and acne scars -- and other cosmetic procedures. She also oversees a full-service spa that offers manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages. The clinic's esthetician trained in Europe and performs European facials, massages and hot stone therapies among other treatments. The clinic also offers lines of prescription skin-care products such as Obagi.

Sweden

Body Art (3414 Hessmer Ave., Metairie, 455-0710), a combination exercise gym and spa for women only, offers a classic Swedish massage as well as massage therapies for treatment of specific needs such as lymphatic drainage massage, deep tissue and sports massages for muscle problems and injuries; and neuromuscular therapy for people who suffer chronic pain because of conditions such as arthritis. The business also offers classic body wraps, facials, manicures and other spa services.

click to enlarge A quartet of massaging hands rub out all the stress - in the four-hand massage at Ritz-Carlton New - Orleans' spa. - RITZ-CARLTON NEW ORLEANS
  • Ritz-Carlton New Orleans
  • A quartet of massaging hands rub out all the stress in the four-hand massage at Ritz-Carlton New Orleans' spa.
click to enlarge Belladonna owner Kim Dudek lounges on a chaise - while a customer gets a massage in the day spa's - new Tranquility Garden. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Belladonna owner Kim Dudek lounges on a chaise while a customer gets a massage in the day spa's new Tranquility Garden.
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