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Enriching Life 

In the decade and a half since Belladonna Day Spa (2900 Magazine St., 891-4393) began delivering spa services to New Orleanians, the Uptown shop has evolved into a true lifestyles center that offers fashion, home decor and gifts in addition to beauty products and spa treatments from around the world. Owner Kim Dudek gradually expanded the therapies and merchandise she offered with an eye toward enriching her customers" lives as completely as possible.

"My personal mission was to get the spa experience to not be a luxury -- to develop a clientele that would come in more often and would use it as a therapy," says Dudek, who celebrates the spa"s 15th anniversary in October. "I think that comes along with consumer awareness. It"s still luxurious, but it"s also beneficial."

Belladonna"s spa services menu includes therapies based on disciplines from all over the world, including Korea and China, and special touches to make it more fun and memorable. One enhancement was the opening of The Tranquility Garden, which offers services in an outdoor or cabana-style area replete with a sun deck, whirlpool-Jacuzzis and a waterfall fountain that invites relaxation. It and the Tea Garden also can be used as spaces for bridal parties and other get-togethers.

"It gives people a real different experience of a spa," she says. "It becomes an experience with a capital E; they could be in Bali, Miami, anywhere. It takes you out of the urban setting of a spa into an exotic experience." There are very pleasant indoor treatment rooms as well, where therapists use music, aromatherapy and relaxing massage techniques to rejuvenate customers" bodies and spirits.

One of the more unusual additions to the menu is the Be Released package for grief, which couples healing spa services with journaling, informative CDs and more. It has been used for people whose grief may involve having a physical pain, losing a pet, or one woman who was seeking relief from "losing herself" after the birth of a baby.

"We want people to leave here with a different feeling than they came in with," Dudek says. The latest addition to Belladonna"s services does that in a big way, by eliminating unsightly cellulite using Ionithermie. The non-invasive technique stimulates your body to release toxins through lymphatic drainage, thus reducing the appearance of cellulite and eliminating inches from the abdomen, thighs and hips. It involves a mild stimulus in conjunction with a thermal clay of plant extracts. Customers achieve the best results through several treatments as well as following a home regimen of diet, exercise and using selected products.

In addition to spa services and manicures and pedicures, which are delivered in a special room with large, pacifying fish tanks, Belladonna also has a vast array of makeup and beauty products from makers including Darphin, Anthony, Phytomer, B. Kamin"s Chemist, Jack Black, Fresh, Murad, The Thymes, MOP and Belladonna"s own expanding line of products developed for the spa by Dudek and a firm in Canada. The store also carries, rugs, candles, dishes, tabletop decor, linens, dresses, shoes, activewear, pet supplies, books, music, specialty food items, frames, luxury laundry and cleaning products, and jewelry available exclusively at Belladonna.

Celebrate in Style Rubensteins (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666) turns 80 next week and will celebrate the occasion with several special events in the store. Shoppers will be treated to birthday cake and champagne all weekend long on April 9 and 10. During French Quarter Festival April 16 and 17, Abita Beer will hold a special beer tasting in the store.

A week later, on April 23 and 24, Rubensteins will host Jack Victor and Cole Haan special-order trunk shows as well as a Nat Nast "sunny side of the street" event with music and snowballs.

Horsing Around Equestrians and horse lovers in general have a chance to see riders from as far away as Mexico compete in the Gallop Around Louisiana (GALA) Horse Shows at Serenity Farm Inc. (27460 Polo Road, Folsom) this month. Admission is free.

Riders will compete for more than $200,000 in prize money during the three-weeks of competitions April 14-18, April 21-25 and April 28-May 2. Each Saturday night features a Hunter Classic with a $20,000 purse, and Sundays" competitions include a $25,000 Grand Prix in which horses jump a twisting course of 12 to 15 fences.

GALA LLC is a partnership formed by two Folsom area horse farms with a goal of organizing and promoting top-rated horse shows in the South. The event also helps boost the local economy. According to figures from the USA Equestrian Association, 1,400 people who participated in GALA events last September spent about $1.5 million during a 12-day period. Another GALA competition is planned for this September.

For more information, call (985) 796-0077 or log onto www.galahorshows.com.

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