Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Los Angeles: Korean Day Spa - a review

A little something for the ladies here. The Olympic Spa, in Korea Town, is for women only, sorry gents. And what an experience!

The Spa itself is easy to find, about a 30 minute drive from the Inn at Playa del Rey. It's a nondescript building on a modest street in the heart of Los Angeles' Korea Town. We pulled in to the parking lot, where we were greeted by the valet and offered complimentary parking. Yes, please!

Upon entering, we discovered a more modern interior, nicely framed works of art and all kinds of yummy skin products for sample and sale. We checked in for our massage and reflexology appointments and had about an hour to enjoy the rest of the spa. A friendly woman gave us a tour and showed us to our lockers, which were stocked with towels and a robe. No swim suits are allowed inside the spa.

After changing, we ventured into the "pool area". There are multiple hot and cold pools, showers, steam and sauna rooms. There are also scrub stations around the room where women were receiving treatments. It's a bit unnerving at first - there is little privacy - but I quickly forgot about that once I showered and ventured into the first hot pool. The recommendation is to go from hot to cold, and I did that multiple times, enjoying the freshness each time. I also spent a few minutes in the hot steam area.

Soon I was called for my massage appointment and led through the interior restaurant (more on that later!) and upstairs to a treatment room. I got a 50 minute shiatsu massage and a 30 minute foot reflexology treatment. My therapist was very strong, expertly skilled and was able to knead her way into my tight muscles. The foot massage was so relaxing that I fell asleep for most of it. (I always do that during a foot massage! Grrrr...)

After I peeled myself off the massage table, I met my party back in the changing area and we rested on the heated jade floor (wow!). Pads are provided, and we took a few extra minutes to restore our well-rubbed bodies.

Good thing they have a restaurant inside the building, because I was really hungry after all that relaxing. The restaurant is small, seating about 20, but the food was extremely fresh, authentic and homemade. And delicious. I ordered off their order-by-number menu which has pictures and a brief description. Try the number 6, it was excellent.

Overall, the spa was very clean and easy to navigate. The staff was friendly, helpful and unobtrusive. The cost is very reasonable; my whole day, including treatments, tips and my meal, was just over $110. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An afternoon at South Coast Botanic Gardens

Walking around this well kept and diversely populated oasis was a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. My mom came to town last week for a short visit, and I was thinking of “off the beaten path” options for us to spend the day. A guest had recently mentioned the South Coast Botanic Gardens, and I thought my mom would enjoy the scenery. The gardens are easy to find, and only a 30 minute drive from our Los Angeles Bed and Breakfast hotel. Parking is free, and admission is $8 (cash only). You are given a map of the gardens and walk through a small courtyard with a gift shop to enter.

The paved path is a one mile loop, with a variety of specialty gardens on the outer loop to explore. You can also go off the paved path and deeper into the interior of the park to see the little lake and other flowers and trees.  We stayed about two hours and walked the entire loop. We checked out the peaceful Japanese Garden, the Succulent or Desert Garden and the Garden of the Senses. There were exotic species of trees and familiar, sweet smelling flowers (I love the lilacs!) and even the blossoming Cherry Trees. There are some benches near the lake where we sat and enjoyed watching the ducks swim and play and laughed at the bold squirrels frolicking in the trees.

Afterward, we took a 15 minute ride to the coast and had lunch at Nelson’s at Terranea. Nelson’s is a low-key American bar & grill type of restaurant with a magnificent view of the ocean. If you go in the evening, you can sit outside and enjoy the firepits and watch the sun go down. Terranea has beautifully manicured grounds and paths, so we meandered a little more before heading back to the Inn.

All in all, a day well spent!