A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
Through the haze of orange smoke bombs, a paintballer sets his sights on an opponent hiding behind a gutted helicopter before taking on others in a fort, leaving its wooden slats with freshly glistening paintball splatter. On more than 56 acres of varying terrain comprising 12 courses, players such as these negotiate the wooded ghost town of West World, the bombed-out automobiles of Black Hawk Down, or the fenced-in speedball court populated with large, inflatable obstacles. Throughout the imaginative battlefields, paintballers slink through elevated lookouts or cross streams over platform bridges and weave through forests while trying out their best tree imitations. The fields also play host to tournaments and a variety of themed games and can be booked for bachelor parties, youth-group events, and corporate team-building outings.
At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.
The staff at My Spa & Boutique aim to beautify guests in a relaxing atmosphere. Massage therapists incorporate fragrant aromatherapy into candlelit couples massages and technicians combat signs of aging during facials with ?minence Organic Skin Care products. The team's tool of choice for tightening lax skin or removing hair is the Soprano XL laser, whose skin-cooling tip and gradually heating IN-Motion technology minimize client discomfort. The device can disable follicles on any skin type, be it pale, tanned, or made of plaster.
In the salon area, experienced stylists craft custom cuts and colors and perform specialty services such as feather extensions. Tiled floors, arched doorways, and soft lighting from ornate sconces give the space an ambiance reminiscent of a Spanish hacienda.
Rebel Race's military-style obstacle courses challenge athletes from all backgrounds to shed humdrum day-to-day routines to experience the primal joys of mud, sweat and glory. Emerging from the mire in various states across the country, each Rebel Race packs its rucksack with tests of physical and mental toughness, rousing racers and washing machines alike to triumph in the face of sloppy opposition. After dashing through fire, climbing walls, and scaling mountains of hay, race participants bask in the collective kudos of parties, which include live entertainment, food, and beer for purchase. Camping options encourage participants and spectators to transform races into weekend getaways, while awards recognize each day's standout competitors and most-humble mud pits.
Owner Donna Smith-Grice describes her father Jimmy Smith as drinking his coffee the way he lived his life: "strong and sweet." Inspired by the wafting aromas of his daily coffee pots drifting up from her childhood memories, she opened her own coffee shop and borrowed his first initial to complete the name of the newly born Lazy J Coffee.
In keeping with its homey origins, the café's interior seems more like an eclectic living room than a restaurant, with well-worn leather couches facing a faux fireplace and a small wooden buffet topped with old-fashioned candleholders. Amidst this domestic comfort, baristas steam mugfulls of the shop's signature grind and specialty espresso drinks or fill cups with fruit smoothies that, like recovered cyborgs, are entirely organic.