Aquarium maintenance might seem like a strange background for an expert in neuromuscular therapy and deep-tissue massage, but that's exactly how massage therapist Lynne Luckow got her start. She decided to change careers after reading about the health benefits of massage and went on to study anatomy, physiology, and medical massage at Aesthetics University. She opened Healing Hands Therapy Center in 1993 and continued her training with renowned professionals in the field of alternative medicine. Eventually, she grew her practice to the point where she was working 12 hours a day, six days a week, roughly the amount of time it takes to give a full-body massage to a really big whale. Luckow knew it was time to expand: the center is now home to eight highly trained massage therapists, who earned it nominations in CityVoter's Best Massage category in 2011.
In addition to performing massages, Luckow promotes physical and emotional healing with Ayurvedic counseling and meditation. She has further rounded out her team with licensed acupuncturist Brenda Sherman, who holds a Master of Science in acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Bonsai trees, bamboo gardens, and trickling streams cover the five secluded acres that make up Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, which brings a relaxing piece of Japan to Northern California. But this escape from the modern world doesn't just surround its visitors with nature?it literarily immerses them in it, thanks to the cedar enzyme bath.
Osmosis founder Michael Stusser discovered the treatment in Japan, and he made it his spa's signature service upon opening in 1985. The experience begins in the tea garden, where 25 organic plants lend their benefits to a hot herbal tea. Things then move inside, where guests dip down into wooden tubs filled with finely ground cedar, rice bran, and plant enzymes imported from Japan?which create a natural warmth through fermentation. The warmth relaxes the entire body, and proponents believe it has numerous health benefits. After they're warmed through and pleasantly dozy, guests can explore the plants and water features out in the meditation garden, or stay inside for different spa treatments, from facials to massages.
Mighty redwoods tower over the Inn at Occidental, where a European-style courtyard opens out onto gardens and, in the two blocks surrounding them, the adorable town of Occidental. Folk art covers the walls inside, where guests cozy up near the fireplace and gather in the living room each evening to sample wine and cheese. And that's just the beginning of the potential activities. The Inn sits within reach of tastings at more than 100 Sonoma wineries. Fortunately, the staff are all seasoned pros when it comes to navigating the countryside, and they can map out a tasting itinerary for virtually any palate.
Within the walls of Lavender Hill Spa, volcanic ash becomes more romantic than a bouquet of roses. Two Jacuuzi tubs stand side by side within a private cottage, where couples can relax with signature volcanic-mud bath treatments, which combine volcanic ash with White Sea kelp, therapeutic mineral salts, and lavender essential oils. Couples' spa packages also move beyond the tub?love birds can both enjoy therapeutic massages and facials.
Lavender Hill Spa nurtures more than just romance, however. Nestled against a garden hillside, the relaxing spa welcomes clients of all sorts with special packages, such as the Gentlemen's Choice with a volcanic-ash mud bath and deep-tissue massage, or the Mothers-to-Be with a coconut-milk bath treatment and pre-natal massage.
Under the expert guidance of Dr. Bunyad, the clinic harnesses FDA-approved Zerona cold-laser technology designed to reduce corporeal circumferences by an average of 3.5 inches. Trish Bender joins the team as the wellness coordinator, managing patient care by drawing upon her professional background in fitness, nutrition, and stethoscope harvesting. Massage therapist and Zerona technician Claudia Yerba guides the low-light lasers over waistlines, backs, hips, and thighs, and administers kneadings designed to supplement the treatments.
Lincoln Avenue Spa stocks only high-quality herbs, oils, and skin products for its services. Calistoga has garnered fame for its mud baths, so Lincoln Avenue Spa takes advantage of its locale with Moor mud and body mud treatments. Their jacuzzi baths and massages relax the corpus, and exfoliating salt scrubs leave skin as soft and radiant as a feather boa set aflame.
Though motherhood and Chinese medicine may seem to be two disparate specialties, Sydney Bebb-Walker embodies their common thread: listening. An acupuncturist and massage therapist with more than 25 years of training, Sydney still prides herself most on her ability to simply listen to patients before mapping out a treatment plan that will bring them a long-term sense of well-being.
Her treatments generally blend a range of therapies from a list that includes Chinese herbal medicine, detoxifying infrared sauna sessions, allergy testing, and acupuncture, which she studied at the San Francisco College of Acupuncture. Under Sydney's care, past patients with issues ranging from the stresses of young adulthood to menopause and aging have found effective therapies for treating their ailments.