Paule-Dominique Anneheim, a certified massage therapist and owner of Voil? La Familia, eases muscle pain with techniques customized to the needs of men, women, and infants. Since she was 17 years old and living in Marseille, Paule-Dominique has been working with both healthy and disabled youngsters. She went on to become a children?s massage instructor and expert on wooden-block ergonomics before moving to Tahiti to help open a clinic. The experienced massage therapist now brings gentle kneads and Swedish massage techniques to bear against tension and pain in private rooms speckled with colorful orchids. Oil infused with vitamin E steeps skin in moisture and prevents stretch marks, and the therapist's expertise in pediatric, prenatal, and postpartum massage allows her to soothe mothers stressed by pregnancy and little ones stressed by investigations into what the cow says.
Project Zen aims to provide a serene sanctuary where clients can complement Western medicinal regimes with Eastern healing practices that coordinate internal harmony with preventative massage services. Stepping inside the spa, clients will notice its rich red tapestries and bright gold pillows, which exude an opulence matched only by drinking red wine out of a solid gold sippy cup. Project Zen, like its sister spa in Thailand, pampers patrons and aims to improve their overall wellness with treatments such as Japanese shiatsu, a brand of acupressure involving languid thumb, palm, knee, and feet strokes. In addition, an in-house line of bath and body products blended from coconut oil and flowers are used during deep-tissue and Swedish massages.
At Zazen, students relax their bodies and focus their minds during sessions of Zen Buddhist seated meditation, the soothing practice for which the center is named. But both Zazen locations work to cultivate calm with other services as well. Sensory-deprivation tanks block out distracting external stimuli as guests float in 10 inches of warm saltwater, a practice many say helps them grow their awareness of the present moment. Massage sessions focus on freeing the body from tension, so it can be experienced as spaciousness rather than constraint. Yoga classes also help guests become mindful, filling hearts and limbs with enough calm energy to quiet a bawling infant with a single, whispered "shhh."
Leelawadee Thai Classic Massage founder Ron Wittawas brings an authentic touch to Thai massages. He trained at Wat Pho Thai Traditional Massage School of Bangkok, perfecting his technique at the elbows of the masters before coming to the Bay Area in 2002. During his signature Thai massage, Ron sets the stage for relaxation by first dipping patrons? feet into paraffin footbaths. Once patrons have removed the wax and Ron has foot casts that he will treasure forever, he guides clients through a combination of yoga-like stretches and deep-pressure massage with warm lotions and herbal balms.
An oasis of relaxation and nice smells, Qua Foot Spa lets guests sip steaming chrysanthemum or lavender tea as they enjoy foot massages. Sea-salt baths and exfoliating scrubs soften heels and toes roughened from stepping on the rocks that your roommate leaves scattered around the hallway, and reflexology massages aim to restore energy flow through the body?s meridians to relieve tension.
Within a 17th-floor penthouse, Spa J'Adore's wide windows allow rays of sunlight to illuminate Buddha photos, exposed-brick walls, and brilliant orchids. Their décor, a combination of urban chic and zen sensibilities, reflects the massage practice's dual focus on Western and Eastern traditions. To that end, massage therapists are equally adept at deep-tissue and Swedish treatments as modalities from Thailand and Japan. The staff also paints on tans with brushes instead of sprays during body-bronzing sessions, which create a smoother, more natural appearance. After their treatments, clients can lounge on the spa's balcony, sipping herbal tea from heavy clay cups and relaying semaphore messages to hikers on distant mountains.