How to Have a Luxury Spa and Hotel Break For a Budget Price

Ever since Gok Wan went from making us look good naked to creating catwalk outfits for less than the price of dry cleaning a designer outfit, I’ve been pulling out my craft glue (and the occasional DIY supplies) to glam up New Look basics into must have “pieces”. I’ve even taken a couple of their comfortable wide fit shoes and made them into sparkling triumphs courtesy of Claire’s Accessories and some Superdrug nail varnish. I know, these are not names that generally inspire, but when the resulting sandals are mistaken for the latest season sandals from Dune (and are actually comfortable enough to walk in) I knew I was on to a winner.Fast forward to a girlie weekend in Barcelona this March and a visit to a local spa and suddenly my mind was working overtime again.As much as I love the idea of a long weekend at a luxury spa hotel, if I’m honest the prices have always put me off, and my recent experiences at day spas in Morocco and Barcelona have convinced me that you don’t need to pay through the nose for an exceptional spa experience. In fact the best massages I have had to date have been the cheapest ones:- Around 32 pounds for a hammam, with a gommage “scrubbing”, followed by a rhassoul, and then the most relaxing massage I’ve ever had. I can’t tell you how long I was in there – only that the sun had gone down, I had lost all track of time, and I was on a completely different planet.- Even in Barcelona, with the euro at an all-time high, the top rated spa cost us around 54 pounds for the hammam, (with extra hot steam room and plunge pool), followed by a gommage “scrubbing” and another extremely relaxing massage. Three hours of luxury for 54 pounds compared to UK prices is a total steal.The fact is that in many cultures the local spa is an everyday (or at least every month) treat, which, combined with good exchange rates (when they are available), makes them a great bargain on holiday. So why aren’t we taking advantage of them? Well personally I think it’s because, whereas guide books are stuffed with restaurant, sight and hotel recommendations, very rarely do they spend any time on spas. The spa in Morocco was recommended by friends, and the spa in Barcelona was found with some pre-emptive internet research. Later in the year I’m off to visit China, which has some world class hotel spas, but also boasts a proud massage tradition, which leads me to hope that as well as the day spas I’ve been recommended (where prices are about a quarter of UK rates) I’ll also be able to find other more authentic bargains.Which leads me to the hotel part of the spa and hotel break. One of the reasons that staying at a luxury spa hotel can cost so much is that you are paying for the option to use it 24/7. If, like me, you see your spa time as part of a whole trip rather than a destination in itself, you’ll probably find that one day spending 3-4 hours in a spa is enough (taking into account the detox effects) at least for a couple of days. So just by choosing to stay in a separate hotel you will probably save a hefty chunk of your holiday budget, and you’ll also avoid the temptation to stay locked up in your hotel for your entire stay and miss out on the local treats.By then choosing an affordable hotel, reasonably close to your spa, which features the required level of pampering (slippers, robe, fluffy white towels), you can relax back in your room safe in the knowledge that you’ll be going home with a designer glow and a budget bill.Of course this is not to say that there aren’t spa hotels offering affordable deals, but by being flexible and savvy you can make sure that your relaxation time isn’t spent feeling ripped off. And perhaps more importantly, by being more creative in choosing your hotel, you have a much better choice of spa. You are not limited to an in-house spa experience, very important considering the number of excellent day spas available, even in the UK. Take for example Spa London in Bethnal Green, voted 2010 Professional Beauty Awards “Day Spa of the Year”, where 3 hours of thermal experience will set you back 21.50 pounds at the top of the scale for non-members, down to 6.75 pounds for concessionary local members (including towel, robe and flip flop use) and which is truly a luxury experience compared to the slightly run down Porchester Spa. And then there’s Thermae Bath Spa, the only place in the UK where you can bathe in natural healing spa waters, voted 2010 “Best Spa in the World” by readers of the Daily Telegraph’s Ultra Travel Magazine for the second time running, where a 2 hour session in the New Royal Bath (recommended) will set you back 24 pounds (plus 9 pounds hire cost for towel, robe and slippers if you need them – and you get to keep the slippers!) Unlike many spas the Thermae Bath Spa also offers reductions for locals, disabled guests and their carers, so a local disabled guest (and carer) could pay as little as 9.50 pounds each for a 2 hour session in the New Royal Bath. (You can also buy a glass of spa water at The Pump Room for only 50p!)Of course London and Bath are not known for their cheap hotel rooms, and certainly in central Bath you might be pushed to find availability, let alone an affordable room rate. However, if you widen your search to the surrounding area, you’ll also find some wonderful B&Bs which would put many hotels to shame, and where you can wake up to the sound of a horse clip clopping past, right in the heart of the countryside. Then it’s up to you whether you decide to explore some old fashioned villages, head back home refreshed and revived, or pop back to the Thermae Bath Spa for just a little more bargain relaxation.

The Rake Philosophy – 10 Min’s to Total Mind-Body-Spirit Connection!

The Way Of The RakeMany years ago in the southern regions of a land far away lived a man by the name of Hewko. A poor man by providential state but rich in Mind, Body and Spirit.”Relationships” he would say, “are the true paths to wealth of soul, peace of mind and health of body”.And,”Relaxation is not for pillows as pillows are not for the relaxed”!Many seemingly wise and yet puzzling things he did say. . . leaving the disciples who sought him no further along in wisdom than before. No more peace of mind than a rabbit in the wild afraid to venture out of its hole for fear of being eaten. No less confused and no more focused on their self imposed task because they failed to act.But they sought him out all the same as all seekers must seek someone other than themselves to “show” them “the way”!The way of ‘The Rake’ clears all pathways that are unclear due to the fallen leaves of timeAnd what of you dear reader. . . do you also seek the spiritual healing that comes with the words of the Great Sage Hewko? Be of good cheer- the secret lies in the essence and foundation of The Rake! “The Way of the Rake”, as Hewko would say, “clears all pathways that are unclear due to the fallen leaves of time”; and I will share with you in a very few words the philosophy of The Rake and how you can apply it this very day with no further delay of peace to mind, depth to soul and life to body.”Just as the pathway of the forest is obscured by the leaves that fall there on. . . so also our minds are unclear by the task that fall upon our minds”. Too much technology, too many Business opportunities, too many bills to pay and just too many places to be and things to do. We are overwhelmed, our minds are cluttered, we do not exercise, we do not sleep. . . we know what we must do but do not!Meditation is a straw that eludes the grasp; yoga is an exercise of mind and body that does not always satisfy; crystals are debated, set on shelves and forgotten; and when feeling sluggish conventional medicine offers no cure- we seek “holistic” and/or “alternative medicines only to find more “alternatives” to the “alternatives”! Hewko would not deny all of the above as potential healing sources of mind, body and spirit. . . but one must first develop the discipline of The Rake!The Mind Body Spirit connection is Earth connected. . .All religions teach the importance of the Spirit Earth connection. The Bible says in the creation story of Genesis, “with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life”. Man continually shirks his duty as “husband” of the land and wonders why he feels so lethargic. The sowing and reaping of years gone by is more and more distant from the lives of modern man. Hewko says, “Reach into the soil of your own backyard and grow something”!The Way of the Rake is nothing more than the rake you can buy at the local hardware store. . . take rake in hand and touch the Earth! Mind, Body and Spirit unite in that one simple action and you are centered, balanced and whole. The rake is literal but only part of it. Cultivate the earth, plant the seed and help it grow! The law of sowing and reaping has always been taught since the beginning of time through the planting of seed and is the foundation for all business and romance.If you are unable to find your way through religion. . . rake! If you are unable to quite the mind. . . rake! If you are overwhelmed with bills, business and the cares of this world. . . rake!Unplug from TV and computer, go outside and touch the Earth. Today’s modern man allocates these basic life giving energies to other men who regard these God given privileges as nothing more than a 9 – 5 J.O.B. How can we be sure our Mind, Body and Spiritual sufferings are nothing more than self imposed when we go for months and, for some, years without rolling in the hay?The man of religious conviction who studies the Bible and yet avoids his “curse” can no more expect God to answer his prayers than he can expect tomatoes to grow where he has not prepared the soil. Back to the land should be our motto. Home grown should be the description given the vegetables on our table. And the law of sowing and reaping should be the first law written on our hearts. . . Mind, Body and Spirit begins where the salad grows.Hewko’s Final Words”Clear the leaves from the path of your mind with The Rake! Touch the Earth and the Earth will touch you. When we Rake we use the Mind, we use the Body and we find our Spirit whole”.

Online Travel Deals – Tips to Save Big on Your Airfares and Hotels

Are you bitten by the travel bug but are reluctant to travel more frequently due to rising travel costs? Do not worry, as there is a plethora of attractive travel deals online that are a big help in reducing various travel costs so that you can save more money for your next trip.There are many reasons why service providers and online travel agents want to offer such deals to their customers. Among these reasons are relatively low demand, weather and climate conditions and the rolling out of brand new promotions.Whatever their reasons, there is no better time than now to start going online to research and take advantage of these cheap travel deals as the Internet has made it much easier to search for and compare the rates offered by different sources. I shall now offer some tips how you can go about finding the best deals for airlines and accommodation, two travel components which often take up a huge chunk of our travel expenditure.The first step in getting the best deals for travel is to allocate your budget for hotels, airfare and other aspects of your travel. To do this, you have to be clear what the purpose of your travel is and how much would be appropriate to spend on each aspect so as to fit your travel purpose neatly. For example, if you are planning a fun-filled resort break, you would have to apportion more funds towards the hotel and recreation categories.Hence, adjusting your expectations on what kinds of deals on specific travel components are low enough for you will go a long way in ensuring that you would not be disappointed with your chosen deal. This would also depend on whether you are geared more towards budget or luxury travel.To find discounted rates for hotels and airfares, you may want to visit a travel website that offers travel discounts for these aspects. This is to save you the trouble of having to visit multiple sites for them, and help you plan your bookings for both components in a hassle-free manner.Next, look out for any seasonal offers that may arise due to either low demand due to off-peak seasons, such as winter, or festive season promotions. However, be sure to check out the weather forecasts to make sure that your trip will not be ruined by harsh weather conditions.Many airlines and hotels also do not want to leave their seats or rooms empty hence they may offer last minute deals which can net you attractive savings. Last minute bookings, however, are generally only advisable if you are sure that the airlines and hotels are not overbooked during the period which you will be travelling.If you are travelling during peak seasons instead, you may want to book in advance as the best deals for the cheapest seats and rooms will be quickly taken up if you wait till the last minute to place your booking. Being flexible with your travel plans will certainly help as you can run a search for room rates or ticket prices spanning a greater range of dates. This will often reveal more travel deals than if you search for a specific date only.