Girl time!

A relaxing spa can be the ideal place to spend quality time with a friend or two.
When was the last time you spent quality time with a good friend? I don’t do that as often as I used to, and sadly not as often as I would like.
 
According to experts, spending time with good friends is a boon as well as being enjoyable. A new study out of the UK, recently reported in the Huffington Post, found that children who experienced “unpleasant events” with their best friends produced lower levels of cortisol than those who experienced the same events alone. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can shorten your life. Cortisol is also responsible for adding fat around your middle. It is definitely not something you want to encourage!
 
In an article entitled An Alternative to Fight or Flight, Gale Berkowitz reported that," A landmark UCLA study suggested that friendships between women are special.” She reports, “They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.” Can you think of a better reason to slow down and make time for your friends? I can’t.
 
So when my good friend and colleague Angela D'Amario and I had the opportunity to investigate the girl’s getaway at The Chattanoogan Hotel, we didn’t hesitate. We were both overdue for some serious R&R and catching up. Busy work schedules and a very nasty cold on my part had left us both tired and little stressed.
 
A relaxing spot to chatChattanooga is a pretty little city tucked away in the gorgeous Tennessee Mountains. It is an easy two-hour drive from Atlanta and the perfect destination for anyone looking for fall getaway with temperate weather and beautiful scenery.
 
Angela had visited Chattanooga before, but it was my first visit. I was charmed by the welcoming, walkable city. It was wonderful after driving in Atlanta’s traffic to be able to hand the car over the hotel’s valet and then forget about it for the duration of the trip. Restaurants, bars, festivals, shopping, and the amazing Tennessee Aquarium were all within walking distance or reachable by the free electric trolley from our hotel.
 
But darlings, we really didn't come for sightseeing, although we did visit the aquarium. And we had a lovely lunch at Nikos, a cute Greek restaurant on the south side of the city, before checking into the hotel. We came for the spa. As a career beauty editor, I can tell you that all hotel spas are not fabulous. Most of them are luxuriously appointed, but the level of services can vary. It is possible to get a mediocre massage or second-rate pedicure in very posh surroundings, but for a very steep price. I have experienced both.
 
The spa at The Chattanoogan is low-key, in keeping with the mountain setting. But don’t be fooled this is a serious spa with all the amenities and top-notch technicians, as Angela and I found out.
 
I had a combination deep tissue and sports massage to deal with my aching muscles. My massage therapist, Nicole, expertly zeroed in on the muscles I overuse in my daily workout, and she also worked on my achy joints. She was thorough, intense, and careful as she kneaded away my aches and pains. My massage also included a pumpkin scrub for my feet. Nicky also applied a moisturizing aqua pack to my face as she worked on my neck and shoulders to soothe my dry skin. It was heavenly.
 
Angela had the “nourishing facial”. The treatment was selected for her by her esthetician, Paula, based on questionnaires we filled out when arrived at the spa detailing. Angela told me Paula applied different anti-oxidants to her skin with a very gentle massage. She also massaged Angela’s neck, shoulders, hands, and feet. After the facial Angela's skin calm and glowing. Angela skin is prone to redness and Paula’s treatment was very effective. Paula also applied a collagen eye treatment which Angela said was an add-on to her facial.
 
Even the next day, we both still felt the benefits of our spa pampering.
 
After our afternoon of renewal we were so relaxed that it was fabulous not to have to leave the hotel for dinner. We headed down to the hotel’s restaurant, The Broad Street Grille. We were delighted to discover the emphasis on a farm-to-table menu featuring fresh local ingredients.
 
The service at the restaurant – and the hotel for that matter – was friendly and welcoming.  We were offered the choice of sitting at a regular table or the chef’s table, which is a bar that overlooks the kitchen prep area. The chef’s table would be a great option for a woman alone or a group of foodie friends would enjoy a bird’s eye view of the action. We opted for a quiet table for two.
 
We both started with an amuse bouche of a perfectly caramelized scallop on a bed of sweetly-stewed onions, butter, and herbs. The seafood was fabulously fresh and the perfect start to dinner. I then had the soup of the day, a delicious white bean soup redolent of smoky ham and herbs. It was perfect for a fall night.
 
A trio of mini crab cakes on an aioli type sauce and fresh greens from the appetizer menu followed the soup. The crab cakes were perfect. They were crisp and full of tasty fresh crab.
 
Angela grew up in Germany and she loves traditional pork dishes. She ordered the fresh local pork chop. She told me it was tastiest, juiciest pork she had in very long time. We both enjoyed the wine that we ordered by the glass. Neither of our selections was disappointing, as is so often the case with wine by the glass. There were several good choices of each varietal. We split the vanilla crème brûlée for dessert.
 
For me, a spa trip provides the perfect combination of bonding time and relaxation on a short getaway with girlfriends. A nice hotel with a great spa lets everyone relax and forget about driving and traffic for a day or two as well while indulging in some well-deserved pampering.
If you haven’t had time to catch up with your best friends lately why not try to plan a spa weekend, or at least an afternoon in spa heaven. It will do you a world of good. Just ask the experts.
 
The Chattanoogan Hotel has a Girls Just Want to Have Fun Package. It includes deluxe overnight for 2 nights with breakfast for 2 days, a spa lunch as well as a full menu spa pampering, and other treats.   It starts at $500 per person based on double occupancy.
The hotel has modern mountain decor with dramatic but cozy fire pits and many amenities.
 

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Spa at home

SkinSync is a new  line of spa quality and spa-tested skin care products designed to be used at home.  

SkinSync has four product lines to tackle different skin concerns such as aging, hyperpigmentation, and dryness. They also have specialty products such a heightening peel, and a time-released retinal and lip plumper. The line uses top-quality ingredients that are found in many of the best medi-spa lines.
 
I liked both the light, but penetrating Pro-A Age Defying and Pro-B Brightening eye creams. They leave the eye area moist-looking and refreshed. The day creams have an SPF 30 which makes them effective sun protection for most women, and that alone is a good recommendation.
 
SkinSync is a good option for women experiencing the first signs of aging. The line is well-priced for quality ingredients. The pricing is good for the high quality of the ingredients.
 
Prices range from $29 for a cleanser to $85 for the brightening peel.
 
 

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