Friday, June 22, 2007

Spa Safari - Blue Giraffe Day Spa

No vacation would be complete without a visit to a spa. On the last day in Ashland I visited the Blue Giraffe. I had wanted a scrub and massage, but due to timing and scheduling issues I opted for just a the epicurian geranium grapeseed body polish.
The location of the spa is off Main Street in the downtown section of Ashland, behind the creek and so if you take the stairs down from Main and walk up along the creek, it is scenic and very relaxing. I was greeted promptly when I walked in and shown the waiting area and into the changing room.
The decor of the spa is unlike any other I've been in. Bright orange walls, greenery, sculptures of animals and wooden masks. Very African safari influenced. I liked it.
The changing room is very small. It seems to be meant for one person at a time, which does give it an air of exclusivity, but does make it hard to want to blowdry your hair and put makeup on afterwards without feeling like you are keeping someone else waiting. There are smallish lockers, spa shoes and robes. The robes are amazing. A very soft cotton (or maybe cotton rayon blend), they drape well, and most of all come in a variety of patterns all coordinating with the safari like decor of the spa. I opted for a dragonfly robe, that I did have a bit of a desire to take with me, because it was so pretty.
I filled out my information sheet in the waiting room (co-ed), and was greeted by my massuese (Amy) shortly there after (and possibly before my appointment time). She led me to the steam room to help open my pores and soften my skin. The steam room also doubles as the shower and is at the end of the hallway. There is a curtain around it where you disrobe, take a small towel to sit on and go in. Obviously meant for one person, and the closed curtains are a good indicator of someone being in there. I am not a fan of steam rooms and luckily she listened to me and only had me sit in there a few minutes.
There seem to be a good amount of treatment rooms, and so the one shower/steam room seems to possibly put a crimp in thier scheduling. But perhaps they aren't very busy, it being a relatively small town and all.
The room was large, and was thier couples room. I had initially asked for an appointment for my friend as well, but they couldn't accomodate us at the same time, I guess due to not enough massueses.
Amy was great, she was friendly and interesting to talk to, had a good touch (not to hard, not to soft). I enjoyed our conversation and her professionalism. I was led back down to the shower afterwards, someone was in there and I went back to the waiting room for about 15 min, until Amy came and got me. A shower to rinse the scrub off, and back to the changing room. The woman who was in the shower before me was in there, so it did make for a bit of awkwardness trying to change and primp at the same time.
One interesting program they have is if you are already at the spa and decide to add another service that day it is 20% off. It was very tempting to see if I could schedule the massage while still there, but since my friend was over at Waterstone Spa, I didn't want to keep her waiting. Definately a good way to get customers to add on services though!
Overall, it was a good spa experience, the only strange part was that I've always had a lotion application after the scrub. It seems that a moisturizer after a polish is a necessity. This is not to say my skin felt dry or parched afterwards, I suspect there was plenty of oil blended in with the polish, but the service did feel a bit incomplete.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A modern oasis in Ashland - Morical House

The Morical House Bed and Breakfast is just like home. If my home were on 2 acres of land, with amazing views from the deck, had a personal chef and neverending cups of tea.

We recently spent 5 nights here and I have never been so relaxed after a vacation. Granted, that may also have something to do with Ashland as a whole and the mellow vibe it gives off.

What I loved most about it, was that it isn't your typical B&B. The decor is like my own house, elegant and minimalist modern (think Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware instead of Laura Ashley), Alicia is readily available but not intrusive and chatty, and breakfast is three courses. There is a good selection of Tazo teas and biscotti around all day, a common room with a fireplace which was perfect for sipping tea and curling up with a book at night.

However, the huge win was really the deck with views of the mountains. We spent many hours laying out, getting some color and catching up on reading and relaxing. It was there I saw my first quail, and discovered a cherry tree behind the pond that was full of very juicy tasty cherries!
The rest of the grounds are lovely with lots of colorful flowers and plants, a flower covered trellis, and a hammock that adds to that on vacation feeling.

Breakfasts were delicious, we were asked about dietary concerns and they were accommodated fairly well, although there were a few breakfasts I was only able to take a few bites of. Breakfasts either consisted of muffins/coffee cake and pancakes with a fruit compote (no syrup) and chicken sausage, or a fruit plate with eggs (either scrambled or fried) and sausage/chorizo. Dessert everyday was a sorbet or mini cream puffs. Now, if there is one thing I would like to incorporate into my daily breakfast routine it is ice cream! There were 2 seatings 8:30 or 9:30 am. The breakfast room is cozy and full of windows, it has two tables for 2 and 2 tables for 4, so I suppose if you wanted to be social and mingle with other guests you could sit at one of the tables for 4. The space isn't too large and we did often talk with people at the neighboring tables about restaurants and plays.

We stayed in one of the suites Room 9 (picked specifically because this was the one room that appeared to have a television, it also had a dvd player and cable which was a nice surprise). The sheets were soft and a high thread count, because there is nothing better than high thread count sheets, the pillows were 100% down, thus making them squishably soft (and leaving me to wonder where exactly they were purchased, because I would love to buy about 20 for myself), there was a down comforter and a regular thinner cotton comforter on the bed.

The downside to the room was that it was a bit cold and there was no thermostat (this was also the case with the rooms inside the main house as we heard from other guests). The seating area was large, but the leather sofa and chair were not very comfortable to nap or curl up on.

Aesthetically though, the sitting area had no flaws. There was a mini-fridge in the room and teas and coffee which came in handy for storing wine and cheeses for afternoon snacking.

The bathroom had a whirlpool bath big enough for 2 and a stand up shower with no door, all done in grey stone which was beatiful. Soft towels, soap, shampoo and conditioner were changed daily, housekeeping was impeccable.

The rooms in the main house are smaller and primarly just a bed, dresser and bathroom with shower. There is one room with a clawfoot tub that is larger than the others and has a sitting area. They all also have the down comforter and nice sheets.

Room 3

Room 4

Room 5

Location wise it is a mile or so away from downtown and the Shakespeare Festival, so you will need a car to drive back and forth, it's on a main road that is almost like a highway so walking along it is a bit strange.

I have no doubt I would stay here time and again on trips to Ashland and would recommend it to any of my friends.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Breadboard Restaurant and Bakery - Ashland

Even though we were staying at a B&B with very tasty breakfasts, the lure of this place down the road was too much. We grabbed lunch to go one day, a chef salad ($8.25) the size of our head and a turkey burger with bacon, swiss and mushrooms with a side of home fries ($9.25). I've never been one for ground turkey, it never tastes as good as beef to me. I also dislike mushrooms. But, let me just say this was the best damn turkey burger I've ever had! I kept half for later, and even cold it was good. The chef salad was also very tasty.
They had cinnamon buns the size of which I had never seen before, sadly I forgot to get one before we left town.
We did go in another day and got the breakfast foods at lunch time (it's only open until 2:30 pm sadly). 2 huge biscuits with sausage gravy ($4.95), a side of sausage ($1.50 for 2 links - because one can never have enough breakfast meat) side of homefries ($2.50 - because they were so tasty the last time - they aren't very fried, and not greasy, just a very tasty cut of potatoes), there was also an omlette ($8.95) that had lots of good things in it (so many I can't remember what exactly).
The gravy was thick and creamy and delicious, also very good when dipping the "homers" in it. The biscuits were thick, and a bit on the dry side inside, but with the amount of gravy on the plate that really wasn't an issue. I actually liked that it wasn't buttery in this instance.
It's a very cozy, old style family owned diner type place, the service is friendly and prompt and if I lived in Ashland I would eat there everyday.

Location: 744 N Main St. Ashland (close to Talent) (541) 488-0295