Melissa Mellott is a local author and expert on spa health, with a masters degree from Azuza Pacific. She reveals to us the scoops on how to enjoy a spa treatment without blowing your pay check, how to find the right spa for you, and why spending some R&R time of self-indulgence can help improve your general health.
Resident of Santa Barbara since: 2000… well, two years were spent in the LA area while I attended Azusa Pacific University for graduate school. I am originally from Colorado. I love living in Santa Barbara!
Favorite Local Restaurant: My overall fave is Roys on Carrillo St. I also love Cold Springs Tavern and I like going to visit Bill at Surf Dog in Carp; he is a character and always has something to say. Oh ya, and I love Rose Café – they have crushed ice for my Diet Coke.
Favorite Workout Music: My workout consists of walking a lot, a little Pilates now and then, hiking perhaps and biking on my pink “fat cruiser.” My iPod music collection is… diverse. I could be listening to JT or Bee Gees… or my Italian lessons.
My idea of a dream vacation: I lived in Siena Italy for 3 months this past spring–- that was pretty dreamy. For a dream vacation, it must be warm and I must be there long enough to really “live” and not just be a visitor-– that’s ideal. I’m not into tourists or crowds and am more interested in the concept of “slow travel,” so I would pick a close or far away favorite like a nearby spa, or Austin, Maui, Tuscany or somewhere else in CA (these are all my favorite places) and just enjoy being in that one spot. I would eat, observe people and most likely write about it. At this very moment, I would like to be in Siena, Italy eating arrancia rosso gelato and then I would like to blink my eyes and wiggle my nose and be in Austin visiting my brother; (blink, blink) I am in Wyoming visiting my mom before it gets too cold and hoping to see the Cowboys in Wal Mart again – that’s a great short story that I didn’t finish. Places that I would love to visit that I haven’t been too yet include France, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, and Ireland.
Where I see myself in ten years: I’ll be 42 in ten years, so … nothing out of the ordinary-– perhaps married with children (or not) … doing work I love and that makes a difference in some way, perhaps a writing deal that supports my lifestyle… I would just want to be healthy and happy, nothing fancy.
How I first got involved with the health/fitness industry: I don’t like membership gyms and the like; I prefer walking outside, hiking perhaps, and just eating healthy. I tried yoga and I just couldn’t sit still or concentrate, so I tried Pilates – love Pilates … actually no, I don’t “like” Pilates, I like the results Pilates gives me. And then I got involved in spa health and fitness… definitely more my style-– the overall concept is to take care of yourself with stress management and relaxation techniques and your mind, spirit, heart and body will thank you.
Why I feel spa health is an important part of the fitness community: Spa health and overall fitness support one another. It’s simple– combined with exercise and nutrition, it is a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle.
My favorite spas in Santa Barbara: Honestly, it’s hard to pick an overall favorite; I love certain things about each one. That’s why I started Spa Defined, so I could highlight what is unique and special about each spa and the people who work there. If someone wanted a referral for a spa, I would suggest they look at Spa Defined and see what spa resonates with them, depending on their needs.
What I love most about my job: As a spa health writer, it’s a sweet perk to get free spa treatments or products to sample. It was also pure bliss to travel to Italy and visit spas; I loved learning about the terme’s and their healing waters. I also had the best massage by Stefano in Positano. My job as a writer overall… well, I love to travel and LOVE seeing humor, or a story or character in just about every situation. Being able to write a good story about real life experiences is very fulfilling.
Tips to enjoying a “spa treatment” without having to spend hundreds of dollars: If you are on a budget, you should avoid Resort Spas and instead indulge in one of the many little day spas in SB. You can get a facial or massage at any of the day spas or skin care spas on my website for less than $100. If you’re on a really tight budget, either visit the cosmetology school or massage school for discounted facials and massages (less than $50). Lastly, spa treatments are a GREAT gift, so don’t spend a penny and the next time you are asked what you want for your birthday, ask for a spa gift certificate. It’s one of my favorite gifts to give and get!
My definition of “healthy?” Mentally, spiritually, physically balanced… this is difficult to accomplish with jobs and family, etc., but one can come close to balance, that to me defines “healthy.” I also have a strong opinion on simplifying one’s life which I think ultimately helps with balance and health. And of course, spa health-– meaning taking care of yourself through stress management and relaxation supports a healthy lifestyle. Spa health does not require a $100 massage every week, spa health is simply seeking solitude-– read, take a walk, and enjoy quiet time, whatever brings you rejuvenation and relaxation.
How I would like to see the fitness community of Santa Barbara evolve over the next ten years: I would love to see a Wellness Spa opened in SB. There are many quaint day spas, a couple of resort spas, many medical spas, but SB does not have a Wellness spa. This would incorporate spa treatments, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, a fitness facility, nutrition services and a café. It would be designed with a relaxing, spa like environment in mind, not a gym atmosphere. A good model for this concept would be Sycamore Hot Springs, Murad Spa in Santa Monica, and Lake Austin Spa in Texas. Most of the Termes in Italy are like a wellness spa, focused on health, rather than beauty.
Visit www.spadefined.com to read about the spas that Melissa reviews in your surrounding areas.