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  by Courtney Caldwell 

Welcome to the Burke Williams Spa! This is one of the many entrances among their six Southern California locations.

Stress. Who doesn't have it? In fact, who doesn't have a lot of it in today's mad, mad world of traffic jams, long lines and juggling family and work?

There seems to be little to no escape starting from the minute you get up with the mad dash of getting kids off to school and yourself ready for work. After battling rush hour traffic you spend the better part of the day dealing with your job, your boss, or your staff. Then back into more rush hour traffic, ending up where you started… at home, preparing dinner, dealing with family issues and chores. Bedtime, it seems, becomes your only escape.

It's just plain crazy. How many times have you laid there staring at the ceiling wondering, "Is this all there is? What about me?"

There is more, much more, but you have to make it happen and we're here to help... to help you get a little more me time. Women are notorious for taking on the weight of the world as caretakers, nurturers and providers. There's much debate on women's ever changing and expanding roles. Nonetheless, as the debate goes on women continue to charge forward as family gatekeepers and sprouting business owners making it their responsibility to ensure everyone's happiness and satisfaction well before their own. No wonder we wonder what about me?

Since week-long vacations are far and few between and even fewer are just for you there really is only one solution, a day at the spa. For those of you who have indulged you know of what I speak. For those of you who haven't here's your answer to a little slice of heaven, a safe haven from the stresses of everyday living. One day dedicated to your physical and spiritual well being can and will change your world not to mention your state of mind. I think we all deserve a happier and healthier outlook, don't you?

Never was this more evident than the day I spent at Burke Williams Spa in Santa Monica, California. It was the perfect reminder of just how much damage all the stress in my life had done to my body and soul.

Enjoy the privacy and total tranquility of the Burke Williams philosophy.

The Burke Williams philosophy is about providing a totality in its "beyond the spa" experience. By creating a soft, nurturing and tranquil environment, clients feel relaxed and secure. Treatments by the best therapists and aestheticians, combined with an abundance of additional amenities in a luxurious setting, transform stress into bliss.

Founded by Bill Armour in 1986, the concept was to create a spa that exceeded all others in indulgence, comfort and elegance. Mission accomplished. When I walked into the Santa Monica facility, I knew I had stepped into a place that was out of this world. The décor and amenities were reminiscent of a refined resort spa, with separate facilities for both men and women.

The mission was to convey a sense of innocence and purity. The best reflection, according to Armour, was the innocence of a child. Subsequently, Armour named the spa Burke Williams after his newborn son.

The success of his vision has inspired Armour to expand Burke Williams into eight more cities throughout Southern California. Each location offers a different mood-evoking motif ranging from a Mediterranean theme to a motif reminiscent of old Morocco to an English country lodge. While each offers a wide variety of relaxing spa services, Burke Williams is best known for their high quality massage therapy.

"One of the most gratifying aspects of owning spas that specialize in massage is having clients who arrive stressed, harried and uptight, and then seeing them leave," said Armour. "The transformation is amazing… they leave relaxed, positive and very appreciative of the service."

The massage explosion might be best explained by aging baby boomers that have become aware of the benefits of massage therapy in relieving stress, sore muscles, and old athletic injuries. Headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders, arthritis, and high blood pressure can respond to massage therapy as well. Medical studies have also indicated the positive effects of massage in pregnancy.

As an aging baby boomer myself with half of the disorders mentioned above and more on the way, I can honestly attest to the fact that after a visit to Burke Williams, the results were far beyond any expectations. Of all the spas reviewed, this one set a standard to which others can only aspire.

Brick-laden walls cover curved corridors. Soft lights and the aromatic splendor of aroma therapy consumed the 20,00 square foot, multi-leveled Santa Monica facility, the first of the six to be launched. Had someone blind folded me and asked to guess where I was my answer would have been far away in another time and land. The sense of peace and tranquility made it easier than one could imagine to surrender all the stress that tears at nerve endings and muscles. The senses become aroused… the sound of calm, the smell of incense, the soft voices of staff as they gently escort you to your treatment.

The quiet room provides a relaxing environment while waiting for treatments.

A quiet room provides a relaxing environment with overstuffed recliners, a wood-burning fireplace, dim light and herb tea both before and after treatments. Pitchers of fruit infused iced water and fresh fruit baskets are abound throughout the spa. Everything one would want or need after a relaxing facial or deep tissue massage is available for client use. You need not show up with hairdryers and towels, just a willingness to be treated like a queen or king for a day.

Services include seven kinds of massage, facials, signature wet room treatments, hydrotherapy, wraps and nail care for both men and women in separate facilities. Hair and chiropractic care will also soon be available. All treatments include complementary use of amenities such as Jacuzzi, steam, sauna, rain bar showers, and a well-stocked vanity area.

My first treatment was a deep-tissue Swedish massage by a therapist named Andrew. You may request either a male or female therapist for your own personal comfort. Due to so many spinal and broken bone injuries incurred from a motorcycle accident years ago, I prefer a male therapist because of the size of their hands and ability to apply deep pressure. Massage and chiropractic treatments have been a way of life for me since 1989 to relieve the chronic pain and pressure in the damaged areas. As a result, I've become somewhat of an expert at who's good and who's not.

At meetings the next day, clients kept mentioning how great I looked; younger, relaxed and bright. It's been a month since the treatments and even now I'm still hearing how great my skin looks. This positive feedback is flattering indeed, and who doesn't love a nice compliment from time to time, but more importantly it's testament to the perfection and long-lasting affects that are bestowed by Burke Williams therapists.

Burke Williams is clearly a leader in the highly competitive spa industry owing much of its success to word of mouth referrals; repeat business, and booming gift certificate sales. Each spa also has a conference room where corporations frequently hold staff meeting followed by treatments, which serve as incentives or performance rewards for attendees.

If a trip to California is in your travel plans, or even if you live there, I highly recommend a day at Burke Williams Spa. It may be your first visit but I guarantee it won't be your last. With so much stress in your life don't you owe it to yourself and your family to be the best you can be? So go for it, reward yourself with a little slice of heaven.


For more information on Burke Williams go to:
Burke Williams Spa

For locating additional spas in the U.S. go to:

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