The New Normal

Pampering Yourself Just Got Easier



    Even if it is completely normal to make a business call while sitting in traffic and refereeing a fight between the kids in the back seat as you down an energy bar, the bottom line is: You are stressed. Why not do something to take care of yourself? Here are some places redefining “normal.”


Take a real break at this Montclair oasis, where massage chairs are waiting to reinvent the middle of your busy day. With massages starting at 20 minutes ($29), the time you spend at this eco-friendly spot — named for the Swahili word meaning “resting place” — will drown out your bosses’ demands, thanks to trickling water and the aroma of all-natural oils and lotions. Go on an extra long “sales call” and hunker down for a 30-, 60- or 90-minute table massage. Invite your co-workers to join in, as Kilalo offers creative and healthy events within a sharp-minded, go-getter’s budget. Who knows? This massage could lead to a promotion. 2067 Mountain Blvd., (510) 338-0791,


Getting a facial should not feel like judging by Simon Cowell. This adorable, friendly spa gives your skin TLC instead of a cold diagnosis. Owner and esthetician Ellen Olson has created a relaxing and inviting atmosphere where the popular custom facial ($90) is tailored to your needs and includes a much-deserved neck and shoulder massage. The Euro classic ($105) offers 75 luxurious minutes of cleansing, facial massage and foot reflexology. Even making an appointment is relaxing with online booking. If you run into Simon after your appointment, just see if he’s got anything to say! 474 Santa Clara Ave., (510) 268-9500,


If you think floating on air is impossible, make an appointment at this homey, warmly decorated nook. You might walk in with everyday life weighing you down, but you will most certainly glide out. Owner John Vito’s vision is to create a place where everyone feels inner peace. The result is a palpable, positive vibe the moment you set foot in this second-floor refuge. In addition to the ubiquitous Swedish and deep-tissue massages starting at $78 per hour, this spa offer unique services like traditional Thai yoga or pregnancy massages for $88 per hour. No extra charge for learning how to float. 6206 Claremont Ave., (510) 547-6716,


If you can book a same-day flight to Australia, why should you have to make a waxing appointment six weeks in advance? Enter owner Shannon Dorsey, the inventor (yes, inventor) of speed waxing. “When I opened in 1989, I got really efficient at it. While other salons were taking an hour, I was taking 20 minutes.” While there’s no doubt you can relax with a massage and a natural nail mani/pedi here, you will find no waterfalls and orchids. But what it lacks in Enya it makes up for in convenience and practicality. Daily specials present a hefty 20 percent off. The most recent addition is intuitive reading sessions, which can unleash a new understanding of recurring themes in one’s life to experience a deep relaxation. Talk about feeling fabulous for your trip to Australia! 3190 College Ave., Berkeley, (510) 428-2600,

France may have the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and awesome food, but we have Miriam Bendimerad, owner of a Mediterranean-style haven. Trained as an esthetician in France, she combines European techniques and her native Moroccan traditions for every face. Well-kept secrets like Ghassoul clay masks to calm and balance and Cirepil wax, a gentler low-temperature hard wax, are the status quo. Book an Argania Experience Facial ($75) and learn of the miraculous powers of argan oil. Rich in vitamin E, essential fatty acids, powerful anti-oxidents and omega 3, this magical ingredient moisturizes, smoothes and softens while “curtailing the effects of time.” France will be so jealous!
1801 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, (510) 883-1832,


Indulging in a spa day all alone is nice, but throw in a bunch of friends, food and drinks and you’ve got the experience Lenora Taylor had in mind when she opened 17 years ago. “I wanted to create a place like Cheers, where everyone knows your name,” says Taylor. This sophisticated spot — Oakland’s oldest day spa — is at the ready for pamper parties for up to 20 people. With a variety of massages, nail care, foot detox, waxing and body scrubs, there is a service for every demand. The spa is connected to the hair salon next door, which makes this an awesome spot for wedding parties, including groomsmen. There’s nothing more relaxing than good fun. 630 Grand Ave., (510) 835-8907,


Wading through a 10-page menu of spa services is enough to make you need a massage. But after 29 years, the Piedmont Spa knows how to keep it simple. Prices are based on your time on the table, from 20 minutes to two hours. Walk-ins and same-day appointments are welcome, and with 20 massage therapists on call, trained in Swedish, deep tissue, sports and craniosacral techniques, the goal is to match your aches and pains with the right pair of hands. In the end, you will definitely feel like you got exactly what you needed. 4022 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 655-7174,

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