Hotel Crashing: Signature Amaya Kandalama, Sri Lanka

So here’s a basic outline of our first day (2 days) getting to/and/around Sri Lanka.

  • A 14-hour flight from D.C. to Seoul on Korean Air First Class.
  • A 6-hour layover at the Seoul Airport.
  • An 8-hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Land at 3:15 a.m. and meet our driver, Tillie.
  • Drive about 3.5 hours in the darkness (and occassional rain) to Dambulla Cave Temples, dodging school children, dogs, tuk tuks, roadside stalls with open fires, etc. all along the way.
  • Climb 350 very steep, very slippery and uneven stone stairs in oppressive heat and humidity to see said Cave Temples. (no air conditioning, obviously)
  • Spend $2 to recover in the small but well done (and, more importantly…air conditioned) Cave Temple Museum
  • Drive 15 minutes or so to Signature Amaya Kandalama and collapse.

First Class Korean Beer

Honestly, Signature Amaya Kandalama could have been a roach hotel and I would not have given a flying Fig Newton. I probably still would have declared it the most luxurious and wonderful accommodations ever known to man.

Sigiriya Rock Sri Lanka
Sigiriya Rock, aka “Hell-to-the-Nah Rock”

Luckily, it was not a roach hotel. Not at all. It’s pretty upscale for Sri Lanka. It actually reminded me of some of the resorts we’ve stayed at in other tropical locales. In fact, the Sri Lanka National Cricket team was staying there the same time as us (they apparently had a match in Dambulla).

Continue reading Hotel Crashing: Signature Amaya Kandalama, Sri Lanka

Don’t Be That Girl – 10 Tips on How to Act at the Spa

I went to the spa this past weekend to get a massage. I went to my preferred place, the Lorien. I like the Lorien for a couple of reasons, but primarily: it’s pretty.

It’s part of a Kimpton Hotel, so it’s sleek and soothing. The spa is located in the basement, down a long corridor, and is totally tucked away from the hustle and bustle, so it’s quite the cocoon of relaxation. The locker rooms and showers are sleek and white, very spa-minimalist. The relaxation rooms are done in warm beiges and light greens. There’s a fine help-yourself selection of herbal teas and granolas, and reading materials along the lines of More or Organic Living.

01 lorien


It’s all very nice.


Until other people enter the tranquil scene. People who have not, apparently, ever been to a spa. So, to help out those clueless novices, I’ve compiled some tips on how to act at the spa.

Done up. Don’t come to the spa in full makeup and hair. If you are wearing a spa-appointed robe, you are probably there for either a facial or a massage and either of those activities are going to mess up your hair and makeup. I actually left my massage with hair on end, Albert Einstein style, and a blanket indent running from my forehead to my left cheek. That’s what I call a successful massage. It’s also the reason I bring a wide head band and a pair of oversized sunglasses to the spa.

Unless you’re Lisa Vander pump, leave the makeup at home.

Be quiet. This would seem to be self evident. It’s a flipping spa. A place designed for relaxation. And yes, I know, you brought along your best friend/mother/mother-in-law/semi-friend-who’s-having-a-birthday/bridal party for some well-deserved relaxation. So, let’s just do that: relax. Nobody wants to hear you gushing about the tea selection (we can all see it), how nervous you are that the masseuse might be a man (you can request a woman when you book, you know), or working out your post spa plans. Let the busy little thoughts stay in your busy little brain, mkay?


About that granola. By the way, you might want to leave the granola alone as well. If it’s just you and me reading quietly in the relaxation room, the incessant scooping and refilling of your little snack bowl, coupled with the intermittent masticating of loud, crunchy granola, followed by the manic brushing off of the granola crumbs from your spa robe is all going to draw some glares from yours truly. Eat at home and don’t make a meal out of some measly free granola.

Don’t think we can’t hear you. While the spa may seem like a cocoon of silence and tranquility, voices actually do carry in that underground cavern. Sometimes, I can even hear muffled conversations from the relaxation room while I’m in the actual treatment room. Keep it to a dull roar, or, even better, shut your pie hole and think how relaxing your massage is going to be.

kyle what is that noise
Do you hear that? That the hell is that noise?

That goes for doors too. Is it too much to ask that you not slam the locker doors shut? What about the doors leading to and from the treatment rooms/relaxation rooms? Could you maybe, just maybe, gently hold the door while it’s closing to keep it from snapping loudly? What about holding a conversation while you’re in the shower? Maybe that conversation could wait as well?

Spa gear. Generally, you receive three items in your appointed spa lockers – a robe, a towel and some flip flops. This should not cause the masses of confusion that it does. These are generic items, meant for use while you’re in the spa. You are not required to wear them out into the world forever and ever and ever. There’s really no use complaining about the robe or flip flop sizing – it’s kinda one size fits all and that size is large. So get over it.

“But I’m so tiny and the robes are so, so big.”

The showers. I actually think it’s a really keen idea to take a shower before your massage. It’s free. There’s nice soap. You don’t have to wash the towels. And the poor masseuse doesn’t have to touch your gross street feet. Also: they do provide razors and shave cream, so go ahead and give the legs a once over so the poor girl doesn’t cut her hands on your stubble.

clean feet
Clean feet, Kim. Well played.

Nekkidness. No. Just. No. Keep it to a minimum. Don’t want to gaze in wonder at your lady-scaping as you walk around repeatedly between the lockers, the shower, and the steam rooms and then repeat the circuit again and again. I just want to get a damn massage.

Modesty. However, let’s not be ridiculous either and wear our underthings into the massage. Just get naked and put on your robe. No need to make a big deal of it.

parks and spa
“Pssst. I’m not wearing anything under my robe.”

The steam room. If you know that you are someone who does not enjoy the heat, you might want to just skip this. Do not, under any circumstances, go in, sit down, and then complain about how hot it is in the steam room. Of course it’s hot, you moron. Also: do not come in, spill your cold water everywhere, flop around adjusting your towel (honestly, I find it just easier to wear my robe in there), proclaim to the other steamer (ie: me) how disruptive and clumsy you seem to be, flop around and fan yourself a bit more, and then get up and stick your head out the door to talk to your friend in the shower, only to then exit the steam room about 30 seconds later. You’re letting all my steam out and pissing me off.

These are just a few of my spa tips, for the clueless and confused. Feel free to share them with those in need. Or, print them out, tape them up in your favorite spa.

Fried Chicken, Towering Heels, Massages: How to Recover from a Race Disaster

I woke up the day after the half marathon STARVING. Not surprisingly, since I hadn’t eaten the night before. There was only one place that I wanted to go: Hash House A Go Go. And the nearest one was at the Imperial Palace about two casinos away.

Hash House, Las Vegas
Is that a stairway (ok, escalator) to heaven? Why yes. Yes it is.

This place (which the famous M&M have been begging us to go to forever) is famous for its humongous portions of down home grub. With empty stomach a grumbling, I felt pretty confident that I was about to take down some unsuspecting food. Somebody bring a bib.

I started with a pint glass sized bloody mary. After all, I was probably electrolyte depleted, what with all the running and whatnot. I needed that salt.

Bloody Mary at Hash House, Las Vegas

I went with the sage fried chicken and bacon-stuffed waffles, which were phenomenal. It came out stacked like a tower of sweet and salty goodness. The chicken breasts were savory and juicy. The waffles were dense and delicious. The fried leek strips gave each bite a slightly onion-y flavor without overwhelming. The syrup reduction was sweet and salty. My one note is that there could have been a lot more of the syrup.  But I was far too busy stuffing my face to even request a side of syrup.

Chicken and Waffles at Hash House, Las Vegas
Bring. It.

I ate an entire large fried chicken breast and a little more than half of the other one. I inhaled two of the four enormous waffles. I left Hash House A Go Go in pain.

Chicken and Waffles at Hash House, Las Vegas
Next time, chicken and waffles, you better bring it harder.

In fact, I was so uncomfortably full, I took a cab about 4 blocks to Neiman Marcus to go shoe shopping. Don’t judge. They were long(ish) blocks. AND, I just remembered, it was totally freezing! So all my blood and heat were diverted into heavy breakfast digestion mode, making me even colder. It really would not have been safe for me to walk those four blocks. (Does anything feel more pompous than driving up to Neiman Marcus in a cab? Maybe showing up in a limo or valeting?)

There was a promotional catalog/advertisement of sorts in our room that had a pair of burgundy suede Rachel Zoe heels. My personal stylist XFE really, really liked them. He must have mentioned them about 4-5 times. Finally, he told me to go the Neiman’s and buy the damn shoes.  They’re hot and totally impractical and impossible to walk in. But they’re hot.

Next year, I’m just going to skip the half marathon and do the stiletto dash. I’m ready.

So they came home with me (good thing I always bring a half-empty bag on trips. Between scuba masks and shoes, I was sitting on bags to zip them up).

I studiously avoided looking at anything else. With the exception of the Kiehl’s section which was right next to the shoes. An additional $50, but this time out of my own pocket, not XFE’s.

Damage done, I went back to the Venetian for my massage at Canyon Ranch SpaClub. CR is kinda famous, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Massages and other services in Vegas are hella expensive, so I just went with a basic massage.

Canyon Ranch Spa, Las Vegas

I went early so I could enjoy all the facilities. They had a sauna, steam room, herbal laconium, hot tub, the usual. The sauna and laconium (another type of sauna) were nice, but not hot enough. I like to scald my skin. The steam room was nice and hot though, with twinkly lights in the roof. I laid in there forever.

The hot tub was the usual. Nothing unexpected there. And, for the reason that will soon be apparent, I did not stay in there very long.

Ladies, when a spa says clothing optional, the option there is always, always, always opt for some sort of clothing. It’s not that big of a deal in the sauna or steam room when you have a towel wrapped around you. BUT, it’s a much bigger deal when you and I are sitting in a roiling cauldron of hot water and your pubes are on display. For example: I always bring a swimsuit when I travel, just in case. It’s small, doesn’t take a lot of space and then if a hot tub situation arises, you’re ready. Nobody wants to see your ass naked.  It’s the quickest way to send sensible women retreating. So if your intent was to have the whole damn 12 person hot tub to yourself, well played.

After that trauma, I went into the lounge area to await my masseuse. The lounge area was awesome. All the latest magazines. Lots of chaise lounges, and big round circular bed/lounging things piled with pillows. I rolled around on one of those until I was called in for my massage.

canyon ranch hall

The massage was pretty basic. I don’t like deep tissue massages, so this was more about relaxation than working out any kinks or issues. I felt calm and relaxed. My technician was good and not too talkative, which I always appreciate. She gave a great scalp massage, without tugging on my hair. I’m very tenderheaded and when masseuses do that at the end of a massage, it totally hurts and undoes the whole massage. It’s the WORST.  But this girl (Nia) didn’t do that, so we’re all good. Also: it gave me the best idea for a special massage business. Just scalp and foot massages. I’d call it something cheesy like “Tops and Toes” or something lame like that. I could honestly be quite happy just having my feet and head rubbed.

Canyon Ranch Spa, Las Vegas
OK, yeah, that’s a good start, but what about the head?

The one odd thing about the massage was that you pay for it up front, which is kinda nice because then you can just breeze out after your post-massage shower. But it becomes awkward when it’s time to tip. You’re like, “uh, ok, I already paid. Do I really have to stop back by the desk to tip?” The answer is yes. And they have tipping envelopes, obviously.

So that was my last full day. Oh, I did have dinner that night at Nobu at the Hard Rock, which was amazing! XFE had a work function that night, so I went with my running friends and their families and we had the best meal. Sexy space, great food, good service.  The lotus chips with tuna, yellowtail sashimi, the sea bass and, especially the sake, were particular standouts. Last by not least, the flourless chocolate cake “bento box” was the I swear, I could eat sushi every damn day.

And no, I did not wear my new ridiculously tall shoes. XFE gets to see those first. And, my feet were killing me after the race.

We asked our waiter if anyone famous frequented the restaurant, and he told us that Jesse James (that cheating asshole) had been there the night before.

Also: I just heard that Kate Gosselin ran the marathon! Dangit! I missed all my potential celebrity spotting opportunitities! If I had known, I totally would have looked for her and heckled her with something like “Get a job,” or “Go home and take care of your kids!” But that would have been a bit mean, so maybe better that I didn’t know.