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Massage & Day Spas Help You De-Stress

By Chantal Harte with collaboration from Arianna McKinney
Photos by Giordano Campini

Studies have shown that massage releases in the bloodstream serotonin that makes you feel very relaxed and endorphins that makes you feel quite happy, and the jungle is teeming with options for quality massages these days, as well as options for learning how to massage.

Thai-style massage incorporates yoga positions and meditation.

Places to Learn (and Get) Massage in Nosara and Samara

Christophe Chaix, graduated from a naturopathic school in France, has been one of the main contributors to the blossoming of the massage community in Nosara. Ten years ago, Christophe and two others created the Bodyworkshop, which has trained many Costa Rican massage therapists. Bodyworkshop is located in Guiones and offers acupressure, Thai massage, lymphatic drainage, chiropractic massage and the use of an 'inversion' table, at $30 for a 20-minute adjustment, $65 for a 45-minute session and $85 for one hour and 15 minutes. 8848-8279 or 2682-0824.

Likewise in Guiones, Richard Jordon from the United States created Tica Massage about 10 years ago and trained many local women. He splits half of the massage or facial fees with those who provide those services at Tica Massage. Their most popular massage is the classic for $60, a thorough invigorating Swedish-type of massage using an aromatic creamand oils and applying warm towels. One treatment unique to Tica Massage in the area is the ancient Lomi-Lomi massage, brought here from Hawaii. Bookings can be made for individuals or groups of up to four at a time, at 2682-0096.

In Samara, the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy, which opened in 2006, has evolved into a U.S. board-approved study abroad program for massage therapy certification that attracts students from around the world. When classes are in session, you can take advantage to get a relaxing and therapeutic massage from one of the students at a low price — $30 for tourists, 6,000 colones ($12) for expats who live in the Samara area, and 3500 colones ($7) for nationals. Students also provide their clients with educational tips such as beneficial stretches. The current session ends on December 9, and the next session will be from February 12 to April 18. One-hour massages are available Monday through Thursday evenings by appointment, 2656-0491.

Massage Options in Samara

The Natural Center Spa, next to the school, has three masseuses, one of whom is also a physical therapist. They offer relaxing massages, reflexology, deep tissue, holistic massages that "cure the soul," shiatsu, Reiki and during high season, an underwater massage. The most popular option is the 1-hour holistic and relaxation massage with organic oils for $45. The spa also offers massage exfoliation to open the pours and then allow your body to purify as you relax with massage, according to spa manager Evelyn Blanco Rodriguez. Or you can simply relax in their Jacuzzi for just 2000 colones per hour ($4).

Masajista Gabriela Sequeira usa las palmas de las manos para masajear la espalda de un cliente. / Masseuse Gabriela Sequeira uses the heel of her hands to work on a client's back.

For a massage right on the beach, look for Shabelys Magic Touch. The name Shabelys is actually the name of a combination of Hindu and Thai massage techniques offered by Yojen Cespedes StellerIn addition, she offers Swedish, relaxation, sports and deep tissue massages ranging in price between $30 and $100. A unique option is fango therapy fruit massage, using strawberries for oily skin or papaya and mango to hydrate dry skin. Call 8533-6101 for an appointment.

A therapeutic masseuse who comes highly recommended by his clients in Samara, Carrillo and Nicoya is William Bolaños. He has more than 30 years experience practicing Japanese acupressure, which he describes as a very energetic massage using pressure on nerve points to relieve all types of muscular, tendon and spinal problems at $50 per session. Contact him at 8658-2164.

Massage Spas in Nosara Area

Just before the main entrance to Guiones Beach is Dhamma Garden, a peaceful ayurvedic Day Spa cradled in a beguiling jungle garden. It offers ayurvedic massages and treatments, such as shirodhana, the relaxing dripping of ayurvedic oil on the third eye, at $65, as well as Thai massages. Her other unique specialty is Brazilian eyebrow waxing, which she learned from the famous Ana Stacia. Book at 2682-1351 or email [email protected].

Pura Vida Massage offers three modalities of treatments in a clean and comfortable studio: deep tissue bodywork, which is the most popular treatment; a relaxing Swedish massage, and lymphatic drainage at $60 an hour or $95 for 90 minutes. Contact 8817-1190 or [email protected].

Beth Crowther is reopening the doors of the Yoga House and offering rebalancing (a form of deep tissue massage and joint release) and manual lymphatic drainage— either of them for $60. One unique feature is the Indian massage called Champissage for the scalp and face, neck, shoulders, and upper arms, with energy balancing. Beth shares the massage studio with Nicole Naclerio, who has been offering for over 15 years detoxifying and rejuvenating ayurvedic treatments, consultations and yoga. Nationals can have her massages at discounted prices. Beth can be reached at [email protected] or 8524-4450. For Nicole, contact 8921-4624 or [email protected].

At Spacio Spa, the creation of Mexican artist, healer and bodyworker Juan Carlos Saldaña, the hallmarks are: attention to beauty in the environment (colors, music, aromas), use of local organic products, and channeling of the right energy and technique for each client. The massage services range from Surfers Special at $40 for the half-hour, to a choice of Swedish, Lymphatic or Thai Massage and Energy Work at $60 an hour, and Deep Tissue at $75 for 60 minutes. A unique feature is ear coning, which uses natural beeswax candles to clean ears of sand and water and avoid infections. Book at 2682-5107, 2682-4039, or [email protected].

The focus of the Wellness Center, owned by Jane Merchant, a multi-lingual Swiss Physical Therapist, is mainly rehabilitation, with physical therapy sessions combining sports therapeutic massage, myofascial release and exercises tailored to the client, for $40 for 40 minutes or $60 for 60 minutes. Visit www.nosarawellness.com or call 2682-0360 or 8812-1232.

At Nosara B&B Retreat, created in a lush jungle setting by Deborah Brackman, you can get massages and energy work in a tower surrounded by trees, while being lullabied by the sound of the nearby ocean waves. For information about services and prices, visit www.nosarab&bretreat.com or call 2682-0209.

Going north towards Ostional is the Costa Rica Yoga Spa. In a panoramic ocean view studio, Donavan Dailey, an experienced bodyworker and yoga teacher, now offers integrative massage, which combines Swedish, Shiatsu, Thai Yoga massage, Foot-Hand Reflexology, and Energy Healing, at $85 for an hour+. Call 2682-0192 or email [email protected] to book an appointment. House calls are also available at the same price.

Masseuses that Come to You

If you prefer to be pampered in your own home or hotel room, call Rocio Navarrete, who manages a mobile massage, spa, and esthetic business in Guiones. Costa Rican professionals provide lymphatic, deep tissue, prenatal, Swedish and relaxing massages, at $60 an hour or $80 for 90 minutes. Call 8843-9586 or email: [email protected].

Another option for being pampered at home by a Costa Rican who is fluent in English is to book Congo Spa mobile services, offering personalized treatments with natural ingredients, comfort and relaxation wherever you want. Contact Veronica Steele Avila at info@congospa or call 2682-0131 or 8888-1835.

Simeon Darwick, a health coach and yoga teacher, offers Pranassage sessions at the Nosara Yoga Institute, the beach, or your home. Pranassage, a Western variation of Thai Yoga massage, is a powerful and yet nurturing way of doing yoga with deep breathing while being held and moved into floor positions by the practitioner, who uses his or her own body to deepen the level of your stretch. The one-hour session is $75, but Sim has a sliding scale from as low as $20 for nationals. Contact [email protected]

Kantu Veetmore has 21 years of experience in zen shiatsu and in tuina, which he studied in Japan and China. His line of expertise is to address spine, back and neck issues. $95 a session or $75 for the first session. For bookings, call 8839-4490 or email [email protected].

Gitama Kosthorst, offers biodynamic cranio-sacral with aurasuma, or holistic massage with energy readings at $80 for a house call. [email protected] or 8725-5951. Her husband, Kabir Bauer, offers, for $80, shiatsu and deep tissue massage. He can be reached at [email protected] or 8725-5951.

Chantal Harte, CMT, CHT, offers energy work, sound healing, Qi-ssage, face-hand-foot reflexology, Swedish-Esalen with acupressure, and process-oriented bodywork. Contact [email protected] or 8786-9006.



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Health and Art Had Their Weekend in Samara

The second health fair held in Samara was bigger and better this year, taking place over two days instead of one, December 7-8, with more participants and volunteering than last year.

Be Healthy and Happy during Samara’s Health Fair

“Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other,” said English writer Joseph Addison. You will likely concur with that statement if you spend an afternoon in Samara at this year’s health fair at the Natural Center Gym and Spa, located next to Samara school.


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