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Peru may be too far for a day trip, but Greenwichites can find Peruvian treasures right here in Connecticut. Round Hill Alpacas, some 100 miles away in Coventry, is home to 26 of these Andean camelids whose fiber makes silky, luxurious wool.
Meeting the source of your sweater is more exciting than it sounds. Alpacas are gentle, personable souls, as a visit to Round Hill farm quickly bears out. They’re not like their llama cousins, who can easily get peevish and aggressive. Alpacas let you come close and pet their long necks. Just be careful not to aim for the tops of their heads. Their sweet, long-lashed eyes give them great peripheral vision, but what these animals don’t see can alarm them and test their indulgence.
The farm’s owners, Randy and Cindy Hall (above and below), got into the alpaca business some seven years ago. Their vision? To found an inclusive farmstead living experience especially for individuals with developmental disabilities, such as their autistic son. The nonprofit they've founded and are developing is called the Creative Living Community of Connecticut. Alpacas are as curious about you as you are about them. If only New Yorkers were as friendly and trusting.
These social herd animals are happy to nosh treats right out of your palm. Just ask Noah Blum what it feels like. The 2½-year-old resident of Providence, Rhode Island will describe the tickle of the alpacas' rubbery upper gums and the soft nudge of their fur-covered lips. Noah is pictured below with his mom, Alessandra, and Randy Hall.
Two weeks ago Round Hill welcomed a new member of the herd. Born during the Olympics in Brazil, he was named Rio. Fun fact: the gestation period for alpacas is 11 1/2 months.
Noah and Rio say Olá. Guess where Noah was born? As chance would have it, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! Noah's father, Joey, facilitates the encounter.
With names like Popcorn, Kahlúa and Pebbles, alpacas are a chromatic delight. The herd at Round Hill sport earthy tones from creamy eggshell and rosy grey to tawny russet and smokey charcoal.
Why hasn’t Hollywood come out with a major animation starring alpacas?
Maybe because they’re so adorably cartoon-like as is, it’d almost be redundant.
Not everyone is chill. Rusty, the Alpha male of the herd, gets his own enclosure. For good reason. Otherwise Macho Man and second-in-command Simon would go at it, and things could get ugly. To defend his privileged notch in the pecking order, a free-to-mingle Rusty would engage in spitting and fighting if not worse.
A hyper-cautious Rusty takes his time in approaching, but with Randy's coaxing he takes some grassy snacks. Note the erect ears. That's his short code for, "We're cool." Now look again at the photo above and see how Rusty's spear-shaped ears are cocked back, ready for action if need be. The positioning of his tail and head also speaks volumes. Alpacas are famous for communicating by humming, but their body language gets across important cues to keep life safe and ordered.
To top off our visit, we followed Cindy, Randy and two alpacas to the F.A.R.E Market in the nearby town of Willimantic, CT. After lunch (no hay pellets for us, thanks), we stocked up on socks and, of course, souvenirs!
This Halloween everyone is going to be on the hunt for a good haunt, but if only there was a national association that could help you pick where to spend your All Hallow’s Eve. Well apparently the Haunted Attraction Association (yes, that’s a thing) has certified 14 haunts across the country as official “Top Haunted Attractions.”
To learn more, go to: http://hauntedattractionassociation.com/
Do you like obsessing over different fandoms? Do you like immersing yourself in the little details that make up your favorite movies or games? Maybe boards games are your thing? Are you desperate to enjoy your last shred of freedom while the summer is on its way out? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be a nerd looking for fun places and events in New York City. Lucky for you, so am I.
When being a nerd, one may feel like the only way to enjoy their obsessions or meet their peers is to go to various conventions. The only problem with that is what do you do if there is no convention or if you cant afford a convention? Well, in NYC there is an abundance of affordable nerd events to whet your whistle.
At the gorgeous Gotham Hall in NYC, The International SPA Association (ISPA) hosted its 18th annual ISPA Media Event. ISPA is the leading source for all things related to the spa industry ranging from gathering key statistics (revenue, spa visits, the number of spa locations, total employment in the industry and square footage) to helping those in the spa industry promote their latest innovations. These annual statistics have become essential for many of those in the hospitality business. The shift towards spa services is growing with such huge momentum that it’s one of the key promotional highlights for many resorts.
In its latest 2012 survey (for 2011 year-end), the spa continued its upward trend with an increase in all areas – revenue rose +4.5% YOY, spa visits +4.1% YOY, total employees +0.2% YOY (remarkable considering that the official overall national unemployment rate has yet to abate). Square footage for spas increased +0.8% YOY.
The annual gathering included trained personnel from ISPA member spas and resource partners who provided a sampling of their latest and unique innovations to members of leading beauty, business and travel media.
“ISPA is thrilled to bring together the spa industry and the media to one location to showcase the spas’ cutting edge and innovative treatments,” said ISPA’s President Lynne McNees. “We know that spas are creating great experiences, relieving stress and improving wellbeing and we are excited to help tell that story.”
Miraval Resort and Spa
Miraval is known for its one-of-a-kind spa treatments. It continues this reputation by introducing The “Naga Thai Massage” is probably the most innovative treatment I have yet to in the US. The massage evolves from the healing principals of the Thai massage which involves stretching and deep massage. The Naga Thai Massage starts off like a traditional massage, basic stretches but then becomes so much more. The therapist uses strands of richly colored silk suspended from above, sort of like a pulley system, as both as an extension of their body and wrapping and supporting your body, taking you deeper into stretches and releasing restrictions that impair full movement. For someone like me who chronically suffers from back and shoulder pain, it brought instant relief. (http://www.miravalresorts.com)
French-origin and world-renowned Clarins is found at better spas. The exclusive Clarins-inspired treatments at Miraval uses Clarins’ PRO Formula products. The energizing leg “Path to Renewal” treatment uses aromatherapy to balance and restore energy. (www.clarins.com)
Is located in Wisconsin and was named #4 USA Spa in 2011 by Spas of America. “The Indigo Journey” is their latest specialty treatment consisting of a body mask of clays and creams, a balancing massage using chromatherapy and ending with their signature Elderberry facial. (http://www.aspiraspa.com)
Massage Envy Spa
The spa is available in a number of cities. The “Sugar Foot Scrub” is a foot massage featuring towel cleansing, a lavender sugar scrub exfoliation and a moisturizing body butter finish. (http://www.massageenvy.com)
Kohler Waters Spa
As I learned the most effective way for moisturizers to penetrate the skin is through regular exfoliation. The “Lavender Parfait Hand Treatment,” a hand exfoliation uses a honey-lavender salt scrub that is soothing, calming and healing – all at the same time. (http://www.americanclubresort.com/spa/spa_index.html)
Mohonk Mountain House
Just named #2 Resort Spa in the US by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine 2012
If the spectacular view of the Lake Mohonk still doesn’t lull you into a tranquil sleep, try Mohonk’s “Solutions for Modern Living: Attainable Sleep!” an aromatic massage followed by a customized Dead Sea salt bath soak. (http://www.mohonk.com)
The Spa at Regent Palms
With a picture postcard tropical setting, it’s hard not to be swept away. Those who prefer to be pampered an try The Spa’s “Oriental Essence Foot Ceremony” treatment, an exfoliating spiced marmalade scrub followed by an energizing massage using smooth pebbles wrapped in fragrant bags soaked in warm oil. (http://www.regenthotels.com/EN/Palms)
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat
Offered its unique “Australian Spirit of Sound,” a meditation treatment that incorporates basalt stones, massage techniques all while choreographed to indigenous Australian music and sounds of nature. (http://www.gwinganna.com)
For the woman on the go, the “Mini-Mani” treatment is an express nail service. (http://lippmanncollection.com/)
HydraFacial by Edge Systems Corporation
Is a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure that delivers instant results. The machine is a resurfacing treatment that provides cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, and hydration for your face with a cocktail of antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid. Hydrafacial treatment uses a uniquely designed spiral tip to gently exfoliate with water based serums to cleanse, exfoliate and rebuild, leaving skin perfectly cleansed and hydrated, without the need for harsh mechanical exfoliants.
Precor Fitness Equipment
Demonstrated their new innovation, the “AMT® with Open Stride,” (Adaptive Motion Trainer) which helps you burn calories at a higher rate than any other cardio equipment. (http://www.precor.com/vertical)
With the kids now in school, give yourself a treat!
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