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This article was prepared for the December 15, 2004
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Why would anyone buy Birkenstock socks? There are dozens of well
known hosiery manufacturers in the world, so why Birkenstock? Well,
because no one knows feet like Birkenstock. Their socks fit the
natural contours of your foot, providing cushioning and fit just where
you need it. They accomplish this by using a variety of materials in
specific amounts and locations on the foot to craft the perfect sock.
Since everyone’s needs are different, from cushioning to wicking, from
allergies to circulation, so too are the socks. Birkenstock uses
natural fibers and blends, as well as synthetics to give you happy
feet. By combining either cotton, merino wool (doesn’t itch!),
cashmere, Lycra, nylon, and even recycled plastic bottles (extremely
well cushioned!) together in designs and weaves unique to each model
of sock, your debate will not be how many pairs, but which ones!
So whether you wear Birkenstock footwear or not, these socks create a
supportive, comfortable environment to slide your footwear over. They
are also great to just scoot along your cold, kitchen floor. Available
in a variety of weaves, patterns, and colors to satisfy even the
toughest sock connoisseur, there’s nothing like stockings for a
609-921-8411; 530 Union Square Drive, New Hope, Pennsylvania,
Thanks to Carson (if you don’t watch "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
you won’t get this) the word "product" has gone mainstream Still don’t
get it? Product means great stuff for styling your hair. Product will
make anyone over the age of 14 on your list happy. It’s even good for
people who think they don’t want it. They want it.
Elaine Staats, owner of E.Y. Staats, recommends Phyto products, also
known as Phytologie, which are produced in France. Phyto products,
made with all natural botanical ingredients, have received the
Hollywood Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval – InStyle magazine named
Phyto the number one haircare product line. Phytodefrisant ($22), a
botanical hair relaxing balm, is made with ferula and sage and
received Allure magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award in 2004. Phytobrush
($20) uses acacia honey and thermal protective agents for heat styling
and enhances the action of the Phytodefrisant. Phytolisse is an ultra
shine smoothing serum ($24). Phytovolume Actif ($22) is a volumizer
spray root lift.
Staats also recommends a five-inch round boar bristle styling brush
($30) and the Elchim blow dryer ($95). Made in Italy, the Elchim has
the best air velocity of any dryer, says Staats, allowing for a quick
dry, even with thick hair – it’s the only dryer the stylists at the
E.Y. Staats in Princeton is a charming salon that offers modern
styling in an 18th century home – there’s even a fireplace in the
reception area. "Everyone who works here has been with me since the
beginning," says Staats, adding that the stylists have extensive
experience in cutting, coloring (including dimensional coloring),
styling, and bridal services.
‘Here’s a gift that you can close your eyes, give to virtually
anybody, and have them jump up and down when they get it," says Robert
Landau of Landau’s. "You can give it to a man or woman, fat or skinny,
young or old. They’re perfect for everyone."
Now that you’ve ripped your jeans and spilled the contents of your
purse from pulling out your credit card with the velocity of a
speeding bullet, eager to buy 20 of whatever it is, we’ll tell you:
decorative throws from Ireland. "When you’re watching TV or taking a
nap, and you get a little bit cold, you pull it over you," says
The smallest throw is 54" by 45", about lap-robe size, and comes in
Shetland wool, available in 15 different tweedy Irish plaids. Normally
$98, Landau’s sells it for $49, through a special arrangement "with a
mill out in the middle of nowhere in Ireland," says Landau.
The most popular seller is the luxurious 54" by 72" mohair throw,
available in 30 different solids, plaids, and stripes. This throw
typically sells for $198; the Landau’s price is $99.
The 54" by 68" lambswool throw "has a more cashmere-y, finer,
tweedier, horsier feel than the mohair, and is a bit more rugged
looking," says Landau. Just $99, it comes in traditional tartans like
Black Watch, very colorful Scandinavian-type plaids, and a
black/orange/gray (very Princeton).
The 54" by 72" "ultimate throw," a very soft merino wool/cashmere
blend, is marked down for the holidays to $129 from the normal $250
price tag, available in solid red or blue.
Landau tells this story to illustrate how universal a gift these
throws are for anyone and everyone. One Christmas, over 20 years ago,
legendary on-air personality Arthur Godfrey saw a Landau’s ad in the
New Yorker and decided to buy throws for everybody he knew, about
3,000 in all. He categorized his star-studded list of recipients by
deciding on a specific color for those who owned their own plane,
their own yacht, horses, or those who had their own chauffeur, and so
on. "This was a gold mine for us," remembers Landau. "The Lennon
Sisters each got six different color throws – that’s how many
categories they fell into." Significantly, not one throw was returned.
The next year, Godfrey decided on a new item at Landau’s, the cashmere
bathrobe, which he sent to 500 of his best woman friends, including
Mary Tyler Moore. "We shipped them, and about two weeks later they
started coming back," says Landau. "In fact 47 of the 50 came back
with notes like ‘I’ll never use this.’ The point of the story? You can
never have enough throws."
If you’re dressing the man in your life (and let’s face it, they all
need dressing), Nick Hilton Studio offers a wide range of gift ideas
for every budget. "We have everything from leather to khaki," says
owner Nick Hilton. And speaking of leather, let’s go straight to the
buttery-soft stuff. Hilton’s leather jackets come from Lone Pine, a
company in California that tans its own hides, makes the skins, and
sews the jackets. "The skins are incredible, luxurious, and
beautiful," says Hilton, adding that the trim on the pockets, stitch
work, design, and fit are all exquisite. From pine-colored suede to
burled walnut brown, the colors are just as divine as the leather.
Prices range from $995 to $1,835.
Hilton also recommends the extremely luxurious lightweight knitwear.
Made in Italy, these sweaters come in polos, mock turtlenecks,
v-necks, and crewnecks. "It’s a unique blend of merino, cashmere, and
silk – very lightweight and soft," says Hilton. "Merino can get hot
and is harsh to the touch; the cashmere and silk add a loftiness and
softness, so it’s more comfortable. These sweaters are a great
alternative to a collared shirt. You can wear the polo over a shirt or
t-shirt, or you can wear it as a shirt." Prices range from $165 to
You can also find many items under $100. Shirts, $85 to $97, are
surprisingly inexpensive for the high quality they offer. "Made with
high count cotton," says Hilton, "these shirts are spun better and
woven better than cotton shirts you’ll find in a department store."
Another great deal is the khakis by Bill’s Khakis ($45 to $97.50).
"You can wear these for 10 years or you can wear Dockers for two
years," says Hilton. "These khakis are a high count cotton, thick but
not stiff. They are made very well, with a good drape, a solid
waistband, and deep pockets. They last longer and look better when
you’re wearing them."
But the real package deal at Nick Hilton is this: three custom-made
shirts and three suits for $1,400. "You do the math," says Hilton.
"That’s an incredible deal."
Thank goodness for men’s pipes. For without them, we would never have
had the ultra-elegant Pliages handbags from Longchamp. What’s the
connection? In 1948 Jean Cassegrain, the founder of Longchamp, set up
his first store in Paris selling tobacco pipes. In a prescient move
Cassegrain had the brilliant idea of making pipes more fashionable by
wrapping leather around them. By 1950 Longchamp began producing small
In 1988 Longchamp opened its first boutique in Paris on the rue
Saint-Honore in the heart of the luxury goods district. The big moment
in handbag history came in 1993 with the launch of the Pliages line, a
masterful marriage of nylon canvas and Russian leather. Philippe
Cassegrain, the president of Longchamp and the founder’s son, toured
the world to promote the bags. Today Longchamp sells more than 400,000
Pliages bags annually around the world in boutiques on Madison Avenue,
in Tokyo, Shanghai, and in Las Vegas at the newly expanded Caesar’s
Palace, among others.
Lightweight, foldable, durable, and fun, Pliage bags come in lots of
great colors – like grape, fuschia, truffle, bamboo, anthracite, ice
blue, and ochre – and all different sizes from clutch bags to totes.
These bags endure season after season by sidestepping fashion trends
and remaining practical and functional but always stylish. The canvas
is water-resistant thanks to its interior PVC coating. Prices range
from $80 to $268.
"Les Pliages" bags are available at Luttmann’s Luggage, a venerable
Princeton shop that opened 101 years ago as a saddlery shop. Over the
years it began to carry leather goods and continued to be run by the
Luttmann family until its current owner, Frank Riccato, took over
ownership of the store. Luttmann’s offers women’s handbags,
traditional and contemporary briefcases, wallets, portfolios, gift
items including leather picture frames, accessories, and day planners
including Filofax and Scully.
Attention, men. Yes, you, men. I know you’re out there. And I know you
have, well, shall we say mixed feelings about shopping? OK, you hate
shopping. Someone just came to your rescue.
On Thursday, December 16, Spa Therapia and Triumph Brewing Company
present their second annual "Men’s Night Out," from 6 to 9 p.m. At
this "stress free shopping" night, men are invited to stop in and
enjoy some of the spa treatments Spa Therapia offers and sample
different brews from Triumph while knocking off a good portion of your
Spa Therapia, a medically-supervised day spa, offers several lines of
skin care products and cosmetics as well as spa treatments like
facials, waxing, massage, salt scrubs, body wraps, microdermabrasion,
pedicures, manicures, and more – you know, stuff girls crave. She’ll
love you for it.
A few years ago I got a $200 gift certificate to Spa Therapia (for,
let’s just say, a round-number big girl birthday), and I was so
thrilled that I made it last the whole year, with three different
treatments over three visits.
This gift-giving season Spa Therapia is recommending gift certificates
for its Signature Massage: 50 minutes, $70; 70 minutes, $90; 90
minutes, $120. This is a personalized massage experience incorporating
Swedish techniques and other modalities to focus on specific trouble
areas. A Signature Massage is created by you and your therapist for
the ultimate experience and includes a warming back mask for extra
Another option is the Ultimate Customized Facial, 65 minutes for $95.
It begins with an expert skin analysis, followed by intense cleansing,
toning, exfoliating with papaya and pineapple enzymes, extractions,
massage, masking, and treatment creme chosen specifically for your
skin type. The Ultimate also includes a scalp, hands, and foot
As a special holiday promotion, every gift certificate comes with an
eight-ounce Avocado Lotion from the spa’s new line of private label
skin care products called Results by Spa Therapia.
Combining the finest formulas, highest standards, and the latest
techniques for anti-aging, these products are designed to facilitate
total wellness and beauty. The line includes O2 Rejuvenating Creme,
Willow Herb Soothing Serum, Derma Pore Cleanser, Spot Fix, and Vitamin
Both the spa and the Results product line are under the supervision of
Thomas A. Leach, M.D, medical director of Princeton Center for Plastic
‘The motivation behind Global Village Travels is the desire to provide
a unique travel experience, not just a vacation," says Cherylin
Christian. "When a guest has returned, we like to know that they have
come away with a deeper knowledge and sense of fulfillment."
When Global Village Travels owner Gloria Hobbins, a world traveler and
former event and meeting planner, decided she wanted to develop
musical tours, she turned to Christian, also an event and meeting
planner. But Christian brings a little something extra to the table. A
soprano, Christian has performed with the Westminster Choir College
Jubilee Singers at Carnegie Hall and she has been a member of
Princeton Pro Musica. "I research various artists and build tours and
cruises around them. Today’s guests are discriminating traveler sand
very knowledgeable – they are not only looking for entertainment but
also the opportunity to enjoy active participation."
That vision translates into a truly extraordinary luxury gift for the
music lover – Classical Crossings, a unique travel opportunity
developed and offered exclusively by Global Village Travels. The
inaugural cruise of Classical Crossings will take place aboard
Cunard’s Queen Mary II. The centerpiece of the six-night transatlantic
crossing is a chance to enjoy a private recital and master classes
with internationally-acclaimed soprano Rochelle Ellis.
Ellis, an adjunct assistant professor of voice at Westminster Choir
College of Rider University, has performed as a soloist with
orchestras from Prague to Beijing. She made her New York City Opera
debut in 2002 and made her Carnegie Hall debut performing Bach’s
Cantata 140 and Schubert’s Mass in G with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s
and the Westminster Choir. This past summer, she graced the stage in
Japan with recitals in Osaka and Tokyo.
"Classical Crossings opens a door for the discriminating traveler and
music enthusiast with an experience that is so much more than is
customarily enjoyed at the theater," says Christian. "It offers a rare
opportunity to interact with a world-renowned artist, to get a glimpse
of how an artist prepares and trains for a performance, and to
experience a hands-on element with master classes. No singing
experience is required – just a love of the arts and a sense of
In addition to enjoying the up close and personal interaction with Ms.
Ellis, guests will be able to take advantage of all the creme de la
creme features of the extraordinary Queen Mary II. Prices start at
$1,913.50, and include one-way airfare to England, transfers from
airport to Southampton Pier, and the six-night transatlantic crossing.
The Queen Mary II offers these exclusives – the Canyon Ranch Spa Club;
Cunard Connections, an academic and enrichment program that presents a
fusion of cultural perspectives from New York and London;
Illuminations, the first planetarium at sea; an art collection valued
at over $5 million; the Todd English restuarant; Oxford Discovery, an
enrichment and lecture program presented under the auspices of the
University of Oxford; theatrical performances by the Royal Academy of
Dramatic Arts; and the Queen’s Room, the largest ballroom at sea.
Guests will leave Sunday, June 26, and return Saturday, July 2,
sailing into New York harbor past the Statue of Liberty – right at the
beginning of the Fourth of July weekend.
Classical Crossings is just one example of the personal attention to
detail and distinctive service offered by Global Village Travels.
"With technology today, someone can plan a trip on their own, but we
offer that special hands-on attention that that person may not have
access to," says Christian. For example, Hobbins recently planned a
worldwide tour for a mother and daughter. It turned out that the
daughter had health concerns – so Hobbins found physicians who spoke
English in each country, just in case. Christian herself remembers
traveling to Paris with Hobbins: "I came away from that trip with
Paris a part of my soul."
A couple of weeks ago, I took my nine-year-old son to have dinner at
Teresa Caffe on Palmer Square before going to see Savion Glover and
Bobby McFerrin at McCarter Theater. There was a wait for a table so we
grabbed two stools at the polished wood bar in front of the pizza
oven. Before we knew it, my son was drinking Sprite out of a champagne
glass and chatting with the lady next to us about his tap class, and
we decided to stay put and eat at the bar. My son could watch his
pizza margherita being made, and the attentive bartender refilled his
glass before he even had to ask. It was cozy and bustling and and we
could watch everyone coming and going. I had a salad and a glass of
merlot – we were happy campers.
Maybe there’s someone on your list who really needs a "date night"
with his or her spouse. Maybe there’s someone who loves to
people-watch at a cafe or sip an exotic drink at the bar and listen to
live music. Or someone who could use the treat of dining out at an
Italian bistro on a weeknight. A Terra Momo gift certificate takes
care of all of them.
Terra Momo restaurant group is named after owners Carlo and Raoul
Momo’s parents, Teresa Azario Momo and Raul Momo Marmonti. Terra Momo
includes Mediterra, offering a Mediterranean menu and intimate musical
groups on Wednesday and Thursday nights, 29 Hulfish Street, Princeton,
609-252-9680; Nova Terra, with a Nuevo Latino menu, featuring rodizio
every Wednesday night (a kind of Brazilian barbeque) and live Latin
music Thursday through Saturday nights, 78 Albany Street, New
Brunswick, 732-296-1600; Teresa Caffe, serving authentic Italian
cuisine, 23 Palmer Square East, Princeton, 609-921-1974; Eccoqui, also
serving authentic Italian cuisine, 107 Route 202, Bernardsville,
908-221-0040; and Witherspoon Bread Company, featuring artisan and
organic breads, 74 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, 609-688-0188.
While the flavors and themes of each location differ they all share
the Terra Momo vision with special "ingredients" – from locally-grown
produce and wines from small producers around the world to
distinctive interior design like the circular bar at Nova Terra.
Terra Momo gift certificates. Available from any Terra Momo restaurant
or online at www.terramomo.com. Gift certificates are the size of a
credit card and come in a wonderful gift package and envelope.
"Our philosophy is to combine the holistic approach to the skin and
body and our clients’ well-being with cutting edge medical
aesthetics," says Beata Giernasinska, a co-owner of Amber Spa in
Pennington. "It’s a very interesting combination."
Amber Spa is a traditional European spa, with several European staff,
all of whom are licensed in Europe and the U.S. Giernasinska herself
came to the United States from Poland two and a half years ago. She
says that it is important for people to become more aware of the
beneficial health effects of spa treatments.
"Spa treatments can help with anti-aging, lowering blood pressure,
decreasing insulin levels, and skin cancer prevention. A weekly
massage has been proven to lower insulin levels on a permanent basis.
Every facial is anti-aging, and the vitamin C facial is good for skin
cancer prevention. Oxygen facials are very beneficial for anti-aging –
this facial helps bind free radicals, which prevents them from
floating around and causing damage. Our treatments are good for people
on diets, people who have just stopped smoking, or people who have had
medical procedures that created a lot of toxins in the skin."
A gift certificate, available in any denomination, can be used for any
treatment. There are facials including facial peels, oxygen facial,
and oceanic facial. A specialty at Amber Spa is microdermabrasion, a
safe and painless treatment that uses organic micro crystals to break
apart dead cell layers to eliminate signs of sun damage and smooth out
fine lines and wrinkles.
Other treatments include skin waxing; eyelash tinting; massage and
body treatments like the hot stone massage, seventh heaven
aromatherapy massage, and the executive neck and back treatment;
sunless tanning (done with spray as well as manual self-tanning); and
nail care including pedicures, manicures, and gel nails.
The Spa Store carries several different cosmetics lines – including
Yonka and Nuxe (both from France), Skinceuticals, Z’ Digatte, Sigal,
DDF, and MD Skincare.
Giernasinska says that gift certificates are a hit this time of year.
"We always get swamped at the holidays." Gift certificates are
available in any dollar amount or you can purchase a certificate for a
spa package such as a spa facial, half-hour Swedish massage, and spa
pedicure for $120.
For the men on your list there are packages specifically designed for
men such as the Swedish massage and reflexology treatment for $105.
Giernasinska says that Amber Spa has lots of male clients – from small
business owners to men who work from home to Merrill Lynch executives.
"The awareness of spa treatments is growing. It’s not a ladies’ thing
anymore – it’s more of a necessity of investing in yourself," says
Giernasinska. We say, go for it, boss – very metrosexual.
609-737-8400, www.amberspa.com. Gift certificates may be purchased at
the spa or over the phone.
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