This Runner's Trials
24Jul/139

Sneak Peek: Disney’s Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs

Posted by runnerstrials

When I was in Disney for #DisneySportsFestival last week, I decided to try a new to me Disney activity.

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Heather and I got pedicures at Senses – a Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. It was her birthday, so I treated us both to pedis.

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The spa opened this past December, and boy, was the experience amazing! I’ve been to quite a few spas but this one definitely earns a top spot on my list. From the serene relaxation room with oversized, comfortable lounge chairs to the grand, funky décor to the comfy, oversized robes and exceptional services – if you get a mani or pedi, you’re sent home with a nail file, pumice stone, and the bottle of nail polish – I vowed to return to the Senses Spa again.

And wouldn’t you know, my wish was granted! A couple days later, I had the opportunity to tour the new spa Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

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Senses at Saratoga’s grand opening is tomorrow, July 25! Like its sister spa, Senses at Saratoga was recently re-imagined and will open under new management.

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I could tell Senses at Saratoga was operated by the same management company as Senses at the Grand, but each spa has its own unique layout, décor, amenities, and services.

Senses at Saratoga has an elegant but rustic charm, complete with wooden floors, wood-beamed ceilings, and a waterfall built into the wall. Natural artwork and tile mosaics designed by Italian artists garnish the walls and soft lighting creates a relaxed atmosphere that will make you feel like your outdoors.

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The two-story spa consists of 10 treatment rooms – including two wet rooms, a manicure and pedicure room, men’s and women’s locker rooms, and a coed relaxation room.

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The nail treatment room can accommodate 4 pedicures and 3+ manicures at a time.

You’ll also notice hummingbirds throughout the spa – they symbolize strength and tranquility.

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Mini, healthy cupcakes and refreshing, cucumber-infused water is available in the relaxation room.

Since the spa was still under construction, I didn’t have the chance to try any services, but I was told their spa menu was quite similar to Senses at the Grand’s. Just like its sister spa, your journey at Senses at Saratgoa begins with a custom experience, either along the relax, renew, or imagine path. You start your journey by drinking its respective elixir – a delicious, fruit smoothie.

The spa menu has many signature services complete with seasonal offerings – I definitely want to come back in the fall and try a pumpkin enzyme facial. I also heard about a blueberry facial and a bamboo fusion treatment, both of which sound absolutely delectable.

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A wet treatment room.

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Couples massage, anyone?

The spa managers expect the 50 minute massage to be its best seller. If you’re in town for a runDisney race and want some relief for sore muscles, this is the treatment for you. Just book a custom massage and say you’d like a sports massage. Before your treatment, tell your therapist that you’re a runner and let him or her know what parts of your body need extra attention.

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Both locker rooms have a whirlpool room with heated loungers. I could not think of a better place to recover post-race!

In fact, all treatments are completely customizable -- there are plenty of add-ons and enhancements to choose from. So your spa experience will be specially designed for you, based on your needs and preferences.

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Locker rooms have everything you need to freshen up – a steam room, showers, towels, hairdryers, and even curling irons!

You definitely need to see the new Senses Spa at Saratoga for yourself! The Spa is accepting reservations now, so book your appointment today. I’m already debating which treatment I’ll have when I’m back in town for the Wine & Dine half.

In the meantime, follow Senses Spa on Pinterest to learn how to do Disney nail art at home. How cute is the Minnie mani?

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19Jul/132

Why athletes need to play at ESPN WWoS: The Disney difference

Posted by runnerstrials

We’ve always said we’d never push or son to do anything, athletic or otherwise. But if he’s into team sports when he’s older and wants to play in a tournament or participate in spring or summer training, there’s no if, and, or buts about it, we’re going to Disney.

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The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (WWoS) is in a class all its own. I’ve already told you the basics, but I wanted to share details of the unparalleled services and amenities that are offered. I learned all about it during #DisneySportsFestival.

What sets WWoS complex apart from other facilities is the Disney difference.

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Disney treated some bloggers to many of the same perks that athletes who play at the complex receive. On Sunday night, the day before their games started, Disney invited the Disney Cup International youth soccer players to take over a closed Animal Kingdom. They ate, played games, road Expedition Everest, and ran and chanted throughout the park. They really looked like they were having the time of their lives!

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We bloggers didn’t have a bad time either.

Monday morning, we headed to WWoS. Upon arrival, we were instructed to drop off our bags onto golf carts. This baggage service is available to all athletes playing at WWoS. There’s no need to lug your equipment, balls, and uniforms from the parking lot to the field. Cast members will transport it for you and make sure it meets back up with you inside the complex.

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Then we walked through the beautiful gates of WWoS, and into the Grill where our breakfast was served.

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Our names and blogs were announced by Carissa and Kevin Corke as if we were part of a starting lineup. This star treatment wasn’t just for us; everyone who plays at WWoS feels like a superstar. Not only do all players get to experience opening and awards ceremonies (complete with fireworks), but their games can be broadcast on ESPN networks and some players get the chance to be interviewed by Kevin and other sports broadcasting personalities.

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The Grill, plus the 10 food stands, and food truck cater to the nutritional needs for athletes and their families. The menus are customizable depending on what the athletes want – for example, during Braves games, local Atlanta beers are served – and since it’s Disney, food allergies are no problem. Special delicious and nutritious bagged breakfasts and lunches can be delivered to athletes on the field, and golf carts and food tents are often set up around the complex. No athlete will go hungry – and team parents don’t have to worry about coordinating meals at WWoS.

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Bagged lunch options.

During breakfast, we heard from Tom Wolber, Senior Vice President Disney Sports Enterprises, and Faron Kelley, Director, Marketing and Communications Disney Sports. They gave us their opinions on what sets ESPN WWoS apart from the rest. Faron emphasized Disney’s world class service, the “wow factor”, the ESPN partnership, and the fact that you’re competing or training in Walt Disney World.

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After breakfast, we walked over to the Office Max Center. Inside, team parents and coaches can check email, print rosters, charge electronic devices, and make cheer cards. There’s a smaller Office Max station available out on the fields, too.

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We also toured the ESPN WWoS Welcome Center.

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This is essentially the information hub for all teams. Don’t know where field 17 is? Or what time your game is? Cast members here can answer that question and so much more. They can also take care of all the Disney planning beyond WWoS. Disney estimates that 50-60% of athletes competing have never been to Disney World before, so cast members here can help.

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Your team of 30 finished for the day and wants to go somewhere for dinner in an hour? No sweat. They’ll call around and make dining reservations for your large party and let you know what free (if you stay on property) transportation to take to get there. Did your game wrap up at 2:00 and you want to spend the rest of the day in a park? Guess what? Discounted, half-day park tickets are available for purchase here for athletes and their families. Your tournament ended a few days earlier than expected? The cast members at the welcome center can help plan out activities for the next few days.

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We also learned that special group package rates are available for athletes who play at WWoS. While prices of specific packages vary, it costs each individual athlete about $500-600 to play in a tournament here – which includes the use of the facilities, Disney resort accommodations, park tickets, and possibly some meals. Prices are available on the WWoS website.

Can’t afford that price tag? Don’t worry. Your team doesn’t need to sell wrapping paper, cookie dough, or candy bars to raise funds. Instead, Disney will give your team a vacation package to raffle off as a fundraiser!

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We also learned about other commemorative items available for purchase, such as professional photography services for entire teams or individual athletes and Champion personalized shirts.

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Once we stepped out onto the fields and track, we saw some amazing games and practices going on.

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But honestly, as a mom, that wasn’t what caught my eye. I was much more interested to hear about the “above and beyond” perks that Disney has to offer.

Imagine you’re an athlete and you have downtime between games. What would you do? Or imagine you’re a parent and one of your children is playing in a game and the other isn’t. How would entertain that child? Well, if you’re at WWoS, you don’t need to worry.

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There’s a large tented area that offers entertainment and information sessions for adults and kids alike. You can attend a team moms lunch here or your child can watch a Disney movie, on the big screen, in the shade! Athletes can let loose on bounce obstacle courses or unwind with a game or cornhole. You never know what other entertainment might pop up – an impromptu dance party with Star Wars troopers isn’t unheard of!

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Disney also takes everyone’s health, safety, and comfort very seriously. There are plenty of (real – not portapotty!) bathrooms and water fountains located throughout the complex. There’s also a misting tent – I cannot think of a better post-game treat than this! Can we get these at runDisney finish lines?

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Disney always has several trainers and first aid supplies on-site and more medical help is never far away.

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But perhaps most importantly to young athletes is the chance to feel like a superstar. Disney wants every athlete of every skill level will literally feel like they’ve made it to the Superbowl or Olympics. Where else can kids play on the same field as their sports heroes and see their own games televised on a big screen?

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And where else can team parents just sit back, relax, and enjoy their child’s game? At WWoS, parents don’t have to worry about feeding, entertaining, or photographing their child – Disney literally takes care of everything for you.

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According to Sports Travel Magazine, 75.3 million adults traveled 100+ miles round-trip to attend a sporting event in the past five years. And despite the recent fluctuations in the economy, travel for youth sports has not slowed down. Parents are just combining their family vacation with their child’s tournament or training. And what better place to do that than Walt Disney World and ESPN Wide World of Sports!

*Disclosure: This trip was complements of Disney Sports. Disney provided me with flight arrangements, accommodations, meals, and park tickets. But, as always, all opinions are my own.

19Jul/135

runDisney fun run at #DisneySportsFestival

Posted by runnerstrials

I had a great time at #DisneySportsFestival earlier this week! My recap posts are going to jump around a bit, but I promise to share everything I’ve learned.

I’m not going to lie – it was a little odd being in Disney for something other than a race. In recent years, most of my Disney trips have been built around runDisney races! I almost wanted to set my alarm for 3:00 a.m. one morning just because I’m so used to it.

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Luckily, the runDisney folks had something fun up their sleeves for the #DisneySportsFestival participants and their families: a fun run on Tuesday morning!

We all met at Sea Breeze Point (my wedding ceremony venue!) and chatted a bit before the run.

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Fun times with Heather and Carissa!

Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, shared some running-related updates with the group. New Balance has partnered with Disney (obviously, you all know about the shoes!) to sponsor special New Balance running trails throughout the resort. The one we checked out that morning was the 0.8 mile loop around the Boardwalk, Beach Club, and Yacht Club area. This resort area is actually my favorite place to stay on property because of this running trail and other nearby areas to run – like the path to Hollywood Studios and sidewalks behind the Yacht and Beach Clubs, for example.

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Then the folks from New Balance had a really exciting update: there will be new runDisney shoe models available for marathon weekend 2014! Aaah! That’s all they would say for now, but they’re going to unveil teasers during Wine & Dine weekend. I cannot wait to see what they look like. How cute would Tink shoes be? Hint hint, New Balance.

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We started walking towards the EPCOT World Showcase entrance where we were met by our first surprise guest!

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Princess Minnie!

After a quick photo, we were on our way to run around World Showcase. It was a lot of fun to run through the empty park! It’s so peaceful in the mornings.

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When we got to Germany, we spotted some familiar faces.

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I was really excited to see Dopey since he’s in charge of the crazy race challenge I’ll be running in January. I cannot wait to have that Dopey medal around my neck!

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After we stopped for pictures and water, we were off again. We continued through EPCOT…

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…and I stopped to let my son facetime with Princess Minnie (how cool is technology?) before heading back out onto the New Balance running trail.

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Some of us ran an extra few laps around the trail because we were having a blast. A few people in our group weren’t runners, but I think we may have convinced them to sign up for a runDisney race!

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At the end, we all met back at Sea Breeze Point and refueled with bananas and Powerade. Thanks so much for the fun run, runDisney. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

Pssst- want to participate in a runDisney fun run like this or #PrincessHalfMeetup? Keep your eyes on the Disney Parks blog the week before races to learn how to sign up.

*Disclosure: This trip was complements of Disney Sports. Disney provided me with flight arrangements, accommodations, meals, and park tickets. But, as always, all opinions are my own.