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    Spa hits the spot, not the pocketbook

    Ten women enjoy facials, manicures and pedicures at the Ladies' Spa Day at the Southwest Recreation Complex in Largo.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001

    LARGO -- Soft music played in the background as votive candles flickered on card tables.

    Fresh fruit, bite-sized muffins, freshly perked coffee and cold juice were neatly arranged on another table.

    [Times photo: Carrie Pratt]
    Rebecca Webb tries a Mary Kay product Saturday during the Ladies' Spa Day at Southwest Recreation Complex in Largo.
    Then Vanessa Cook, an events specialist and fitness instructor for the Largo recreation department, ushered in the 10 women whotook park Saturday in the first Ladies' Spa Day at the Southwest Recreation Complex on Vonn Road.

    For $45 to $56.25 (depending upon whether they had a Largo recreation card), the women were treated to manicures, pedicures, facials and some helpful tips from medical professionals.

    The women also got breakfast and fruit smoothies in the morning and a lunch from the Health Nut prepared by chef Karen Saley.

    Cook proposed the unorthodox pairing of the city rec center and spa after realizing that many who couldn't afford a day at an expensive resort could benefit from the relaxation a spa provides.

    "I know how expensive a day at a spa can be. So I wanted to try one that would be just as relaxing, but at an affordable price," she said.

    Participants appreciated her idea.

    "I work full time and go to school full time," said Paula Jensen, 49, of Largo. "I hardly ever have free time, so I decided to treat myself today."

    Jensen works in the commercial horticultural department at the Pinellas Cooperative Extension Service in Largo. She attends classes at Eckerd College.

    Barbara Palmeri, 54, moved from Brooklyn to Largo 18 months ago. She decided that the spa day was just the reward she deserved.

    "I'm retired, and I just thought I deserved this," she said. "You really can't beat this price. I've spent $40 to $65 just for a massage, and a facial is anywhere from $35 to $60."

    The participants, who ranged in age from 35 to 80, were divided into two groups. Five of the women got facials from Mary Kay representative Sandy Levitt and were treated to manicures and pedicures from Kim Kenney and Skylar Burhans of Attractions Salon and Spa in Seminole. The other five participants talked with Dr. Kimberly Dean and Mary Durett. Then, about 40 minutes later, the two groups switched places.

    Dr. Dean, a Largo family practitioner and Durett, her medical assistant, discussed vitamins and dietary supplements women could take to stay healthy. For instance, Durett said that vitamin B complex can relieve stress, headaches, irritability and more. Dean talked about the merits of vitamin E.

    "Can you take too many vitamins?" one woman asked.

    Dr. Dean answered: "Yes. To some people, they are toxic."

    After her manicure and pedicure, Paula Jensen was glad she came.

    "Getting a pedicure was something I always wanted to do," she said. "I think I'm going to get one once a month. I want to feel pampered."

    Sandy Geary, a coordinator at Southwest Recreation Complex, said another spa day might be held in the future, but probably not until the fall or winter.

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