Can a Spa Be Narnia? (Pasadena Now)

Can a Spa Be Narnia?

Step inside Cote d’Azur and your troubles melt away. A tribal spa with a luxurious twist.

Article by Jennifer Kim

Step inside this Old Town Pasadena spa and the bustling sounds of Fair Oaks Avenue disappear as the door swiftly shuts with vacuum-like suction behind you. Pure scents of blended essential oils – lavender, eucalyptus, patchouli – lure you up a steep wooden staircase that creaks in anticipation of what might be next. For adults – this is a Narnia-like moment.

At the top, peaceful-looking therapists dressed in yogi clothing mill about. And at first glance, you might wonder, “Am I in the right place?” This doesn’t look like your typical Burke-Williams-tricked-out spa. The walls are exposed brick, the floors are wooden, tribal and folk art decorate, and the color scheme is full of deep and earthy hues. The spa has an “indigenous” feel.

Welcome to Cote d’Azur, a holistic healing center that co-owner Carolyn Jacques describes as a “tribal spa, primitive with a luxurious twist.” Named after the French Riviera, Cote d’Azur offers the usuals – facials, massages, and body treatments, in addition to holistic therapies such as energy work, aura and eye readings, vibrational toning, and more. The treatments have origins in India, New Zealand, Asia, and New Mexico.

Owners Darrin & Carolyn Jacques

The spa is known for its energy work which “involves working with the magnetic field around a person’s body,” explained Carolyn, 44, who gave off a very peaceful affect and was radiant from being pregnant. “Just like the earth has a magnetic field to protect it from solar winds and other space interference, we do also.” She said that the electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, from cell phones, computers, and anything run on electricity interfere with a body’s own energy field. To put the body back in balance, different styles of energy work like chi gong, reiki, cranial sacral, and color therapy are used. Older clients who can’t handle the physical pressure of massage are also drawn to energy work, which is gentler, she said.

Carolyn demonstrated an interesting energy technique that involved cutting cords that were rising off of my body. Carolyn could see the cords but I couldn’t. These cords, she said, were strands of energy that stream off of a person and connect them, negatively and positively, to other people or incidences.

“When one feels like they connect with someone else… like you just hit it off. You’ve developed an energy connection, which is wonderful,” expressed Carolyn.

“However, sometimes we have connections that are not mutually positive. Sometimes these connections drain us and leave us feeling weak. They can be found and disconnected. Because they move in a cord-like form, they can be felt, pulled out and cut, with either a hand or a blade.” She cut my cords with her bare hands deftly slicing the air above me. (They had a blade in their spa and I’m glad it was not used on me.)

Besides the energy work, one of the most popular treatments at Cote d’Azur is the Indigo Escape, a one-hour experience that includes a full-body massage, hot stone integration, hot rice placement, custom aromatherapy, hand-hydration and ends with a lovely cold stone acupressure face massage. At one point, I felt that my body was lying down in a forest and I became part of the forest. It was quite nice, especially the hot rocks. With her wise hands Carolyn, who’s of Native American and Scottish descent was able to identify many of my current stressors and could read my body like it was a roadmap of my past. She trained with the Touch Therapy Institute in Encino, as well as with healers who have studied Peruvian, Native American and Maori traditions.

Carolyn and her husband Darrin Jacques, 33, were inspired to create Cote d’Azur when they recognized that there weren’t any businesses like it in the Pasadena area. There were spas and there were healing centers, but there weren’t any businesses that combined the two concepts. Carolyn who has a history of entrepreneurism – she owned a children’s educational toy store in Lancaster – wanted to present energy work in a luxurious setting to make it more attractive to newbies. With a B.S. in Cybernetics from UCLA, Darrin has an unusual spa owner background – he formerly worked in theatrical combat and choreography with swordplay and was a swordfight stunt double.

“Between Cybernetics and swordplay, Darrin’s developed an excellent understanding of muscle function and form and blended that with the grace of massage,” said Carolyn.

With a loan from Darrin’s family, the couple opened Cote d’Azur in 2003 at 37 North Arroyo Parkway, near King Taco. The spa publicized themselves through promotional packages on Goldstar Events and a lot of sweat equity working celebrity events and the X Games. An appearance on the TV news boosted their visibility. The “primitive with a twist” spa concept took off and two-and-half years later they were able to move into their current larger location, 74 North Fair Oaks Avenue above McMurphy’s Tavern, also in Old Town. This location was the old Pasadena Bed and Breakfast which Carolyn said was beautiful upon moving in, but that they are still steadily making changes: adding stained glass, developing the patio, bringing in copious plant life, and adding water fountains. They are also working with spiritual space planners. The former quaint B&B is becoming a luxurious tribal escape.

The spa has five large, sanctuary-like treatment rooms, which can also be couples room. A rooftop garden and gazebo add to the magic of the place and food can be fetched from the nearby Tibetan restaurant. The spa hosts events like Henna tattoo parties and special visitors such as the Maoris who came last year.

At the end of my visit, Carolyn placed my hand on their aura photography machine. My aura was violet, which meant “we were able to lift you up more into the spirit and out of your body,” said Carolyn.

Well, with my cords cut and with new knowledge about energy work, I did feel less entangled. I enjoyed my time with Carolyn as I floated out of Cote d’Azur.

June 2006

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