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Home / Articles / Special Sections / Gifts II /  Give an experience this year
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Wednesday, December 8,2010

Give an experience this year

By Jefferson Dodge


When the holidays roll around, it always seems that we acquire more stuff.


Our closets fill up with even more sweaters we won’t wear, and our garages get more gadgets that will just collect dust.

This year, why not give a gift that creates a memory, a present that provides a loved one with an unforgettable experience?

There are many local options for “experience” gifts, from classes to pampering treatments to adventures.

First and foremost, there is the old stand-by — the vacation. Few things in life provide more lasting memories, or sweeter anticipation, than trips to new places with friends or family.

Janene DiGregorio, vacation travel manager at Boulder Travel, suggests buying a gift certificate for a specific dollar amount that can be redeemed any time in the next year toward the cost of a vacation. For instance, if you know your spouse wants a Caribbean getaway, but neither of you knows where to go, Boulder Travel will gift-wrap your certificate with some brochures and other materials to help you hone in on your destination and dates.

The gift certificate is a good way to go even if you have no idea where your escape will take you, she says.

“Some people have a fishing trip in mind, and others have a spa in mind,” DiGregorio notes. “They don’t have to make a decision right away on where they want to go.”

Andy James, co-owner of Frosch James Travel, says some of the hot trips right now are European and Alaskan cruises, all-inclusive pack ages to the Yucatan Peninsula, Disney vacations and beach getaways. Then there are the more distinctive trips, from California wine country to sporting events, African safaris to scuba-diving. Local travel agencies can help you work out the details in a more personal and customized way than the Internet ever could.

“A lot of times people go on the Internet and get really confused,” James says. “Not confused in a bad way, it’s just really overwhelming.”

If you are looking for something a little closer to home, you might consider giving a massage, pedicure or facial. Leah Nickie, owner of Advanced Aesthetics, says a perfect gift, “especially for a mom who’s hard-working” is a $140 intensive collagen treatment called the Collagen 90 II. It involves 45 minutes of facial massage to work in the skin products, followed by thermal treatment and another 45 minutes of massage on the neck, chest, hands and arms.

“You will leave, and your skin will look different,” Nickie promises.

She also claims to have the best manicurist and pedicurist in Boulder, Kim Huggins, who offers a two-hour package that combines both treatments for only $77. Advanced Aesthetics prides itself on being environmentally friendly and using non-toxic products, from using nail polish that contains no formaldehyde to sending gift cards in eco-friendly packaging.

Joy Lanzano, co-owner of On Broadway Hair Studio and the Boulder Spa, suggests giving a gift certificate for one of her establishment’s many services, which include hair care, skin care, waxing, massage and specialty spa treatments, for men and women.

If you can’t resist buying stuff instead of experiences, they also carry a full line of Aveda products, and they are selling discounted holiday gift sets.

Sensorielle Spa also takes a holistic, sustainable and organic approach to its services, whether it’s myofacial massages or acupuncture.

Sensorielle, located downtown at One Boulder Plaza, has a couple of packages guaranteed to secure a pleasurable escape for your loved one. The Destination Paradise Package, for $393, includes a Sensorielle Balancing Facial or Gentleman’s Facial (60 minutes), a Rock- Solid Hot Stone Massage (90 minutes) and a Bird of Paradise hand and foot treatment. The Radiant Energy Renewal, at $324, features a 40-minute reflexology treatment, a 70-minute Luxurious Crystalline Facial or Gentleman’s Facial and 60 minutes of Reiki. Both come with snacks.

What’s more, you could win a free treatment when you buy gift certificates this holiday season. Follow Sensorielle’s blog for discounts and information on the latest news and treatments at

All pampering aside, another great option is to give the gift of learning, whether it’s classes for yoga, art, dance, cooking — or gyrotonics, which is growing in popularity. Gyrotonic Boulder offers group sessions in this system of circular movements that blends Tai Chi, dance, swimming and gymnastics, according to Georginne Bakalis, a certified gyrotonic and gyrokenesis instructor.

She says the rhythmic motions, which are accompanied by specific breathing patterns, can be tailored to be either low- or high-impact. If the group thing (gyrokenesis) sounds too social, there are also special machines that let you exercise solo (gyrotonics).

“There is resistance, but not like a Bowflex,” Bakalis says of the gyrotonic machines. “It’s just enough resistance to make you feel like you’re moving through water.”

Gyrotonic Boulder is offering a two-pack introductory package: two one-hour private sessions with an instructor for $80. After you’ve got the hang of it, classes are $100 for four, $160 for eight and $180 for 12.

Jackie Hueftle of The Spot recommends giving the gift of climb.

And you don’t have to take a class to use the climbing gym — day passes, or punches, are $15 each, $129 for 10, and, during the holiday season, $65 for five.

In addition to the indoor classes and open climbing, The Spot has a full-service outdoor guiding service, and the half-day, per-person rate is $150, although that rate drops for groups.

For newbies or novices, Hueftle recommends the “Basic Bouldering Class,” which is $129 for a month-long membership and three days of class, equipment included. There are similar offerings for kids.

But if you are looking for something that is truly guaranteed to pump the adrenaline and provide an unforgettable rush, the destination for a variety of extreme escapes is right here in Boulder: Cloud 9 Living.

This outfit offers more than 1,600 experiences in 43 cities around the country, ranging from skydiving to wine tastings. Co-owner John Augst and his former business partner modeled the company after similar operations in Europe and Australia. But it’s not just for rich people.

“We have something for every taste and every budget,” says Augst, adding that packages start as low as $50.

While there are tame experiences like restaurant tours and spa treatments, what sets Cloud 9 apart are the more extreme adventures. One of the most popular is stock-car driving, which Augst says he tried for the first time last summer. You can ride in the passenger seat or drive the car yourself, hurtling along at speeds of 150 miles per hour.

Or, for $1,395, you could choose to be a fighter pilot for a day. Augst says you go up in the plane with a real pilot, but the pilot gives you the stick as you simulate air-to-air combat.

Check out the holiday gifts link on their website,

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