Posts Tagged ‘Freestone’

We’ve Got the Perfect Lineup for Your Next Girl’s Getaway

By Camille Baldini

Do you really need a reason to start scheduling your next girls’ getaway? If you don’t and are already keen on finding any opportunity to book time with your gal pals, then that’s phenomenal. But if you really do need some good inspiration on why Osmosis is your next destination for your pending girls’ getaway, then you’ve arrived. 

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is located in the historic town of Freestone, nestled between river and coast, redwoods and vineyards, at the Gateway to Sonoma Wine Country. Just an hour’s drive from San Francisco, hub of gorgeous bay views, top-rated cuisine, and a booming tech economy. 

We certainly cannot think of a better girls’ vacation than here!

Whether a Bay Area native or traveling into town from a further destination, we’ve got a lineup for you and your girls that will leave nothing to be desired. 

Unwind

Ready to unwind and spa in a Zen setting that will leave both your spirit and skin nourished and renewed? Check. Looking to experience nature in its full glory? Check. Craving to wine and dine in legendary destinations for innovative eats? Then, look no further. We’ve got the full roundup for your girls’ getaway right here. 

At the heart of travel is the journey of the destination, which is where we’ll start. No matter where you’re coming from, near or far, once you arrive in the area, you’ll spot the not-to-be-missed coastline features, breathtaking views, and ventures. Delight in a truly charismatic region and rare gem-of-a-community with stunning beaches, cliff-side hiking, lush forests, and trails meant for biking and exploring. 

Entrust

Entrust your getaway to the Sonoma Coast via Bodega Bay or take the 10-mile, scenic roadway along Bohemian Highway, where you will find a trio of townships—Freestone, Occidental, and Monte Rio—with small-town charm that cannot be found anywhere else. Or if coming from out of town, Sonoma County (STS) Airport, in Santa Rosa, CA, will land you in the middle of pastoral tranquility. Freestone is home to Osmosis and is particularly special because it is Sonoma County’s first historic district. In this small, yet formidable community, you will find Osmosis, the highlight of your girls’ getaway. 

With deep reverence for sharing and providing sacred Japanese healing rituals, Osmosis is one-of-a-kind in offering our signature spa treatment, the Cedar Enzyme Bath, and remains the one and only day spa in the US to offer this authentic, therapeutic service. 

Benefit

Both warm and fragrant, this particular treatment boasts a myriad of health benefits including a more balanced central nervous system, joint and muscle pain relief, and skin exfoliation. This is truly a must-do when you’re here. Cozy up for an informal tea ceremony before your session and meditation in the gardens following your 75-minute facial or massage. Then, visit our gift shop for organic skincare products and other totally unique treasures found in the boutique. 

Eat

From spa onward, get ready to celebrate and support artisan food culture in what is being called the New Province among Sonoma County’s distinct and beloved small towns. Then, you and your girls can extend your relaxation from a day of therapeutic spa treatments into the night by experiencing local restaurants and wineries. You’ll immediately become a regular to some of the most innovative and diverse wining and dining scenes that California is well-known for. 

Naturegirls group

This getaway is one we certainly believe you and crew will be satisfied with. It will allow you to unplug and immerse yourself into an area that is so connected to life and nature’s elements, which will beautifully surround you and your favorite girls. And, not to mention, superb Insta-worthy photos to swoon over again and again. Unapologetically cue the skyline photos, spa session, and foodie snaps for others to see and experience, too. Then, be prepared to gab about a getaway to remember for years to come. 

Despite whether you end or begin your girls’ getaway with Osmosis, it’s the perfect kickstart to deeply enrich the moment for everyone involved. Experience the tremendously satisfying peace and tranquility that going inward, while being together with friends, can bring; it’s a collective moment to mindfully relish and cherish. And, hopefully, a moment you and your chosen gal pals, will agree to continue and make a tradition of. 

Osmosis is here to provide a healing environment in resonance with nature that promotes clarity and connection. So, come ready for an experience of ultimate relaxation and renewal—both equal parts unforgettable and enchanting. 

Learn more about our spa treatments and book your group today.

Related Reads:
Overnight Vacation Lodging
Local Restaurants & Dining
Exploration Activities
Freestone History
Map & Directions

 

Thirty Years in Freestone

Anniversary Message

By Michael Stusser

The inspiration for Osmosis was born in Japan the day I took my first enzyme bath in the spring of 1984.  As the healing warmth of the bath enveloped my entire body, I was relieved of a crushing nerve pain that had plagued my body for months. At the same time, I dropped into an indescribable experience of sensing the entire universe like never before. As a minuscule part of this journey, a vivid picture of a healing sanctuary with the enzyme bath at the core surrounded by meditative Japanese style gardens and gracious hospitality flashed before my minds eye. From this remarkable moment, I knew it was my calling to bring the Japanese enzyme bath back to West County.

Largest Enzyme bath in Japan

Largest Enzyme bath in Japan

I knew nothing about spas or business. I found a partner in Calistoga who helped me learn about how spas work in exchange for providing the enzyme bath to his mud bath spa. On November 11th, 1984, the foundation was poured for a 400 Sq. ft. prototype which was built out of wood from a recycled chicken coop in Theresa Beldon’s back yard west of Sebastopol. I worked with my friend Steve Stucky from Zen center to create a garden with a stream and beautiful stones to greet guests when they arrived on their way to the small building on the hillside setting.

Prototype Foundation pour 11/11 1984 with Bruce, Evan and Chris Fortin, Ruho Yamada, Allison Dykstra, Eileen and Fay Mulligan

Prototype Foundation pour 11/11 1984 with Bruce, Evan and Chris Fortin, Ruho Yamada, Allison Dykstra, Eileen and Fay Mulligan

The first baths were offered in May of 1985. My tools were a snow shovel, wheelbarrow, sifting screens and a 1950 Chevy pick up truck with a long bed and tall sides. For years I shoveled, sifted and hauled tons of sawdust as I searched different sources, trying different wood species and delivering the mix to the spa in Calistoga every week.  It was a slow start and building interest took time. It was a hand to mouth time and I lived in the same room that I received guests, managing to store my bedding and keep a basic kitchen in a 4-x4 storage area.

First day to offer the enzyme bath May 25th 1985

First day to offer the enzyme bath May 25th 1985

Photo by Linda Solomon

Photo by Linda Solomon

In the fall of 1987, an article about the enzyme bath was published in the Sunday section of the San Francisco Chronicle. The phone went crazy for months!  There were far more people wanting to come than either the Calistoga outlet or the Sebastopol prototype could handle. It was time to start looking for a larger place. I saw an ad in the classifieds for commercial property in the bucolic village of Freestone. When I went to see the place, it was really hard to visualize how it could be nice. The property was very run down with an enormous amount of junk stacked up on the 5 acres. The back of the property along the creek was an undisturbed wilderness paradise that called out for love and protection.

Osmosis 1985After lots of soul searching, I decided to go for it. It took an arduous 18-month process of fundraising, design work and working through 18 governmental agencies to find out if it could really even happen. In the end, permits were issued and investment money came in, 400 cubic yards of debris was removed, and a complete renovation of the property was completed for a grand opening on November 11th, 1989.  My cousin Susan Stein with an extensive background in hotel management soon arrived as Osmosis’s 1st hospitality manager and applied her exceptional expertise and talent to help shape the emerging company culture.

As the boom of the ’90s unfolded, things really took off and the business grew. Outdoor massage areas were added and the main building was repeatedly expanded. Osmosis was one of the only spas in the area for years outside of Calistoga. We were featured in the New York Times several times and as well as a favorite local television show, Bay Area Back Roads, that aired following the Super Bowl Sunday in 1997 which packed the house for months.

First Pagoda Massage 1993

First Pagoda Massage 1993

We began the construction of a Kyoto style meditation garden designed by a world expert on Japanese gardens and built by Zen priest Steve Stucky and his landscape crew in 2000. Taking time to view the garden adds an enormous aura of tranquility to the Osmosis experience.  It has since been meticulously curated by two dedicated garden artists and has become recognized as one of the most authentic Japanese style gardens in the US.

Meditation Garden 2003

Meditation Garden 2003

In 2006, we doubled down on our commitment to sustainability and conducted a total eco renovation of the property and our operations including building a constructed wetland to recycle all the gray water from the spa. At that time, I also founded the Green Spa Network which has become a national organization supporting environmental consciousness and practices within the spa industry.

Constructed Wetlands 2006

Constructed Wetlands 2006

As a cornerstone of our business our remarkable staff formed the following vision and mission for Osmosis:

  • Introduce and establish the enzyme bath as a genuinely beneficial form of heat therapy.
  • Build a profitable, sustainable business enterprise that conveys a right-livelihood opportunity/situation for owners, managers, and employees.
  • Create a restful sanctuary conducive to effective relaxation and therapy that contributes a sense of well-being to this world.

As we arrive at our 30th anniversary in Freestone on November 11th, 2019, we celebrate how the “Osmosis Experience” has touched so many people. This experience, in its totality, resonates at a deep level with our guests and creates a feeling of being at home, comfortable and very well taken care of. The whole gestalt of Osmosis; the services, the place and the people are like a magic balm that soothes one’s soul.   We now have a dedicated following that holds Osmosis with a sense of reverence and gratitude as well as a staff that is committed to creating a “zone of peace” while fulfilling their needs and expectations.



 

Planting Our Future

by Michael Stusser

forestPlanting trees and preserving forests can balance many of the negative effects of human activity on our ecosystem before the threat from rising global temperature becomes irreversible.

Focus on Forests First

Of the many environmental factors that are currently at risk, the issue of forests is a critical leverage point for recovering balance quickly. Restoring global forest cover is one of the fastest and most effective natural solutions to the rising global temperature and the myriad related potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. 

Planting enough trees of the right kinds in the right places fast enough will reduce the amount of C02 in the atmosphere and reverse climate change.

Here are the facts:

  • Forests represent one of the largest, most cost-effective climate solutions available today. Halting the loss and degradation of natural systems and promoting their restoration have the potential to contribute over one-third of the total climate change mitigation scientists say is required by 2030. Restoring 350 million hectares of degraded land could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. ~IUCN,  Forests and Climate Change Issues Brief
  • IPCC [International Panel on Climate Change] numbers suggest that if deforestation ended today and degraded forests were allowed to recover, tropical forests alone could reduce current annual global emissions by 24 to 30 percent. ~ Center for Global Development, Why Forests, Why Now?
  • Old growth trees, dense mature vegetation and rich soils in primary forests including intact forest landscapes are unmatched in terms of carbon sequestration and storage (30-70% more than logged or degraded forests). Forests are thought to remove 25% of all human generated emissions of CO2, and primary forests play a substantial role in this extraordinary carbon sink. ~ IUCN, Raising the profile of primary forests
  • NASA study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion. – NASA Finds good news on forests and carbon dioxide  ~Data courtesy of verdantworld.org

What We Are Doing:

Freestone and the surrounding hills were logged out following the 1906 earthquake to rebuild San Francisco. We feel a responsibility to restore our own forests here at a local level. By planting a redwood forest at Osmosis it is our hope that this action that can also help to build more awareness of the fact that protecting and restoring forests around the world can reverse climate change.

Altar Dedication for Steve Stücky

Norman Fisher, meditation, San Francisco Zen Center, Zen, Every Day Zen, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, Wendy Johnson, Buddhism, Japanese Garden, Day Spa, Retreat center, Northern California Spa, Freestone, Sonoma County, Wine country, Steve Stucky

Norman Fischer Leads Ceremony at Osmosis

by Michael Stusser

October 6th was a perfect fall day in Freestone. Thirty people gathered in our meditation garden to honor Steve Stucky, a remarkable landscape artist and Zen priest who helped develop the natural beauty of Osmosis. Steve served as abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center where he promoted gratitude in daily life. He passed in 2013, yet his legacy is alive as our gardens mature. 

Steve understood that Osmosis would become a meditative environment where guests would feel the benefits of silent contemplation. He spoke clearly at our garden dedication ceremony in 2003,

Norman Fisher, meditation, San Francisco Zen Center, Zen, Every Day Zen, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, Wendy Johnson, Buddhism, Japanese Garden, Day Spa, Retreat center, Northern California Spa, Freestone, Sonoma County, Wine country, Steve Stucky

Norman Fischer, Wendy Johnson and Michael Stusser at Steve Stücky Altar Dedication

“Very few people in our nation’s healing professions understand the importance of place and of the natural world in healing. The primary reason our work here is so meaningful…is the fact that this garden is a place of healing the body, soothing and calming the mind, and spiritual nourishment—a truly sacred space that recognizes the whole person and may serve many people over many years. I believe that we Americans, in our busy acquisitiveness, need to drink deeply from resources within the natural world to develop an indigenous culture of wisdom.”

Norman Fisher, meditation, San Francisco Zen Center, Zen, Every Day Zen, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, Wendy Johnson, Buddhism, Japanese Garden, Day Spa, Retreat center, Northern California Spa, Freestone, Sonoma County, Wine country, Steve Stucky

Steve Stücky Laying Out the Osmosis Meditation Garden, 2001

I feel certain no one on the planet was better qualified and more able to translate the vision for the Osmosis gardens into reality. Steve wanted to create special environments that would evoke the calming healing quality of our True Nature. It was deeply moving and satisfying to have a companion on the journey that understood these intentions and was able to help actualize them. No words can begin to express my gratitude to Steve.

 

Norman Fisher, meditation, San Francisco Zen Center, Zen, Every Day Zen, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, Wendy Johnson, Buddhism, Japanese Garden, Day Spa, Retreat center, Northern California Spa, Freestone, Sonoma County, Wine country, Steve Stucky

New Altar at Osmosis

As our celebrated meditation garden was being built, Steve suggested that we incorporate an altar to a allow guests to offer incense. An offering of incense is considered a simple act of generosity within the Zen tradition. Unlit incense represents the potential for enlightenment. Once lit, its ephemeral smoke mirrors the transitory nature of life. Incense purifies the atmosphere and may inspire us to develop a pure mind. Its fragrance spreads far and wide, just as a good deed benefits many.

Our October 6th ceremony included many of Steve’s lifelong friends and fellow practitioners who unveiled an altar dedicated to him.  It is inscribed with his favorite Zen saying,

Norman Fisher, meditation, San Francisco Zen Center, Zen, Every Day Zen, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, Wendy Johnson, Steve Stucky, Buddhism, Japanese Garden, Day Spa, Retreat center, Northern California Spa, Freestone, Sonoma County, Wine country

Steve Stücky with Osmosis Gardeners Michael Alliger and Louis Fameli, 2009

“To what shall I liken this world?

Moonlight reflected in dewdrops

Flung from a crane’s bill”

– Dogen Zenji