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Holiday Gift Guide 


Page 6 of 7


Some like it hot. Others like it wet. Here's a treat that'll get you both. TruSpa, which opened last year on the edge of Chinatown, has invented the supreme alternative to the run-of-the-mill claustrophobic seaweed wrap: full body exfoliation in an open Tropical Rainforest Room. Though there aren't any exotic trees looming or rare wildlife roaming the grounds here, there is an extreme downpour included in this treatment that is definitely reminiscent of the jungle. You'll start with a glass of champagne in a crisp, white waiting room with bright blue couches and ample snacks (cheese, crackers, grapes, and brownies). You'll then proceed to the sauna-like Rainforest Room, where a skilled technician scrubs your entire body with a variety of exfoliating products, which may include tropical fruit pulp, almond oil, rainforest mud, kukui nut, and/or shea butter. (Couples doing this can privately apply the scrubs to each other.) The yummy spa-made concoctions are left on for absorption during 25 minutes of steam immersion, after which the ceiling opens up and douses you in a tremendous warm cascade of water. A hot waterfall in the next room rounds out the experience. - KM
Tropical Rainforest gifts for your favorite water lover range from $95-$145 per person at TruSpa, 750 Kearny Street, San Francisco. Call 399-9700 or visit


Before you go and buy another eight-pound box of chocolate for your honey, consider giving something this year that will really stick (and not to the thighs): yoga classes. Right now, there's a great deal going on for both brand-spanking-new beginners and advanced practitioners, as acclaimed local teacher Jason Crandell offers two rare yoga series in the New Year. In the first, a 12-week series called Introduction to Hatha Yoga (Wednesdays beginning January 5 at The Mindful Body, $150), Crandell -- who teaches at Yoga Journal and is also their Beginner's columnist -- takes you on a three-month journey from down dog to headstand in an accessible and thorough manner. Newbies concerned about being subjected to pseudo-enlightened New Age spirituality should rest assured that they'll find none of this in Crandell's classroom; an ex-hockey player and philosophical realist, his teaching focuses on physiology, alignment, and integration. He's also offering an eight-week Home Practice Series (Saturdays beginning January 9 at the Yoga Loft, $108). Influenced by his own teacher Rodney Yee, this series aims to instruct more advanced students to develop a practice outside of the classroom -- a perfect gift for your favorite yogi or yogini who's forced to miss classes when life gets in the way. - KM
The Mindful Body, 2876 California Street, 931-2639,; Yoga Loft, 321 Divisadero, 626-LOFT,

Only-in-SF Gifts

Baseball Season

As you wait, anxiously, for Jerome Williams and company to start limbering up in Phoenix, plan ahead for the 2005 baseball season and treat 30 of your closest buddies to an afternoon at the ballpark -- not just any ballpark, but the best ballpark in the country, and not in some drafty behind-the-plate box seat but in one of the park's lushly accessorized luxury suites. A private elevator whisks you and your posse from a private entrance on Willie Mays Plaza to your dwelling-place above the infield. Besides the excellent views of the bay, the park, and the Giants in action, there's a balcony, a wet bar, a refrigerator, two televisions, a stereo/CD player, a dual-line phone, Internet access, room service, and a concierge to call you a cab or make your restaurant reservations for you. Play ball! - MS
$4000-$8500/game; Third & King streets, 972-2000,

Beat Books

City Lights Bookstore still maintains that healthy authority-questioning outlook that made the Beats so reviled and celebrated during the somnolent '50s, offering up three floors of mostly paperbacked volumes on an array of subjects eclectic enough for the thirstiest intellectual. Even their T-shirts are cool: no-frills proletarian-black with the store's hip logo stamped unobtrusively in the upper right, the only souvenir tee you'll be proud to wear anywhere. Or opt instead for the equally classic shoulder bag, or, even better, a gift certificate redeemable amongst the shelves and stacks of this beloved, ever-ferocious landmark, where the First Amendment is the lingua franca and the Beat Era is, briefly, reborn. - MS
T-shirt, $12; shoulder bag, $15; gift certificates, $10, $25 or $50; 261 Columbus (at Kerouac), 362-8193,

Cable Car Collectibles

Our most beloved mode of transit is, of course, the cable car, as good an example as any of San Francisco's adamant refusal to curtail the eccentric. Inside a handsome old brick powerhouse on the slopes of Nob Hill are the motors, gears, pulleys, and 10-foot winding wheels that make the system run, and housed nearby is a museum of century-old artifacts, vintage photographs, blueprints, tokens, punches, transfers, and mechanical devices. There are two items for sale, though, that really stand out: solid brass conductor's bells, the ones that add as much to the city's sonic landscape as foghorns and Chinese funerals, and authentic old enamel street signs from the 1940s. Either would make a unique keepsake for aspiring and authentic San Franciscans alike. - MS
Street signs, $25-$50; bells, $70; 1201 Mason (at Washington), 474-1887.

Custom Beans

For nearly six decades, Graffeo of North Beach has been blending fresh Arabica coffee beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, and New Guinea and roasting them daily in small quantities and in three varieties: dark, light, and a Colombian they decaffeinate through the chemical-free Swiss Water Process. If you're lucky enough to live in the neighborhood, simply follow the seductive aroma of roasting coffee beans to the firm's trim and friendly outlet at Greenwich and Columbus. The coffee's also available at local restaurants and specialty shops, or you can ship a little bit of San Francisco to a bereft out-of-towner and make yourself a friend for life. - MS
$11.50/lb. regular, $12.50/lb. decaf; 735 Columbus (at Greenwich), 986-2420,


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