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—Photo by Jeff Nelson

19 Spa Experiences to Help You Relax This Winter

You need—no, deserve—a way to untie those weekend-warrioring (and workday) knots this ski and holiday season.

By , |

As winter, the holidays, and ski season loom, your weekends start to fill with mountains, travel…and agonizing hours in I-70 traffic. You need—no, deserve—a way to untie those weekend-warrioring (and workday) knots. Luckily, the vast number of relaxing spas near Denver means this is one activity that requires little car time. We’ve uncovered 19 local experiences to fit your needs, whether you’re picky about your nail polish or looking to soothe tired muscles, so you can find your refuge—maybe even right down the street.


You Need… A Pop of Color

Polished Nail Boutique & Beauty Lounge*
250 Fillmore St., Unit C; 303-997-4414

As a successful makeup artist in London and New York City, Lisa Hintgen had plenty of places to get her polish on. But after moving to Denver in 2007, the South Africa native couldn’t find a nail salon that met her high standards for sanitation, service, and product. So in 2014, after a year of research and small-business school, Hintgen started her own: Polished Nail Boutique & Beauty Lounge. Polished’s all-white interior offers an ultra-chic space that highlights its cleanliness: Sleek, pipeless pedicure chairs eliminate any danger of infection because fresh water never runs through the same system as old water, and tools like nail files and buffers are each used for only one client. The Cherry Creek North shop primarily uses only two brands of nail polish—Alessandro and Essie—because they are high-pigment and formaldehyde-free formulas. The cherry on top: Complimentary cozy blankets and a no-cell-phone-conversations policy ensure you’ll get the most out of your “me” time.

Editor’s Note 5/3/16: Polished is temporarily closed; please check their website for updates.


You Need… A Foot Focus

The Dragontree Spa
1521 Pearl St., Boulder; 303-219-1444

Voodoo Doughnut isn’t the only Oregon import we’ve become addicted to. Boulder’s Dragontree Spa has been satisfying our foot fetish (not that kind) since 2013, when Oregon transplant Briana Borten opened Dragontree’s third location (the other two are in Portland). Using Ayurveda—an ancient Indian tradition of mind-body medicine—Dragontree will calm you from head to toe. The real magic happens in the latter, though. Duck in for a 30-minute foot bath ($26) inside the sangha room—a small community space lined with raised, cushioned couches that sit above large copper bowls—and submerge your feet in one of more than 15 soaks. The warm baths are infused with nourishing, detoxifying, and calming ingredients like honey, milk, sea salt, and aromatherapy oils such as lavender, clove, and nutmeg. Maximize your meditative experience by pairing your session with a 20-, 30-, or 40-minute neck, foot, or hand massage, and settle in for a little Portland-style Zen.

—Photo courtesy of Jeff Nelson


Ingredients of the Moment

Cherry Creek’s Apothecary Tinctura manager Joelle Mouchati breaks down the most popular ingredients in today’s spa treatments.

Apple cider vinegar
Long used as a home remedy for warts, mildly acidic apple cider vinegar helps regulate the pH balance of skin and softens hair.

Mango butter
Mango butter’s healthy fats make it a great option for nourishing dry skin.

Jojoba oil
An oil in name only, this wax closely resembles the substances your skin naturally produces and is great for treating acne or inflammation.

Peppermint
An aromatic herb that improves circulation, peppermint also provides a cooling sensation.

Cinnamon
This spice serves as a powerful antioxidant and can send warmth to stiff muscles.

Seaweed
Packed full of minerals such as potassium and iron, seaweed also has calming properties that help inflamed skin heal.

You Need… A Staycation Spa

Spa at St Julien
900 Walnut St., Boulder; 720-406-9696

We’re all for a little R&R, but in Colorado, we like ours with a side of adventure, too. The Spa at St Julien’s two-night Boulder Adventure package delivers. You pick your endorphin fix—such as rock-climbing, snowshoeing, or a ski tour—courtesy of Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, and the St Julien staff will help you pair it with the appropriate recovery treatment in its renowned spa (your package, which starts at $1,020, includes a $130 spa credit). Cross-country skiing in Estes Park or snowshoeing in Golden Gate Canyon State Park? Reward your boot-weary dogs with Sole Delight, a 25-minute reflexology treatment to rejuvenate your hardworking feet. Muscles maxed out after a day climbing in Eldorado Canyon State Park? You’ve earned a 50-minute full-body massage. By the time you’re finished, the only thing you’ll want to use your $50 dining credit for is room service.

—Photo courtesy of Custom Creations


You Need… Local Love

Velvet Day Spa
7600 Landmark Way, Greenwood Village; 303-770-1800

The apples in your fruit bowl were grown on the Western Slope; you only shop at local markets; and even the cheap beer in your fridge is brewed in Colorado (ahem, Coors). But when it comes to spas that use locally made products, your options are limited to a handful of places. One of them is Velvet Day Spa, a tiny five-room oasis in Greenwood Village where co-owner Jeanette Ryan has been mixing an organic skincare line by hand for the spa’s 12 facials (from $85) since 2009. Her natural scrubs, cleansers, and toners range from the Anti-Aging Citrus Peel (made with honey from Elizabeth-based company Beeyond the Hive) to the Beautiful Blossom Healing Serum, which employs rosehip oil to treat dry Colorado skin. Some of these treatments end up on Ryan’s rotating slate of specials, which occasionally include permanent discounts when you buy package deals. Kind of like the spa treatment equivalent of getting a Comcast introductory offer…forever.

—Photo courtesy of Velvet Day Spa


You Need… A Winter Glow

The Oxford Club, Spa & Salon
1616 17th St., Suite 100; 303-628-5435

If summer’s golden tones are a distant memory, warm up your winter skin—without the risk of wrinkles (or worse) from tanning beds or weird smells from artificial tanning lotions—with the Oxford Club, Spa & Salon’s Sunless Bronzing treatment (starting at $104). The 75-minute service begins with a house-made scrub of apricot, salt, and almond oil, applied by a certified massage therapist, that exfoliates your skin and creates a smooth canvas for an even tan. Then, after a quick rinse in the downstairs powder room, you’ll head back up to one of the seven massage rooms, where the massage therapist gently coats your buffed body with St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse. You’ll walk away with the same peace of mind invoked by an hourlong massage, plus something that will last even longer: a natural-looking tan.


Boosts On A Budget

Stay pampered all week long—without spending your savings.

Monday: Book a day-of-the-week special like Martinis & Massages Monday (20 percent off your treatment) or Treat Your Toes Thursday (complimentary paraffin treatment) at the Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver. These fill up fast, so request a spot online a week in advance. ritzcarlton.com

Tuesday: Make a same-day appointment any day of the week at TallGrass Aveda Spa & Salon for a 15 percent discount on any service (chakra pedicure, anyone?). tallgrassspa.com

Wednesday: Head to Fingers & Toes A Nail Retreat in Wash Park on a Wednesday for a classic pedicure and receive a mini manicure on the house. fingersandtoes.net

Thursday: Take advantage of Matrix Fitness and Spa’s generous happy hour, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., for 20 percent off any service, including additions like peppermint oil scalp massages or hot stones. matrixfitnessandspa.com

Friday: Discover secret discounts at Antoine du Chez at the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek with the Last Minute Luxuries program. Call or check the website the day of to discover which services have reduced rates.
antoineduchez.com


Dr. Strangelove

Three indulgences for adventurous spa-goers.

Halotherapy
Not all sodium is bad for you. Especially not the more than six metric tons lining the new 5 Star Salt Caves Wellness Center and Spa’s salt cave. Developed in Poland as a method for soothing headaches and clearing lungs, halotherapy has become common across Europe. The 400-square-foot salt cave inside this Wash Park West spa is Denver’s first. $35 for 50 minutes; 722 S. Pearl St.; 855-578-2725; 5starsaltcaves.com

24-Karat-Gold Facial
Bond can have his Goldfinger. We’ll take a gold face, courtesy of Serenity on St. Paul Day Spa. Here, estheticians transform gold into a shimmery mask that’s purported to help decrease the size of your pores and accelerate the cell renewal process for smoother skin. $200; 240 St. Paul St., Suite G-115; 303-393-8989; serenityonstpaul.com

Marijuana-Infused Lotion
In Colorado’s legal weed market, topical cannabis products have become particularly popular for localized pain relief (but because the drug doesn’t enter the bloodstream when applied as a lotion, you won’t get high). For instance, LoDo Massage Studio offers Pain Crème—a lotion made by Denver-based apothecary Apothecanna that’s infused with cannabis and other anti-inflammatory plant extracts (peppermint, arnica, juniper)—as a free addition during its Mile High Massage. $65–$125; 3101 Walnut St.; 720-360-0035; lodomassagestudio.com


You Need… To Be Transported East

Izba Spa
1441 York St.; 303-321-1239

The popularity of acupuncture has brought Eastern remedies to the mainstream, but this spot’s idea of “Eastern” treatments skews a little farther north. For the past 20 years, the Russian-inspired Izba Spa has provided traditional banya services, the crux of which involves lying for 15 minutes at a time on wooden bunks in a 160-plus-degree sauna. The massage therapist pours water infused with essential oils such as peppermint and lavender over heated rocks, so the aromas waft under your nose as sweat drips from your chin. Once you’ve reached maximum perspiration, you’re gently swatted with oak twigs (used to increase body heat), slathered with honey to draw out even more toxins, and drenched in water to cool off. The, uh, unique treatment, which lasts anywhere from one to two-and-a-half hours, is best for the adventurous type, but it’s worth it, particularly if you had one too many craft beers the night before: Travel & Leisure highlighted the banya process as a hangover cure in 2011. Perhaps that’s the secret to Russians’ famous vodka tolerance.

You Need… A Special-Occasion Spa

Ella Bliss Beauty Bar
640 Broadway; 720-446-5588

When it comes time for a bachelorette party or Mother’s Day celebration, the mission tends to fall into one of two categories: partying or pampering. At Ella Bliss Beauty Bar’s six-month-old second location, you can do both. For your fun-loving side, there’s the outdoor patio, where you can sip complimentary wine, beer, or nonalcoholic drinks (or pay for a cocktail).When you need a break from mingling, head to one of four treatment rooms (two for facials and waxing, two for massages), then sprawl in the party lounge while trained specialists give you and your girlfriends pedicures. Ella Bliss’ personal party planner will try to make your every wish a reality, even decorating the 3,000-square-foot lounge and coordinating catering. Bonus: All party guests are eligible for member pricing, meaning they’ll receive a signature service—a massage, mani-pedi, blowout, facial, or makeup application—for $50 and get 10 percent off take-home products. That way, they can save pennies today—and continue to indulge themselves tomorrow.

—Photo courtesy of Ella Bliss Beauty Bar


You Need… a Body Wrap

Indulgences Day Spa
4100 Federal Blvd.; 303-561-0566

For decades, spas and wellness clinics have advertised body wraps as instant weight-loss solutions. Indulgences Day Spa, located on the border of Sunnyside and Berkeley, doesn’t bow to that profiteering premise. Instead, the staff at this 15-year-old spot tells the truth: You may get rid of some water weight, but you’ll mostly lose toxins during these soothing treatments. Estheticians and massage therapists apply essential oils, body polish, or masks with natural ingredients like French clay to your skin before wrapping you in a thick, heated blanket that makes you feel like a caterpillar ready to turn into a butterfly. During each of Indulgences’ six regular body services (we like the seaweed wrap, $95), you’re never left alone to sweat. Instead, your provider will wait with you, adding helpful information about your treatment’s detoxifying properties (like why peppermint lotion is better for moisturization than lavender) while you relax. When you finally leave, you’ll feel lighter, even if the numbers on the scale haven’t changed.

—Photo courtesy of Kurt Green


You Need… A Spa That Saves You Money

Bliss Skin Care and Massage
1675 Fillmore St.; 253-278-6518

We don’t mind spending money on the essentials (food, rent, good whiskey), but why blow big bucks on an indulgence when you can have the same level of service for less? Joe Ann Solomon agrees. Her two-woman business, located in a City Park Denver Square, offers 14 different massages and facials through one of the most cost-effective pricing structures in town: a 60-minute Swedish massage or customized facial for $55 once a month. If you commit to a full-year membership, that price drops to an even-more-reasonable $45 per month. You’ll find the same amenities available at high-end hotel spas, including your choice of aromatherapy blends with names like Relaxation (lavender, chamomile, mandarin, marjoram, patchouli, and geranium) and Muscle Release (clove, helichrysum, peppermint, and wintergreen). Plus, the quality of Solomon’s hot basalt stone or bamboo stick massages can exceed that of big-box treatments—so your body is just as happy as your wallet.


You Need… A Spa For Athletes

Symmetry360 Therapeutic Massage
Multiple locations

If pro athletes get to have multiple trainers, so should you. And one of them should be Symmetry360 Therapeutic Massage, which fuses traditional bodywork techniques with Thai yoga massage to help athletes recover after intense workouts. In fact, Symmetry360 already does this for the athletes at the Fast Lab as part of its partnership with the Denver Tech Center sports performance training and rehab facility. Although Thai yoga massage is typically done on a yoga mat, Symmetry founders Celeste O’Brien and Kina Ueda repurposed the ancient practice for the table, where they rhythmically move clients into various yoga positions to balance the body’s energy, similar to acupuncture. (The mat is still an option if you prefer a more authentic rubdown.) Once their clients have attained mental focus, they use Western methods (read: kneading and concentrating on trigger points) to target chronic problem areas. This combination not only stimulates the recovery process, but also helps athletes recognize new ways their bodies can move—and hopefully prevents future injuries. It’s worked so well that O’Brien and Ueda will open a fourth location in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace early next year.

—Photo courtesy of Mark Stevens


You Need… “We” Time

Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center
918 17th St.; 303-867-8100

Before your calendar fills with holiday get-togethers, squeeze in the couple time you and your honey deserve with the Renaissance’s Discover-Spa overnight experience (from $395 per person). This luxe date night begins in the lobby of the hotel’s 100-year-old building, where a black car will pick you up and take you to the Woodhouse Day Spa’s Uptown location. Savor a 50-minute Swedish couples massage, and up the ahhh ante by adding ginger-and-cinnamon-spiked Warmed Spice Mud Wraps (an extra $105). Upon returning to your suite, you’ll find views of downtown, plush bathrobes, and a bottle of sparkling wine waiting to help you transform that ahhh to an ooh-la-la. denver.woodhousespas.com

—Photo courtesy of Nickie Boehland


Local Lotions

Bring the spa experience home with products from these three Colorado companies.

Fifteen years ago, biochemist Dr. Cindy Jones started making soaps and serums from herbs she grew in her Lakewood garden to give as Christmas presents. Word spread about her all-natural products, and by 2007 she had relocated her growing business to a 10-acre farm north of Longmont and dubbed it Colorado Aromatics. Her Meadow Mist face cleanser, made with cucumber distillate, mallow and rose extracts, and oat powder, is our favorite for daily use, but the green tea herbal bath is an excellent pick-me-up on days that get you down. coloradoaromatics.com

Christin Wingo put her background in business consulting and herbalism to use when she created Canopy Skincare in 2013. And the Boulderite puts her Colorado knowledge to use in products like Ski Cheeks, a face balm that uses ingredients such as mango butter and sesame oil to rejuvenate your post–Winter Park wind-burned cheeks. canopyskincare.com

Designed to help women over 35 combat the effects of Colorado’s strong sun, Sharon Gnatt Epel’s skincare line, La Ishá, includes an age-spot eraser and Breast SOS (a serum for cleavage wrinkles—yes, they’re a real thing). la-isha.com

—Photo courtesy of Souders Studios

You Need… An Introduction

Spavia Day Spa
Multiple locations

When you walk into one of Spavia Day Spa’s four suburban locations, you’ll feel as if you’ve always been part of the elite class—even if you’re making your first leap into a world that oozes extravagance. The standard perks of luxury spas (choice of music and level of conversation, complimentary beverages and warm neck wraps) are available, but this Colorado-based chain thinks that guiding you through the process is as fundamental as that tea you’re sipping. Once you’re ready to begin your service, staff members are quick to explain the procedures, including the scientific-sounding purifying detox wrap, without prompting. (In this case, purifying detox equals a made-in-your-room mixture of ginger root and the rare Fijian dilo nut, but we also recommend the all-organic balancing facial, which features ingredients such as chamomile and green tea.) By the end of your time at Spavia, you’ll know what to expect whenever you head to a different spa. But with treatments starting at $49, maybe you never will.


You Need… A Spot for Mamas-To-Be

A New Spirit Wellness Center & Spa
4840 W. 29th Ave.; 303-477-1652

Pregnancy can be a wonderfully enriching experience, but there’s also the morning sickness, swollen feet, and sore back. Highland’s New Spirit Wellness Center aims to ease your burden (literally) with its flotation sessions. During these, you’ll float in a pod-shaped tank filled with 10 inches of a concentrated Epsom salt solution (from $45). It feels like you’re simply basking in salt water, but you’re actually absorbing magnesium—an important mineral most Americans don’t get enough of—while also sending your gray matter to the Land of Zen. If you’d rather stay dry, the massage therapists will treat you with organic, chemical-free products, leaving you more worry-free than you’ve been for the past few months—maybe years. Moms-to-be craving the ultimate in stress reduction should book New Spirit’s Pregnancy 101 package ($125), which comprises an aromatherapy footbath, foot exfoliation, and a 60-minute prenatal massage after an hourlong flotation session.


Play Nice: Spa Etiquette

Spa-day do’s and don’ts from industry pros.

Do: Disconnect
Instead of disturbing your “me” time (not to mention the peace and quiet of those around you), put your cell phone—and your mind—into silent mode.

Do: Make Yourself At Home
You never-nudes out there might be horrified at the thought of going sans clothing, but fewer layers can actually make the massage therapist’s job easier—and give you a better experience. With that said, it’s all about your personal comfort level.

Do: Let Go
Even while on the table, many people try to help massage therapists or estheticians by, say, repositioning their arms or lifting their necks up during neck rubs, says Melissa Rackliff, longtime spa director of TallGrass Aveda Spa & Salon. Don’t. Just let yourself totally relax.

Don’t: Be A Cheap Bastard (Drink The Free Champagne, Though)
Spa employees rely on gratuities. If you enjoyed your service, leaving 15 to 20 percent is recommended. But the amenities are there to use—so take full advantage of those complimentary snacks, sinkside lotions, glasses of vino, and time at the swimming pool.


You Need… A Facial

Gränd Salon
3501 Kalamath St.; 303-572-1435

We’re not about to turn our most valuable asset—our mug—over to someone without having confidence in her concern for our face. Fortunately, Gränd Salon esthetician Stacey Lohmar’s passion for skincare eliminates all doubts. When Lohmar relocated from Illinois in 2011, Denver’s dry air wreaked havoc on her skin, prompting the 29-year-old to begin a career in skincare. In 2014, she launched Gränd Salon’s first-ever facial program. The LoHi facility’s facial menu offers 10 different treatments, including the perfect-for-winter Long Drink of Water ($75), an ultra-moisturizing facial that uses Boulder-based Sanitas’ cleansers, masks, and vitamin E- and C-infused serums. Lohmar’s attention to detail goes beyond your session at the salon: She volunteers post-treatment product suggestions tailored for you and ensures you feel special with a hand-written thank-you note in your mailbox a few days later.

—Courtesy of Lissy Brenner Photography


You Need… A Quick Fix

Elixir Mind Body Massage
1518A Wazee St.; 303-571-4455

We’re all for hourlong—hell, even daylong—doses of pampering. But sometimes life gets in the way and all you’ve got the time (and budget) for is a quick fix before your iPhone beeps with your next appointment reminder. Enter Elixir Mind Body Massage. The LoDo spa’s 15- to 30-minute chair massages focus on the upper body, where we office drones tend to store our stress. You’ll remain fully clothed and free of any creams or oils, but you’ll still get the same professional service. And, and, if you sign up for a membership ($444 for six months, $828 for a year, or $79 every 30 days on a month-to-month basis), you’ll get two of the shorter rubdowns each month. When your 15 minutes of knot-untying is over, Elixir’s convenient LoDo location means you can run right back to the office. Or—might we suggest—to happy hour.

—Photo courtesy of Spa at Brown Palace


You Need… A Spa For Men

The Spa at the Brown Palace
321 17th St.; 303-312-8940

The next time your man rolls his eyes when you mention going to the Brown Palace’s traditional high tea service (think fine china, silver trays of pastries and savories, and even a live piano player), humor him by booking him some time at the historic Brown Palace spa. The 10-year-old spa’s gentlemen’s menu of seven treatments—from the signature men’s facial to the healthy back massage and scrub ($150 and $160, respectively)—are approachable and tailored for Y chromosomes. Case in point: The facial uses made-for-men products (like Phytomer’s Homme line), and estheticians take extra steps to address ingrown hairs, nicks, and toughened skin caused by decades of shaving (or—here in the Mile High City—by years of committed beard growth). The Mad Men–esque space, updated earlier this year as part of the Brown Palace’s $10.5 million renovation, sports a warm palette of gold, maroon, and mocha and complimentary goodies like fancy shaving cream and body products. Your fella might find himself so comfortable that the only thing that’ll get him to leave is the promise of a 30-year-old Scotch on the rocks at the Churchill Bar right across the lobby.

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