Feature

Destination Spa Guide

Even if you’ve just driven up the hill for a quick weekend away from Denver, there’s something about visiting a spa on vacation that seems especially indulgent. We scouted out a range of high-country spas—you know, for some extra encouragement to schedule that appointment you were already dreaming about. Plus, we revisit some tried-and-true urban favorites, scope out spas with a twist, and give you the 411 on spa etiquette. Go ahead. Get pampered. You deserve it.

November 2012

Allegría Spa • Beaver Creek

Go here for: A decadent nature-inspired sanctuary. The Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek underwent a $20 million renovation in 2006, which included doubling the spa’s size to a two-story, 30,000-square-foot haven of tranquility made for an après-ski visit. The 23 treatment rooms include three couples’ suites, and the open, loftlike lobby, fitness center, salon, and luxurious locker rooms are airy and inviting.

Get pampered with: The Ginger Peach Cure ($275). It’s not easy on the wallet, but this signature treatment will dissolve your worries like nothing else you can think of—because everything you can think of is included in this sumptuous deluge of the senses. From start to finish of this hour-and-40-minute therapy, you’ll feel alternately invigorated, rejuvenated, and utterly relaxed as your therapist tends to skin needs you never knew you had. The methodology: scrub to buff your skin; Swiss shower rinse (like surround-sound, but with shower spray); full-body massage; warm body wrap; tension-relieving neck and scalp massage. The ingredients: Fresh ground ginger, orange peel, raw sugar, honey, jojoba, and ginger butter give your body a boost while the accompanying exotic scents melt away your stress. 

Standout amenity: Allegría’s five-step hydrotherapy regimen is modeled on ancient Roman baths—but there’s nothing ancient about the soothing mineral pools and scented steam rooms, which you can enjoy at your leisure (allow at least an hour) before or after your treatment. Alternating between hot and cold temperatures to invigorate and relax your muscles before massage, the self-guided progression through the Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary will take you from the coed jetted thermae pool with cascading mini-waterfalls—which raises your core temperature to increase circulation and metabolism—to the gender-specific caldarium mineral pools (for energizing) to a cooling rain shower (for body temp transition). Then, step into the caldarium steam room, where an ethereal lighting effect and wintergreen scented steam will wipe out lingering stress and recharge your senses. Wrap up with a nap in the lavender-scented tepidarium, where you can decompress in the contoured heated chaise lounges.

Smart deal: A $55 day pass will grant you access to the full spectrum of Aqua Sanitas (plus facilities and a group fitness class) without booking a treatment. Staying nearby for the week? $150 gets you a weeklong pass and three fitness classes. 

Schedule it: 970-748-7500, allegriaspa.com

Atmosphere Spa • Telluride

Go here for: A convenient and charming après-ski experience. Although it’s located inside the Camel’s Garden Hotel at the base of the gondola, this intimate spa looks more like the interior of a pleasant home than a facility you’d find attached to a major hotel. With its bamboo hardwood floors, muted color scheme, and modern lounge furniture, the space is appealing but not overwhelming—someplace you could pop into for a quick treatment before or after you hit the slopes, depending on your needs.

Get pampered with: The Holistic Green Coffee Wrap ($175). If you’ve ever been on vacation and woken up feeling a bit lethargic from all the fun, you know how nice it is to shake off the cobwebs. If you happen to be in Telluride, this wrap is your answer. The green coffee detoxifies, hydrates, and energizes you before Telluride’s only Vichy shower (a multi-headed shower that sprays warm water over you while you remain on the treatment table) washes away the vestiges of your wrap. The finishing aromatherapy massage will leave you ready to take on the world—or at least the rest of your vacation—again.

The little things: On a recent visit, a platter of cookies beckoned from the mani-pedi room, giving the entire spa an inviting, friendly vibe that was hard to resist. Sweets while our toes get the royal treatment? Yes, please.

Bonus: Renting a condo in Telluride? Can’t make it to the spa? Worry not—an Atmosphere therapist will come to your room. Just tack on a $25 travel fee per trip, and you can bliss out with a Swedish, deep tissue, or aromatherapy massage in the privacy of your own digs.

Schedule it: 970-728-0630, telluridespa.com

The Rock Resorts Spa at Arrabelle • Vail

Go here for: Natural elegance. Completed in 2008, the Arrabelle complex at Vail Square is part of the RockResorts luxury vacation brand—and the spa is perhaps the best example of the high-end, yet approachable mountain vibe the Arrabelle aims for. The light stone tiling and wood finishes are calming, and the neutral tones feel in sync with the high-country scenery. The spacious locker rooms (plush robes and slippers await in your locker) are decked out with steam rooms, saunas, and all the extras you could ask for. But the most alluring part is the generously sized (gender-specific) whirlpool lounge; the women’s pool is shrouded in sheer floor-to-ceiling curtains that give the whole area a sanctuary-within-a-sanctuary feel. We recommend taking a soak and stretching out on a chaise lounge after your appointment to induce that I-could-so-fall-asleep-right-now sensation.

Get pampered with: The Gemstone Fusion Aromatherapy Massage ($235). One-up your usual Swedish rubdown with this soothing 80-minute treatment, which aims to realign your body’s energy and balance. Your therapist will rub a variety of gemstones and herbal oils over your skin to elicit a calming effect. The gemstones are a pleasant contrast to the therapist’s muscle-work and stimulate your body’s flow in a different way than traditional massage.

The little things: We love personal lockers at any spa, but carrying your key around the spa—especially if your robe doesn’t have pockets? Mildly annoying. That’s why we were thrilled to find digital key codes on the lockers here. Nothing to keep track of when you’re drifting from the whirlpool to the massage table to the steam room.

Above and beyond: After your treatment, your therapist will drop you in the relaxation room and hand you a dish of coconut sorbet to enjoy while you relish your last few minutes of robe-cloaked bliss. It’s a thoughtful, refreshing interlude before you re-enter the real world. 

Schedule it: 970-754-7754, arrabelle.rockresorts.com/spa/index.asp

Close to Home
CITY SPA-ING
When you need a pampering sesh pronto—as in, after work—these six spas are our go-tos in central Denver. —Lindsey B. Koehler

1/ Woodhouse Day Spa

941 E. 17th Ave., 303-813-8488, denver.woodhousespas.com

Ambience: The three-story, historic home-turned-spa in Uptown has a light vibe that's not too sickly sweet.

Try: The Organic Sugar Scrub pedicure ($60). 

Zen Factor (out of 10): 7

2/ Spa Universaire

475 W. 12th Ave., 303-629-9070, spauniversaire.com

Ambience: Spa U’s 3,100 square feet of space aren’t flashy or over-the-top, but its treatments are always spot-on.

Try: The integrative massage ($80). 

Zen Factor: 6

3/ The Spa at the Brown Palace 

321 17th St., 303-312-8940, brownpalacespa.com

Ambience: Much like the storied hotel itself, the two-floor spa has elegant detailing and feels just a bit more special than your average day spa.

Try: The Brown Palace Signature Wrap ($165). 

Zen Factor: 7 

4/ The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver

1881 Curtis St., 303-312-3800, ritzcarlton.com

Ambience: Neutral tones, dark woods, and clean lines complement a menu that draws heavily from nature.

Try: The Aspen Leaf Renewal Facial ($104–$130). 

Zen Factor: 8

 5/ Indulgences Day Spa

3456 W. 32nd Ave., 303-561-0566, indulgencesdayspa.com

Ambience: Squeezed into a funky little Victorian in Highlands Square, Indulgences is a no-frills spot to visit for your everyday spa-ing needs.

Try: A bikini wax ($25–$55). 

Zen Factor: 5 

6/ The Four Seasons Hotel Denver Spa

1111 14th St., 303-389-3020, fourseasons.com/denver/spa

Ambience: The definition of luxury with every perk you could want. 

Try: The Rocky Mountain hot stone massage ($125). 

Zen Factor: 9 

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Health Care
HEALING HANDS
A local spa gears its services toward cancer patients.

Like any spa owner, Julie Bulatovic is invested in her clients’ well-being. But unlike many other spas, her focus goes well beyond pampering. The owner of Cherry Creek’s one-year-old Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa (a franchise with a separately owned location in Highlands Ranch), has certified about 80 percent of her therapists in oncology massage techniques and has partnered with a local nonprofit to develop the franchise’s first free massage program for cancer patients. ¶ The idea: Those struggling through the aftermath of cancer and treatment likely have daunting medical bills, plus lingering physical and emotional scars—which is why they need the benefits of therapeutic massage. Having witnessed the effects of cancer on her family, and with a real understanding of how massage can relieve tension and restore balance, Bulatovic put the idea into practice. “How wonderful would it be if we could provide free massage for people who couldn’t afford it?” she says. “So they can have real ‘me time.’ ” ¶ By working with local hospitals and Denver-based nonprofit Re-Org, which pairs cancer survivors with massage therapists, Bulatovic launched her program in September: Once a month, the spa brings in two clients who are at least 30 days out from their last treatments, plus a family member and caregiver if they want, for free massages. The clients are free to come in as many times as they want over the next six months for a highly discounted price, as are other cancer patients who don’t participate in the program. Bulatovic hopes her efforts can be a model for other franchisees. “This is my pilot,” Bulatovic says. “But corporate says other owners are interested, too. So many cancer patients don’t realize they can feel comfortable in environments where they may not otherwise go.”

2727 E. Second Ave., 303-394-4444, handandstone.com/spa/Colorado/Cherry-Creek

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Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa • Hot Sulphur Springs

Go here for: A throwback, no-frills retreat experience with natural healing at its core. The retro-funky resort, with 17 basic lodge rooms, plus a rustic cabin and apartment, is built around seven gurgling hot springs that begin in volcanic fissures 35,000 feet below the surface and bubble up into 21 mineral pools and baths (98 to 112 degrees) for your soaking pleasure. The mineral water, which includes sulfate, silica, potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium, is unfiltered with no added chemicals. The hot springs were first tapped by the Ute Indians, who considered them magic healing waters, and the resort—though its heyday was between the 1920s and 1950s—has operated continuously for about a century and a half.

Get pampered with: The Raindrop Therapy ($20) and your choice of massage ($75). The spa menu is limited, but as a means of purifying your system and revitalizing your energy, this treatment complements the mineral soaking. Your therapist will integrate 10 essential oils into your massage by dripping the oils, in succession, along your spine like drops of rain. Each oil has a distinct scent and function, such as oregano and thyme (both antivirals), peppermint (for pain relief), and basil (a muscle relaxant) for a powerful overall impact. 

Quick tip: We recommend bringing shower shoes for the barebones locker room and your own towels to avoid the $2 towel fee ($6 for a robe).

Look for: The Ute Cave Pool. When you exit the locker rooms before or after your spa treatment, head over the walkway and up the steps to the larger pool. The temperature is comfortable enough to soak in without overheating. Take your turn under the cascading waterfall and let it rain down on your neck and shoulders for a therapeutic massage effect.

Schedule it: 970-725-3306, hotsulphursprings.com

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Elements of Touch Wellness Spa at River Retreat • Estes Park

Go here for: A comfortable and unpretentious place to unwind. This locals’ favorite is everything a big hotel spa isn’t—and we love that. Located on a woodsy cul-de-sac a few minutes from town on the banks of the Big Thompson River, the spa is a pleasant distance from the bustle of Estes Park, but close enough to be convenient. Owner Ravit Michener will welcome you like one of her family while maintaining the right balance of professional courtesy. Spending time at this low-key sanctuary makes you feel as if you were in your own home (read: no unnecessary airs or superfluous luxury). And there’s something unexpectedly relaxing about that.

Get pampered with: The Dead Sea Mud Wrap ($85). If you need a little skin detox or a mood boost, this is the treatment for you. After a gentle skin buffing, your therapist will gently slather your skin with 5,000-year-old mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea, heated to your specifications. While you’re wrapped in a warm cocoon of blankets, the heat will open your pores, allowing toxins to escape and the mud’s healing nutrients to seep into your lymphatic system; a craniosacral scalp massage further releases the tension. A warm toweling off and full shower will leave you feeling like a shiny new penny.

Quick tip: Don’t shave for 24 hours before your wrap to avoid a stinging sensation as your skin absorbs the salts in the mud.

Make it a weekend: The spa is actually attached to (yet separate from) the Estes River Retreat vacation home, which sleeps up to seven. Rent it for a girls’ weekend or couples’ retreat and your spa-going will be as easy as wandering down the stairs.

Schedule it: 970-586-6597, estesriverretreat.com/spa.html

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The Spa at Viceroy Snowmass • Snowmass

Go here for: A luxury experience steeped in Ute Indian tradition. From the rich earth tones and soothing water features to the candlelit ambience and your choice of background music, much of this spa is rooted in Ute philosophy—an homage to a simple, reverent way of life devoted to spiritual awakening. The 7,000-square-foot space opened with the Viceroy in 2009 and has been lulling its typically on-the-go clients into a state of blissful hibernation ever since. Just sitting in the relaxation lounge—a room of browns, golds, and beiges with slate-colored stone accents, flowing drapes, a dramatic antler chandelier, and a soothing water feature—is like being dreamily suspended between the Ute world of natural harmony and a modern vision of crisp elegance. 

Get pampered with: The Ute Sun Dance Ritual ($340). Yes, this signature two-hour service will set you back more than three bills, but what you get in return is an ultimate body-and-soul transformation. The spa refers to it as a “treatment interpretation” of one of the Utes’ oldest and most important ceremonies, meant to breathe new life into the body. You’ll start with a hot salt soak (purifying), followed by a red clay body mask (detoxifying), hot oil scalp treatment (de-stressing), shea butter full-body massage (nourishing), and additional hand and foot treatments (these just feel really good). Listen for traditional Ute Sun Dance music throughout your experience.

The little things: The staff wants each client to experience a journey, and thoughtful extra touches along the way help usher you along. After a complimentary antioxidant-rich blueberry elixir shot upon arrival, you’ll enjoy an aromatic hand/neck towel—steaming or chilled, depending on the weather—a taste of bubbly on the house, and a foot cleanse in a copper basin before your treatment. Each service is accompanied by a free-of-charge aromatherapy upgrade with your choice of scent, a handpicked tea pairing, and green-tea-infused dark chocolate. You’ll also leave your treatment with a randomly selected “inspiration stone” imprinted with a single impactful word (such as “gratitude” or “create” or “transform”) to symbolize the completion of your journey.

Schedule it: 970-923-8007, viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/snowmass

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The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera • Edwards

Go here for: A true escape from the daily grind. The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera perches on a high bluff and overlooks the Vail Valley and Sawatch Range, a few miles up a winding mountain road off U.S. 6 in Edwards. The property mimics a Belgian chateau with its cozy European aesthetic, but it’s the forget-your-worries-because-you’re-on-top-of-the-world feeling that makes the lodge so compelling. The unparalleled views from the spa’s outdoor spaces aren’t bad either. The stately elegance of the spa’s interior evokes an exclusive country club vibe, with rich brown leathers, low lighting, and an overstuffed-chair-by-the-fireplace ambience.

Get pampered with: The Honey-Lavender Milk Hand & Foot Renewal ($70/manicure, $90/pedicure). It doesn’t much matter what you treat yourself with at this mountaintop oasis—everything on the spa menu is divine—but if you’re booking on a warm-weather day, go with some sort of nail therapy so you’ll have an excuse to wander from the cushy mani-pedi chairs out onto the stone patio, where you can kick back at a quaint wrought-iron table with a beverage and let the mountain breeze dry your nails.

Biggest draw: The breathtaking setting. The patio—complete with outdoor pool and hot tub—offers expansive mountainscape views of peaks and valleys dotted with magnificent homes below. You’ll feel like you’ve landed somewhere in the bucolic countryside of the Swiss Alps instead of a few minutes from the I-70 corridor.

Schedule it: 970-569-6359, cordilleralodge.com/spa

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La Bellezza Spa • Lyons

Go here for: An unexpected and romantic hideaway. A few miles outside Lyons off U.S. 36 (look for the covered bridge entrance), this spa adjoins the family-owned Ciatano Winery and unassuming Rock n’ River Resort. Set along the St. Vrain River on a secluded property that was once an apple orchard, the lodge-winery-spa combo is a hidden treasure worth a stop on the way back from Rocky Mountain National Park—if not a trip on its own. With a handful of treatment rooms, a hot tub, and a eucalyptus steam sauna, the spa is small but tastefully and chicly appointed. The flagstone and polished hardwood floors, exposed brick accents, hanging pendulum lighting, modern basin sinks, and welcoming fireplace in the lounge give the spa the kind of rustic-yet-elegantly-posh vibe that many upscale hotels strive so hard to create—yet sometimes miss the mark. La Bellezza achieves it effortlessly and without pretention. The second-story treatment room is airy, sunny, and spacious with exposed beam work and multiple windows that filter in a pleasant amount of the natural light we find missing in so many other spas.  

Get pampered with: The Amore ($250 per couple). This package lets you reserve the intimate spa all for yourselves so you can enjoy the amenities at your leisure. Savor your 80-minute aromatherapy massage (all therapists have at least 10 years of experience) and foot reflexology, and then wander next door to the winery where $5 apiece gets you a wine tasting and the perfect way to top off a spa date. 

If you stay: Make it more than a day trip and book a guest room for the night, but be prepared for off-the-grid relaxation: Cell coverage is spotty and the eclectically furnished rooms don’t have televisions. But who needs to be wired when there’s a river stocked with trout (seasonally) and locally made wine aplenty (we recommend the Cabernet Franc) just outside your door?

Be aware: Although it’s tempting to indulge in wine tasting at Ciatano immediately before or after your spa appointment, La Bellezza advises against it, as staying hydrated is an important part of any treatment. 

Schedule it: 303-823-5006, labellezzaspa.com

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Elevation Spa • Mt. Crested Butte

Go here for: A mid-ski respite from the cold right off the slopes. Enjoy expansive views of Crested Butte as you check into the 11,000-square-foot spa and fitness center in the Elevation Hotel, and the usual amenities—robe, spa sandals, lockers—will help you cozy up before your appointment. With nine updated and tech-savvy treatment rooms, three tranquility lounges, and ski-in/ski-out access, this is a break worth taking.

Get pampered with: The Aroma Massage ($125). This 50-minute aromatherapy massage (choose from scents that are uplifting, detoxifying, muscle recharging, or anti-stress) offers long soothing strokes and just enough time to sink into the table, which is pleasantly heated to take the chill out of your bones. Tip: Don’t skip the showers; the rain-style showerheads offer additional rejuvenation that will tempt you to rinse for an hour.

Standout amenity: Two “wet rooms” are equipped for hydrotherapy, or water-focused services such as seaweed wraps and body polishes that require rinsing.

Guest perk: If you’re staying at the Elevation Hotel, treat yourself to an “outcall massage” and choose from a menu of massages to be executed right in your room.

Schedule it: 970-251-3500, elevationspa.com

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Etiquette

Spa-Going 101

Spas are meant to vanquish your day-to-day stress, but appointments can be intimidating for newbies: You’re not sure what’s expected, what’s appropriate, or if you might be a walking spa faux pas. Here, a rundown on guest etiquette from spa director Tarah Howard and owner Gail Ridings of Evergreen’s TallGrass Aveda Spa & Salon. TallGrass Aveda Spa & Salon, 997 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen, 303-670-4444, tallgrassspa.com

DO: Show up at least 30 minutes early to fill out any intake forms, tour the facilities,

and take advantage of any spa amenities (sauna, whirlpool, steam room) before
your treatment.

DO: Share all health information with your provider, including medications you are on, even if they’re minor. Leaving out any medications can alter your experience.

DON'T: Schedule anything directly after your appointment. You don’t want to be rushed and preoccupied, as that will take away from the serenity of your visit.

DO: Communicate during your service. This is your time and yours only, and the provider is there to make sure you get what you need, no matter how different it might be from the norm. But your therapist isn’t a mind reader. For example, if you want only featherlight pressure during your massage or if hot hand towels aren’t your favorite, speak up. You won’t offend anyone.

DON'T: Be intimidated if this is your first spa experience. Service providers are trained to put you at ease. For example: If you feel comfortable removing everything including underwear, that’s OK. If you feel comfortable keeping your undergarments in place, that’s OK, too. Simply disrobe to your comfort level without worrying whether it’s right or wrong.

DON'T: Bring your child or infant to a spa service. It sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised how many people think this is appropriate. Even well-behaved children can disrupt the spa experience for other guests.

At Your Service
STAY PUT

Typically, a massage appointment requires you to present yourself at the day spa. But what about those days when you just can’t muster the energy? Or maybe your party of 10 can’t be accommodated. Or maybe it’s a special occasion you’d like catered. Whatever the case, you just want the spa—and its full range of services—to come to you. Enter: the mobile spa. These businesses deliver spa therapy on-site, from individual massage sessions and girls’ nights to large group spa parties and wedding preparation. Check out these two mobile spas for when you’re in need of
the ultimate lazy woman’s indulgence.

Ahhh Mobile Spa

Based in: Longmont

Travel range: First 20 miles are complimentary; every 30 miles thereafter is $25.

The details: 720-252-4516, ahhhmobilespa.com

A Spa Ahhfair

Based in: Breckenridge

Travel range: Summit County; $50 and up per therapist for services beyond.

The details: 970-485-5314, aspaahhfair.com

Adults Only
BOOZY BLISS
Five treatments with a little extra “spirit.”

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For… the beer buff

Try the… Mile High Malt Scrub & Microbrew Massage ($200) through November, the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver; ritzcarlton.com

Because… you get a Great Divide brew to drink before and after your scrub of malt and rice ale, a mask infused with stout, and a massage using the foam of the Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout. 

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For… the wino

Try the… Vin Chaud Indulgence ($295), the RockResorts Spa at the Arrabelle, Vail; arrabelle.rockresorts.com/spa/index.asp

Because… a vino-therapy massage with wine extracts and Pinot Noir body cream and a mini-facial with scents of the vineyard will satisfy your grape craving, as will the complimentary glass of wine.

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For… the bourbon taster

Try the…  Bourbon Bubbler Scrub ($70), Ranch Creek Spa at Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa, Tabernash; devilsthumbranch.com

Because… this brown sugar and bourbon combo buffs up your skin and evokes gingersnap and pecan aromas before a dose of bourbon and rice bran oil finish off your glow.

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For… the bubbly drinker

Try the…  Champagne DiVine Wrap ($135), Keystone Spa, Keystone; keystoneresort.com 

Because… therapists will soften up your exterior with a champagne sugar scrub followed by an herbal cellulite mask; it’ll end with a deep-tissue massage with mimosa body lotion for a "sparkling" finish.

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For… the whiskey connoisseur

Try the… Men’s Facial ($100), Alpine Spa and Salon, Breckenridge; alpinespaandsalon.com

Because… even guys need to brighten up their looks sometimes, and a relaxing and aromatic string of facial massages using a blend of Scotch whiskey malt extracts and essential oils seems like a good way to go.