With a staggering amount of outstanding natural beauty, Colorado is the perfect place to escape into nature. A visit to one of the state’s outstanding spas will complete your mountain sojourn Writer Rob McGovern.
THIS PAGE: The Beaver Creek Resort and Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch houses a rock-lined grotto; its Mountain Spa Mornings package offers hikes on snowshoes and yoga and massage at the spa in winter. OPPOSITE PAGE: A visit to The Himmel Spa at Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge will leave you relaxed after a day on the slopes
The US seems to love making things official. Colorado’s official nickname is the ‘Centennial State’ due to joining the Union in 1876, 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It has two official songs about the state’s outstanding natural beauty: Where the Columbines Grow and John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High but it was perhaps Merle Haggard who best summed it up when he sang “If God doesn't live in Colorado, I'll bet that's where He spends most of His time.”
Containing most of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the north-eastern portion of the Colorado Plateau, Colorado was named after the Rio Colorado which was itself named by early Spanish explorers because of the red sandstone formations throughout many of its canyons and the ruddy appearance of its waters when rain washed the sandstone into the river.
With five national parks (including the highest sand dunes in the US) and monuments, numerous state parks and 53 ‘fourteeners’ (mountain speak for hills over 14,000 feet above sea level), Colorado is an outdoor enthusiast's dream whether you are into skiing, hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking or even burro racing, the state’s official sport.
With all this activity on offer and natural beauty to inspire, it is no surprise that there are plenty of options when it comes to getting a rubdown or tune-up. We have painstakingly sampled nine of the state’s best spas and wellness retreats.
THE HIMMEL SPA AT FAIRMONT HERITAGE PLACE, FRANZ KLAMMER LODGE, TELLURIDE
Nestled in the stunning San Juan Mountains is the former mining town of Telluride. An hour south of regional airport Montrose and the furthest of our spas from the state capital Denver, Telluride is home to one of the best ski resorts and hosted the cast from Tarantino's The Hateful 8 when they filmed in the area.
One of only three spas in Telluride’s purpose built Mountain Village, The Himmel Spa at Fairmont Heritage Place,Franz Klammer Lodge offers treatments that, among other things, help newcomers deal with the altitude, repair skin that has been battered by the elements and soothe aching limbs après ski.
The signature 120-minute High Altitude Duet is a massage and a facial that will either prepare you for a day on the slopes (or indeed mountain biking or hiking in summer) or soothe you after a long day doing the same.
The High Altitude Massage starts with a gentle exfoliation that at the same time encourages blood flow. With textured gloves, small circular motions work upwards from the feet and downwards from the head towards the heart. A blend of organic essential oils evoke the essence of the mountains and is worked in while taking note of pressure points. The High Altitude Facial follows on where the massage leaves off, exfoliating and softening the skin, while antioxidants replenish and nourish, leaving you thoroughly relaxed and ready for another day on the slopes. www.fairmont.com
BEAVER CREEK RESORT AND SPA AT THE RITZ- CARLTON, BACHELOR GULCH
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch is a Forbes Four Star-rated resort and spa and perhaps the most welcoming on our list thanks to cowboy hat-wearing valets and roaring fires.
The Beaver Creek Resort and Spa has an extensive menu with some interesting treatments, but the signature massage sounded too good to pass up. The somewhat straightforward massage is a nice respite from spa menus that play fast and loose with terminology.
The massage moves from head to toe and back to front with practically no patch of skin left untouched and continues with your choice of oil, which is then methodically and expertly worked in. Part of the ‘Touch Therapy’ section of the menu, treatments can be enhanced with one, two or three additions – a scalp treatment, a face and lip treatment or an organic foot scrub.
The 60-minute treatment flew by thanks to perfect pressure which lulls you into that pleasurable limbo between being asleep and awake. A cold towel and a small pot of fresh berries were a nice way to finish.
For those looking for something a bit more involved, the Mountain Spa Mornings package might be for you. Available from July to September and December to March, this outdoor experience starts with a 90-minute guided hike and is followed by an al fresco yoga session and a 60-minute outdoor massage. In winter the hike takes place on snowshoes and the yoga and massage happen back at the spa. www.ritzcarlton.com
AUBERGE SPA AT HOTEL JEROME, ASPEN
One of the oldest hotels in glamorous Aspen, Hotel Jerome is a beautiful and historic building located right on Main Street.
A relatively small spa, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Auberge Spa has well-stocked locker rooms and its style is in keeping with the decadent and luxurious hotel. Faux fur blankets draped over massage beds add a touch of cruelty free luxury.
The 80-minute Sanctuary of the Mountains Body Treatment is one of five signature treatments and combines a massage with a hand and foot exfoliation. An oatmeal, corn meal and clay exfoliation primes skin for the application of your custom combination of oils on offer. Each offering has different benefits, and it was mutually decided that a combination of evergreen and ginger oils was good for that day's particular aches and pains.
A thorough massage utilised the therapist’s elbows and forearms to melt away knots, while a deep glute massage soothed overworked legs. Gloves and plastic booties helped the oil penetrate the skin. Relaxed and lightly scented by the oils, the massage was both soothing and warming, perfect for the end of a day outside, particularly in winter.
A small serving of chlorophyll to help you adjust to the altitude, if you have just arrived, completes the treatment. hoteljerome.aubergeresorts.com
THIS PAGE: The St. Regis Aspen Resort is housed in a beautiful red brick building; the Auberge Spa at Hotel Jerome is small but cosy. OPPOSITE PAGE: The Oxford Hotel in Denver offers access to The Oxford Club
REMÈDE ASPEN SPA AT THE ST. REGIS ASPEN RESORT
The beautiful red brick building that houses The St. Regis Aspen Resort underwent a US$40 million renovation in 2012 care of celebrated interior designer Lauren Rottet. The brand’s proprietary spa, Remède Aspen Spa, lives up to the storied brand’s reputation for luxury and excellent service.
The Remede Customized Massage offers exactly what it suggests, so whether you are looking for a deep-tissue treatment to work those muscles, or just some time away from your significant other or kids, this is the one for you. A variety of techniques are at your disposal and can be mixed and matched for your desired result.
A thorough massage was necessary to work out several knots my talented therapist discovered. Vanquished thanks to both elbows and forearms, the massage was more medicinal than relaxing. A deep glute massage followed which was also necessary to placate my overworked and twitchy legs after a day of biking.
Optional extras include a Moroccan oil scalp treatment and a paraffin dip for feet, the former further hydrating hair and the latter leaving feet noticeably soft. I opted for both.
If the complimentary post-treatment glass of champagne puts you in the mood for a few more drinks, consider a Bloody Mary. Having created the classic cocktail in New York, every St. Regis property has created its own. Aspen’s Downhill Red Snapper has basil and dill. www.stregisaspen.com
THE SPA AT FOUR SEASONS HOTEL DENVER
A haven in the centre of the city, Four Seasons Hotel Denver carries the torch for the famous brand in the city. Located just over half a mile from Denver’s Union Station, it is a Forbes Four Star property although the beautifully appointed, stylish spa and its Rocky Mountain-inspired treatments are yet to be rated by the luxury travel guide.
The 50-minute Evergreen Massage reflects the blanket of nature that sits across most of the landscape of the state, from lodgepole pine to blue spruce, as well as the medicinal nature of the trees as used by Native Americans for their antiseptic, antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties. The treatment starts with heated ‘energy healing sticks’ that alleviate tension throughout the body. This is followed by a full-body, deep-tissue massage that uses evergreen oils to relieve tension.
History buffs will love the opportunity to learn about one of Denver's most luminary resident with a private tour. Molly Brown was travelling on the Titanic when it hit an iceberg. She lived to tell about it, and her story inspired a Broadway show in the 1960s called The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Her 1889 abode is now a museum and guests who take advantage of the experience can enjoy a private tour of the Molly Brown House and take home a special gift. www.fourseasons.com
THE OXFORD CLUB, SPA & SALON, DENVER
It may have been a few years since The Oxford Club, Spa & Salon was voted one of the top 75 in the US, but it still remains a firstclass spa and one of the best on our list. The day spa is for both the adjoining Oxford Hotel, which was built in 1891, and the Crawford Hotel in nearby Union Station.
One of several signature treatments, the delicious-sounding Almond Joy treatment evokes the chocolate bar of the same name by using its principal ingredients. Starting with a quick exfoliation using a coconut scrub, a chocolate-scented body mask is then smothered over your body (minus the parts covered by the disposable bikini). You are then cocooned in a layer of plastic and topped by warm towels and a plush blanket. While impurities are sweated out, a 30-minute scalp and neck massage completes the relaxation process. After rinsing the chocolate off, the final step was a full-body massage using almond oil.
For those who truly want to indulge, Decadent Day is an eighthour marathon that includes all kinds of relaxing goodies.
Stay at either hotel and get a 10 per cent discount on treatments. www.oxfordclubspa.com
THE SPA AT GATEWAY CANYONS COLORADO RESORT
Nestled in Unaweep Canyon, Gateway Canyons Colorado Resort is about five miles from the Utah border in the west of Colorado. The Red Rock Canyon is stunning at first light, at dusk, from close up and from afar and gives the resort a real sense of seclusion and connection to nature. The brainchild of Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks has won a host of awards.
Many of the treatments at The Spa at Gateway Canyons incorporate materials from the surrounding landscape, so choosing one that utilises natural clays or salts is a must. The Native Desert Sage treatment is a three-stage process that starts with an all-over body scrub to clean and exfoliate the skin. An essential part of the treatment, it straddles that line between pain and pleasure. After showering the now spent salt off, desert clay is applied and you are cocooned in thermal mylar foil to speed up the action of the clay as it draws out impurities and hydrates. After a second shower to remove the clay, the treatment is finished with a 50-minute massage using fragrant desert sage oil, which is native to this part of Colorado. The sage leaves skin softer and is said to lift your mood too, but then I have never left a massage feeling anything other than elated. www.gatewaycanyons.com
THIS PAGE: Gateway Canyons Colorado Resort's Hacienda Casita rooms are decorated in warm tones and plush furnishings; The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Denver boasts a range of wet facilities. OPPOSITE PAGE: Remède Aspen Spa offers luxury amenities
ALLEGRIA SPA AT PARK HYATT BEAVER CREEK RESORT AND SPA
Overlooking Beaver Creek Mountain, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek has stunning views and is equally beautiful no matter the season. Allegria Spa, the resort’s European-style day spa has a fresh, sophisticated design and a highly coveted Four Star rating from Forbes.
At 30,000sqft and with 23 treatment rooms, Allegria Spa is one of the larger ones on our list. A feature here that was very welcome was the Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary. Modelled on Roman public bathhouses called thermae, there are several steps to enjoying the aqua sanitas (literally healing waters) including the natural hot spring mimicking co-ed thermae pool. There is also the caldarium mineral pool, the cascata rain shower, the caldarium steam room and finally the fantastically named tepidarium.
A bona fide treatment that is definitely more medicinal than relaxing, the 105-minute Arnica Sports Cure is not for the faint of heart. The treatment started with a very relaxing bath infused with eucalyptus, arnica and juniper and a glass of champagne, and after a 20-minute soak was followed by a deep-tissue massage incorporating hot stones and wintergreen body butter. An Alpine thermal wrap and neck and scalp massage completed the treatment. www.allegriaspa.com
THIS PAGE: Getting pampered at the Allegria Spa; the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek sits on the bank of the Eagle River. OPPOSITE PAGE: Gateway Canyons Colorado Resort exudes a sense of seclusion and connection to nature
SPA ANJALI AT THE WESTIN RIVERFRONT RESORT & SPA AT BEAVER CREEK
As the name suggests, the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek sits on the north bank of the Eagle River and is a short walk from the small town of Avon which served as a backdrop to the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015 which were jointly held in Beaver Creek and Vail.
Spa Anjali is a beautiful spa with a modern design that incorporates nature and has a strong sense of eco-awareness. Spa Anjali has three spa journeys – Rocky Mountain, Alpen and Himalayan – as well as a range of other treatments.
The Himalayan utilises Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of healing designed to promote human happiness, health and creative growth. To balance chakras and release energy, it starts with a footbath using Himalayan salts which start the process of relaxation and energy rebalancing thanks to negative ions. A series of deep relaxing breaths are accompanied with instructions to let go of negative energy and create positive thoughts. Next, long, soothing massage strokes along the length of the back align chakras. After turning over the face, scalp and shoulders are given the same treatment. Feeling relaxed and somewhat rebalanced, I am sent back out into the world with an uplifting mantra to keep my chakras in line until the next treatment. www.spaanjali.com