IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

A massage in the mountains

Pool at night, Snake River Lodge
Pool at night, Snake River LodgeLD PR / LD PR
/ Source: a href="" linktype="External" target="_blank" resizable="true" status="true" scrollbars="true" fullscreen="false" location="true" menubars="true" titlebar="true" toolbar="true"></a

In mountain resorts out West, spa is becoming a verb - an important one in the overall resort experience. Resorts in the Western USA and Western Canada have been adding luxury spas for the past few years and are continuing non-stop.

Spaing goes hand-in-hand with skiing when pursuing indulgence and adventure. To get most out of a spa experience appointments should be made well advance, before leaving home. And when arriving at a mountain resort, ski or snowboard hard to earn the coming sumptuous pampering. At day's end, leave the cold for the warmth of steamed muslin and hot oils. Ahhhhh!

Here are some hints to maximize your experience:

  • Arrive 30 minutes early to allow time for filling out forms or consultation, winding down and showering (oils are better absorbed through clean skin).
  • If you're late, you'll lose out on precious treatment time.
  • Don't wear jewelry. If you do, you'll be asked to remove it as it hinders the therapist.
  • Ask if gratuities are included in the price. If not, 15 percent is appropriate. Some spas won't accept tips because they regard treatments as therapeutic, and you don't tips doctors or physical therapists.
  • Lodging/spa packages can save you money.
  • Don't overlook the little spas. It takes only one treatment room for you to get relaxed and revitalized.
  • Drink lots of water before and afterward.

Here are some signature spas at a handful of the top ski and snowboard resorts in the West.

Aspen Club and Spa
This amazing facility has everything a body could need. Spa Aspen is part of the 77,000-square-foot club that includes fitness center, sports medicine and tennis. Use of the center is free if you spend $85 or more in the spa. This is not hard to do at Aspen's only full-service spa boasting 34 treatment rooms. Re-hydrate and detoxify with Aspenglow, a warm and wet back-to-the-womb therapy that starts with a chamomile wet scrub, followed by an algae body mask and steam towel wrap and topped off with a gentle lavender lotion massage. Eighty minutes costs $165; $180 after 4 p.m.

Highlight: Alpine Garden - a sun-splashed room that can be reserved for private groups like wedding parties who want to share a customized day of pampering, yoga, meditation, or workshops.  Also, check out the fabulous artwork for sale throughout the club. 866-4-VITALITY;

The rugged outdoors envelops you in this 21,000 square-foot spa and fitness center. From sweeping landscape views to the rock, wood and water that surround you, the space is pure mountain luxury. Even the treatment ingredients are indigenous to the Rocky Mountains like blue spruce, apples, Douglas fir needles, alpine berries and sage. "Bachelors" of the gulch are pampered with a three-and-a-half-hour package that includes Mountain Man Sage Facial, Sports Massage, Hand and Foot Grooming, and spa cuisine lunch for $305.

Highlight: The Grotto - a dimly lit coed pool surrounded by wood and stone, reminiscent of European therapeutic caves. 970-748-6200;

Golden Door Spa at the Wyndham Peaks Resort
This award-winning luxury retreat meets the standards you'd expect from Golden Door Spas in Arizona, California and Puerto Rico. But none are in a more spectacular setting than this amid jagged 14,000-foot peaks. Begin your session in the Eucalyptus steam room, followed by a cool shower and five minutes in the cedar sauna to detoxify. After a dip in the mineral whirlpool, your body, mind and spirit are ready to be restored. Choose from a number of signature treatments like the Remineralizing Body Mask, the ultimate treat for restoring moisture, minerals and balance. A warm aromatic gel with trace minerals from the sea and essential oils follows a gentle exfoliation. (50 minutes for $130).

Highlight: The O2 Bar counters the effects of decreased oxygen at altitude by balancing the body, hydrating the skin, and focusing the mind. Take up to 60 minutes at $1 per minute.  800-SPA-KIVA;

Solavie Day Spa and Salon
Although there is a day spa right at Sun Valley Lodge, everyone at this ski resort is thirsty for Solavie Spa's new high-altitude skin creams called "enviro-type." In the town of Ketchum, Solavie specializes in a specially designed uni-sex skin/hair-care system that addresses the ravages of altitude and extreme dryness. Solavie's signature treatments all use the Solavie products, which are available at the salon.

Highlight: Their private Bali Suite also offers overnight lodging with full kitchen and all amenities. A massage for 85 min., costs $140 US.
208 726-7211


Cowboy boots and caviar signify Jackson Hole but this centrally located Native American-themed RockResort spa concentrates on water as the lifeblood of nature. Their 17,000 square foot Avanya Spa, Wyoming's largest, offers cascading rock waterfalls, hot tubs, saunas, hydrotherapy, treatment rooms and cardio equipment - all with spectacular views.

Highlight: Paint Pot Mud Bath - following a head-to-toe sand exfoliation, your body is covered with indigenous mud, wrapped in plastic while your feet and scalp are massaged. Then you're plunged into an upscale mud bath with hydrojets before being finished off with a full-body oil massage. 80 min., $190 US. 1-888-FOR-ROCK 


North America's most popular ski resort now has one of North America's most elegant spas at the recently opened Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, B.C. In keeping with the surrounding environment, the spa's ambiance is rustic, relaxing and restorative. Use of the spa is free if you book a treatment. Spend the day in their workout room, fitness studio, steam room, free-form glacier spring outdoor pool and whirlpools with mountain and forest views.

Highlight: Their Four Season "Signature Treatments" include:
* The Four Seasons - fall forest soak, winter peppermint and honey scrub, spring glacial clay wrap and summer aromatherapy massage, 120 min., $275 CDN
* Aroma Stone Massage - aromatherapy and stone massage, 90 min., $220 CDN
* Fruit Crush - exfoliation and hydration with natural fruits and nuts, 90 min., $220 CDN
* Spicy Sugar Cinnamon Wrap - exfoliation and massage, thermal mud with spices that smell like Christmas, 90 min., $220 CDN.     
604 966-2620/604 935-3400


If you're looking for an "off-the-beaten-path" experience in Whistler, the Summit Lodge and Spa is literally your cup of tea. This boutique hotel has recently opened a beautifully appointed Javanese Taman Spa with an unusual twist - Indonesian treatments. Book a treatment and enjoy their steam room, sauna, whirlpool and spa facilities.


* Javanese Massage - Indonesian deep tissue massage using thumb and palm pressure with essential oils, 60 min., $120 CDN.
* Pramesari Queen Massage - Javanese massage where two therapists work on you, 60 min., $210 CDN.
* Javanese Lulur Body Treatment - the "Royal" of body treatments incorporating an exotic spice and papaya exfoliation followed by a Javanese massage, 90 min., $220 CDN.
* Executive Men's Facial - very popular at this spa, 60 min., $100 CDN.

Lynn Rosen is an Emmy award-winning broadcaster, producer and writer. She's also a theater critic and travel/ski writer.

Claudia Carbone lives minutes from Breckenridge in her native state of Colorado. Claudia's groundbreaking book, WomenSki, established her as an authority on women's skiing. Claudia is a founder of Snow Sports Association for Women.