Need some time to rejuvenate after a day of skiing or riding or just "some me time" to relax? Nothing says that better than "spa." Helping your muscles to relax and recover after the physical strain of skiing also reduces the odds of an accident of injury, too.
Here are some general spa guidelines: Tips are usually about 18 percent of the total cost of service; always arrive at least 15 minutes early and never late; turn off your cell phone; understand the procedure and speak up if anything bothers you about it; beware of add-ons, know what is included; ask for same sex attendants if that matters to you; don't bring jewelry; and plan to spend time before or after your treatment to enjoy the spa facilities. In short, don't rush.
Following are some excellent choices for a spa visit at or near several North American mountain resorts.
Midwest: Crystal Spa at Crystal Mountain, Mich., a relatively short drive from either Traverse City or Cadillac, is an 18,500-foot that offers a wide range of services, including massage, body treatments and hydrotherapy, facials and skincare, and nail services. Choose a day or package. You also can take part in fitness classes at the Peak Pool & Fitness Center and motion studio on the package plan. It's the only LEED-certified spa in the Midwest and one of six nationwide.
New England: You'll find Topnotch at Stowe at Stowe Resort in the classic Vermont town. There are 30 treatment rooms and over 120 different treatments from which to choose in the 35,000-square-foot facility. Numerous packages are available from Sunday through Friday and some Saturdays. Facilities include steam, sauna, jacuzzis, and fireplaces; women's, men's and couple's programs are available.
California: Resort at Squaw Creek, at Squaw Valley, USA near Lake Tahoe, California. The resort has a full-service spa, offering massage, body treatments, facials, and nail services. Take advantage of spa packages that include accommodations and choice of a spa treatment. You have access to the fitness center, as well. You also have access to a wide range of some of the best skiing and riding in North America. Start at Squaw Valley, but don't miss any of the other mountain resorts in the region.
Rocky Mountains: Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa is on the banks of Gore Creek at the famed Colorado resort. It also includes The Vitality Center, a comprehensive spa experience that provides wellness programs based on medical, nutritional, and spiritual experts. The motto is "Maximize Life. Minimize Aging." The Vail Athletic Club is part of the complex and guests at the Lodge receive complimentary use of its fitness facilities and all classes.
Another top choice is the Aspen Club & Spa on Ute Avenue in Aspen. The state-of-the-art Aspen Club offers 77,000 square feet of open space. The backdrop is nature as seen through many large windows and skylights. The Club offers fitness equipment and classes, SpaAspen, and the Sports Medicine Institute, a healing center combining knowledge with medicine.
Free shuttle service in Aspen take you to and from your spa visits. You also have complete access to the Club for the day as a spa guest. A variety of spa services and treatments for women, men, and couples is available, as are packages. Ski at any of Aspen's four mountains and then unwind at the spa or take a day away from the slopes for yourself and chill out.
Speaking of chilling, the Chill Spa in the Hotel Terra at Jackson Hole, Wyo. includes six treatment rooms offering a variety of massages, facials, body treatments, and soaks. There's also a soaking Jacuzzi and gas fireplace. Want to enjoy the views? Head for the outdoor rooftop hot tub for view of Jackson Hole. This can be the perfect way to relax after your day of skiing, snowboarding, snow kite boarding, dog sledding, sleigh rides or snowshoeing. The hotel is less than a mile from Grand Teton National Park.
Southwest: A different kind of spa experience can be yours at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa in New Mexico. Located about an hour south of Taos, it features four different types of mineral water: lithium, iron, soda, and arsenic, all offering different benefits.
The Lithia Spring is believed to relieve depression and aid digestion; The Iron Spring considered to be beneficial to the blood and immune system; The Soda Spring, which has been said to relieve digestive problems; and The Arsenic Spring that may just offer relief from arthritis and stomach ulcers and has healing powers for a variety of skin conditions.
The pools' temperatures range from 80-109 degrees and are open daily. You also can take advantage of massages and body treatments, facials, and pedicures in addition to the soothing soaks in the pools. The resort offers many lodging options including suites, private homes, or a hotel. Spa and winter packages are available.
Western Canada: The Scandinave Spa is located about 1 mile north of [R493R, Whistler Mountain), BC. and is set in a spruce and cedar forest. The Scandinavian baths, better known as hydrotherapy, are modeled after the Finnish tradition, which encompasses three stages.
The first is produced in a eucalyptus steam bath, dry sauna or outdoor bath, which raises the body temperature and sweating that cleanses the skin. The second stage closes the pores after a rinse in cold water via Nordic waterfalls or shower. The final stage allows the cardiovascular system to regulate itself through a period of relaxation. Each sequence takes about 30 minutes and it is recommended it be repeated 3 to 4 times for maximum results. Guests must be 19 years or older.
The spa offers several packages and services at the Whistler location, as well as in other parts of Canada, including downtown Montreal (ski or ride at Owl's Head, Mont-Saint-Anne Ski Area and Mont Saint Sauveur, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, and at Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario.
Mid-Atlantic: The historic Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, is surrounded by the Allegheny Mountains, but conveniently located to Roanoke (70 miles) and Richmond (170 miles). The resort is older than the United States itself, welcoming guests 10 years before the American Revolution.
The European-style Spa at The Homestead is renowned for its naturally heated healing springs. There's a private Spa Suite and a KidSpa for children under 16.
Signature treatments include the Mineral Springs Mud Wrap; Sunflower Soak with Buttercup Bath; the Southern Harvest Apricot & Sweet Vanilla Wrap and the Virginia Dogwood Pedicure, all of which use local indigenous ingredients. Try the relaxing retreat for the mind and body with natural mineral spring waters in the authentic Jefferson Pools.
The pools were named after the third president who spent three weeks at the resort in 1818. The Gentleman's Pool House contains a 40,000 gallon pool filled with constantly flowing, mineral spring water and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a Virginia Historic Landmark and is considered to be the oldest spa structure in America. Ladies got their own pool house in 1836. There are also the traditional spa treatments available for relaxation and pampering.
Skiing and snowboarding are available over 45 skiable acres along nine trails. It's certainly not big time resort skiing, but it's there and, after all, it's The Homestead.
You may have your own choices for mountain resort spas. Be sure and tell us about them with your comments.