The Spa Next Door
Published: October 2011
By Shane Mitchell
Thanks to these 25 U.S. spas, there's no place like home. Prepare to be transported—without the jet lag.
On the following pages, you'll find four groundbreaking new retreats, regional trend reports, food news, and expert advice from spas that are adopting wellness treatments from every corner of the planet.
WEST COAST NEWS
Provence meets SoCal at the revitalized Cal-a-Vie (Vista, Calif.; 866/772-4283 or 760/945-2055; www.cal-a-vie.com), which pampers high-wattage guests (Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey) in its majolica-tiled bathhouse. • In the three recently opened villas at the Kara Spa at the Park Hyatt Los Angeles (310/277-1234; www.parklosangeleshyatt.com), all treatments begin with a Tahitian floral hand-and-foot ritual. • Decadent anti-aging caviar facials are the house specialty at the new Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie at the Beverly Hills Hotel (310/276-2251; www.thebeverlyhillshotel.com). • San Francisco's latest oasis, the sleek Tru Spa (415/399-9700; www.truspa.com), offers Sugar Daddy body scrubs in a tropical rain forest room.
Calistoga Ranch Bathhouse
The northern California town of Calistoga has always been a countercultural haven for clean-living hippies. (It's famous for its natural hot springs and mineral-clay baths.) Next month, when the 46-room Calistoga Ranch opens the Bathhouse, you'll be able to have a grape-seed and rose hip mud facial surrounded by native oaks. Treatment rooms have immersion tubs in private gardens; the spa also has its own geothermal spring, which feeds a soaking pool that faces Lake Lommel and the Mayacama mountains. Honoring the region's traditions, a eucalyptus-infused mud wrap is paired with a bay-laurel massage, a solitary experience that beats stewing in one of the town's communal tubs. Calistoga, Calif.; 800/942-4220 or 707/254-2800; www.calistogaranch.com; doubles from $525.
FOOD | SPA BITES Cary Neff, former chef at Miraval Life in Balance (800/232-3969; www.miravalresorts.com), is now serving healthful ostrich tenderloin at La Costa Resort & Spa (800/854-5000; www.lacosta.com). He has been replaced by Bill Wavrin from Mexico's Rancho La Puerta, • In The Golden Door Cooks Light & Easy, Michel Stroot of the Golden Door (800/424-0777; www.goldendoor.com) shares recipes from his garden. • Fresh, from Terry Conlan, chef at the Lake Austin Spa Resort (800/847-5637; www.lakeaustin.com), gives jerk-crusted snapper and chocolate cheesecake low-cal makeovers.
Sundara Inn & Spa
Score "om" for the Cheeseheads: at last, the Midwest has a spa worthy of a stopover. Set in a hilly corner of Wisconsin halfway between Minneapolis and Milwaukee, the Sundara Inn & Spa—America's newest destination spa—has a central bathhouse where guests can alternate between an essential-oil hot pool and a cold plunge before boosting energy with marma-point reflexology massage or purifying with a mineral-rich sandstone-and-wild peppermint scrub. At the inn, each of the 26 suites, spread across 26 pine-dotted acres, could double as a Kohler bath showroom: you can take a private soak in an infinity-edge tub or enjoy a do-it-yourself massage with a computerized shower system. References to fromage are minimal on the health-conscious restaurant's organic menu. Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; 888/735-8181 or 608/253-9200; www.sundaraspa.com; doubles from $139.
During the just-launched Summer Solstice Week (June 17-27) at Mii Amo (888/749-2137; www.miiamo.com) in Sedona, Arizona, sunrise salutations take place facing Kachina Woman, a rock formation sacred to the Yavapai-Apache tribe. • Tucson's Canyon Ranch (520/749-9000; www.canyonranch.com) counters damaging desert rays with its Science for the Skin, niacin-enriched facial products formulated by medical experts at the University of Arizona. • In one of the spa casitas at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (800/245-2051; www.sanctuaryaz.com), the Sacred Rain facial soothes skin flushed by the Arizona sun. • North of Santa Fe, New Mexico's SháNah Spa at Bishop's Lodge (800/974-2624; www.bishopslodge.com) celebrates its regional heritage with sweat baths and drumming sessions.
TREND | SCANDINAVIAN SERUM Själ is the Swedish word for spirit. It's also a holistic skin-care regimen created by a New York City-based mother-daughter team, Karen and Kristin Petrovich, who consulted chemists and a psychic to develop their line of anti-aging creams. The small plastic jars are sold at Barneys and Fred Segal; the Cold Fusion Energy facial, using Själ potions, is available exclusively at Los Angeles's Spa at the St. Regis Los Angeles (2055 Ave. of the Stars; 310/277-6111; www.stregis.com).
Cowshed at Soho House New York
The Cowshed spa brings barnyard chic to Manhattan's Meatpacking District. At Soho House, an extension of London's A-list club, the quirky spa is modeled on the spa of the same name at England's Babington House. Open only to overnight hotel guests and members, Cowshed merges pastoral flourishes (unpainted walls, a cedar hot tub) with such cool Britannia elements as standing candelabra and white leather George Smith loungers. Up-tempo techno replaces Enya on the stereo system; flickering votives sanctify darkened rooms. Products used in the Cowshed's treatments—complete with punny bovine titles (Rawhide body scrub, On the Hoof reflexology)—contain organic oils formulated by an eccentric British herbalist from the original location. Before a 40-minute Stressed Cow head, neck, and, shoulder massage with chamomile and lavender, the therapist issues a lighthearted caution to tightly wound clients: it will leave you too zonked to move for at least two hours. New York; 212/627-9800; www.sohohouse.com; doubles from $350.
NEW YORK NEWS
In Manhattan, book the high-rise VIP spa suite at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York (212/805-8800; www.mandarinoriental.com), which pairs a mod gas fireplace with an antique Chinese wedding bed. Request "Time Ritual," a two-hour, mix-and-match series of treatments, or try the muscle-stretching Life Dance massage. Then decompress with rare green teas in a blond-wood relaxation lounge above Central Park, and detox in a vitality pool filled with warm mineral water. • Around the corner, the new Central Park South branch of fitness-focused Exhale Spa (212/249-3000; www.exhalespa.com) has yoga-based CoreFusion training, a nutrition coach, even high-performance facials (teeth-whitening included). • Now that Starwood owns Bliss Spa, healing guru Marcia Kilgore will bring her groovy concept to select W hotels across the country. The first will open in the W on Lexington Avenue this fall (212/755-1200; www.whotels.com); expect spa-themed slumber parties and Kilgore's famous triple-oxygen facials.
TREND | LIGHT THERAPY At the Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel New York (212/758-5700; www.fourseasons.com), electromagnetic pulses to stimulate the subconscious are free with most treatments. • Rapid Eye Technology uses a light-emanating wand to simulate REM sleep at El Monte Sagrado (Taos, N. Mex.; 800/828-8267; www.elmontesagrado.com).
Hotel Hana-Maui at Hana Ranch
On Maui, the town of Hana is a culturally significant refuge for native Hawaiians. In a rain forest of wild mango and cascading waterfalls, it's one of those mystical places that appeals to healers with special "intuitive" talents and visitors in search of a transcendental kick. At the Hana-Maui's just-inaugurated spa, it's difficult not to catch the local vibe in bamboo-and-mahogany dressing rooms that open onto outdoor lava-rock showers. An outdoor watsu pool faces Hana Bay, massage beds are draped with batik floral quilts, and the lomilomi massage incorporates an earthy essential oil blended from indigenous vanilla orchids. A rain forest-mist facial even pays homage to Noenoe, the love-struck goddess who embraces this side of Maui with gentle showers. Hana, Maui; 800/321-4262 or 808/248-8211; www.hotelhanamaui.com; doubles from $375.
Take home the essence of your Polynesian Nonu Experience with a maile leaf-infused, purifying candle from SpaHalekulani (800/367-2343 or 808/923-2311; www.halekulani.com). • At the Mauna Lani Spa (800/367-2323 or 808/885-6622; www.maunalani.com), reserve the new lava-tube Kahi Kikaha watsu pool—inspired by the air pockets left in a solidified volcanic flow—for high noon, Polynesia's most sacred time of day. During Ke Kumu (October 29-November 2), the hotel gathers Hawaii's greatest teachers of healing traditions such as ho-oponopono, or talk therapy. • Spa Grande at Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa (800/886-6100 or 808/875-1234; www.grandwailea.com) has a new body scrub bar at which therapists custom-blend raw Maui turbinado sugar with your choice of coffee, citrus, sandalwood, or pine-rosemary oil.
EXPERT | Sharon Warren (888/848-0642; www.warrenbotanicals.com) can see plant auras—a nifty talent for an aromatherapist who blends essential oils in a Big Island rain-forest laboratory. "I channel the energy of the oils, and that goes into my formulas," she says. "It's alchemy, not pharmacy." Her knowledge of exotic botanicals also infuses the custom potions she creates for both private clients and spas, including spikenard-vetiver "Balance" candles for the Willow Stream spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Spa Moana's "Uhane" lemongrass bath crystals at the Hyatt Regency Maui.