Beyond Pampering | VailDaily.com

Beyond Pampering

Several spa treatments help athletes recover from the demands of the mountain

There is nothing not to like about The Vitality Center at the Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa. A holistic experience from the start: relax into the solarium, where you can choose from a cup of tea from The Republic of Tea that cleanses or energizes, calms or motivates and nibble on a homemade bar (oats, dates, raisin — basic healthy deliciousness). Page through a magazine — no Maxim or Cosmo here — there's Alternative Medicine, Healing or other Dwell — as you overlook Gore Creek. The tone is now set for the rest of the spa experience.

For me, that meant the Moor Remedy treatment.
I came well prepared to be brushed, soaked and massaged: I ran 20 miles over the course of a few days, did a 20-mile road bike ride and two 10-mile mountain bike rides. I was a bit stiff and a touch sore and totally in need of pampering.

The 100-minute treatment was a symphony for my senses — calming lavender and fruity lemon wafted through the air, brisk brush strokes over dry skin, a healing soak in 102-degree 20,000-year-old Moor mud (more on that in a bit), followed by a sports massage with lavender oil. Thanks to our dry mountain air, my skin just soaked up the oil, leaving me feeling blissed out and happily oily.

The Moor Remedy is billed as one of the Vail Vitality Center's Signature Treatments. The Austrian mud is said to relieve inflammation, fight infection as well as aches and pains — it detoxifies as it soothes. Submerging myself in the stainless tub of Moor mud heated me up and chilled me out. Beth Fischer, a masseuse with more than 20 years of experience and a long-time local, provided the exact balance of nurturing, guidance, question answering and independence, allowing for a relaxed yet convivial experience.

To get the most out of the experience, the Moor mud shouldn't be too warm, causing the spa goer to sweat and overheat — nor should it be too cool. It's how Goldilocks felt about Baby Bear's porridge. Beth kept the tub right at about 102 degrees and she kept my water cups filled so I wouldn't dehydrate.

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After about 20 minutes in the tub, and a liter of water consumed, it was time for the massage. Beth placed a few cool stones to help cool the skin before the long massage, where she finds all the places that need a little more attention, discovering imbalances and working stiff muscles. With years of experience, she understands just how to fix a sore, achy body: 60-minutes of a serious rubdown.

After the treatment, Beth reminded me to keep drinking water to help with the detoxification. She suggested no shower for another 24 hours so the healing properties of the mud have a chance to fully soak in — a prescription I was happy to adhere to.

With our busy lives, taking the time out for a treatment might seem impossible. But setting aside an hour or two is well worth it; the residual benefits are truly long lasting. And a happy mom leads to a happy home, right?

Spa Anjali

Spa Anjali at the Westin is a 'green' spa, ready to relieve the most worn out, achy body. The experience starts with a warm welcome at the reception, followed by a walk over the "journey bridge," a beautiful Asian-style bamboo walkway that leads to the relaxation lounge.

"We are a green spa. We really focus on incorporating products into our treatments that have a sustainable aspect to them," says Kris Ligouri, assistant spa director. "The products are paraben-, sulfate-, petroleum-free, so that we enhance whole wellness."

Select from a healing package based on properties from the Alps, the Rockies or the Himalaya. Always one with tight legs and sore muscles, Kris recommended for me the Ponderosa Pine Therapy, "which borrows ancient Native American remedies to treat inflammation and muscle pain." Right up my sore-muscled alley.

The scents are lovely and invigorating: a delicious blend of ponderosa pine, lavender and sage sets the stage. The therapist heats up a large poultice-type bag filled with the above, which promotes the movement of lactic acid that gets blood circulating. A deep tissue massage and light stretching are, simply put, amazing. It is perfect for someone who loves to work out and, just perhaps, pushes a little too far and a little too hard.

Arrive early and plan on staying late — you can easily wile away an hour or two in the outdoor, heated, 25-meter saline pool or one of the outdoor, saline infinity hot tubs set at the edge of the property overlooking the Eagle River. If you're not too noodley and blissed out after the pool, soak and massage, make time for the complimentary yoga or class in the movement studio: Spa Anjali is, indeed, a whole wellness center.

Allegria Spa

Healing comes in all forms and at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, it starts with its signature Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary. "Modeled on ancient Roman baths and the origins of spa, Aqua Sanitas (or “healing waters”), is a self-guided water ritual.Alternating hot and cold temperatures will restore the body and promote wellness and inner peace."

Plan on arriving to the mountainside, sun-drenched spa at least an hour early to reap the benefits, and pleasure, from Aqua Sanitas. There are five steps that bring about rejuvenation.

The Thermae pool, the first in the process, is a coed natural spring hot pool. With water pouring gently out of the walls and an abundance of natural stone, you feel as if you are in a secret grotto. The warm water heats as it relieves sore muscles.

The next step is the Caldarium mineral pools that reduce inflammation. Follow the soak with the Cascata rainshower, which is cooling and invigorating. Fear not, it's not chilly from here because the next step is the Caldarium steam room. The cloud of wintergreen scent inspires as the humid air heats and moisturizes the skin.

After these four steps, it's time to sit back and relax in the Tepidarium. Heated loungers are equally lovely as heated car seats — it might be hard to tear yourself away.

Follow the Aqua Sanitas therapy with the Alpine Thermal Relief, designed to detoxify and ease stressed muscles and relieve the soreness from a day spent running, biking, hiking and relishing all the mountains offer in the summer.

The Sonnenalp Spa

The spa at the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of town. For a recovery treatment, the spa pundits recommend the Healing Arnica Back Treatment — perfect for a sore, stiff or tight back. So many of us have back issues that then lead to other muscle problems, so the folks at the Sonnenalp recommend getting right to the source of the problem.

Start your experience by relaxing in the spa's Tranquility Pool, zoning out as the waterfall glistens and twinkles down; close your eyes and enjoy the sun deck that overlooks Gore Creek. Serenity abounds here.

The 50-minute treatment starts with a lovely, invigorating exfoliation followed by warmed Arnica oil that helps soothe the sore muscles. Combine this treatment with the sports massage that is as bold or relaxed as you need. It helps with joint mobility and overall aches and pains. Oh, sweet relief.

Before you head back to enjoy the spa's saunas and whirlpools, take a deep breath at the oxygen bar — the only one in the Vail Valley. The oxygen, obviously, relieves altitude-related symptoms — headaches, nausea and light-headedness — but also perks up athletes and spa goers alike. Try one of the three aromatherapy scents or the unscented — all 96-percent oxygen, compared to the ambient oxygen-poor air of 21 percent.

If you're up for it — and you should make yourself be up for it — try the Cold Plunge. Yowza. If nothing else, you leave the cold pool invigorated and refreshed.

— By Heather Hower