Aaaaahs at the spas |

Aaaaahs at the spas

Caramie Schnell

Note: We know it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. As part of our ongoing effort to review the valley’s spas, we take a look this week at Allegria Spa and Heaven Massage and Spa. To view our other spa reviews see Massage and SpaLionshead, (970) 476-0444, heavenmassage.comSignature treatment: Deluxe Hot Stone Massage, 75-min., $160″Ski like hell go to heaven,” is a fitting motto for a spa located steps away from the gondola in Lionshead. Owner of Heaven Massage and Spa, Jenny Ricca, moved from Santa Monica, Calif. five years ago and opened her own spa just a year later.”When I moved here from Santa Monica, I first started working at the spa at the Marriott and I began feeling the valley out, seeing where I wanted to fit in.” Ricca soon realized that the larger spas were not her style.”I’m not the corporate type at all,” Ricca says. “And things are different here and I think the therapists like that as well.”Things are a little different at Heaven, conveniently located just east of the gondola building in Lionshead. First, there’s the official spa-guest-greeter, Ricca’s dog Riley. “He’s everybody’s dog away from home,” Ricca says. Second, there’s the giant bowl of Oreo Cookies beckoning guests. “We always have bad things for you, Oreos or Snicker Bars, rather than the standard apples and oranges.” And last, the spa accepts walk-in clients, something that’s nice for a skier or boarder that might not realize just how badly they’ll be craving a massage come that last run of the day.When Ricca first began picturing her own spa and how it would run, she decided that above all she wanted it to be comfortable, a place where anyone, people who had never had a massage or people who indulged weekly, could venture.”I pictured two girlfriends talking to each other on the phone, saying, ‘What are you going to do today?’ ‘Oh, I’m going to go to Heaven and relax.’ And I wanted it to be the kind of place where you wouldn’t be intimidated going in because I’ve been to a lot of spas where I was intimidated places where it just felt too stuck up, too Zen or something; I wanted something more friendly.”Ricca says that it’s standard practice for employees from the nearby businesses to stop by, say hello, grab a cookie, or slather on one of the hand lotions.Likewise, Ricca says that she has many return tourists that have made a visit to Heaven standard fare for any vacation to Vail.”We have a lot of repeat clientele from years gone by. People especially love our hot stones massages and they always joke that their favorite part of their trip is to come to Heaven and get stoned.”Indeed, the Deluxe Hot Stone Massage, which features 25-heated basalt stones alternated with a skilled therapist’s hands, leaves one feeling like they’re floating and if not in heaven itself, somewhere pretty darn close.”We lay warm stones on each side of the spine and the warmth just penetrates your muscles,” Ricca says. “With the stones, what we find, is that it takes a regular massage to a different level; it takes your head somewhere else.”Twelve hot stones can be added to any of the massages offered, which include Swedish (50-min., $90), Deep Tissue (50-min., $100), or Sports (50-min., $100). Massages can be further customized with options to add aromatherapy ($10), hydrating lotion ($10) or alphablend eye-lift treatment ($15).The Heavenly Escape (3-hours, $295) sounds like the ultimate in pampering. It includes an orange vanilla brown sugar body buff followed by a 75-minute hot stone massage. The Escape finishes up with a hydrating Vita Mineral facial.Heaven also offers body treatments like the Detox and Firm (50-min., $110) in which sea algae is used to detoxify and hydrate the skin, and the Salt Scrub, Body Glow! (25-min., $55) where Dead Sea salts combined with tangerine, orange and ylang ylang are used to ease tension and calm tense muscles.Each of the therapists at the spa, Ricca promises, is extremely qualified and can give a very deep massage. She should know, as each employee is handpicked herself. She takes the job very seriously, making sure that her therapists are not only highly skilled, but also have the right energy to work well with the rest of the team. At any time Ricca employs between 12 and 15 massage therapists because of the long hours the spa offers the first appointment is at 9 a.m. and the spa stays open until 8 p.m.”I’m really protective of the energy in here, it’s a small place, and when it’s really busy, everyone has to be able to work together. I’m really careful with who I hire.”Allegria SpaPark Hyatt Beaver Creek, (970) 748-7500, allegriaspa.comSignature treatment: Barefoot Massage, 75-min., $215, 90-min., $255Have you ever been able to let go of everything that’s clouding your body and mind with a single breath? There is an energy present at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt Resort in Beaver Creek that just might inspire you to take that breath.All the subtle elements at Allegria Spa combine to make it one of the top-rated spas in the country (according to Conde Nast and Spa Finder magazines, among others). It’s the combination of seemingly small details that makes it stand out: it’s the Feng Shui inspired organization of the rooms, the small waterfalls that cascade down the walls in the entryway, the eucalyptus steam room and the small bowl of iced washcloths topped with cucumber slices that is placed outside the door. It’s also the thick terry-cloth robes that are standard issue and the lemon-infused ice water or cup of tea that the therapist brings you after your treatment.The spa treatment menu offers an alluring mix of body treatments, facials, massages and beauty services.Hydration, holistic, regenerating, repairing, deep cleansing and oxygen boost are a few of the nine facials offered at the spa. The deluxe facial with oxygen boost (75-min., $220) is an especially attractive service for those whose skin feels a little depleted after being exposed to the high altitude, sun and snow on the slopes.When it comes to massage, you’d be hard-pressed to find more of a selection. Everything from the classic Swedish massage to prenatal and sports massages are offered. For those looking for more Eastern inspired treatments, The Thai, Shiatsu, Hot Stone or Barefoot Massage might fit the bill. The Barefoot Massage is an ancient form of bodywork that is unique to Allegria. Deep, soothing strokes are applied to the muscles of the body using hands, hot stones, and especially foot pressure. The result: trance-like relaxation.The body treatments all incorporate gentle exfoliation, a hydrating body wrap and a massage into one service. The Chai Soy Mud Ritual (90-min., $255) features a spicy chai soy mud wrap, a warming bath and a full-body massage.”The Chai Soy Mud Ritual and the Sweet Lavender Milk Bath are both the crme de la crme of the services,” said Mary Gunderson, spa director, “because they do incorporate a wrap or a scrub followed by the hydrotherapy ritual and completed with a full body massage. It’s the ultra pampering experience.”The Sweet Orange and Citrus Salt Glow (50-min., $155) includes a hydrating salt scrub, followed by a warm honey gel and finished with an orange blossom lotion application.The spa is 20,000 square feet of space devoted to relaxing the body and re-energizing the mind. The heated outdoor lap pool is surrounded by six outdoor whirlpool tubs, all of which offer up an unparalleled view of the ski mountain. For those who want a more private experience, inside the locker rooms are individual whirlpool tubs.Both before and after your treatment, the spa encourages each guest to relax next to one of the fireplaces with a book and a cup of tea while munching on some dried fruit and nuts, lounge in their relaxation room aptly called “The Sanctuary” while listening to calming music, or work-out in their exercise room, which features state-of-the-art equipment and a full-time experienced attendant.”We want to create an experience for our guests, and really help them escape for the day by incorporating a mind, body and spirit experience,” Gunderson said. “It has become our focus. We don’t want our guests to just come in for a treatment and leave; we want them to enjoy the amenities for the day, whether they soak in the whirlpool, take a yoga class, or workout in the fitness center. That is what really makes the difference and makes the experience what it is.” VT

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