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Soothing the soul

Caramie Schnell

Some words are simply made to go together: salt and pepper, oil and canvas, rock and roll, and our personal favorite: resort and spa.As one of the world’s finest resort destinations, this valley is also home to some of the world’s finest spas. From smaller, casual spots to some of the most elegant spas imaginable, the Vail Trail has embarked on a valiant quest to visit, enjoy, and review every one of the spas our valley has to offer so you, the reader, can choose the right one for you or your loved ones. Look to our future issues for reviews of more spas, all of which will remain online, for your review, at vailtrail.com.As Valentine’s Day approaches, we take a look at our first group of three spas: Pure Life Skin Care, Skin Deep Spa, and the Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch Spa. Enjoy!– TBPure Life Skin CarePhone: (970) 926-0906Location: Riverwalk in EdwardsSignature Treatment: Classic European facial, 60 minutes, $85Valentines Day Special: Couples Day at the Spa, includes two 60-minute massages and two 60-minute facials, $290 ($50 savings)After working for a few different spas throughout the valley, three years ago Darcy Buster decided to open her own spa, Pure Life Skin Care. Originally Buster opened her spa in Eagle, but made the move to Edwards last April in order to be more centrally located for all of her clients.”Here at Riverwalk on the main street you have all the hustle and bustle and then you come back here, take a breath and relax,” Buster said.The experience at Pure Life Skin Care, whether you have a massage, facial or another of the treatments they offer, is completely different from what a larger spa offers. First of all, the space is certainly smaller, which translates to cozy, rather than cramped. From the moment you walk in the door, all of Buster’s attention is focused on the client.”I can take my time; when I give a facial, you have a full 60 minutes of my time, not just 45 or 50,” Buster said. “I can do thorough extractions; I can really analyze your skin I like to work with people and try to get their skin to a better place.”Included in the standard facial is a hand massage with moisture treatment and a foot massage, helping the customer to feel like their entire body is being nurtured, not just their face. After personally testing 16 different product lines, Buster decided to carry Sothys, a skincare line from Paris, France, that she’s been extremely pleased with. Buster also makes it a point to keep thorough skin care records on each of her clients, keeping track of every product she’s used on their skin.Recently, Buster expanded her staff by one, hiring Amanda Welch as a full-time massage therapist. As for the interview process it was easy, Buster said. After one massage by Welch, Buster knew that she’d be the perfect addition to the spa.”She has this great energy; she has the touch,” Buster said.Welch specializes in reflexology and is the first to tell you that with pain comes gain. After an hour in Welch’s nurturing hands, there is no doubt you will feel equal parts revived and relaxed.– Caramie SchnellSkin Deep SpaPhone: (970) 949-9999Location: Vail Daily Building, Eagle-VailSignature Treatment: Fassage (combination facial and massage), 90 minutes, $165Signature Feature: Manicure BarThe general philosophy at Skin Deep Spa, located in the Vail Daily Building in Eagle-Vail, focuses on the age-old idea that beauty comes from within.”We focus on skin nutrition versus just putting products on for the sake of putting product on,” Co-owner Julie Pennington said.Skin Deep Spa has been serving the valley since 1996, and current owners, Brad and Julie Pennington have owned the spa since 2001. Most of the products Skin Deep carries (and uses for their skin treatments) do not contain fillers, chemical stabilizers, artificial colors, emulsifiers, petro-chemicals or animal byproducts. The Arcona skin care line is their featured line and their products last for six months. They contain grapefruit extracts rather than preservatives, and like your food, only last for so long.”Most products contain parabens and unfortunately, their source is petroleum, and petroleum is gasoline. I’m very much against putting that kind of stuff on the face.”We’ve had to search high and low to find good product lines that don’t have (parabens).”Skin Deep’s clientele is composed of about 85 percent locals and second-homeowners, according to the Peningtons. They specialize in custom facials, and in their words, “helping clients achieve more of an optimum potential on their skin.” They are the only day spa in town that is licensed to do laser treatments, something they brought in at the request of their customers.The European Fassage, a combination facial and massage, has been very popular for people who don’t necessarily have time to do both a facial and a massage separately.”Many people want both things done at the same time because people are time-starved in the Vail Valley,” Julie said. “(The treatments) are performed at the same time, by the same technician so you don’t have to leave the room.”At the end of the facial, the technician massages the face with ice globes.The mogul massage is probably their most innovative treatment, according to Julie. The service, which lasts 65 minutes ($100), includes self-heating mud, which is applied to the feet and along the spine, which helps to both pull toxins out of the feet and helps the muscles to relax before the massage.Interesting fact: Along with all the services the spa offers, co-owner Brad Pennington is also a chiropractor and offers chiropractic adjustments.– Caramie SchnellRitz Carlton at Bachelor GulchPhone: (970) 748-6200Location: Bachelor GulchSignature Treatment: Hot Toddy for the Body (full-body scrub) with 20-minute massage, $200Signature Feature: The Romance Package, two hours, two people, $380Among spas, the Ritz Carlton spas are legendary. Among Ritz Carlton spas, the Bachelor Gulch spa is legendary.From the floor plan and layout to the iced towels in the grotto, everything in the Ritz Carlton is designed around giving guests satisfaction and pampering.”A spa is not about a little fitness room with a pool anymore,” says Steven Holt, the resort’s director of public relations. “A spa has definitely become a key element that people are looking for when they choose a destination.”Like many spas, the Ritz has two separate areas dedicated to men and women. Each of the areas features plush saunas, spacious locker rooms, a separate relaxation room (with loungers, tables, and a fireplace), a cold pool, steam room, and Jacuzzi. Everything in the spa, from the wood construction in the spacious sauna, to the handrail leading to the cold pool, to the cotton swabs awaiting on the marble counters, is of the finest quality.But the crown jewel of the Ritz spa is “The Grotto,” a stone-lined hideaway with an enormous, lazy-river hot tub, large timber construction, and a waterfall splashing into one corner of the hot tub. Both men and women have an entrance to The Grotto, so partners can enjoy the luxury of the Ritz together if they choose.Over Valentine’s Day, the Ritz is offering a Romance Package. Couples have a massage before relaxing in a large copper tub. With a champagne toast, rose-petals for decoration, and the extra attention common at the Ritz, the Romance Package is designed to bring partners together on a special day.The Hot Toddy for the Body is another Ritz signature, available year round. The Hot Toddy is a cocktail that’s good for your body a scrub containing sweet almond oil, jojoba beads and shea butter with the aromatic spices of cinnamon and nutmeg is massaged into the skin to eliminate dry patches and relax the muscles. A hydrating massage with a warm herbal spice lotion finishes this treatment. On its own, this 60-minute treatment is $135. With a 20-minute massage, its $200.Throughout most of the year, the Ritz spa is only available to guests at the hotel. But here’s the good news for locals: during the offseason months (April, May, October and November), the spa will be open to the public so a day at the spa won’t require a night at the hotel, too. Visiting Colorado’s only four-star spa can be as easy as driving up to Bachelor Gulch for a few hours (but, unfortunately, not as inexpensive). VT– Tom Boyd


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