Spa ahhhhhhhhhh | VailDaily.com

Spa ahhhhhhhhhh


Plan a full day of pampering

Escape into a serene spa for the morning and you may be reluctant to emerge from your cocoon-like, full-length robe.

There's a delightful decadence in a "whole-day wellness experience," as described by Mary Gunderson, spa director at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail. It takes some time, but once you're immersed in the soft lighting, soothing music and tranquil scene of a spa facility, the schedule inside isn't stressful.

"It's hard when you come in for an hour massage and then you leave, because sometimes you don't really get a chance to relax, versus when you make yourself take a chunk of time," she says.

Receptionists at spas like the Four Seasons know how to build itineraries for individuals, couples and groups, and all you really need to know is what you're looking for. Several treatments, and maybe a meal, need to be spaced out to create relaxation and ease at every turn, so leave the chronology up to the experts.

"You want to fit in your body treatments first, then your esthetic, then nails and hair," explains Gunderson.

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Because no woman would want to get her nails done, smudge them up in the sheets
during a facial and then smoosh her fresh face in a cradle during a massage. Just like after a rich, shea butter body wrap, it would be nonsensical to slip into a shower and wash away all of the healing products.

Proper scheduling and pace can make or break a comfortable cadence for the whole spa experience. Ideally, there's no rushing and no waiting — just relaxing.

"I think multiple services is nice because you have that variety, and you have something to look forward to," says Gunderson.

But sometimes a full day at the spa doesn't fit in the schedule or the budget, and one special treatment can be the mind and body boost you need.

For an affordable massage option, Simply Massage in Vail and Avon charges $45 for a 30-minute session, $75 for a 60-minute session and $105 for a "Simple Indulgence" 90-minute session — or buy a punch card and pay less per treatment.

One of the more affordable full-service options in the valley is Manor Vail Spa, with 50-minute body treatments that start at $125, and 50-minute Eminence facials for $145. The spa has a cozy and quiet setting, and also offers full nail and waxing services. Ask about Manor Vail's custom party packages, where groups can combine spa services, poolside cocktails and treats like chocolate-covered strawberries to add some indulgence to a celebration or gathering.

And waiting for the off-season can have its benefits. Some terrific spas offer some great deals, including facial and massage package deals that can be paid for in advance and used for several months.

Full Renewal

Kim Mutz, spa manager at The Sonnenalp in Vail, says a full spa day can begin more than an hour before your first treatment when you change into your plush spa robe and sandals.

"Stop by our spa bar for a mimosa to begin your day," Mutz says, "and relax in the heated indoor-outdoor pool and whirlpools."

After a stop at both the steam room and sauna, Sonnenalp guests can rinse off in one of the tsunami showers, and then sit by the lounge to wait for their therapist. Mutz recommends the 80-minute Seasonal Scrub, which includes a full-body Swedish massage, followed by a 50-minute Signature Facial and 10 minutes at the oxygen bar.

After a lunch break, manicures and pedicures round out a six or seven-hour day.

Start your spa day at The Four Seasons with movement. The fitness area has group classes in the morning, or book a private at whatever time you wish.

"Yoga frames the day," explains Jodie Oleson, spa receptionist and yoga instructor. "You come in, you stretch, you open up your bloodstream and then you're relaxed to move into the rest of the day."

After time on the mat or in the gym, check-in at the spa to head toward the elaborate water sanctuary before your first treatment. If you're planning to have lunch or a snack, food and drink orders can take up to 40 minutes, so look over a menu at the reception desk and get your order set.

The Four Seasons spa has a variety of luxurious body treatments, but sometimes a Swedish massage will do the trick. Add in any or all of the $20 enhancements, like the Scalp Ritual or Quench Foot Scrub, the Shea Butter Massage or the Arnica Muscle Relief.

Follow-up with an esthetic treatment — a facial like the The Skin Comfort that features NaturaBisse, an anti-aging, luxury product line out of Spain. The calming facial is designed to help with hypersensitivity, rosacea and sunburned skin.

Revel in a hearty or healthy bite to eat next to the fireplace in the co-ed lounge. The spa and pool menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches and snacks to share. The Strawberry Fields salad is light and flavorful, with spinach, fennel, strawberry, gorgonzola, onions, rubbed chicken and peanuts. Celebratory bubbles or a glass of chardonnay can add an extra special, post-treatment touch.

"We are really more focused on customization versus just outlining what you should do," Gunderson says. "Customization is the best way to identify what people are looking to get out of their whole experience — what works for their timeline, their budget and their overall desires."

"I think when people are looking for an escape, a spa is a great option or destination to help you achieve that," says Gunderson. "Cells phones are off, and everyone knows: 'I'm at the spa — don't bother me." Mary Gunderson

»By Kim Fuller