SpaReport: Vail’s Sonnenalp Spa offers sound healing |

SpaReport: Vail’s Sonnenalp Spa offers sound healing

Caramie Schnell
VAIL CO, Colorado
HL Acutonica 1 KA 9-8-11

The spa: Sonnenalp Spa, located at the Sonnenalp Resort of Vail, 20 Vail Road, Vail. The spa is open Monday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call 970-479-5404 or visit

Specials: Beginning today, all treatments are 25 percent off Monday through Friday through Dec. 15.

First impressions: The Sonnenalp Spa is cheerful and cozy. The sitting area, replete with a fireplace, comfy yellow couches and fresh fruit, is bright and airy thanks to the big windows looking out at the pool area. The main changing room was being remodeled when I visited so I was given a locker in the front changing room, which is really a bathroom with a few lockers. According to the Sonnenalp website, there is a sauna and a steam room.

The treatment: Acutonics Treatment, 50-minutes, $155 (with MRS2000 mat, additional $85).

Both local and national spas have begun offering healing, holisitic treatments the past few years, with a person’s whole body health in mind. Sonnenalp was ahead of the curve. They’ve been offering Acutonics treatments since 2003. Accoding to the treatment description on the spa’s website, it “helps balance the spiritual, emotional and physical body. Breaks up scar tissue, reduces muscle tension and emotional trauma.”

“We’re looking for modalities that assist the individual in healing the internal and external body together,” said Spa Director John Breslin.

The treatment itself is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Using tuning forks, my therapist, Elizabeth Vadney, held the forks to pressure points on my body. At first I didn’t feel much, though I did notice I was extremely relaxed after about 5 minutes. But as she worked on different points around my body, I could feel the vibrations from the forks travel through my body. Whereas I couldn’t hear the forks audibly at first, by the end of the treatment, I finally heard them. When Vadney used the forks on my back, where I typically hold my stress and have lots of knots, I felt my skin heat up. Afterwards, she gave me a relaxing massage, focusing on the area between my shoulder blades that typically hurts.

The idea of vibrational sound healing is rooted in Oriental medicine. This treatment is sound energy, combined with massage. Vadney, a massage therapist, first discovered the effect sound vibrations could have on the body when she was giving a massage to someone and a trigger point wouldn’t release.

“I would have them make the sound that felt comfortable with that area, I would match it and when our voices harmonized, it would release,” she said.

Vadney decided she wanted to learn more about sound healing and Oriental medicine. She is now nationally certified from the Acutonics Sound Institute.

“The cool thing is, as metaphysical as this sounds, there is hard white paper data with lots of lots of case studies that talk about the validity of the treatment itself and case study results,” Breslin said.

MRS stands for Magnetic Resonance Stimulation; Vadney said using the mat with the Acutonics is more effective.

“The tuning forks vibrate at a frequency and the resonance can be uneven or dissonant, or very quiet and not sound out for very long. When I was using them without the mat, it felt like I was working through mud.”

Vadney said that she has many resort guests who book an Acutonics treatment for each day they’re in town, or every other day. One 72-year-old gentleman came to her for a treatment focused on his knees. He was having trouble skiing.

“I saw him the next day in the hall and he said ‘I skied like a god today.’ He really felt good and was so happy.”

Make the most of your visit: The pool (indoor and outdoor), whirlpool, sauna, steam room, fitness and wet lounge is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

SpaReport is a feature the Vail Daily runs each month about spa treatments around the valley. Know of something we should check out? Email

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