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Colorful Colorado

by Becca Hensley

ABOVE: Gateway Canyons

Spa sanctuaries that offer balneotherapy, reflexology, hiking and healing waters

It hurts so good.

Amid an enclave of fragrant herbs and flowers, I kick off my shoes and clamber barefoot across a stone-laden path. Hobbling, moaning and groaning simultaneously, mindfully moving heel to toe, I forge my way over one of the United States’ only reflexology trails—a purposefully uneven track, aesthetically laid out, in the newly minted Peace Garden at True Nature Healing Arts Kiva & Spa, a wellness complex in Carbondale, Colorado.

As I move, sharp pokes of pain awaken my feet. The sensations soothe and inform me. I’m not a masochist. Instead, I’m after wellness. When I complete the rocky spiral-shaped route, I consult a reflexology chart, which suggests how various sections of my foot discomfort might relate to other parts of the body. (Sorry, kidneys. I need to drink more water!)

Built to stimulate and massage acupressure points on the soles of the feet, such trails, common in China, are considered by many to benefit health. Open dawn to dusk, True Nature’s reflexology path is just one element of a welcoming spa, kindness haven and yoga complex, which owners Eaden and Deva Shantay describe as a “gift to the community.”

While laid-back Carbondale, set in Roaring Fork Valley, just a short drive from Aspen, has a naturally curative vibe, it isn’t the only location in colorful Colorado to embrace wellness-oriented pursuits. The trend began more than a centuryago—long before Colorado was known as a winter playground, rife with upscale mountain ski resorts. According to historians, many of the area’s first pioneers settled in thestate for their health.

With pristine air, myriad mineral hot springs, pure glacial waters, abundant sunshine and the allure of the outdoors, the Centennial State proved an antidote to the 19th-century’s polluted cities and scourge of deadly lung diseases, such as tuberculosis. Enthusiasts came in droves.

In fact, retreats, including The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs and Boulder’s Colorado Chautauqua, initially were founded as healing hideaways. Today, Colorado, a year-round destination, diversely composed of snow-crested mountains, river canyons, deserts, sand dunes and plains, continues to honor its salubrious tradition. Below, discover some Organic Spa magazine-tested healthy Colorado sanctuaries.

LEFT: Spa at Viceroy Snowmass, RIGHT: Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort

The Spa, Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa

In the shadows of The Palisade, a towering red rock formation in remote, western Colorado, a stone’s throw from the Utah border, Gateway Canyons seeks to inspire its guests’ curiosity though the “art of discovery and adventure.” Surrounded by dinosaur fossils and untrammeled nature, near the convergence of five majestic canyons, the hideaway specializes in outdoor pursuits, from horseback riding to hiking.

Take a break from the sun at The Spa, designed to pay homage to the majesty of the landscape indoors, with rust-colored walls, travertine floors and see-out-but-not-in panoramic windows in treatment rooms. Menu options play to the high desert location with sense of place options, such as Native Desert Sage—an herbal body scrub followed by a hydrating arnica oil massage, ideal for sore, over-hiked muscles. gatewaycanyons.com/spa-colorado.aspx

Historic Hot Springs Loop

They call it balneotherapy. Soaking in hot springs dates back to the first humans, and legendary therapy pools can be found across the globe. Even animals, from bears to horses, have been known to instinctively take advantage of spring-fed H2O.In Colorado, hundreds of mineral-rich, natural springs pepper the terrain. Explore them on Colorado’s designated Hot Springs Loop, a 720-mile route, touting 19 favorite submersion points, divided into five geographical regions—from Glenwood Springs to Chaffee County. Ranging in size from immense pools to tiny tubs, they may offer luxury rooms poolside, rustic cabins, yurts or campsites. Their waters hold a gamut of ingredients—potassium, fluoride, calcium, lithium—even arsenic, all purportedly beneficial in small amounts.

Where to drench yourself first? Try Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, located between the restored hamlets of Buena Vista and Salida. With odorless water, a vintage bath house, a 400-foot-long slide and variously sized pools, the watery wellspring also has a spa. mtprinceton.com

Spa at Viceroy Snowmass

Snowmass, known for its stellar intermediate slopes, comprises a section of the Aspen/Snowmass ski resort complex. Re-envisioned this year to the tune of $600 million, it now exudes a tonier vibe, one that complements the stylish Viceroy, which hugs the foot of the mountain, just steps from a chairlift.

At Spa, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy to mirror the mountain’s elegant ambiance and to embody the four elements, interiors also honor the region’s Ute heritage. The threshold-like brass gate at the entrance, a dramatic antler chandelier in the relaxation room, the peaceful sounds of falling water from the infinity pool throughout, and Ute ceremonial rituals on the spa menu add gravitas and harmony to the experience. Opt for the Ute Sundance, a spiritual journey, which includes hydrotherapy soak, a red clay body wrap, and a body butter massage, among other steps. viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/snowmass/spa_and_wellness

ABOVE: Allegria Spa

Spa at St Julien Hotel & Spa, Boulder

Boulder has long been a mecca for wellness seekers. Brimming with fitness aficionados, the town embraces every aspect of active mountain living. Lording over the nucleus of the scene, on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, St Julien Hotel & Spa melds snazzily into the outdoor fabric and reflects the chic mountain hamlet’s upscale vibe. It’s the perfect place to plop down on a balcony and take in the view—for hours at a time. After your morning bike ride burrow into the spa to recharge. A serene, 10,000-square-foot harbor, the spa stocks product lines, such as Luzern, specifically adapted for Alpine climes. It also concocts its own oils and creams from the hotel’s herb garden. To connect with the locale, surrender to the 100-minute Canyon Rain, which utilizes local cypress and rosemary to polish, exfoliate and massage. stjulien.com/spa

Allegria Spa, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

A fixture on the slopes of Beaver Creek, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek evokes the heart of its adjacent ski village. But the resort’s Allegria Spa, inspired by European therme philosophy, defines the spirit of the hotel itself—a place of sophisticated global mountain elan. With a five-step Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary, 23 treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, and unparalleled fitness support, the spa offers a number of treatments chosen to counteract the dry air and those inevitable overzealous athletic attempts by guests.

From the Rocky Mountains’ wildflower meadows, botanicals such as wild rose and lavender, tie the terrain to Allegria’s offerings. Splurge on the Colorado Wild Rose Cure, where warm rose compresses relax, a floral body scrub recharges and a lavender bath and rose massage seals the deal. allegriaspa.com

The Spa at Four Seasons Vail

Vail began in 1962, the vision of Pete Seibert, who served in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division in World War II, living, working and skiing in the mountains of Europe. He built Vail to reflect the cobbled Alpine villages and sgraffito chalets he admired. Fitting into that motif, gorgeous Four Seasons Vail faces the mountain, wrapped around a huge pool. Its spa, channeling the view, has grounding nature-made hues, a spa patio, herb garden and warming fireplace.

At 8,000 feet, Vail’s altitude can affect well-being, so the treatment menu addresses rebalance. Try the High Altitude Adjustment Massage, which helps guests acclimatize, ridding the body of pesky symptoms, such as headaches, respiratory distress and nausea. The combined powers of a custom-made oil (frankincense, clary sage and chamomile) and acupressure massage stimulates and relaxes in turns, ensuring guests hit the slopes fully loaded for action. fourseasons.com/vail/spa

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