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December 2021

by Organic Spa Magazine

Snowy Spas

The winter is a wonderland, especially for those who enjoy playing in the snow. As a wise person once told me, when we trudged through a whiteout in northern Iceland that felt as disorienting as being on the inside of a ping-pong ball, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” 

As long as you layer up in watertight layers, you will stay snug enough to have a great time, and when it’s time to head indoors to the spa–steam, sauna, massage, and other treats that rev up the circulation and warm you to the bone–you won’t be battling a deep chill. Here, some great offerings for the great winter snow-day spas. 

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana

No doubt Montana is on the radar these days. In fact, it is turning out to be one of the hottest US destinations for this and the upcoming year. As a Montana-lover myself–with its pristine wilderness, clean air, expansive mountain vistas, low population density and humongous land mammals (moose! elk!)--Montana is a prime place to experience wellness in nature.  

I love to visit year 'round, but the winter may be my favorite season. That said, temperatures do drop, but The Ranch offers cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, ice fishing and carriage rides in the snow to keep your blood flowing. The only reason to leave the property is to go skiing or snowboarding at Discovery Ski Area, just 35 minutes away. 

The Ranch provides everything–personal equipment fittings, ground transportation, a Ranch Ski Concierge to coordinate on-mountain excursions, lift tickets, and an included lunch at the Discovery Ski Area dining area and bar. With three faces and 67 trails, Discovery can have a very private feel. Then head back to the Ranch for a cozy après-ski or relax at the jewel-like Granite Spa before enjoying a delicious cocktail or mocktail, and gourmet dinner from the talented Alaska-born chef, who embraces the bounty of local ranchers and growers whose families are rooted here for generations. 

You’ll be fully kitted out for snowmobile riding, too, over crest hills and pristine valleys, with helmets, goggles and insulated gear before you power up the state-of-the art vehicle and head into National Forest on a guided snowmobile adventure over 100+ miles of groomed snowmobile trails. 

A stay here is inherently a wellness retreat, all year round, simply because it feels so good to be out in the vast expanse of nature, hiking in the wilderness or riding horse trails; fly-fishing or mountain-biking; immersing in survival skills, ropes course, archery; enjoying the fresh clean air and stunning backdrop, or a healing massage at the gem-like Granite Spa.

Manoir Hovey, Quebec

Quebec is a tried-and-true winter spa destination, and Canadians know a thing or two about how to enjoy the snow!

Overlooking Lake Massawippi in the quaint village of North Hatley, Manoir Hovey, only 20 minutes north of the Vermont border and 1.25 hours from Montreal in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Manoir is a step back in time. Surrounded by natural beauty in the midst of a rolling landscape dotted with snaking rivers and glistening lakes, the area is perfect for a winter nature immersion. (Make a city stop in Montreal en route, or on your way back home!)

Manoir Hovey is a five-star Relais & Châteaux property. The private estate was commissioned in 1900 by Henry Atkinson, the president of Georgia Power in Atlanta, whose vision was inspired by George Washington`s Mount Vernon. With 36 rooms and suites, featuring contemporary design and country comfort, the art and antiques combine a sense of modern luxury and travel back to a simpler time. 

Head out on a guided ice-fishing expedition on Lake Massawippi right in front of the inn. Enjoy snowshoeing on the grounds, or head out to no less than four downhill ski destinations (and one cross-country) nearby. Go dog-sledding on local trails, ice skating on the scenic lake, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through town, a tasting at a local winery, a stroll through markets, then cozy up in front of the fire at Manoir’s Le Tap Room, where a 10,000-brick fireplace awaits. 

Sundance Mountain Resort, Sundance, Utah 

Created by Robert Redford in 1969, who also founded the renowned Sundance Film Festival,Sundance Mountain Resort is tucked into the Wasatch Mountains, an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. An all-season resort, Sundance has an artsy feel, with deep roots to the land, conservation and sustainability, based on Redford’s vision. 

It is as authentic now as it was when it was founded, and still maintains the feel of an artists' colony/nature preserve. Outdoor activities include downhill skiing, ziplining, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, fly-fishing and more. 

The Resort was ranked the #2 Ski Resort in North America by Conde Nast in 2021 for the Readers’ Choice Award and Sundance just underwent an ambitious improvement project, with new lifts, new runs, expanded snow-making facilities, including a 19-million-gallon snowmaking reservoir. Outlaw Express is a new high-speed quad with access to Mandan Summit, the new beginner area with three magic carpets. Night skiing and the back mountain will open as conditions permit, and the ski season will be extended until April 10th (conditions permitting) this year.

Indoors, Sundance excels at understated luxury, with rustic but comfortable decor, and a full-service Spa (with yoga, on call) that is divine. Not to mention, an irresistible General Store, where you can find something that will take the memory of the mountains home with you.  

The Lake House on Canandaigua, New York

Snow-covered vineyards and orchards turn the Finger Lakes region of New York into a spiky white carpet in winter. Prone to something called Lake Effect Snow, which brings heavier, wetter flakes, the glacial locale begs for puffy jackets and earmuffs in season. But don’t let the low temperatures stop your fun. 

Check into The Lake House, a design-centric retreat, complete with 124 rooms, a timber frame events barn, a signature restaurant, a heated outdoor pool and its coup de gras—a destination spa, which brings new meaning to lake life in the winter. The Finger Lakes, a serene retreat encircled by pristine nature, including local gorges perfect for snow-shoe adventures–and 138 acres of ski terrain, including night skiing (check for availability). And, after hiking along the waterside paths or cross-country skiing the surrounding terrain, yield to well-being at streamlined Willowbrook Spa.

Equipped with outdoor Nordic-inspired sauna pods with windows that frame the water, the spa has a plethora of reset-minded treatments. To hibernate as soundly as lake country wildlife, try the Deep Sleep bodywork ritual, which can be enhanced with add-ons, such as Dry Brushing or Amethyst Biomat. 

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