ABCs of ski: Spas -- off-slope pampering

What could make more sense than a spa at a ski resort? After a long day of muscle straining and exertion, a massage or treatment would be the ideal route to relaxation.

It's no wonder, then, that spas at ski resorts are proliferating. Many offer not only massages and treatments but a variety of health and wellness activities.

"It was the spa that put us on the map," says Gayle Brady, director of the 4,200-square-foot spa at the Peaks Resort & Spa in Telluride, Colo., which opened five years ago.

Brady says the spa phenomenon is one of the ways in which ski resorts have changed to accommodate the average guest, who skis only three or four days out of a week's holiday.

Also of recent vintage at the Peaks is a program called the Next Level, which set aside one 16-room floor for guests who are focusing on spa treatments. They have 24-hour key access to the spa, a refreshment area, a meditation deck and such in-room spa amenities as massage tables, foot massagers, wellness tapes and books, purified water and fresh flowers. Says Brady, "This way they don't get lost in the shuffle and get to meet other people with similar interests."

Not all spa treatments are commissionable; it depends on resort policy and whether the treatments are part of a package. Agents should call individual resorts for their policies.

Brady says agents should let clients talk directly to someone at the spa to make sure they get what they want, and that all appointments should be made in advance. Most people want their massage at 4 p.m. but if they wait until you get to the resort, you won't get that appointment, Brady says.

Now that it is becoming part of the Grand Bay chain, the upscale brand for the Patriot-American hotel group, there will be further changes at the Peaks, since all Grand Bay properties will incorporate Golden Door spas. For the Peaks, that will mean the introduction of Asian-style treatments and physical changes.

The newest Spa Finder directory lists a number of downhill resorts in North America that feature spas, including:

  • Banff Springs Hotel (Alberta): The Solace Spa is another well-known ski resort spa, notable for its cascading waterfalls and grand fireplace.
  • The Lodge & Spa at Breckenridge (Colorado): Aside from the usual, this spa has been expanded to include treatments like acupuncture and Taoist healing arts.
  • Cordillera (Colorado): With just 56 rooms, the spa here offers more than 35 treatments, as well as fitness classes, weight training and meditation.
  • The Cliff Spa at Snowbird (Utah): Perched on top of the lodge, this spa offers 20 individualized treatment rooms, a lap pool, solarium and a wide variety of beauty treatments.
  • Vatra Mountain Valley (New York): Minutes from popular Hunter Mountain skiing, this resort is distinguished by its relatively inexpensive rates, emphasis on relaxation and theme weeks, such as mother and daughter week, etc.
  • Vail Cascade Hotel and Club (Colorado): Creative treatments like a Papaya Mint Rejuvenating Facial and Apres Sport Massage distinguish this spa. The Cascade Club here is the official conditioning site of the U.S. Ski Team.
  • Topnotch Resort & Spa (Vermont): The spa features a 60-foot indoor pool; a 12-foot whirlpool bath with cascading hydro-massage waterfalls, and professional health services like fitness assessments.
  • Call Spa Finders at (800) ALL-SPAS or (212) 924-6800. The Web site is www.spafinders.com.

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