Recipe for Wellness
Organic food-oriented treatments bring a whole new meaning to “spa menu”
By Laurel Kallenbach
Mix two cups of organically grown carrots, a teaspoon fresh vanilla, and 1/4 cup flaxseed oil. Place one woman with chapped skin on a European soft-pack table and liberally apply the carrot/oil mixture from neck to toe. Wrap her burrito-style in a water-inflated blanket, then let the bottom of the table sink away, so that she floats as if on a waterbed. Slow-roast for twenty minutes, checking periodically to ensure that she maintains optimal bliss temperature. Once she is done, rinse her and massage two parts honeydew and one part vanilla lotion, over her entire body, gently working out any remaining muscle tension. Cover her with soft robe and slippers and serve warm and pampered.
The Aria Spa & Club at the Vail Cascade Resort offers this recipe for achieving nirvana. And it works, my skin became soft and rehydrated after being exposed to the dry, thin air of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The Carrot Vitamin Wrap is just one of Aria’s organic treatments—each using the all-natural Naturopathica, Astara, and Éminence skincare lines. These treatments reflect the new trend of spa products made from organically grown herbs and foods rather than synthetic ingredients.
Why food? Many fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals and enzymes that act gently, but effectively on the skin. For instance, citrus fruits contain acids similar to the popular exfoliant glycolic acid, plus they contain vitamin C, which fights free radicals, reducing signs of aging. Cherries are another source of natural glycolic acids, and pumpkin enzymes remove dead skin cells. Since skin absorbs much of what you put on it, it’s also important for products to be made from organic ingredients so you’re not putting pesticide residues on your face or body.
Feast for the Face
After my wrap, I indulged in Aria’s Organic Facial. I’m the type of person whose normal daily skincare regimen consists of two steps, cleansing and moisturizing. Consequently, a professional facial seems like a lavish banquet, with course after course of delicacies for my face. Heather, my esthetician, started the treatment with a eucalyptus cleanser, which left my skin clean and tingly. This was followed by a soothing parsley-cucumber mask, which made my face cool as, well, a cucumber. The smell of fresh, creamy veggies on my face made me want to smear this mask on a bagel and eat it.
Next was the moment of truth—the paprika mask. I’d been warned this pepper-laced concoction would be hot, but feeling adventurous, I chose it over mild rosehips. A moment after Heather brushed on the paprika mix, I could feel the spicy burn. My face flushed like I’d eaten a habañero. As circulation raced to my skin, flushing out wastes and toxins and revitalizing my complexion, I went from the verge of discomfort to rejuvenation. To my relief, the paprika didn’t stay on long and the next course consisted of a hydrating, revitalizing pumpkin-orange mask. Heather explained that enzymes in the pumpkin dissolve dead skin cells, resulting in a gentle exfoliation. This mask smelled good enough to eat, and I realized that while my face and décolletage were now glowing, I was hungry.
Fortunately, Aria offers a variety of low-fat, health-conscious foods to quell your appetite. Salads, blackened Ahi, a tomato mozzarella sandwich—all sorts of items to tide you over between the spirulina wrap, lemongrass-ginger massage, and the rosehip-maize scrub. I sipped a raspberry smoothie while my feet got their own minty mask and massage. Afterwards I emerged refreshed and adorned with—what else—strawberry toenail polish!
That evening, my husband bubbled with excitement about his day. While I was getting the spa’s gourmet treatments, he’d had a blast skiing the slopes that have made Vail world-famous. He schussed down the Hunky Dory run and bumped his way through the moguls on the Baccarat run. He raved about the private ski-in, ski-out facility at Vail Cascade, complete with its own ski concierge. So, the next morning, after getting six-and-a-half inches of new snow overnight, I wasn’t surprised that he barely spared time to kiss me goodbye before hopping on the chairlift in search of virgin powder. No matter—I had plans of my own, including a yoga class in the Vail Cascade’s huge athletic club and a massage to get me primed for a snowshoe trek.
Back in Aria Spa, I gravitated to the room they call The Sanctuary, where guests wait for treatments. With a little time to spare before my massage, I camped out on a cushy chaise lounge right next to the rock fireplace in the center of the room and savored a fresh-brewed cup of relaxing mint. The individual treatment rooms are similarly lovely and spacious—most are equipped so you can have a scrub, a shower, a soak, and a body treatment in the same room without shuttling from place to place. My only quibble with the spa’s atmosphere is that it’s curiously devoid of windows, especially when one considers its premium mountain location.
Customized to Taste
Like any good chef, Aria spices up the spa experience with an entire menu of inventive customizations, including an array of such twenty-minute add-ons as reflexology, a soak, or a scalp treatment. Special spa combinations, called Songs of the Mountains, allow guests to choose how they prefer to spend each portion of their seventy-five-minute treatment. The spa also offers Symphonies for the Senses packages which combine spa treatments and fitness classes for optimal benefits. For couples, Aria offers the Duet Room for side-by-side massages and a double soaking tub.
After two days of sampling from a smorgasbord of edible and divine spa treatments, I was ready for dessert —the great outdoors. So, I said goodbye to Aria and set off for an afternoon of snowshoeing in the winter wonderland of the Rocky Mountains.
The Aria Spa & Club and the Vail Cascade Resort in Vail, Colorado, has 317 rooms and suites and a private ski lift up Vail mountain. The 68,000-square-foot athletic club features cardio equipment; aerobic classes; tennis, squash and racquetball courts; basketball and volleyball; personal training; Pilates, yoga, and martial arts classes; indoor running track; heated outdoor pool; and guided hikes and snowshoe tours. In Aria Spa, treatments start at $55. Packages range from $235 to $585. Overnight Symphony Packages, which include spa treatments and hotel accommodations, start at $280 per night, depending on season. (888) 824-577, www.vailcascade.com