I used to think mountain towns were all about skiing or biking, until I dedicated a weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating at a spa and wellness center in Vail, Colorado. Here’s how yoga, facial treatments and specialty massages helped make my mountain getaway weekend one to remember.
After living in the Colorado mountain town of Vail for nearly a decade, I thought I knew every side of this resort destination. Of course, skiing and snowboarding are the activities of choice in the winter months. In the summer, it’s about biking, hiking and river sports. And throughout the year, good food, upscale shopping and live music abound.
But I never realized what a relaxing destination Vail could be until a friend invited me to join her for a spa and yoga weekend. While I was initially skeptical, by the end of the weekend, I left feeling as refreshed and healthy as if I’d spent several days actively exploring the outdoors!
Yoga for Recovery
My days began with morning yoga classes. The sessions were particularly relaxing because the instructor focused on recovery — that is, being gentle to tight limbs, stretching overused muscles in opposing directions and using equipment like blocks, bean bags and towel rolls to aid in tough poses. Plus, the entire practice was accompanied by live music from a local guitarist. It’s tough to feel stressed when peaceful melodies are wafting into your ears for an hour!
As someone who loves to ski and bike hard, I was unaccustomed to the slow, gentle pace. But I also could feel certain muscles groaning and resisting after hours spent carving the slopes, pedaling a bike and hiking up mountains. From the very first down dog, my head began to feel clearer and my muscles looser. Afterward, I felt so relaxed that I considered making stretching and yoga regular parts of my daily routine.
Massage for Acclimatization
After yoga, I headed to a high-altitude recovery massage. I changed into a fluffy, white robe, and then sipped herbal tea and munched on a raw granola bar while I waited for my therapist.
Because of Vail’s altitude of 8,250 feet, visitors from lower altitudes can experience symptoms ranging from headaches to nausea and fatigue. My massage would help combat some of those pesky symptoms, my therapist explained. After chatting with me about injuries and problem spots, she got to work.
The massage started at my feet; and while I initially thought it unconventional, the touching on pressure spots to relieve tension immediately relaxed my whole body. Then the therapist moved on to tight muscles elsewhere, using essential oils and warm compresses to moisturize my dry skin. We finished with an invigorating tonic that was supposed to encourage cell hydration and oxygenation.
While I was not experiencing altitude sickness at the time, I’ve known so many visitors to the mountains who have trouble their first few days — and I could certainly see how this treatment could help ease the transition to a higher elevation.
Facials for Mountain Skin
After yoga practice the next morning, I headed back to the spa for a facial. My skincare specialist explained that Colorado’s dry mountain air — and UV exposure from the intense sun — can prematurely age skin. The facial I chose would combat some of that damage, using products containing vitamin C, clay and a peptide cream. This made sense to me, but I was still apprehensive about getting a facial, thanks to a particularly painful one I got in college.
However, my fears quickly fell by the wayside once the treatment began. I was surprised to find the experience gentle and relaxing. I even suspected that the facial improved some dry spots I’d been battling under my eyes.
As the weekend came to a close, my friend happily told me, “I feel like I’m glowing — and that’s a good thing!” I had to agree. It was nice to see Vail’s softer side, and I was proud to discover that my town had so much to offer both outdoors and in. Next time I need some R&R, I’ll know where to go!
Complement a healthy spa experience with healthy food: Check out the Green Elephant Juicery in nearby Avon, which offers delicious cold-pressed juice, refreshing smoothies and a number of light lunch options.
Where to Stay: