By Alison Roth and Kristin Miller | Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Denver
We test-drove local spas to find the top facilities, treatments and amenities. Our bodies were exfoliated, massaged, hydrated and polished, so that we could bring you our guide to the city’s top spas. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Denver
1111 14th St., Denver, CO 80202
303.389.3000 | fourseasons.com/denver/spa
At more than 9,000-square-feet, The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Denver is one of the largest around. It is also one of the most extensive spas, with 10 treatment rooms including two couples suites; one with an oversized rain shower, and another with a SANIJET Pipeless Spa Bath. Entering the spa removed me from my busy mindset and placed me in a calm, zen-like state. I took the elevator to the spa level and walked past guests enjoying the fitness center and sundeck. The entrance to the spa greeted me with a gorgeous Sierra Gold Peruvian travertine floor and a welcoming staff member. She brought me to the relaxation lounge, and I was impressed by the expansive and soothing whirlpool and steam room area ornamented with aqua, silver and gold glass mosaic tiles. This is the kind of place where just touring the facilities has a calming effect. There are bowls of fresh fruit for the taking, chilled towels for cooling off and fruit-infused ice water available throughout the lounge. With cool tones and natural accents, this lounge relaxed me within minutes, but I enjoyed another 20. I changed into my robe and spent some quiet time in the eucalyptus-scented steam room, then I was led to the Quartz room for my treatment. Each of the 10 treatment rooms is named after a gemstone that can be mined in Colorado. Going along with the gemstone theme, I prepared myself for a 90-minute Balancing Gemstone massage and body treatment. My therapist utilized organic aromas to
take me on a scent journey. A succession of four different herb-infused oils—each with its own ability to calm and rejuvenate—gave me a full-body, energy-balancing massage that naturally oxygenated muscle tissue. One of the scents was earthy and natural; another was lightly floral. I found this to be the most scent-filled treatment that I experienced while testing these spas, and I definitely understand why it’s one of the best that The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Denver offers. Ninety minutes is a beautifully long time for a massage, and I appreciated the warm, scented, fabric mask that was placed over my eyes so I could fully enjoy the treatment. The Balancing Gemstone massage concluded with warmed gemstones being massaged over different parts of my body to soothingly ground me. The scents weren’t too overpowering throughout the treatment, and I left feeling extremely relaxed yet energized. One thing I appreciated about The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Denver is the extensive amenities that helped me face the real world again after my treatment. In the lounge area, there was everything I needed to get my hair, makeup and clothes back in working order. I appreciated that I was able to leave the spa feeling completely relaxed yet fully presentable.
The Spa at The Inverness
200 Inverness Dr. West
Englewood, CO 80112
303.397.7808 | invernessspa.com
While many guests of The Inverness Hotel in Englewood may be there for work-related conferences, we locals know the secret work escape that exists below the bustling hotel lobby. The 4,500-square-foot Spa at The Inverness invites visitors to step out of the business world of the Denver Tech Center and into a calming oasis of rich colors, natural light and ample stonework inspired by the nearby Rocky Mountains. Having experienced a wonderful facial on my last visit (the Seawater Facial), I decided my feet and hands needed a little pampering this time around with a Spa Deluxe Manicure and Spa Deluxe Pedicure. My therapist, Penny, began by offering me a sniff of six different aromas from which to choose from for my “scent”-sory journey. The Spa recently began working with Denver-based ZENTS and incorporates many of their aromatherapy products into services. Much like the effect that various aromatic teas have on the body, the six aromas all offer a distinct purpose—Earth (strengthening and grounding); Fresh (soothing and cleansing); Mandarin (warming and invigorating); Oolong (balancing and energizing); Sun (comforting and calming) and Ore (euphoric and stimulating). Feeling a little low on energy, I chose the Ore aroma—a lovely blend of clove, bay laurel, orris, violet and jasmine. When you’re busy running around every day (who isn’t?), it’s easy to forget that something as simple as a hot foot soak can be so relaxing. As my weary feet soaked into suppleness, Penny applied an Ore-scented lotion to my arms so that I could breathe in its aroma. Penny also informed me that The Spa at The Inverness is the only spa in South Denver to provide pipeless pedicure foot basins—a system that protects guests from exposure to dangerous black mold and other bacteria that can build up in pedi-basin pipes—a nasty visual, but certainly good information to be aware of. Next, my feet and legs were exfoliated, dried and pampered with lotion and a leg and foot massage. My feet were placed into heated paraffin wax booties which left my skin soft and silky. To finish, my toes were topped with a summery pink shade. While the polish dried, the manicure began with an invigorating exfoliation scrub followed by lotion application and massage—it always amazes me how much tension can build up in one’s hands and Penny wasn’t shy about working out the knots—it felt amazing! Again, my hands relished resting in Paraffin wax mitts before a fingernail polish application of a soft, ballet-slipper pink color. My time at The Spa at The Inverness concluded with 30 wonderfully quiet minutes in the Relaxation Suite with a cup of herbal tea and the sound of a trickling water fountain. Adjacent to the suite is a delightful outdoor patio equipped with a hot tub and stone fireplace—an inviting natural environment for continued peace and relaxation. Additionally guests are welcome to enjoy the spa’s indoor pool, hot tub, steam room and fitness center. Since many of the region’s most popular spas are concentrated downtown, it may be easy to overlook this south Denver resort and the gem of a spa that awaits inside. Don’t make that mistake; book your next spa escape here, and you’ll see why it makes our list of favorites.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver
1881 Curtis St.
Denver, CO 80202
303.312.3830 | ritzcarlton.com/denver
In a hurried state, I pulled my vehicle up to the Ritz-Carlton, Denver and was swiftly greeted by a pleasant valet attendant. My frenzied approach probably made it quite obvious that I was arriving at the posh downtown hotel for one purpose and one purpose only—a much needed spa visit. Another friendly attendant kindly ushered me into the hotel and up the elevator to the 3rd floor Spa Level, where I would ultimately find my solace. The Ritz-Carlton Spa is indeed a serene environment—a calming 6,800-square-foot escape from the bustling traffic below. Upon checking in for my appointment, which was scheduled to be a 75-minute Mile High Malt Scrub & Microbrew Massage, I informed the staff that I was roughly 12 weeks pregnant, which I assumed might require some slight adjustments in positioning during my treatment. As it turns out, some adjustments were certainly needed and not just slight. My therapist, Jessica, greeted me in the ladies lounge area and explained that the treatment I was originally scheduled for would not be the most ideal for an expecting mother. This was because, unbeknownst to me, the treatment incorporates a beer tasting as well as a hops-infused exfoliating scrub, which will get absorbed into the skin. In light of this, we decided to switch my treatment to a prenatal massage instead. While this last-minute switch-up might have sent some spas scrambling (or left them annoyed), the professional Ritz-Carlton Spa staff’s ability to quickly adjust and easily adapt to my needs was impressive. The prenatal massage began with me lying face down on a pillow with a cut-out area to accommodate a growing belly. Lying on the pillow, enveloped in warmed sheets, was relaxing as the positioning took all pressure off of my lower back. I’ve had prenatal massages in the past and have often left feeling disappointed by the lack of pressure I received during the massage. Knowing that certain precautions must be taken when working on a pregnant woman, I realize that some pressure points need to be avoided, but with knotted shoulders and tightness in my back, I was really hoping Jessica would spare me an overly ginger touch and really work the tension out. I communicated this desire and I am glad that I did. Ratherthan a soft sweeping massage, the treatment turned out to be 80 minutes of heavenly bliss with all the right spots being expertly kneaded and un-knotted.
Following my massage, I spent some gloriously undisturbed time unwinding further in the spa’s relaxation lounge. Curled up on a soft chaise lounge in a comfortable robe, under a cozy chenille blanket, I tuned everything out of my mind except for the trance-like new age music filling the room. Additionally, spa-goers may also choose to relax in the whirlpool or steam room—separate men’s and ladies’ lounges are equipped with both. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Next time (most likely six months from now) I’ll plan on making an entire day of it and will be sure to book the Malt Scrub as it is one of the Spa’s signature treatments and sounds truly unique.
The Spa at The Brown Palace
321 17th St., Denver, CO 80202
303.312.8940 | brownpalacespa.com
A national treasure in downtown Denver, The Brown Palace is synonymous with time-honored elegance. On this particular day, I was seeking a unique, historic spa experience, and I knew this was the place to find it. As I walked through the atrium lobby—where The Brown Palace holds their renowned afternoon teas—I saw the 5,200-square-foot, two-story spa entrance to the left. The Spa at The Brown Palace sits in what was formerly the 100-year-old grand fireplace. I felt like royalty as I walked through this original one-story tall mantle made entirely of white onyx. The facility features six massage and skin treatment rooms, including a couples VIP suite, aromatherapy steam rooms, men’s and women’s relaxation areas and a separate hair and nail salon. Don’t expect your typical contemporary spa; The Spa at The Brown Palace is richly decorated with plush furnishings, intricate stonework and gold and burgundy draping. One thing I appreciate is the way the spa has incorporated some of the unusual aspects of the hotel. The hotel’s original artesian well is located 720 feet beneath the lobby floor and still provides its healing water for all the spa treatments, not to mention every faucet in the hotel. The Brown Palace also utilizes the honeybee hives located on their rooftop. The resident beekeeper collects the honey, which The Brown Palace uses at its restaurants and in their specialized spa treatments and products. The honey is delicious to consume, but also has antioxidant properties that hydrate and benefit skin. As I walked through the spa lobby, I admired the best-selling honey lavender soap and glass jars of organic Brown Palace honey available for purchase. I had been told to arrive 20 to 30 minutes early so I could fully enjoy the relaxation lounge and steam room, and I am glad I did! Just relaxing in the lounge was deeply calming. There was soft music playing; healthy snacks and beverages to enjoy; and the steam room was a peaceful refuge from the dry Colorado climate.
In accordance with The Brown Palace’s unique amenities, I was scheduled to experience the Queen Bee Honey Scrub, which involves a full-body scrub with The Spa’s organic honey and house-made brown sugar, then a massage with natural oils. I hadn’t experienced a scrub before, so I was curious about the level of relaxation it would provide compared to a massage. With dim lights and calm music softly playing, it was easy to relax in the elegantly tiled treatment room. The scrub was invigorating and the mixture of honey and brown sugar smelled divine. The therapist didn’t scrub too roughly, and washing it off made my skin feel smooth and rejuvenated. The reatment would not have been complete without the oil application after the scrub. The therapist massaged oils into my skin to hydrate and promote cell renewal. I left feeling nourished, hydrated and as relaxed as I would have felt after a typical massage. My skin retained the oils and I felt significantly softer and smoother long after my time at The Spa at The Brown Palace came to an end. If you want a well-balanced combination of light massage and body scrub, this is it! The Spa at The Brown Palace is a great place to steep your senses in history and relaxation. The Queen Bee Honey Scrub I experienced is a spa favorite. Other treatments that are regularly requested are the Artesian Plunge, Detoxifying Soak and Relaxing Plunge; they utilize the natural spring water drawn from the artesian well. These are specialties and, like most other Brown Palace amenities, you won’t find them anywhere else.
The Oxford Club Spa & Salon
1616 17th St., Denver, CO 80202
303.628.5435 | oxfordclubspa.com
If you’re searching for a “boutique” spa experience, look no further than The Oxford Club Spa & Salon, conveniently attached to The Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver. Located steps from Union Station, this historic Victorian building has housed The Oxford Club Spa & Salon for more than 22 years. This was the first spa and salon to open in Denver, so I was curious to see how this was reflected in the décor, treatments and amenities. After my day at The Oxford Club Spa & Salon I was pleased to find that it is neither old-fashioned nor outdated. When I stepped through the doors of the spa, I was greeted by the lovely aroma of scented candles and a friendly staff member who acquainted me with the spa and locker room facilities. The spa is connected to the fitness center, which includes a weight room, cardio area and daily fitness classes. Guests of the spa can enjoy these complimentary amenities, as well as the locker rooms’ steam rooms and post-spa amenities. As light streamed through the windows into the historic brick and wood fitness center, I considered sticking around for a yoga class after my treatment, just to extend my stay. My mood lifted as I entered the spa and salon area. All of their treatment rooms are decorated according to specific moods. There is a treatment room that promotes energy through the wall treatments, candles, artwork and furnishings. There are other treatment rooms that promote other much-needed states of mind, such as peace and inner calm. The lounge area, situated between the spa and salon, offers a quiet place to sip tea and listen to soothing music before or after a treatment. The most-requested signature treatment at The Oxford Club Spa & Salon is the Almond Joy Experience. This is 70 minutes of sweetness and relaxation, so I naturally opted for it. First I was given a full-body coconut scrub, which sloughed off dead skin cells, opened pores and rejuvenated the healthier layers of skin underneath. The scent transported me to a tropical island and I was disappointed to return for my chocolate mousse masque wrap, until the therapist started applying it. Chocolate generates endorphins and draws impurities from skin, and I deeply enjoyed the uplifting yet soothing time I spent quietly wrapped in chocolate and a thermal blanket. After a steamy shower, I returned to my treatment room for the final stage of the Almond Joy Experience. My therapist gave me a warm almond oil massage that nourished my skin and eased any tension I had left in my muscles. I left the room feeling sweetly smooth and rejuvenated, without suffering the normal sugar-overload that a chocolate binge would’ve caused. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, try the Signature Stone Massage Experience or the Signature Luxury Facial; both involve a rose petal bath in one of the gorgeous claw-foot tubs. One thing that is unique to The Oxford Club Spa & Salon is its rich history. Ask a staff member about some of the ghostly” stories that have occurred, and you’ll look at the spa in a whole new light!
If you’re craving a classy spa with a small-town feel, check out Ciao Bella Day Spa. Located in the historic Lilly building in downtown Littleton, they offer a simple menu of classic favorites along with fun wraps and facials like the Ultimate Clarity Facial that takes your skin on a five-step cleansing journey.
Live in South Denver? Plan a visit to Copperfalls—a full-service spa and salon located in Castle Rock’s charming downtown district. In addition to offering a nice variety of customized massages, body treatments and salon services utilizing Aveda products, this peaceful spa also offers some fabulous multiple-hour spa packages. For head-to-toe indulgence, try the three-and-a-half hour Balance Package featuring an Elemental Nature Facial, an Elemental Nature Massage, a Foot Relieving Pedicure and spa lunch. Talk about an ideal way to spend a day!
New to the Spa
If you haven’t “spa-ed” before, the unexpected things you encounter may become roadblocks to relaxation. Here are some basic guidelines so you’ll know what to expect:
Be on time or early! Spas may have difficulty pushing your appointment back if you’re running late. Most facilities have steam rooms, hydrotherapy tubs and showers available for use before treatments. So make use of the amenities and arrive at a good time.
Turn your cell phones off. Many spas prohibit the use of cell phones in their facilities. Speak quietly and silence your phone so everyone can relax to the fullest.
Speak up about your preferences. Spas should be willing to try to accommodate your request for either a male or female therapist. If you’re sensitive about spa-ing sans clothes, therapists should understand your choice to wear undergarments or a swimsuit, and they’ll do their best to work around it.
Tip 15 to 20 percent. A tip should be left at the reception desk, and they’ll be able to pass it along to your therapist. Many spas only allow cash tips; check before you go.
Leave your pets and valuables at home. Having either at the spa is distracting and risky.
If massages are your thing, look no further. Both of these businesses specialize in massage services and feature fun and relaxing add-ons.
Located in Lodo, Elixir is a place where you can walk in, day or night, and get the massage fix you’re craving. They offer a variety of memberships because they believe that regular massages greatly enhance the mind, body and spirit. You can add special touches like dry brushing, body scrubs and reflexology. elixirinlodo.com
With a variety of locations around Denver, Massage Envy has a menu of signature massages that never grow old. You can choose add-ons such as aromatherapy and deep muscle therapy. They also offer the membership option, so you can plan regular visits to satisfy your massage addiction. massageenvy.com
Heading out of town? There’s a spa for that! Here are three more never-fail spas not to be missed.
South: The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Spa at The Broadmoor has 35 treatment rooms, four wet rooms, an indoor pool, outdoor lap pool, whirlpool, salon, aromatherapy room, steam room, fitness center and fireplace lounges. Try their signature Wine Down package, which includes a chardonnay sugar scrub, massage with wine therapy oil, a spa manicure and signature pedicure. broadmoor.com
North: The Spa at St Julien, in Boulder, is a 10,000-square-foot facility that has signature treatments based on Colorado’s native plants and elements. This spa is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the body. The décor is natural and earth-toned, just like the nearby Foothills. Try the Mountain Mojito service. They’ll use fresh mint from St Julien’s garden and organic sugar to give you a full-body scrub, followed by an aromatherapy massage using mint essential oils. Then you can relax in the lounge and enjoy a complimentary mojito. stjulien.com/spa
Foothills: Nestled in a mountain meadow just 45 minutes from Denver, Tallgrass Aveda Spa & Salon has a complete menu of spa services along with a gorgeous indoor/outdoor environment and a commitment to “green” products and services. One of their most popular services is “The Quencher,” which is the perfect blend of hydrating and moisturizing services including an antioxidant facial, mocha body scrub, damage remedy hair and scalp renewal and a paraffin hand dip. tallgrassspa.com