The purpose of this blog is to share my spa experiences while traveling from my home town of Asheville NC to Sedona AZ and back. I attended Massage school 15 years ago in Sedona and am often called back there to recharge. January 1st of this year I sold my home In Gorges State Park and committed to taking this journey with my two big dogs, in a Volvo C-30, across the nation to indulge in spa life and interview a few of the top spas that inspired me to open my own spa, Mantra Integrative Spa, in Cashiers NC.
The writing will be from three points of view: the consumer, the spa owner, and the spa business consultant/ solution finder. Below lists my research criteria, I am seeking out top grossing spas that have at least three of these traits:
Strives to be eco-friendly and promotes kindness to the earth, looking for recycling, off grid systems, rain water capture, no plastics, organic gardens, solar technology, house made beauty products, and architecture that blends with nature.
Properties that have healing waters such as hot springs or naturally treated pools.
A unique spa menu, especially ones that encourage indigenous treatments, house made skincare, and variety of body massages to choose from. I am a huge fan of (Ayurveda- an all natural form of medicine and mind/body healing system from India dating back 5000 years plus) and seek it out always. Also Asian themed spas always interest me.
I personally think too many spas get to big for their britches, and over corporate, so I'm intrigued more by 15 treatment rooms or less. I like to call 10 or less rooms boutique spas and I will get into my personal definition of Boutique Spa soon.
Spas that have accommodations to hold healing retreats and are set in beautiful natural environments .
Along the way I will pick the spa directors and owners minds to get their opinions on internal operations, whats systems work and what could be enhanced, how did they become successful and what are their words of wisdom for the industry.
OK so lets getting rolling on stop number one!
HOT SPRINGS ARKANSAS Buckstaff Bath House https://www.buckstaffbaths.com/
Since 1912, the only remaining, continuously operational, traditional, thermal bathing facility on Historic Bath House Row. They offer mineral baths, hot packs, sitz baths, steam cabinets, and Swedish massages for visitors. No reservations needed. This establishment is the only tradition thermal water bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park. Thermal mineral water comes directly from a collection of 47 protected springs flowing from Hot Springs Mountain. The water starts at a average temperature of 143° as it comes down through a unique pattern of rocks and flows to the historic Bathhouse Row.
What to expect in a traditional bathhouse ritual:
Sign in and secure any valuables in the security box provided.
Pay $71 for a traditional bathing package approx 90 mins long.
Upon entering the dressing room, a personal attendant will help you into a bathrobe and assist you with your bathing needs. You strip naked face the lockers and wait for the attendant to wrap you in a toga-style sheet.
You will be offered a cup of pure mineral water to drink to prepare your body for the 100-degree bath.
Your bath will last approximately 20 minutes, during which your personal attendant will check in with you to ensure your comfort.
Afterward, you may choose from a sitz bath to focus the therapeutic effects on your lower body, or the steam cabinet for all-over soothing. I actually was given both, the steam 5 mins and sit 10.
Hot packs may be administered to any particularly achy areas of your body, per your request.
A refreshing, cool water shower concludes the bathing experience then you may prepare for your full-body Swedish massage. See picture of shower, this thing is awesome looks medieval. The massage was great just a nice light Swedish flow.
When you are finished with your spa treatment, you will be escorted back to the dressing room to get dressed.
I was impressed because this is truly unique and has been happening in the same fashion for over a century! This is not necessarily luxury or for the extreme modest but more of a healing adventure and slight detox. My Bath attendant was Sara she was on it! I left feeling very relaxed, the kind of rejuvenation only healing mineral waters can bring. After I left I filled my gallon jugs with fresh hot springs water next door. There are a few filling stations in town. There is a hike that goes up behind the bathhouse row and you can see all the individual spring wells, very cool. After my walk with the dogs we drove the whole Hot Springs Mountain loop. It was truly a magical little town fabulous old architecture. It surprises me that more people are not flocking here!!
We stayed in a dog friendly Airbnb called, “Cabin on the Cove” on Lake Catherine, hosted by Megan who's great! It is about a 13 minute drive downtown. The cabin is flawlessly designed, super cozy and quite. It was worth going a little out of my way to have this experience. We drove a back highway out towards Oklahoma through the Ozark Mountain range, amazing country we live in!
Next Few Stops
Blue Desert Hale a Retreat and Learning Center in Tijeras New Mexico
Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe New Mexico
Ojo Caliente Resort and Spa Near Santa Fe and Toas