Take a tour of The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and you’ll hear about how Freelan Oscar Stanley – a hotelier and, more famously, inventor of the Yankee steam-powered car – originally came to Colorado on doctor’s orders. Stricken with tuberculosis, Stanley arrived here at the start of the 20th century with optimism that the fresh and dry air, high altitude and ample sunshine would heal him.
Stanley, who survived TB, was just one of many “lungers” who migrated to Colorado seeking a cure. Others who moved here believed the burbling hot springs had healing powers that could treat a variety of ailments. In all, state historians estimate as many as one-third of Colorado’s early settlers moved to the Centennial State for reasons associated with health.
“More came to Colorado for their health than for silver or gold,” says Tom Noel, a state historian who is known as “Dr. Colorado.”
That is to say wellness has deep roots in the state. Several historic destinations and landmarks, including The Broadmoor Hotel and Resort in Colorado Springs and the Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder, were founded as health retreats. Today, the many hot springs and spas, overall active lifestyle, crisp mountain air, and many days of sunshine (and the list goes on) continue to appeal to residents and visitors alike.
After an especially tough year and a half, Colorado’s wellness destinations are seeing an increase in people who want a restorative vacation, whether for a day or a week. Guests are seeking out “travel therapy,” says James Gibson, president of Garden of the Gods Resort and Club, which has a front row seat to the scenic Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs. The resort is home to the STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa, where Western and Eastern medical science coexist on its treatment menu.
“We are extraordinarily grateful for the power of place here at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club,” Gibson says. The sandstone rock formations that jut into the blue skies, he says, instantly evoke feelings of tranquility and ease.
From sudsy soaks at a beer spa in Denver to pampering “done right” at one of the original spas in the West, here are five ways to experience wellness travel in a state that helped invent it.
When this luxury resort opened in 1918, it had one of the first spas in the country with dedicated space for both men and women. At the time, guests were advised to dress in their rooms and take the service elevator directly to the baths in The Broadmoor’s “thermo hydrotherapeutic department” (aka spa). A half-hour massage cost a buck and visitors paid $1.50 for a Turkish bath and steam room visit, according to Krista Heinicke, public relations manager and resident historian.
The Broadmoor’s world-traveling founders, Spencer and Julie Penrose, wanted health and wellness to be a centerpiece experience at their resort, where European opulence meets rugged outdoor adventures. Today, guests can fill their itineraries with hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and stand-up paddleboarding excursions. Coinciding with the reopening of The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, new fitness options include hiking to the top of Pikes Peak and taking the train down, or taking the train to the top of Pikes Peak and biking down the twisting Pikes Peak Highway.
The resort’s renown spa offers traditional treatments such as deep tissue massages and facials as well as more inventive options. The Wine Down package ($445) incorporates grape seed extract and comes with a chardonnay sugar scrub, massage, manicure and pedicure.
The Broadmoor, 1 Lake Ave., Colorado Springs, 800-755-5011, broadmoor.com
After becoming intrigued by a beer spa in Poland, husband-and-wife duo Damien Zouaoui and Jessica French decided to open a similar concept in the United States. They zeroed in on Denver because of the city’s robust craft beer scene and Colorado’s health-consciousness creds.
Unlike the beer barrels and party-hardy Oktoberfest vibes found in some European beer spas, Denver’s Beer Spa has a wellness and relaxation focus. The hops and barley that bubble in the tubs are rich with nutrients and antioxidants, French says. Plus, hops act as a natural sedative, which can help solidify the relaxation vibes.
The tea bag that’s dropped into the beer baths contains herbal infusions and the mix rotates each month. In mid-summer it was Tulsi and its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and then eucalyptus, with its potential to relieve sore muscles and relax the nervous system.
Of course, to really get this right, arrive early for a beer (or imbibe as an après-spa experience). Local breweries take turns on the spa’s taps. You can book a 90-minute Standard Therapy Room for $159. There’s also an infrared sauna and zero gravity massage chairs.
The Beer Spa, 3004 N. Downing St., Denver, 720-810-1484, thebeerspa.com
Picture this: You’re floating in an almost weightless state, cocooned by body temperature warmth, while feeling the tranquil vibrations of peaceful sounds. A pinewood aroma adds to the multi-sensory experience. The Colorado Pine Escape and Float (60 minutes for $165) is among the many spa experiences offered at STRATA, which has a mission of fusing self-care with health care. The spa has a Haslauer Pure Sense Soft Pack bed (the only one in Colorado), which is imported from Austria. Healing touch energy therapy treatments are also sought-after at this wellness destination. The Aypa Energy Body Treatment ($170 for 60 minutes), for instance, uses organic plants and fruits from Peru, including a purple corn exfoliant and a crème made from organic quinoa. There are treatments in Ayurveda, acupuncture and naturopathy and a full fitness center – with view of those sandstone rocks and Pikes Peak beyond.
STRATA at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs, 3314 Mesa Road, Colorado Springs, 719-520-4988 (spa number), gardenofthegodsresort.com/wellness
Aspen Meadows Resort was founded in the 1950s by Walter Paepcke, a forefather of “the Aspen idea,” which is the trifecta of wellness that involves nurturing mind, body and spirit. The resort, designed by influential Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer, features a newly renovated health club with steam rooms, an outdoor heated saline lap pool, hot tub and more.
The 40-acre resort, cradled by mountains, practically doubles as a museum with galleries and rotating collections of artwork, including works by Bayer. Guests are increasingly interested in whole-body health, which is leading the resort to make changes such as a new in-room water program that moves away from plastic bottles that can leach chemicals, says Annie Pinkert, the director of marketing. Also, the resort is looking to partner with local organizations to extend yoga and meditation programs. “The future of wellness in a post-pandemic world is a renewed approach to a very strong idea from Aspen’s past: a balance of mind, body, and spirit,” she says.
Aspen Meadows Resort and the Aspen Institute, 845 Meadows Road, Aspen, 970-925-4240, aspenmeadows.com
Soak in milk and honey like Cleopatra. Walk a mosaic path of stones designed to massage your bare feet, hitting reflexology points. Tie a prayer to a wishing tree. These are just a sampling of the wellness experiences available to you at True Nature Healing Arts Kiva & Spa, a haven at the base of Mount Sopris, which towers over Carbondale. The wellness space began in a 500-square-foot studio on Carbondale’s Main Street in 2007 and has grown into a sprawling sanctuary that offers daily yoga and meditation classes, a peace garden, a luxury spa with Ayurvedic treatments, an organic café and a beautifully landscaped labyrinth enveloped by wooly thyme and chokecherry trees.
True Nature Healing Arts Kiva & Spa, 100 N. 3rd St. in Carbondale, 970-963-9900, truenaturehealingarts.com.
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‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort