Montana spas for that romantic vacation
Folks view Montana as a place with wide-open spaces, fresh air, and a slower pace of living.
Celebrities buy cabins and ranches here to find respite from the population and paparazzi of their work lives.
But even here, in the last best place, we push ourselves hard: We drive fast, combine full-time jobs with farming, we volunteer for worthy causes, and, of course we must fit in the customary hunting, fishing, skiing, boating, and camping throughout the year as well.
Our kids even have packed schedules - wedging in chores, homework, sports, music lessons, etc. around full days of school. We Montanans aren't exactly chewing on a piece of hay while rocking idly in a chair on the front porch and watching the tumbleweeds blow by. To find relief from modern-day stress, more and more Montanans are pampering themselves with special treatments like hot stone massage, herbal body wraps, paraffin foot treatments, or full-body exfoliation.
Spas are a rejuvenating pit stop on the road of life - a place where tension and toxins can be exorcised, restoring energy and peace of mind. Here's a look at three Montana day spas that each have their own unique ways of helping Montanans smooth out the rough edges of life.
MOONLIGHT SPA/Moonlight Basin, Big Sky
The spa offers a multitude of services including workout facilities, body care products, therapeutic treatments, steam rooms, and outdoor hot and cold pools looking out onto the spectacular mountain basin. The therapies are numerous - body wraps, scrubs, massages, facials, and waxing.
I decided to try a family approach to stress relief, and brought my husband and daughter to Moonlight Spa so we could collectively experience its benefits. I chose the spa's signature Rocky Mountain hot stone massage for myself, and the children's massage for my daughter.
My husband chose to use the eucalyptus steam bath and the outdoor hot pool. The spa has a couple's room, so my daughter and I were able to have our massages simultaneously, while my husband relaxed on his own. We got ourselves tucked in under the comfy flannel linens, and our respective therapists entered. Sheree gave my daughter her first ever table massage. She was caring and competent, often checking in with my daughter as to how she was doing - talking her through different techniques. After half an hour, the massage ended with a honey foot scrub, which made my nine-year-old feel "just like a princess," she said.
The Rocky Mountain hot stone massage is not to be missed. Smooth, round lava rocks are heated and placed on towels on different parts of the body. The therapist then takes a stone in hand and works it over bare skin. It feels as if the stone is part of the hand of the user.
The moving and replacing of stones is seamless - almost a sleight of hand. The purpose of the hot stones is to radiate heat into the muscles to soften tissue and release toxins. Hot stones have been used in Native American and Buddhist healing rituals for a long time, spa director Lee Ann Kershaw explained during my treatment. She learned how to use the stones in the last two years, and has trained all therapists at Moonlight Spa in the hot stone discipline as well.
Lee Ann has 13 years of experience in massage, and has been with the spa since its inception three years ago. An avid outdoorswoman, Lee Ann points out the benefits of hot stone massage after a day of skiing or strenuous hiking. As she finished up the treatment, she invited me to cozy up in The Sanctuary for a while to relax. "We encourage clients to take their time before and after a treatment, and not to feel that they have to rush." The Sanctuary is comfortably appointed with couches, chairs, magazines, and a fireplace.
There is herbal tea, and spring water to enjoy while just sitting quietly - something I rarely take the time to do. I then joined my husband poolside to marvel at the view and take in some fall sunshine. Hand, foot and facial treatments are another very popular attraction at day spas.
REMEDIES DAY SPA/Whitefish
In Montana's dry, and sometimes, harsh conditions, it can be very challenging to keep skin from becoming parched, especially in winter. Along with many of the standard spa treatments, Remedies day spa in Whitefish specializes in The Kitchen Fassage, Manissage, and Pedissage.
These treatments are both stress relieving and aesthetic. "I don't like putting anything on your body that you wouldn't put in your body," declares Remedies owner Jennifer Krack. She opened Remedies in Whitefish just three years ago, in a turn-of-the-century house just outside of downtown. The house has a casual, Victorian feel - very pretty, but relaxing and inviting. Soft music fills the background, and homemade cookies are on the kitchen table for clients to snack on.
Jennifer likes Remedies to be a place where clients feel at home to "visit with their girlfriends, and chat... be a part of the process." This is the sentiment behind The Kitchen Fassage - Remedies' version of a facial, done right at the kitchen table, using natural ingredients from the Remedies kitchen. We sat at the kitchen table before a selection of dried herbs, natural abrasives like cornmeal, heavy cream and essential oils. With Jennifer's guidance, we made a concoction of our choice of these ingredients and proceeded to massage it into our skin.
We then followed with herbal toner, essential oil and herb steam, egg and honey mask, and finally, homemade mayonnaise moisturizer. We mixed and applied everything ourselves, while Jennifer explained what the ingredients do to help our skin, which different ingredients are specific for individual skin-type needs, and how the Fassage can be modified to do at home, either with Remedies products, or what we may have on hand. Kitchen Fassage was a great learning experience and my skin felt fantastic for days. Manissage and Pedissage are two more treatments coined by Remedies.
Variations on manicure and pedicure, Manissage and Pedissage incorporate massage, moisture treatments, exfoliation, and nail polish application into one treatment that leaves the hands and feet looking and feeling fabulous. Remedies has many other treatments available, such as hot stone massage, body wraps, and scrubs- all done with Remedies trademark natural ingredients formulated in the kitchen. There are four other Remedies locations to chose from as you travel around Montana: East Glacier, West Glacier, Kandahar Lodge on Big Mountain and the new Morning Eagle complex in Big Mountain Village. Go to www.remediesdayspa.com to get treatment descriptions, and contact information.
Transformations Montana Day Spa/Missoula
Since an increasing number of men are discovering the healing effects of spa treatments, Transformations Montana Day Spa and Wellness Center in Missoula has a line of treatments designed just for men. Transformations serves men and women with salon services, spa treatments, and a wide array of men's and women's head-to-products.
They developed male-specific services so they don't just have to get a massage to treat themselves well. "At first they may be a little uncomfortable [getting services that have been traditionally for women], but they get out the chair feeling great," says Kara McMahon, Transformations spa director. Men may often think of getting such treatments as manicures or facials as being strictly female domain - never realizing what they're missing. Kara points out that men enjoy these kinds of treatments just as much as women when they give them a chance. Spending a few hours just on themselves is a rare commodity that can have great stress-relieving benefits for men. Men's services at Transformations range from The Relaxed Man: Steam or sauna, an hour of massage, an hour long facial, and haircut all the way up to The Works for Men: A one hour massage, facial, manicure and pedicure. Another fun and unique service for men is Transformation's Doghouse Insurance - $50 or $100 gift certificates sent to a "significant other" monthly - a kind of over-all coverage for any special occasion that may arise each month. Transformations is a new, state-of-the-art facility, emphasizing holistic wellness. They even brought in a Feng Shui consultant to assure the correct arrangement of the space for optimal energy flow. The spa is equipped with a full-service salon, relaxation room, locker rooms, and a coffee and juice bar. An extra special accoutrement is the Transformations Suite for Two - a popular nook for couples to soak in a hot-tub accompanied by complimentary fruit and cheese, and follow it up with a ninety-minute Transformation signature massage. You can visit Transformations at www.transformations-mt.com to check out the full-range of offerings for men and women.
Chico Hot Springs/Livingston
Set near the Yellowstone River, beneath the Absaroka Mountains, the Chico Day Spa is certainly among the most unique day spas in the West. Inside a warmly lit tipi on the spa grounds you can let nature wrap itself around you while experiencing the finest in spa therapies.
Over the past two summers, the facilities at Chico Hot Springs have expanded to handle a growing clientele who find it the perfect compliment to a soak at the well-known springs. Located on a forested knoll adjacent to the Chico Hot Springs Resort in the Paradise Valley near Livingston, the Chico Day Spa offers a full range of therapeutic and beauty services.
Chico Day Spa specializes in the use of only fully organic products, from shampoos to any and all herbs and wraps included in their various therapies. They offer massage sessions ranging from a half hour all the way up to the 100-minute "Mammoth Massage," named for Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.
A unique part of a Chico massage is the application of hand-picked Yellowstone River rocks, which are warmed, then combined with warm oils to relieve tight, sore muscles. Various skin treatments at the Spa include the use of herbs and oils to release tension from the body, release toxins naturally, and boost lymphatic flow.
Choices such as clove, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, lemon, mandarin, bergamot, and tangerine assure you of an aromatic, soothing skin treatment. Among the more popular therapies at the Chico Spa are the Herbal Wrap and Moor Mud Wrap, both of which are full-body.
The herbal wrap begins with a warm shower and shampoo in the spa's exquisite tiled grotto shower. The client is then wrapped in heated, herb-soaked linens and then again in luxurious towels and robes to form a soothing cocoon as they relax on a therapy table in the surrounded by candles and soft music. The mud treatments center around a warm, full-body cocoon, in this case formed by special Moor Mud products that exfoliate and circulate for baby-soft skin.
A more invigorating skin treatment, typically applied to the feet, the Citrus Salt Glow begins with a scrub of Dead Sea Mineral Salts to revitalize the skin layers and finishes with a gentle massage of rich, essential oil combined with unrefined jojoba. Chico Day Spa offers full manicure and or pedicures as well. This starts off with a soothing massage to revive tired hands or feet, followed by an exfoliation and cuticle treatment before a finish of French polish to enhance your nails' natural beauty.
Warm paraffin dip treatments for hands or feet are also available. Time for this treatment is typically 45 minutes. Chico's Garden Facial is an inspiring blend of whole herb, essential oils, and natural clays that cleanse, soften, and refresh the skin.
This is a great addition to any of the other treatments and afterward you can have your makeup professionally refreshed for the evening. The Chico Day Spa offers packages that will pamper and revitalize your tired body and soul.