The path to relaxation is lined with spas that show off the best of the Northwest’s sea, mountains, forest, and city.
Suncadia Resort: where massages end with Cascade sunsets.
IMAGE: COURTESY SUNCADIA RESORT
Glade Spring Spa
East of the Cascades, on a sprawling golf and resort property outside Cle Elum, the relaxation rooms at Suncadia Resort’s Glade Spring Spa open up to mineral bath pools, wood-cabin saunas, fire pits, and a burbling stream under the open sky. The mini wonderlands, here where the air is drier than it is by the sea, are open to day pass holders midweek. Several therapies come with sparkling wine; the relaxation room includes giant beanbags that put college dorm furniture to shame.
Treatments turn the luxury dial higher, applying mud to minimize cellulite and detoxify or Italian facial products that plump up the skin. Classic massages include indulgent foot and scalp treatments, and a rain room shower rinses the remains of messy wraps and scrubs; it’s usually the closest thing to rain one sees in the sunny retreat.
Alderbrook Resort and Spa
In the Evergreen State, alder trees stick out; they’re not evergreen, for one, they’re deciduous, shedding their delicate leaves every year. They grow where it’s cool and wet, like the skinny Hood Canal south of Bremerton, where Alderbrook Resort sits on the canal’s southern elbow. Larger than the string of modest waterfront homes that line the canal shore, the hotel and fine-dining restaurant are still dwarfed by the trees that crowd the lowlands. Enclosed in a glass greenhouse, a full-size swimming pool faces the rocky beach and, on clear days, the towering Olympic Mountains.
Inside the spa, you can still smell the forest. The signature massage begins with aromatherapy, the therapist working woodland oils into the skin. The entire spa menu, in fact, salutes the outdoors, from a volcanic pumice scrub to a body wrap of marine mud and Dead Sea salts, and therapists can supplement any treatment with herbaceous arnica, or wolfsbane, to ease muscle soreness. An ache that arises, perhaps, from exploring the peninsula’s woodsy trails—from evergreens to sometimes-greens.
The Spa at Semiahmoo
The Semiahmoo Spit, nearly a mile long and lined with softball-size rocks, is a bony finger of Whatcom County that extends through a Salish Sea bay and almost touches Canada. Massage therapists walk the beach, training their gaze on the shoreline, seeking stones to use in the resort’s treatments. Each practitioner has a favorite; one looks for bicycle seat–shaped rocks to fit the small of a client’s back.
The salty sea finds its way inside the Semiahmoo Resort spa at every turn, including a skin care line made from Pacific Northwest seaweed. The ocean greenery purportedly fights inflammation and firms up skin with its spread of amino acids and beta-carotene. The spa’s most popular combination, a seaweed body exfoliation and detoxifying algae wrap—a grainy scrub followed by a muddy layer—leaves one looking like they’ve bathed in a tub of pesto, but it noticeably softens the skin. A hot stone massage makes an ideal finale, the rocks radiating heat when placed on the back or rubbed along limbs. The ocean does most of the hard work, smoothing the stone in its waves, but the therapists provide the final touch.
Sorry dudes: It’s ladies only in Olympus Spa’s pink Himalayan salt room.
IMAGE: COURTESY OLYMPUS SPA
The success of the strip-mall spa can be measured by how quickly one can forget that it shares a parking lot with a Chuck E. Cheese’s. And by that measure, Olympus Spa in Lynnwood is sensational. Inside the nondescript building—spas don’t do windows—is a buzzing women’s-only Korean-style retreat. Rules are strict; robes are worn in the warm infrared rooms lined with Himalayan salt or jade, and everyone’s naked in the soaking pools and saunas. Clients wear shower caps at all times. Everyone looks like a Q-tip.
Though spa goers can simply soak and douse themselves with mugwort (known as a women’s herbal remedy), most add a massage or Korean scrub. Other treatments incorporate mung beans, red ginseng, and yam. But unlike most Western spas, the menu isn’t limited to what’s slathered on the face and body; the in-house cafe dishes warm stone bowls of bibimbap, spicy Korean tacos, and green tea smoothies.
3/20/2017 at 8:00am Published in the April 2017 issue of Seattle Met 40322