The Spa at Squaw Creek
June 2, 2009
Think green when it comes to personal TLC time. The spa sits where Squaw Creek shimmers a ribbon of water in the sun, and its namesake Resort nestles beneath the gray granite snow-capped peaks of Squaw Valley USA.We are an intimate day spa, said Kathleen Hall, the Resort at Squaw Creeks spa manager. Hall greeted me after I scoped out the enticing outdoor heated swimming pool and whirlpools, both with unparalleled views of the verdant meadow and granite mountains, and then we entered the retail area of the Spa, chock full of 95 percent organic body products, makeup and adorable jammie sets. You find a different level, you take it down a notch when you come into the spa, Hall remarked.Hall, whose background includes an eight-year stint in a Seattle oncology unit, understands the importance of well-being. Weve gone away from pampering since 2001 [9/11], said Hall. Its about taking care of your soul and body, not about luxury, but about feeling the TLC.Clients feel the TLC immediately. A multi-million dollar renovation brought the natural world inside, where water features emulate the soft splash of Squaw Creek, curtains of aspen trunks with a river rock base filter sunlight. Take a moment and breath the aromatic scents as you walk along green slate floors and wood enhanced pathways to the locker room. Your robe and slippers await.I love the locker room. It is the first chance to slip out of your self and into something a bit more comfortable, and then nothing more than a towel as you step into a steamy sauna. Or choose the dry sauna, for those unlike myself, a year-round case of lizard.Leaving the lung enhancing, soul wetting sauna is not an easy task, but a hydrating facial awaits. Meet your therapist in the sanctuary room, complete with fern green cushy lounges, citrus water, tea, plump fresh fruits and a mountain view. No wide screen needed. The sounds of serenity are piped in, low easy guitar, pan flutes, piano a violin. The soft voice, the friendly face of aesthetician Liza Gammon appears. Ready? Oh girl, I am so ready.The treatment room is appointed with candles, wood accents painted mellow, deep yellow. I sink full length onto the heated, memory foam treatment bed. Gammo prefers facials. Skin care is a priority for me. She begins the hydrating facial with a Yonka gel cleanser, deliciously rich and smooth. After cleansing, she performs a skin analysis, checking for dehydration, pigment, sun damage and pore congestion. My 30-year inattention span to skin care makes me a winner; all three skin problems. Not to worry, after cleansing, Gammon applies hot steamy towels to open the pores and mists my parched face with a citrus-scented Yonka emulsion, through a pulverizer. It breaks down the water molecules to be readily absorbed by the skin. The structure of water is too large to pass through skin cells. Next comes a gentle exfoliation. The Yonka Gommage is a traditional French-style exfoliant, 95 percent organic. This is applied wet with the fingers, then sloughed off and lightly brushed to finish.Now for serious moisture, the Yonka rose and jasmine mask, stroked on warm, rich and smooth. Hints of sandalwood, a whiff of cleansing camphora and barley hydrate the skin. And then a steamy towel, wrapped to help the skin absorb. Each of Gammons touches tingles, releasing tension while her products and steamy towels soften the skin.Now Im ready for extractions, a cleansing of the pores. Let the professionals do this. You can bruise your skin, or push the gunk half way out then half way back into your skin, even breaking the cells and pushing the toxic stuff in deeply.I thought the pressure, close to hurting, would leave my thin skin broken and red. Not so. The area on and around my nose was merely blackhead free. But I get ahead of myself. After extraction, its time for the facial massage.More decadent Yonka product, a serum chosen appropriate to skin type. I, the reptile one, had a fruit modeling mask, soothing to renew the cells. Pineapple enzymes slightly exfoliate the dead skin cells. While the mask penetrates, Gammons fingers work expertly on the neck and shoulder in a blissful, gloriously creamy massage. The mask is gently peeled, a hot towel wrap and moisturizer, eye cream, sunscreen and a firming body/bust lotion finalizes the Hydrating Facial.My skin has not felt and looked this good since 1990. OK, 80. Home maintenance is just as important as getting a facial, said Gammon. She recommends nightly cleansing and moisturizing. Cells repair themselves just as your body does during sleep. I was a daily Buff Puff gal. Trying to scrub the wrinkles off. Gammon suggests exfoliating just a few times a week. Use a retinol (vitamin A) cream, or alpha hydroxy. The Spa at Squaw Creek offers a bevy of facials, including the luxurious 75 minute champagne truffle experience. Clients have full use of the facility, including the comprehensive fitness area, outdoor heated swimming pool, whirlpools and sanctuary when they indulge in 50 and 75-minute treatments. Of course, you could have moreLike the Mud Wrap and body massage. Rachelle Cattaneo, massage supervisor at the Spa at Squaw Creek, is a bundle of health and ready to wrap. She has 12 years of massage under her belt, and bikes 13 miles to the Resort from Tahoes West Shore several times a week. Our massage therapists are driven by health, explains Cattaneo. We are interested in our own health and that interest helps us help others.Part of a healthful lifestyle is being green. The Resort made a commitment in 2007 to institute eco-friendly updates every six months. Eco-friendly paper products are a welcome touch. The TARA spa products, 95 percent organic and paraffin free, are from the Bay Area, reducing the carbon footprint for representatives to train the staff on site. The Purifying Sedona Mud Wrap begins with an organic Body Purifier sea salt scrub to gently slough off dead skin cells and then rinsed with warm towels legs, arms, torso. Front and back. Candles flickering a light amber scent, eyelids closing. This is a preamble to an application of Sedona Mud, favored by Native Americans as body paint, which draws out toxins and is artfully applied in long, silky strokes. While the mud does its job in a heavenly cocoon, Cattaneo continues her work. My face, scalp and feet were massaged, loosening pressure points. Another state of bliss achieved. Then a rinse in-room, using Resort at Squaw Creek shampoo and conditioner previous to the yes, full body massage, with TARA Detoxifying Massage Oil and body lotion.This local woman spent time in Hawaii, where she specialized in Lomi Lomi massage, long broad strokes also using forearms and elbows. Her other specialty is neuro muscular therapy, extremely beneficial for mouse arm. You know. Your shoulder lives in your ear from long-term computer use. Her technique positively rolled my back muscles into palce a definite relief. The benefits of massage were felt. Stress eliminated, knots kneaded and energies fine tuned. Remember to drink water, lots of water, advised Cattaneo.Gliding out of the treatment room, I stopped by the sanctuary for just that, citrus infused water, in a paper cup. As you are leaving the Spa, stop in the retail shop. Its like taking the spa home, said Hall. You remember your time at the spa, every time you smell the scent.