Valentine’s Day retreat: Intimate. Sweet. Sugar Bowl Lodge and Summit Spa
DONNER SUMMIT andamp;#8212; In 1938, Walt Disney chose a spot to place the first California chair lift. A place where Pacific storms slam into the Sierra Nevada, dumping 500 inches average annual snowfall. In 1939, that place was called Sugar Bowl. Today, its mid-mountain lodge retains the charm of a bygone era combined with upscale yet intimate amenities. Walk into the Gondola building, and wood planks waft a nostalgic aroma. The old-style gondola is The Lodge’s only winter access, roadside on Old Highway 40, just east of Donner Summit. Sugar Bowl employees, smiling and attentive are also reminiscent of the resort’s ongoing commitment to guest service. Each employee attends Plus One Service training. andamp;#8220;Styling and smilingandamp;#8221; is the company motto. The smiles are infectious, the Sierra splendor stupendous, as you swing out and away in the gondola, riding eye level with pines and snow-covered peaks.The Lodge, built in 1939, is a Tyrolian-style building, convenient for ski in/ski out access. Within, find a cozy lounge painted glossy beige, overstuffed sofas, a chess table and historic photos. A massive rock fireplace snaps and crackles. Don’t let the rustic dcor fool you: There is wireless Internet access for guests, an airy dining room and the Summit Spa tucked around the corner andamp;#8212; an intimate, two-treatment-room spa.andamp;#8220;It’s Sugar Bowl’s best-kept secret,andamp;#8221; said Rita Zanzi, spa supervisor.Summit Spa caters to homeowners, day skiers, guests, employees and locals. The treatments, which range from sports, Swedish, deep tissue and the andamp;#8220;signature summit,andamp;#8221; which combines all three, are affordable and effective. The rooms are warm, clean and inviting, with the requisite soft music drifting on a touch of aromatherapy.Zanzi has a holistic approach to massage and believes each massage should be performed with an andamp;#8220;intentional best.andamp;#8221; She wanted to become a reflexologist, to help heal an ailing husband. Each school she called recommended she attend massage school first, which she did. And then trained in reflexology.andamp;#8220;I believe in the healing powers of massage,andamp;#8221; said Zanzi. andamp;#8220;It’s not just for pampering.andamp;#8221;Whether your tired, on-the-mountain-all-day muscles need to get back in action, or anxieties could use some soothing, Zanzi and her international staff are ready to serve seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. andamp;#8220;You can see a change in the body,andamp;#8221; said Zanzi, who also pays close attention to pre-massage posture clues. andamp;#8220;There is a natural healing energy here at Sugar Bowl. I tap into its resource.andamp;#8221;The products at Summit Spa are organic or environmentally sensitive, apropos for a resort that prides itself on green practices. Yoga instructor Suzanne Sanger makes the Sattvic Skin products with aromatherapy, ayurveda and love. One heavenly potion is Sugar Bowl Massage Oil, a blend of unrefined safflower and almond oil, with lavender, rose geranium, ylang ylang and more. Available for purchase are herbal face wash, winter moisturizer, soothing salt soak, and a foot and body scrub. A deep penetrating, muscle relaxant ointment, Biotone, is also used and for sale.To further promote health and well being, yoga classes are offered for all levels. Described as andamp;#8220;flowing with our mountain,andamp;#8221; Sugar Bowl holds private and open classes in the Village hall, incorporating sun salutations and asanas, andamp;#8220;designed to get the mind and body ready for a day at Sugar Bowl.andamp;#8221;Sugar Bowl is a place to play, stay and heal thyself or sweetheart. Check it out or check into Sugar Bowl at http://www.sugarbowl.com (/summitspa). You may reach Zanzi directly at 530-426-6742.