As one of Napa Valley’s newest additions, Atrio Spa at Las Alcobas (St. Helena, CA) is certainly in good company. With no shortage of stunningly beautiful spas in the region offering a host of enticing treatments, the area is known for its indulgent wellness offerings. Fortunately, Atrio Spa provides more than just a beautiful facility—it’s situated within a restored farmhouse—and a tempting treatment menu. Thanks to brand spa curator Marjorie Charlton, it also possesses good energy. “I know it is a little hocus pocus, but I truly believe that vibes can be transferable,” says Charlton. “As a body worker, I have always felt that there is much more going on than just bodywork when we are with a guest. It is truly important that our therapists’ and our guests’ energetics are addressed, as well, as best we can.”
To make Atrio Spa a true healing haven, when the spa first opened, Charlton began by incorporating sage in the spa’s opening and closing rituals. A piece of sage was placed in a bowl with Himalayan salt and burned while the therapist walked around the treatment bed and waved it over the top of the body both before and after the treatment. “Native Americans believed this clears the space of any negativity,” says Charlton. “It also lends itself to the sacredness of the moment. At the end of the day, this exchange of energy between two people and the sacredness of doing bodywork is truly an honored tradition.”
Unfortunately, the practice had to be revised a few months ago when the spa’s fire alarms became a bit sensitive. However, that didn’t stop Charlton and her team from sageing the spa daily in the main areas and walking through the building three times each day, including before the spa opens and after it closes. A bowl is also placed in front of the spa and a bit of sage is burned a few times daily, if possible. “Our solution for the treatment rooms after the fire alarms was two-fold,” says Charlton. “First, we salt the floors daily by adding regular table salt to all water we use to clean the floors, again to remove any negativity. We also use lavender essential oil in the water and for cleansing the areas. Additionally, we spray the rooms with the same mix in between treatments, especially covering the treatment beds.”
It doesn’t stop there though, as the spa has a dedicated hand scrub with salt and lavender. It’s used as part of the therapists’ personal ritual in which they wash their hands before and after each treatment. The spa attendant team also does the same throughout the day. According to Charlton, it’s effective in that the lavender and salt are cleansing and antibacterial, but it also gives the therapists a few moments in which to meditate, a practice Charlton encourages so they can clear both their minds and energy.
In creating the menu, Charlton wanted to set the spa apart from others in the area. “As the valley is saturated with vinotherapy, we tried to do something different to bring a deeper spa experience that is more wellness related and develop more of a destination spa for a profound and new experience for guests,” she says. The menu was designed to provide guests with a memorable and therapeutic experience. “The goal was to move away from the country club favorites and offer a range of services that inspired curiosity and provided an opportunity for our guests to try something new and discover a new favorite,” says Charlton. Thanks to her passion for organic products, the choice to go with Naturopathica, which was founded by Barbara Close, a lifelong practitioner of the healing arts, was an easy one. “Barbara’s philosophy and dedication to her products was exactly in line with Atrio’s philosophy,” says Charlton. “I was lucky enough to meet Barbara before we opened, and it was clear to me that her vision aligned with ours.”
A highlight of the spa is Atrio’s Aroma Blending Experience, a complimentary session that accompanies specific treatments on the menu. Upon arrival, spa-goers fill out a brief questionnaire to determine a selection of organic oil based on their scent palate and blending objectives. The resulting personal blend will then be used for an aromatherapy inhalation and blended into a massage oil for their treatment. Guests will also be gifted with their personal blend for home use.
Delivering a taste of the world, the menu features services inspired by healing traditions from around the globe. “We offer an array of signature treatments that illuminate the healing power of essential oils in conjunction with ancient massage techniques,” says Charlton. For example, the Atrio Experience ($550, 2 hours 30 minutes) is a tasting menu that includes aromatherapy, tui na, reflexology, Balinese massage, shirodhara, and an Indian scalp massage. Some other signature rituals are the Yin/Yang Balancing (starting at $400, 90 minutes; $450, 2 hours, $550, 2 hours 30 minutes) a customizable massage that may involve a body scrub and/or steam and the Napa by Naturopathica ($400, 2 hours; $450, 2 hours and 30 minutes), which was created by Close with ingredients and techniques that capture the destination. It features a combination scrub and wrap incorporating gentle jojoba beads, lemon verbena, and shea butter; a refreshing facial treatment; a relaxing scalp massage; and a full-body massage. According to Charlton, the spa’s most popular treatment is Samunprai ($350, 90 minutes), which relies on poultices of ginger, lemongrass, prai, and turmeric, made in Wat Po, a Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok. The spa also offers Allergy Relief ($135, 30 minutes) to clear the sinuses with a facial steam of lavender essential oil and Hormone Relief ($150, 30 minutes), which uses hops and cinnamon in handmade compresses to provide comfort to the abdomen and a face and scalp massage to balance the nervous system.
Able to accommodate 33 clients in a typical day, the staff of 18, including four on-call therapists, is focused on helping guests to leave the spa feeling lighter and refreshed. Having survived opening under less than ideal conditions with fires raging throughout the area, Charlton and her team are now preparing for phase two, which will involve introducing a deeper wellness component with yoga retreats and a collaboration called Aging Gracefully with St. Helena Hospital. In the meantime, the goal is to continue spreading positive energy.
OWNER: Samuel Leizorek and Presidio Companies
BRAND SPA CURATOR: Marjorie Charlton
OPENED: March 2017
CLIENT BASE: 70% female; 30% male
SPACE: 3,500 square feet; 5 treatment rooms
ARCHITECT: Yabu Pushelberg
INTERIOR DESIGNER: Casa Zeta (Italy); Yabu Pushelberg (NYC)
PRODUCTS & EQUIPMENT: Banyan Botanicals, Book4Time, Bottega Veneta, Kashwere, Life Fitness, Living Earth Craft, L'Object, Mountain Rose Herbs, Naturopathica, Rivolta Carmignani