In Focus: The Spa at Salish Lodge

Situated at the base of the Cascade Mountains and overlooking a 268-foot waterfall, Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie, WA, captures the spirit of the Northwest with its stunning and dramatic setting. Located just 30 miles outside of Seattle, it is the ultimate getaway for those looking to escape the congestion and chaos of everyday life. Featuring an Asian-inspired design, The Spa at Salish Lodge encourages relaxation and a sense of well-being. Handcrafted shoji doors, cedar ceilings, and natural inlaid slate and madrona floors characterize the spa's stylish decor. "It's rustic with an elegant edge," says spa director Joan Southon.

 The dramatic, natural setting featuring majestic mountains and roaring falls sets the scene for the cozy lodge
The dramatic, natural setting featuring majestic mountains and roaring falls sets the scene for the cozy lodge

A popular romantic retreat, the spa has two rooms designed specifically for couples treatments. One of the rooms, the fireside suite, comes complete with a stone fireplace and cathedral ceiling. It is ideal for the spa's Rekindle Ritual ($199 per person, 100 minutes), which includes a relaxing footbath, Lemongrass Body Elixir, shared shower, and Heated River Rock Massage for two. From anniversaries to birthdays, guests celebrating special occasions have made the spa a popular retreat. "So many people are dealing with physical and emotional pain in the world today," says Southon. "They come here to find respite from their lives."

One of two heated therapy pools, complete with a cascading waterfall
One of two heated therapy pools, complete with a cascading waterfall

According to Southon, the intent of the menu is to create an experience with every treatment. Asian-inspired treatments, such as the Ancient Thai Massage ($179, 100 minutes), and the use of natural elements and organic products help distinguish the menu. The Gingko Biloba Facial ($109, 50 minutes; $545, series of six) and the Eight Greens Phyto Body Wrap ($119, 50 minutes; $595, series of six) are just a couple of the organic treatments available. Southon also notes the difference the addition of a hot towel cabinet makes in helping a treatment stand out. "In the Northwest, the application of heat can turn an ordinary massage into something much more healing," says Southon.

An exterior view of the lodge.
An exterior view of the lodge.

With a staff of 40, the spa employs 23 massage therapists, six estheticians, six coordinators, four administrators, and one spa director. Southon looks for a unique breed of individual when hiring. She was once asked, "Who do you have to know to get a job at Salish?" She responded, "It's not what you know or who you know. It's how well you know yourself." For her, that is key. And the philosophy seems to be paying off; over the years, she has managed to build a mature, responsible, and well-grounded team. "For us, a big part of what we do is maintain the integrity of the spa," says Southon.

Natural inlaid slate and madrona floors lead to the spas treatment rooms.
Natural inlaid slate and madrona floors lead to the spas treatment rooms.

Keeping up with demand is one of Southon's biggest challenges. Although the spa was renovated last June and two individual treatment rooms were added, demand continues to grow. According to Southon, the spa's staff performs approximately 2,000 treatments each month. Weekends are the busiest with the spa averaging anywhere from 120 to 130 guests on a typical Saturday. The spa reaches capacity at 144. Its peak hours are between 4 P.M. Friday and noon on Sunday. Hotel guests make up 76 percent of the clientele while the other 24 percent is composed of locals.

The spa at salish lodge
The spa at salish lodge

Another challenge Southon faces is educating spa guests. "So many people want to experience spas but don't know how," she says, attributing their lack of knowledge to the various cultures that have emerged from the different types of spas available. "We have a lot of social spas [in the industry] where women go for an event," says Southon. "It's like going out to lunch." As a result, many people have a difficult time understanding why they can't take their children into the silent soaking pool. "We want to bring a sense of meditation and mindfulness to each of our guests," says Southon.

Stressing the importance of fun, she encourages her staff to remember why they do what they do. "The spa industry makes it so much more complicated and difficult than it is," says Southon. According to her, an unnecessary amount of time is often spent worrying about no-show clients and running out of robes. Although these details are important, they sometimes dilute the real purpose of spas. Says Southon, "We've gotten far from how healing the power of touch is, but the industry is coming full circle and coming back to it."

Suggested Articles

Love animals? Then Sunrise Springs Resort is perfect for you.

Enjoy treatments designed to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of Italy while overlooking the Tuscan Hills.

Join global industry leaders this fall in Chicago for seminars, discussions, and workshops.