Although the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National (AL) has three golf courses, eight tennis courts, and an indoor and an outdoor pool with cascading waterfalls, it wasn’t until recently that it could also boast a stunning spa. This past November, the resort debuted The Spa at Grand National, a three-level stand-alone spa and fitness center that welcomes resort guests along with the neighboring community. “The overall concept of the spa is inspired by a treehouse in an enchanted forest,” says corporate spa director Taylor Fields. “Upon entering the spa, guests are immediately immersed in the design elements of the outside flora and fauna, as they’re greeted by a floor-to-ceiling living green wall. As guests browse the unique retail items in the spa lobby, they’ll notice that products have been displayed on standing oak logs right out of nature.” According to Fields, the development of the spa was influenced by the surrounding nature, and each of the spa’s eight treatment rooms, two of which are dedicated to couples, is named after a tree indigenous to Alabama.
Catering to a range of guests that includes neighborhood residents who live in National Village, a residential development that surrounds the hotel, the spa has a popular membership program. In fact, the spa is the sixth and most recent addition to the Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Spa Trail, an offshoot of the RTJ Golf Trail and its Resort Collection. The RTJ Spa Trail Card is available to those interested in enjoying each of the spas at a discounted rate. For $50 per spa, members get a host of savings, including 20 percent off on spa services, 15 percent off on regular rated rooms, 20 percent off all spa retail products, 10 percent off on food and beverage in the hotel, and a complimentary glass of wine in the spa following a service.
In creating the menu, it was important to cater to guests looking for an all-encompassing resort spa experience. “Visiting this spa is more than a treatment, it’s an experience,” says Fields. “With all the spa has to offer, guests can certainly find themselves spending all day experiencing the multi-level facility. They begin with a workout in the fitness center, detox in the infrared saunas and whirlpools, and they are certain to begin their journey in pure relaxation.” According to Fields, the nature concept found in the decor and design also flowed over into the creation of the treatment menu. The elements of earth, water, air, and fire all played a role. Inspired by the four elements of nature, the Water.Fire.Air.Earth.Ritual (starting at $165, 80 minutes) relies on native sacred plants and ancient Inca massage techniques to nourish the body and energize the soul. Many of the spa’s treatments hearken back to nature, such as the Secret Garden Signature Poultice Massage (starting at $115, 50 minutes; $165, 80 minutes) and the Deep in the Woods Alpine Arnica Massage (starting at $125, 50 minutes; $175, 80 minutes). Turning to brand favorites, such as Farmhouse Fresh and Naturopathica, the spa features each company’s logo above the correlating spa service, so guests know what products to search out in the retail area. “Vendor partners were carefully hand-selected for their uniqueness, clean ingredients, reputation in the industry, and ability to provide a partnership that delivers to the staff hands-on involvement and training to ensure we execute on our high expectations of staff service and knowledge,” says Fields.
With 14 full-time and five part-time employees, the spa is expected to add staff as capacity grows. At full capacity, the spa can handle approximately 100 appointments daily. As for the future, Fields and his team are focused on developing fitness and wellness regimens and retreats that will appeal to its growing membership base.
Owner: Retirement Systems of Alabama, managed by PCH Hotels & Resorts
Corporate Spa Director: Taylor Fields
Spa Director: Natalee Headley
Opened: November 2018
Space: 20,000 square feet; 8 treatment rooms
Products & Equipments: Cloud Nine Slippers, Comphy Co, FarmHouse Fresh, HydraFacial, Inika Cosmetics, Living Earth Crafts, Mansfield Robes, Naturopathica, Oribe, Priori, Skin Authority, Spasoft, Technogym, The Madison Collection, Zents
Architect: Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood (multiple locations)
Interior Designer: Sims Patrick Studio (Atlanta)
Spa Consultant: Susie Marquez, regional spa director, Marriott Grand Hotel (Point Clear, AL)