Ayurveda aficionados no longer need a passport to India to experience an authentic treatment. Instead, they can head to Blue Heaven Resort & Spa (Boone, NC), a destination spa from the International Center for Meditation and Well-Being and Shankara, an organic Ayurvedic skincare line, that opened its doors in June. “Apart from breathtaking views, what sets Blue Heaven apart in the area, and even nationally, is its emphasis on holistic, Ayurvedic treatments complemented by a holistic approach to wellness,” says resort and spa director Paul Nunez.
The spectacular setting is perhaps the first thing that puts guests into a serene state of mind when they arrive at Blue Heaven. Ideally located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the resort is situated at an altitude of 3,700 feet on Heavenly Mountain and spread across 380 lush acres on the grounds of the International Center for Meditation and Well-Being. “It has a very peaceful atmosphere that makes for a retreat like nowhere else,” says Nunez.
The setting also inspired the design of Blue Heaven Spa, where services are performed in one of eight treatment rooms named after rivers of the world—Amazon, Colorado, Indus, Nile, Thames, Tigris, Yamuna, and Yangtze. “Boone is naturally radiant in summer and fall, and we wanted to reflect that radiance in the interiors,” says Nunez. “Each of the treatment rooms has an individual color scheme that matches the environment and features a play of natural light through picture windows that look out over the mountains.”
During their stay, guests dine on wholesome plant-based cuisine at the onsite Satva Restaurant and find comfort in one of 30 spacious rooms with a view. There, they’ll sleep well following a busy day of activities that can include hiking, kayaking, and skiing. The heart of the fitness offerings, however, revolves around personal classes and group retreats in meditation and yoga. “It’s really our trained technicians and committed yoga and meditation teachers that distinguish Blue Heaven,” says Nunez. “We are not just a spa that has massages, but we are a full wellness retreat that provides real benefits because of the programs that we offer.”
The Ayurvedic services are a hallmark of the spa, which typically handles around 30 to 40 clients per day. Nunez says most guests gravitate to those treatments with the goal of achieving “total relaxation, self-renewal, and education on how to jump-start a stress-free way of life.” Among the popular modalities are the Sansara Abhyanga Massage ($130, 50 minutes); a range of dosha-specific Avarna Signature Body Wraps ($120, 50 minutes); and the Zekhara ($110, 50 minutes) head and neck Shirodhara treatment. A truly unique service is the Arundhati Signature 5-Point Star Treatment ($110, 50 minutes), which is rarely offered in North America and includes a rubdown with herbal salts and medicated oils and hot stone marma therapy on five energy points, including the scalp, hands, and feet. All of the Ayurvedic services are made memorable by the use of Shankara products, “which are created using cold-processed, synergistic blends of anti-aging, antioxidant-rich active ingredients combined with highly nutritive, therapeutic, and aromatherapeutic essential oils,” says Nunez.
The destination spa’s current clientele includes visitors from all over the country and the world, especially those interested in yoga and Ayurveda. To attract these guests, the Blue Heaven team is running special introductory and package rates for the first year. Also popular are the weekend retreats, which are tailored to those who may not be able to devote an entire week to a visit and want to escape Friday afternoon and finish up by Sunday.
As for the future, plans are in place to open several Blue Heaven Spas nationally, with a second location already in Washington, D.C. It just goes to show that America’s infatuation with Ayurveda is going to occur more than once in a blue moon.
Owner: International Center for Meditation and Well-Being
Spa Director: Paul Nunez
Opened: June 2013
5,400 square feet;
8 treatment rooms
Ayurveda, body treatments, couples’ treatments, energy work, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hair and scalp treatments, hand and foot treatments, makeup application, massage, naturopathic medicine, nutrition consultation, outdoor treatments, prenatal services, reflexology, waxing, yoga
Abhyanga with Shirodhara ($125, 80 minutes)
MOST EXPENSIVE OFFERING
Marma Massage ($130, 75 minutes)
La Bella Donna, Shankara
Life Fitness, Majestic International, SpaBooker, TouchAmerica, Zendals
Isom and Ham Design Group (Wilkesboro, NC)
INTERIOR DESIGNER & SPA CONSULTANT
Liz Verbruggen, Shankara (San Antonio, TX)