Until the opening of The Sky Lodge,a luxe boutique hotel in Park City's historic Old Town district, New York City's swanky SoHo neighborhood and the charming mountain ski town didn't have all that much in common. Trendy SoHo is famed for its sprawling lofts, hip shops and restaurants, and stylish residents. Park City is perhaps best known as a rustic ski town that caters to adventure lovers and active vacationers. But the times are a-changing. The Sky Lodge, which bills itself as the place "where SoHo meets the mountains," is a sleek contradiction to Old Town's more down-home style. Debuting in December 2007 to much fanfare, this sophisticated retreat was named the "Best of the Best" by Robb Report and made Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List 2008. Among its high-end highlights are 33 state-of-the-art contemporary guest suites, several gourmet dining options, and Amatsu, a chic 6,500-square-foot spa.
Equally unique to the area, Amatsu forgoes the alpine aesthetic of many other local spas and instead offers a Japanese-inspired design and treatment menu. A carved wooden Buddha in the entryway, sliding translucent bamboo and rice paper doors, bamboo lockers, and a serene Zen garden filled with sand and boulders bring a distinctly Asian aesthetic to the decor. The spa's deep wooden ofuro tubs are an ideal place for guests to soak and scrub pre- or post-treatment in a manner popular in Japan's centuries-old onsen bathing houses. Additionally, guests don kimono-style robes upon arrival and can meditate and sip water or tea in the communal Tea Room prior to their treatments, one of the most popular of which is the Red Flower Japan ($155, 80 minutes). This revitalizing ritual using Red Flower products includes a Yuzu Mimosa Sea Algae Wash, an Ohana Gingergrass Bamboo Scrub, a Wild Cherry Blossom Rice Buff, a Rose Camellia Plum Soft-Water Mist, a Hinoki Mint Mineral Bath Soak, and a rubdown with Kinmoxei Wild Lime Silk Oil. "The idea to have a Japanese-inspired spa started because of the Japanese soaking ritual," says spa manager Kelli Reinertson. "We wanted people to come in and soak away their worries in the ofuro tubs and then relax in the Tea Room with hot tea before starting their treatments. This way, they would be completely at ease with relaxed muscles when beginning their treatment."
A Japanese-style Zen garden puts guests in a contemplative mood.
Several other treatments that have an Asian flair are also intended to soothe the ails of active vacationers. The Bamboo Massage ($165, 80 minutes) incorporates warm bamboo sticks that are rolled over tight muscles, while the Koi Stone Massage ($165, 80 minutes), which was inspired by the movements of Koi fish swimming in a pond, involves a massage using warm essential oils and hand-shaped stones. "There was a lot of thought in creating a menu that harnesses basic therapy techniques," says Reinertson. "We modernized the old tradition of massage without creating treatments that would only be popular for a moment."
Before and after treatments, spa-goers can sip on freshly brewed herbal tea in the communal Tea Room.
Still, Reinertson says most spa-goers tend to opt for more traditional massage services to address the issues that result from an action-packed day on the slopes of one of Park City's three major area ski resorts or to battle the skin-sapping effects of the area's dry climate. "Most spa-goers like to stick with the Swedish or deep tissue massages, as well as manicures and pedicures," she says. "However, they are starting to venture towards our Koi Stone Massage and body treatments with scrubs."
A soak in side-by-side ofuro tubs is a tranquil part of several packages that occur in the spa's VIP couples' suite.
Critical to the appeal of the treatments are the products used. Along with Red Flower, which is used for several of the body rituals, G.M. Collin and Ole Henriksen are also incorporated into services. "We selected these lines because no other spas in Park City carry them," says Reinertson, pointing out yet another aspect of Amatsu that makes it distinctive in the local market.
Clean lines and sleek accents provide Amatsu's treatment rooms with a Zen-like appeal.
Amatsu means "heavenly" in Japanese, and all of the services, whether more traditional, more results-oriented (like facials performed with the clinical G.M. Collin line), or with a Far Eastern approach, are also intended to provide guests with an otherworldly relaxation experience. "Many of our clients are looking for a spa where they are not rushed into a treatment and then asked to leave immediately after," says Reinertson. "They are looking for a place they can come and relax and feel like they are getting more than just a treatment."
To achieve this goal, Reinertson and her team work hard to keep client flow through the spa seamless, ensuring that clients never feel rushed and that the spa doesn't seem crowded. At maximum capacity, the spa can accommodate approximately 80 clients per day in its seven treatment rooms, one of which is a VIP couples' suite with matching ofuro tubs. However, the seasonal nature of Park City makes wintertime Amatsu's busiest season, most notably during the weeks surrounding the Sundance Film Festival, which occurs in January. Therefore, approximately 10 therapists work full-time in winter, and the spa's hours are extended to accommodate early-morning and late-night requests. In the spring, summer, and fall, the full-time staff is reduced to three employees with two to three on-call therapists, and the spa's hours revert to 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.
To keep the spa thriving in slower times, Reinertson and her team market to Park City residents with special pricing. Plans are also in the works for a membership program for locals that rewards them for multiple visits with a free seventh spa service after the purchase of six. Still, most clients tend to be tourists or Sky Lodge guests looking for a glamorous après-ski escape. Says Reinertson, "Each client receives a relaxing experience, whether they stay the day or a couple of hours." And there's nothing more glamorous than total tranquility.