Sweet Solitude

There are few landscapes that inspire the same awe as those surrounding the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, WY. With views of the Grand Teton Mountains and Snake River Valley, the resort is an ideal base for adventure enthusiasts with its ski-in slopeside location. Making it even more inviting is the recently opened Solitude Spa, which replaces the resort's previous two-treatment-room spa. With 10 treatment rooms—each named after a local lake—the new spa is better able to accommodate guests wanting a full-fledged spa experience. The 16,000-square-foot spa also features a rooftop Motion Studio for Pilates and yoga classes and a 22-person outdoor rooftop hot tub with views of the Tetons.

According to spa director McNeill Watson, it was important to incorporate local and indigenous ingredients into the spa's treatments. "We try to use plants and herbs that are native as well as healthy and holistic," says Watson. Two that immediately come to mind are arnica and sage, both of which are indigenous to the area. In fact, arnica's yellow flowers can be seen blanketing the mountainside in the summer. A popular herb among Jackson Hole's fitness-minded residents, arnica is especially beneficial when used in an oil or salve, as it's often used to treat bruises and sore muscles. It's one of the herbs used in the spa's Rapturous Wrapsody ($135, 60 minutes), a warm cocoon wrap of dried herbs that helps increase circulation and quench thirsty skin. Sage is a main ingredient in the Wild Sage & Olive Bliss ($135, 60 minutes), a holistic exfoliation treatment.

Spa-goers can relax in the 22-person outdoor rooftop hot tub.
Spa-goers can relax in the 22-person outdoor rooftop hot tub.

Products also pose another important consideration. Determined to offer a selection of natural and results-oriented products, Watson and his staff ultimately chose Body Coffee, Cellex-C, glospa, Jurlique, Lotus Touch, Simply Organic, and Wind River Herbs, a locally based company. "We've actually gotten so that about 90 percent of all our products are organic," says Watson. "We're doing that not just because it's the big buzz word these days and that organic sells, it's really because it's healthy." According to him, spa-goers have high expectations and deserve to have them met. It's not enough that a product makes people feel better but it should also be better for them. "We've gone to great lengths to make sure that if our products can be organic then they will be," says Watson, noting that not all ingredients and products are available in organic yet.

Although the spa isn't able to offer all organic products, Watson and his team make a conscious effort to work with manufacturers that share the spa's eco-friendly philosophy. "We want to make sure that we're supporting the green movement, because it's a very strong mission statement for our management company, Terra Resort Group," says Watson. For example, the spa supports manufacturers, such as Jurlique, that use biodegradable peanuts in their product shipments. The spa also uses a biodegradable detergent to launder spa robes and linens.

Spa-goers have their choice of five hot tubs in which to soak away their aches and pains.
Spa-goers have their choice of five hot tubs in which to soak away their aches and pains.

The environmentally friendly stance is one that fits well with the Jackson Hole crowd, considering most locals and visitors share an appreciation for the outdoors. Unlike most spas, Solitude Spa doesn't count those in search of relaxation as a large part of its clientele. "When people come to Jackson Hole, they aren't coming to relax," says Watson. "They're not coming to sit on a beach and watch the waves crash. They're here to go hiking, mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing, and skiing." Catering to active and outdoorsy types, the spa is a sort of refuge for those seeking relief after beating themselves up on the slopes. "They limp in to us and then hopefully walk out," says Watson.

The Tranquility Lounge invites guests to kick back and relax.
The Tranquility Lounge invites guests to kick back and relax.

With approximately 20 employees on staff, the spa is able to accommodate up to 120 treatments in a day. At the moment, the spa has four full-time therapists year-round. Because the spa is still relatively new, that number is subject to change. In the meantime, the spa compensates by staffing up in the summer and winter seasons. According to Watson, the transient nature of Jackson Hole can make it somewhat stressful from a training perspective. "This past summer, I had two or three awesome therapists, but they didn't want to stay for the winter," says Watson. "You lose some really good staff members seasonally."

The spa brings the outdoors in with stone and other natural materials.
The spa brings the outdoors in with stone and other natural materials.

Scheduling is another issue Watson must contend with on a seasonal basis. In the winter, guests are often vying for the same treatment times. Because most of them like to hit the slopes in the mornings, the spa doesn't start to get busy until after 2:30 P.M. Business peaks around 4 P.M. and 4:30 P.M. and then stays constant until about 7:30 P.M. To counteract this trend, Watson often offers discounts between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. to encourage people to schedule a treatment during that time. The summer months are much more unpredictable, as there is more to do outside and the sun sets so much later. Regardless of the seasonal challenges, it's those same adventure-filled seasons that draw people to Jackson Hole and, consequently, to Solitude Spa.

In the off-season, Watson and his team have a chance to fine tune operations in the spa. It's an ideal time to focus on training and to re-evaluate the menu. "My goal is to always be evolving," says Watson. "Everyone does massages, everyone does facials, and everyone does body wraps. We want to enhance those services and do it in a way that is different, indigenous, and cutting-edge."

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