Global Reputation, Local Experience: 6 Northern Cali Spas
by Heather Vuchinich
Visitors flock to Northern California to experience prize-winning wines, artisan foods, and cutting edge technology. But when it’s time for relaxing and wellness, Northern California is all about the spas. With a wide variety of spa destinations to choose from, these six locations feature spa brands with global reputations that incorporate treatments inspired by local ingredients, practitioners, and geography.
Part of the Renaissance Collection of Marriott hotels, the Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort and Spa stands out for its highly skilled massage therapists. Spa Director Patricia Field really knows how to hire the crème de la crème of spa professionals. The spa design emphasizes relaxation, privacy, and comfort with subtle lighting, soft textures, comfortable lounging spaces, and soothing colors. Products are sourced from mostly local companies and treatments are designed with the region in mind, including ingredients like Sonoma Lavender and grape or “vinotherapy” based specialties. Enjoy a Sonoma style spa lunch delivered poolside and then relax in a private cabana. Renaissance Spas are located at Marriott locations around the world.
The hospitality begins the moment you walk in the door at the Mandarin Oriental where you are invited to remove your shoes and brought slippers, tea, and hot towels as you wait for your appointment. A series of new treatments that spotlight the local geography and natural elements of each spa location is one of the newest additions to their spa menu. I recently enjoyed the “California Dreaming” treatment at the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco. Featuring salt from the Pacific Ocean, California avocado, and grape seed oil, this treatment incorporates a custom blended scrub, hot stone massage, and foot soak using an essential oil blend designed by a Chinese medicine doctor and chosen to meet your specific needs. Other Mandarin Oriental spa locations worldwide also offer similar “natural element” treatments.
With the only natural hot springs available at a hotel spa in Northern California, the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is something special. Willow Stream Sonoma features a variety of treatments based on the bounty of the region, but one of their most unique offerings is the “Watsu” a water based massage done in their amazing hot spring fed Watsu pool. Completely supported in warm, mineral rich water, while being gently stretched and massaged is a one of a kind experience. Willow Stream Spas are located in Fairmont Hotels and Resorts around the globe!
Whether you decide to experience spa living Northern California style in the mountains at the Lake Tahoe Ritz Carlton, or by the sea at the Half Moon Bay Ritz, you’ll be sure to do it in style. Try the “Taste of Half Moon Bay” package which includes a massage, pumpkin facial (Half Moon Bay is known for its abundant pumpkin patches), and a signature Mani/Pedi. Lake Tahoe offers a “Lake Tahoe Stone Massage” and a “Cozy Couples Cabin Massage,” perfect for snowy winter afternoons. The Ritz-Carlton spas are highly acclaimed an located worldwide!
South of San Francisco in technology central, one of the most luxurious places to relax is at the Sense Spa at the Rosewood Sand Hill. Rosewood hotels are known internationally for their amazing quality of customer service and attention to detail. The Rosewood Sand Hill’s Sense Spa does not disappoint, providing a spa experience grounded in the region, with creative touches that make this spa decidedly unique. Treatments range from the “Signature California Woods,” using a walnut scrub scented with a custom created California woods fragrance, to the “Gold Rush Renewal,” a body treatment integrating a scrub infused with real 24-carat gold.