The Best Spas Ever
May 16, 2011 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I just spent a day at the spa at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Help me find similar spas... anywhere.

The spa at the Grove Park Inn is what I would consider the peak of luxury and relaxation. If this is a one-of-a-kind experience, I'll happily go back to Asheville, but I'd love to hit just about any similar spa, anywhere I can find it.

Here's the Grove Park experience: A concierge walks you past the cafe to the locker room and assigns you a locker, and invites you to change into your swimsuit and fluffy robe. He gives you a tour of the locker room, which includes private showers, a bathroom, and everything you might need for grooming (shampoo, razors/cream, mouthwash, cotton swabs, combs, blow dryers, lotion, etc). He then walks you out to the quiet men's (or women's) fireside lounge, which has windows, coffee, tea, water and snacks, and shows you the adjoining single-sex patio outside. He takes you down through a series of caves(!) to the zen rock garden where you can rake your own sand designs and the dry (eucalyptus infused) sauna, the contrast pools, and the steam room. As he walks you out, he shows you the iced peppermint handtowels that you can use to refresh yourself after a hot lurk in the steamy part of the caves. He then takes you out to the co-ed common area - a wide, high hall still done to resemble caves - with mineral baths, the lap pool, the massaging waterfalls and an entrance to the outdoor whirlpool and fireplaces overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. The pools are a comfortable temperature and aren't overcrowded. Decorative waterfalls rush down as a centerpiece in the room. When you submerge yourself in the mineral and lap pools, you find that they've piped music in underwater and you find yourself suddenly sad that you don't have gills so that you can go on your own little Jacques Cousteau adventure. You soak for a couple hours or a couple minutes or a year, you can't tell because there are precious few clocks and you've been forbidden access to your cell phone. And you go lounge around in the sun. Or you go and sit by the fire and read a book and drink coffee. Eventually, when your appointment time is nearing, you find your way to the lounge and wait for your therapist and you're taken away to a private wing for your massage or whatever you're getting done.

Are there similarly amazing spas out there? Entrance for a day (8am to 9pm) is $55, but I was happy to pay $130 and get a massage as well as a relaxing day in the pools and lounges (which included gratuity and facilities fees). I don't care where a spa like this is (though, Houston would be a total jackpot), I just want something as amazing and I'll happily build a trip around it.
posted by jph to Travel & Transportation around Asheville, NC (7 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds a lot like the experience my wife and I had at Caldea in Andorra. Would definitely recommend it if you happen to be in the area.
posted by Grither at 10:43 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Upstate New York has Mohonk Mountain House, which is similarly historic, situated in the mountains, and has a spa. I've been there and Grove Park Inn and would recommend both.

You might also check these listings for vacation+travel+hotel+spa. Maybe some good finds there.
posted by mark7570 at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2011

I have not been personally, but I understand that the Lake Austin Spa is pretty primo (and just a hop, skip, and jump from Houston.
posted by Addlepated at 11:57 AM on May 16, 2011

I love Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style spa (the only place I'm aware of where you can get a facial using the sanitized droppings of nightingales) in Santa Fe.

The Houstonian is probably the closest thing to what you're looking for closer to home (no mountains or waterfalls, but lots of the other amenities (pools, sauna, steam, cozy fireside rooms to relax in, pretty wooded paths, toiletries, nice locker room.))
posted by *s at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2011

If you want a little less atmosphere, but with the same spend-the-entire-day-for-one-price feeling, look into Korean spas like Spa World in DC or King Spa in Dallas. You won't have zen rock gardens, or a guided tour of the premises, but read the customer reviews on Yelp, and you'll get a good picture of the experience and how to navigate around. Best $35 I can imagine spending!
posted by MsMolly at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2011

You'd be hard pressed to find anywhere better than Miraval.
posted by dzot at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2011

2nding the Korean spas - this sort of experience has been around in Korea (and I suspect Japan, China, etc.) for decades. The Korean word is jim-jil-bang, and they feature the same spas, massages, etc. They're also quite cheap - a 12 hour stay is around $10 - which is both a blessing and a curse. You get a lot more families coming in, kids running around, more splashing at the pool... Most jimjilbangs aren't as upscale as the one the OP went to, but there's bound to be a few like that (maybe inside fancy hotels or somesuch).
posted by chrisinseoul at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2011

« Older Paris in the summer?   |   Personal librarians -- do they exist yet? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.