A dream vacation is this: a nice hotel, hiking, beaches, great food, fancy drinks in non-fancy cups, well behaved kids, an art museum or two, sunshine and massages everyday. An actual vacation is this: a nice place to stay or camp, hiking or chill walks, a beach that you might put your feet in the water at on a HOT day, good food, boxed wine, tired yet wild kids, a visitors center, rain and playing cribbage quietly while kids sleep close by. Recently we were treated to 80 minute massages while we were traveling… and the experience was as good as we dreamed it would be. Waterleaf Spa at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington made us realize that we NEED to do massages whenever we travel.
Previously we interviewed a well traveled LMP, Kelly Blanchard, regarding the health benefits of travel. Our biggest takeaway from this was that taking time to relax while you’re traveling helps you recover and recharge your whole body for the world you return to: family and work. Well, we got to recharge and now will share the experience with you, as we’ve got solid proof that we were more chill, happy and ready to play parent once we let go of our stress for a while.
The Spa – the Waterleaf Spa is located in the Skamania Lodge in the Columbia River Gorge. This is about 3.5 hours from Seattle, Washington or an hour east of Portland, Oregon. The Lodge is settled on the hill above the Columbia River (the WA/OR border) and has a sweeping view to the east towards Hood River, Oregon. The spa doesn’t have the view, but it has something better: LMPs and soft music.
The only downside of the Waterleaf Spa’s location is that you must walk through it to get to the Skamania Lodge’s pool and hot tubs, so the initial waiting room is a bit of a Grand Central Station. Once you’re checked in though, things change. Almost instantly.
Dressing Rooms – we are calling them dressing rooms because the term “locker room” sounds like we’re getting ready for some basketball or kickboxing. Yeah no. The dressing rooms are quiet spaces with some teak benches and storage cabinets for you real-people clothes. They are clean, quiet, softly lit and the perfect first step towards a fully relaxing experience.
Tip: the bathrobes are perfect and you should plan on spending a bit relaxing in one of the quite zones (see below) between sauna/hot tub and massage time.
Sauna – the sauna within each dressing room is single-sex, so you can feel comfortable just chillin’ out and not worrying if anybody is uncomfortable about being a sweaty body with other people. We know, that sounds weird, but a sauna is a personal experience and a lot of people don’t feel comfortable dripping sweat just for the heck of it, so knowing that it’s just you and other like-minded guys or ladies, you can release some stress and just relax. And then take a quick shower to rinse and move to the hot tub.
Tip: always check the rules to see if a sauna, even when in the privacy of a locker room, is clothing optional or not. Not that somebody is going to tell you to put your pants back on, spa rules are there for everyone’s comfort.
Private Hot Tub – how did we not see this in the four times we’d been to the pool before our massage appointments? The Skamania Lodge has four hot tubs apparently. There is the disco hot tub outside that’s like a little bit of Miami Beach meets Aspen, Colorado. There’s the hot tub by the pool that has kids jumping in and out of it. And then there are private tubs in each of the dressing rooms at the Waterleaf Spa. They were quiet. And calm. And we relaxed. And then we were ready for our actual massages. While they finished prepping the room for our couples massages, we waited in a quiet, dark cushy area outside of the therapy rooms. It was a nice transition before lying on the table.
Tip: be sure to give yourself five to ten minutes from when you’re done with a form of heat therapy before starting your massage, as you (or at least I) don’t want to be sweating when you lie down on a table.