From masters swimmers to rando racers, everybody goes big in the Vail Valley, where being fit is as much a badge of local bona fides as driving a Subaru. But even über-athletes balance their heart-pumping yang with some restorative yin to recharge body and soul. Whether you’re recuperating from one too many mogul runs, a bout of après overindulgence, or just a tortuous plane ride, here are three dozen ways to decompress so you can seize the next day.
Dedicated to the transformative power of not-doing, the Slumber Room at the Four Seasons Spa epitomizes simplicity. No magazines or artwork vie for your attention in this beige-and-gray chamber, where three velvet chaise longues—curtains lend each a measure of privacy—invite robe-clad guests to “rest their eyes.” And their ears: instead of your standard new-age spa soundtrack, nothing fills the air but blessed silence. One Vail Road; 970-477-8600; fourseasons.com/vail/spa
Filled with plush, gem-hued upholstery and warmed by soft lighting, the lounge at the Arrabelle Spa feels just as relaxing as the treatment itself, especially now that new “moving murals” project nature photography across three big screens. Plan to spend extended time in this decompression chamber to enjoy the slide show, read a magazine, sip some tea, or just zone out. It’s like an opium den—without the drugs. 675 W Lionshead Circle, Vail; 970-754-7777; arrabelle.rockresorts.com/spa
Any hot tub can soothe achy, sport-strained muscles, but for scenic splendor few can compare to the watery oasis at Spa Anjali at the Westin Riverfront Resort. Three burbling saltwater infinity pools at the edge of a broad, elevated patio with a lap pool offer wide-open views of Beaver Creek’s Centennial and Birds of Prey runs. Afternoon sun adds to the water’s heat, and at sundown bathers enjoy electric views of rosy alpenglow on the resort’s multifaceted peaks.
126 Riverfront Lane, Avon; 970-790-3020; spaanjali.com
The Romans had it right: baths are marvelously restorative, especially when they showcase water in all its splashy forms—which is precisely the idea behind the Aqua Sanitas series at the Allegria Spa (in the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek). This sequence of hot tubs, showers, and steam rooms recalls the baths of antiquity and rivals the relaxation effect of any treatment that follows. Only the Thermae mineral pool (the first in the five-stage sequence) is shared between the sexes; from there, you move on to the single-sex Caldarium mineral pool, the steam room, the Cascata rain shower, and finally the Tepidarium, where heated stone loungers purge all traces of fatigue and make you feel like Caesar incarnate. 100 E Thomas Place, Beaver Creek; 970-748-7500; allegriaspa.com
Whether you prefer to soak alone or with a partner, the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch has your ticket to bliss. The twenty-minute Roaring Rapids therapy ($65) submerges you in a deep tub fitted with no fewer than sixty-two pulsating jets that knead, flush, and stroke muscles and joints. The tub’s form-fitted shape aims the jets for maximum effect and aligns the strongest pressure with the biggest muscle groups. “It’s pretty intense,” admits spa manager Lindsay Lemon, who adds that bathers can stop and start the action at will and even adjust the pressure of the “rapids.” Couples should try the less riotous Copper Tub Soak ($80). Made of a metal reputed to detoxify and fight inflammation, the massive footed tub imparts some of its body-soothing properties to the water, which is spiked with vanilla-bourbon bath salts to relieve stress. Or opt for another familiar tension-reliever: glasses of Champagne served tubside. 130 Daybreak Ridge Road, Beaver Creek; 970-748-6200;ritzcarlton.com
Combat the altitude with The Sebastian’s Bloom Spa Healing Stone Massage ($270 for seventy-five minutes), features a massage supplemented with the soothing powers of Himalayan salt stone. According to experts, relaxed muscles absorb oxygen better and oxygen also feeds the brain, which sometimes grows so desperate for fuel at high elevations during the night that it awakens the body to gulp more air, an affliction which is combated with this relaxing treatment. 16 Vail Road; 970-477-8060;thesebastianvail.com/bloom-spa
Talk about old school: the Moor Remedy ($275, offered at The Vail Athletic Club) combines a massage with a soak in 20,000-year-old Austrian mud that’s famous for relieving inflammation, aches, and pains. 352 E Meadow Drive, Vail; 970-306-0361; vailmountainlodge.com
When your muscles and joints are screaming for more therapeutic relief than a typical massage can offer, try the Arrabelle Spa’s Elite Recovery($245), which gives you the option to choose between Lymphatic Cupping or RAD massage tools. Full-body stretching and pressure point techniques revive muscles even further, then a sports massage smooths out remaining kinks with calming arnica. 675 W Lionshead Circle, Vail; 970-754-7777; arrabelle.rockresorts.com/spa
When too many indulgent, cholesterol-laden meals leave you feeling heavy and sluggish, detox at Terra Bistro. Located inside the Vail Mountain Lodge, this eatery proves that gourmet food doesn’t have to sabotage your health. The chefs here pursue more nutrition training than most, with a menu that feature organic and farm-to-table offerings complimented by an extensive wine list that earned a 2012 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, but as a rule the fare won’t foul your plans the next day. Or as owner Kevin Nelson puts it, “After you’ve had a great nutritious meal that was wonderfully prepared with beautiful flavors and textures, you just feel better.” 352 E Meadow Drive, Vail; 970-476-6836;terrabistrovail.com
You could end a big ski day with a plate of jalapeño poppers. But by choosing healthy recovery foods, “You’ll be able to go out the next day and feel better,” promises Katie Mazzia, a clinical dietitian at the Vail Valley Medical Center. She recommends eating a carb-rich snack (such as an energy bar) within thirty minutes of quitting time—and skip the greasy après burger. “Too much fat or protein can delay carbohydrate absorption into the muscles,” she notes. Instead, make your next meal a combination of carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Her picks: kale salad with chicken breast and quinoa at Yellow Belly in West Vail (yellowbellychicken.com); the ahi tuna “burger” at Larkburger in Edwards (larkburger.com); and the fruit AND YOGURT smoothies at Loaded Joe’s in Avon (loadedjoes.com). On-mountain, look for a broth-based (not creamy) minestrone or chicken noodle soup.