Natural Selection

The alpine-style facilities comprising Tenaya Lodge are located right at Yosemite’s south entrance.

Modest to Magnificent

The Tenaya’s original spa was small—opened in 1998, it consisted of four treatment rooms next to an indoor pool. To realize plans for the 10,000-square-foot Ascent Spa, which includes a fitness center, stretching room, lobby boutique, men’s and women’s locker rooms, sauna and steam facilities, and 12 treatment rooms (three of them duo suites), the main lodge was extended 60 feet (which also accommodated space for a new banquet). Ascent ultimately cost $8 million to build.

The treatments are expertly tied to the region’s natural wonders. There’s a Tenaya River Stone Massage (90 min./$155); a Yosemite Herbal Foot Soak (30 min./$50); a Signature Firefall Body Renewal (90 min./$175); and a list of “Half Dome” 30-minute add-ons, including a chair massage and a scalp and hair conditioning treatment. The spa also cleverly taps into Yosemite’s distinct seasonal shifts by altering its treatments and ingredients whenever the leaves change color. The Seasonally Inspired Antioxidant Scrub and Wrap (60 min./$120), for instance, is a head-to-toe nutritional treatment concocted from seasonal fruit pulps, seeds and herbs, that finishes with a scalp massage featuring seasonal lotion.

The spa also cleverly taps into Yosemite’s distinct seasonal shifts by altering its treatments and ingredients whenever the leaves change color.

Spa treatments are advertised to Tenaya guests in the lodge’s elevators and from stand-up cards and fliers placed in all guestrooms. The spa’s 29 therapists, estheticians, cosmetologists and nail technicians hail mostly from California’s Central Valley, and were trained at various regional institutions. The Tenaya works closely with local schools to enhance their curricula, and also provide a continuing education venue for current and aspiring spa staff.

After delivering my careful and fragrant massage, Melissa deposits me into the relaxation area with a cup of vanilla tea. While I ponder my afternoon ahead—a stroll to Mirror Lake and dinner at the Ahwanee—the aromas of wild roses and sage float up from my skin. I may have spent the morning indoors but it occurs to me that I’ve nonetheless savored Yosemite the whole time I’ve been at the spa.

Alison Singh Gee is a Los Angeles-based author and journalist.


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