Muddy Romance

Spa Solage’s relaxation porches
Spa Solage’s relaxation porches, filled with tea and refreshments, serve as outdoor lounges.

That’s the way that the spa team at Solage Calistoga, an Auberge resort that Travel & Leisure recently voted one of the world’s best, wants dirt to feel. Their capstone treatment even has an amusing name, The Mudslide. It’s an updated twist on the traditional mud bath for which Calistoga became famous in the 1860s, when visitors began to flock here seeking the purportedly relaxing, joint-soothing and arthritis-healing powers of the town’s thermal spring waters mixed with volcanic ash (from nearby Mt. St. Helena). It’s been a staple of the region ever since, and in recent years Spa Solage has made a splash by improving upon the pleasurable and skin-boosting benefits of rolling in the mud.

A Cleaner Mud Bath?

The retreat’s main area—Spa Solage encompasses 20,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor facilities—looks like an old farmhouse, albeit a five-star one with not a hoof mark in sight. Surrounding structures are sheathed in a soothing ivory hue, with furnishings the colors of the surrounding hills: olive, gold and dark soil. In fact, the spa grounds look like a resort within a resort, with expansive gardens, relaxation porches, co-ed geothermal baths and separate men’s and women’s soaking pools (clothing optional), all of which are lined with luxurious white cabanas. 
The hugely popular Mudslide (60 min./$98; 90 min./$148) was Solage’s response to the question, “How do we make the classic mud bath hip, lavish and—strange as this may sound—clean?” Other spas in this mud-centric town invite guests to sink into shared, thick brown baths up to their ears, but this struck Spa Solage director Karen Davis as, well, a little too communal, a little unhygienic and just not special enough. So the team innovated an approach all their own.

The Mudslide adventure is a three-part detoxifying treatment: first, The Mud; second, The Waters (a private geothermal soak); and third, The Rest (in an anti-gravity sound therapy chair).

“Our original vision was to create a contemporary social spa environment centered around the mud experience and our geothermal pools,” Ray says, “and also to provide our guests with a memorable experience worth repeating.”