Muddy Romance

Spa Solage signage
Spa Solage embraces its muddy roots.

Dirty Appeal

The spa as a backdrop for one big wellness-boosting party is a terrific concept, and one that has worked extremely well for Spa Solage. The geothermal pools are not only populated by guests—glowing couples and groups of chilled-out women (the spa and its pools have an over-18 rule; and you must also book a spa treatment to gain access to the spa’s geothermal waters)—but also by Solage Club members. This club is comprised of Bay Area folks who have paid for continual access to the pool, movement studio and bocce ball court, as well as fitness classes and special mixers. (Each member also receives a complimentary introductory Mudslide treatment—which no doubt helps build buzz.)

The Mudslide has proven an irresistible draw—a “memorable experience” that clients want to relive again and again. “We have many guests who return several times a year—one of our Club Solage members enjoys it every other week,” says Ray. The Mudslide is second in popularity only to the Solage Massage (50 min./$125; 80 min./$190), and followed closely by the Kate Somerville Signature Facial (50 min./$185; 80 min./$190), and Mellow Me Out (135 min./$325), a full-body exfoliation, shea butter massage, foot rejuvenation, and scalp and hair renewal experience.

Perhaps it’s this joie de vivre atmosphere that has inspired brisk business at both the resort (89 guest rooms on 22 acres, opened July 2007) and the spa (16 treatment suites with outdoor patios, showers and lounge areas, opened four months later, in September). “Because Solage Calistoga is well positioned in the ‘affordable luxury’ category near San Francisco, a major metropolitan market, we weren’t as hard hit by the recession as area businesses in other markets,” Ray says.

Indeed, the spa boasts an impressive staff of 30 therapists, 20 of whom work full-time. Clients are made up of 65% hotel guests and 35% day guests and members. The marketing team gets the word out by emailing quarterly newsletters to guests and offering seasonal spa specials to encourage local and repeat clientele. They also actively engage guests on Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest, as well as their own lively resort blog.

As I chill out by Spa Solage’s geothermal pools after my treatment I survey the scene in front of me—spa guests lounging in the cabanas and soaking in deep pools of water that bubble up from deep within the earth—and thank the heavens for creating sunny days and dirt.

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

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