SPA REVIEWS: Spokane's La Rive

Courtesy La Rive Spa

Sumptuous Nature

Named for the French word for river, La Rive’s design was inspired by the Pend Oreille river, which runs through the Kalispel reservation 60 miles north of the resort. Its floor plan features meandering hallways whose flow mimics the natural curves of a river. Indeed, there isn’t a straight line to be found within La Rive’s interior.

All fabrics and linens, from wall coverings to towels, feature the soft green, blue and brown hues of the earth. Throughout the spa, artwork references the bluish purple camas flower, a plant that has historically helped members of the Kalispel tribe thrive. “During times when there was no other food, the root was dried and eaten,” explains spa director Yvonne Smith, a former area day spa owner.
Among the most aesthetically dramatic areas of the spa is the Healing Waters Coed Relaxation Lounge, where a curved wall features three waterfalls cascading into a whirlpool simulating the run-off of a river. Floors are finished in river rock, and soft ground lighting alternately mimics sunrise and sunset, the prime moments of day for relaxation and reconnection. Dark, plush lounge chairs and a golden ceiling complete this soothing retreat.

Rich metal, an element long associated with natural health, can be found throughout La Rive’s lounges and treatment rooms. The men’s and women’s locker rooms also make generous use of peaceful browns and greens, and each contains a unique experiential shower, wherein a computer screen allows guests to choose from an array of water experiences. Various jets, lights and music all coordinate to provide a tropical storm complete with thunder and lightening, for example, or an Arctic blast.

Tranquil Treatments

For indigenous tribes of Spokane, the concept of “spa,” although not referred to as such, carries healing and spiritual history. “Purification is a central part of the Native American culture,” says Smith, noting the tradition of sweat lodges and the long-ascribed-to rejuvenating powers of water. “And the Kalispel Tribe believes that healthy and active lifestyles bring long and prosperous lives.” Accordingly, La Rive’s menu offers treatments adopted from Spokane’s native tribal culture, as well as classic European techniques.

The luxurious Camas Duet Suite is put to grand use for the Couple’s Loving Retreat (90-120 min./$290-$390), which begins with a 30-minute, candlelit aromatherapy soak in a stainless steel tub, followed by a rinse in a six-jet oversized shower before guests settle in for side-by-side massages. Recipients often opt to add on a foot soak in one of the suite’s overstuffed chairs, performed while they enjoy a mimosa or glass of wine. Gourmet food can be ordered from a full menu serving the adjacent Masselow’s, Spokane’s only AAA four-diamond restaurant. “We are so fortunate to be working with food service of this level and integrity,” says Smith. “Everything is prepared here on the property. They even bake their own crackers.”

Top-quality food has also helped La Rive attract more male clients. Whereas not long ago, 90% of guests were female, Smith now estimates her clientele to hover at a 75/25 percentage ratio. “Our male guests really appreciate that they can order ‘boy food’ like sliders and beer,” she says. “We’ve also created a men’s area in the salon featuring a sleek barbershop feel and flat-screen TVs.” Male guests often go for the deep-cleansing Men’s Pure Hydration Facial (60 min./$110), which includes a neck -and-shoulder massage, or the popular Golfers Performance Massage (60-90 min./$115-$170).

Both sexes are wild about the Pend Oreille River Stone Massage (60-90 min./$115-170), which uses warmed stones from the actual river along with cedarwood oil to help soften muscle tension and release blocked energy. The popular Purification Ritual (90 min./$185), inspired by Native American traditions, uses a woven-fiber cloth to exfoliate the skin. The body is then covered in red mud to draw out impurities. After a rinse, juniper sage oil is employed for massage.