The Great Outdoors: One of just a few spas located next to a national park, Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite thrills clients with its use of the area’s natural surroundings.
Location: Fish Camp, California
Owner: Delaware North
The Space: 10,000 square feet with 12 treatment rooms (2 wet rooms, 2 couples suites, 5 massage rooms, 2 facial rooms and a nail salon), 2 steam rooms, 2 saunas and 3 relaxation lounges
Staff: 1 director, 1 manager, 3 leads, 7 spa attendants, 6 estheticians, 16 massage therapists, 2 salon employees, 6 front desk concierges
Built in 2010 as a new addition to Tenaya Lodge, Ascent Spa is renowned for its sense of place—a quality evident throughout the property’s design, presentation and product lines. The spa heightens its connection to Yosemite with thoughtful, organic textures and details, like the foyer featuring an impressive waterfall, rough-cut granite walls, a sage green and earthy brown color scheme, wood-grain paneling, and potted plants in every corner that evoke the nearby wilderness. Treatment rooms, called Birch, Finch and the like, are named from conservationist John Muir’s published journal entries. Ascent’s location is not only integral to its identity; it’s also the spa’s greatest asset: “Guests can enjoy a full day of adventure and take in all of the Yosemite-Sierra region’s natural beauty, then indulge in one of our luxurious, relaxing treatments,” says spa director Stacy Duncan.
What’s more, Ascent distinctly walks the walk as an eco-progressive, double-silver LEED certified property. All of its LED lights are on sensor timers and exercise machines are kinetically powered, resulting in reduced electricity consumption. Ascent’s products, including cleaning supplies, are also eco-friendly and it makes a point of working with vendors that offer organic skin care and value sustainability. Finally, the spa incorporates nature’s healing properties into a number of treatments, highlighting local ingredients such as river rocks, wildflowers and sage.
The Ascent marketing team’s spa activation campaign involves extensive promotional collateral throughout the hotel, including posters, detailed brochures and information placed in the key packets during check-in. As a clever—and thoughtful—promotion, the spa staff delivers sliced cucumbers and sunblock to pool guests every afternoon so they can relax, feel pampered and get a taste of the treatment they’d receive if they booked a service.
But resort guests aren’t the only ones who enjoy Ascent; locals looking for relaxation can purchase day packages, which provide access to steam, sauna, pools and hot tubs. The spa has also partnered with outdoor wellness foundation Balanced Rock to create hiking and meditation programs at the top of Sentinel Dome and the upper Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. “It attracts clients seeking a unique experience led by knowledgeable guides,” says Duncan. “There’s nothing quite like yoga on top of a granite peak overlooking the valley.”
Duncan says that keeping the spa running at an optimal level begins with selecting highly skilled employees. “We look for therapists who are passionate, knowledgeable and customer oriented, as our goal is to provide guests with the best possible care,” she says. “Staff must meet these standards.”
To that end, Ascent offers plenty of incentives and learning opportunities for employees on an as-needed basis. For example, when introducing a new product or service, management ensures that staff members are meticulously trained and informed about the proper procedures and benefits. “We want our team to feel supported and proud of the work they do,” says Duncan.
Ascent’s most popular services are its bespoke massages (60 min./$145; 90 min./$175), which combine classic techniques with cutting-edge options like quartz aromatherapy, river rock stones and obsidian deep tissue work. Also in demand are the Ascent Signature Renewals (100 min./$200), comprising the Firefall Body Renewal for super dry skin; Vernal Facial Renewal for a younger-looking complexion; and Bridalveil Massage Renewal to boost the client’s sense of wellness and peace. Each includes a foot soak, two embellishments, a 90-minute massage and, to top it off, a fruit, cheese and chocolate plate to enjoy post-treatment.
Éminence and Olivina Men are staples in the treatment rooms and boutique. Services also feature Pure Fiji and Sacred Earth products, and the retail area includes Natural Life, Mixture and United by Blue (one of Duncan’s favorites).
—Alison Singh Gee
This story first appeared in the January 2020 issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, subscribe here.