Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa
& Resort in Calistoga, California
Julie Register visited this hotel/springs spa in California in
mud bath has been a tradition in Calistoga since the time of the Mayacamas
Indians. I couldn't pass through without trying one of the treatments
this town is famous for. Unfortunately, I passed through on a weekend,
and I didn't make reservations ahead of time. I tried to get an appointment
at three spas without success. They were all booked for the day. The
fourth spa I tried, Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort, could
squeeze me in for a mud bath but had no opening for a follow-up massage.
I happily made the appointment for the mud bath. The receptionist said
I could enjoy the pool area while I waited, but I didn't have a bathing
suit with me, so I wandered around town for an hour or so.
returned to Golden Haven a bit early and decided to wait outside on
a bench in the warm sun. I called home to Delaware to see how things
were. My husband said it was snowing, there had been a record-breaking
streak of cold weather, and he was chilled to the bone. I told him all
he needed to do was to come join me in the mud bath I was about to experience!
It turns out that my suggestion would have been perfect. Golden Haven
has five private treatment rooms designed for couples to enjoy mud baths
few minutes before my scheduled appointment, I went back in the spa
and sat in waiting area. Shortly, Celia, my bath attendent, came to
escort me to my treatment room. The room was rather industrial looking.
It held a whirlpool in one corner and two concrete tubs filled with
mud in the other. On one wall was a curtained area with two shower heads
and two plastic chairs. The floor was covered with a grate-type of mat.
It was clearly designed for hosing down after muddy bodies had walked
around in it.
Celia gave me instruction on how to enter the mud bath
- sit on the side, swing your legs around and try to slide on top of
the mud. You don't want to put your feet in and stand up because the
bottom of the mud is very, very hot. The top is very warm but comfortable.
Celia left and said she would check back in a few minutes.
got undressed and followed her instructions. Once I was floating on
the mud, I worked my way down into the warm, lumpy goop by wiggling
until I was pretty much covered up. The lower I got, the hotter the
mud. A slanting board supported my head. It was more comfortable than
it sounds. Pretty soon, Celia returned. She piled more mud on top of
me, gave me a cool compress for my head and asked if I would like a
nourishing mud mask applied to my face for a mini-facial. I said I did,
and she painted a thin mixture of mud on my cheeks, chin and nose. I
asked her what exactly was in the mud. She said it was a mixture of
peat, clay, and Golden Haven's own natural hot mineral water. The combination
relaxes muscles and joints, cleanses impurities, and leaves the skin
soft and renewed. For the next 15 minutes, I let the heat soak in. I
thought of snow in Delaware and how glad I was to be where I was at
that moment in time yet sorry my husband couldn't be in the tub next
to mine. Celia popped in a few times to check on me and refresh the
it was time to get out, Celia reminded me to reverse the process I used
getting in and not to put my feet down in the mud. She turned the showers
on for me and left the room. I ungracefully slid over the edge of the
cement tub, dragging great gops of mud with me. I sat on the edge of
the tub for a second to make sure I wasn't lightheaded from the heat
then walked over to the showers. There was a large overhead shower head
and a hose for targeting specific areas. A sign on the wall instructs
you to sit while you shower. While I showered in the mineral water,
Celia returned to the room to clean up. She added more mud to the tub
and hosed off the floor. She said the tub is sanitized between each
use and the mud is completely replaced periodically.
next step was to relax in the whirlpool filled with 104 deg F mineral
water. There was a pitcher of water with lemon slices floating in it.
I was amazingly thirsty. After ten minutes or so, it was time to dry
off and put on a robe.
Carrying my clothes, Celia led me to a blanket wrap room. She instructed
me to get on the table face up under the blanket and left the room.
She returned and wrapped more blankets around me, put a cool compress
on my forehead, and lowered the light. I cooled down for 25 minutes
while listening to soft music and enjoying the scent of cloves. When
the treatment was over, I was completely relaxed and much of the stiffness
from the long flight a few days earlier was gone. A massage or facial
following the mud bath would have been perfect, but I was grateful to
have had the chance to try the mud bath. The experience reinforced what
I have known for years, make spa appointments well in advance!
Golden Haven offers the following treatments:
- Massage (Swedish, acupressure, foot reflexology)
- Mud Bath (mud bath, hot mineral, jacuzzi, blanket wrap)
- Herbal Mineral Bath (hot herbal mineral bath, blanket wrap)
- Facials (herbal, mini)
- Packages combining above. Mud bath and hour massage (Mon-Thur reduced
price Nov-Mar excluding holidays)
Be sure to check Golden
Haven's web site for coupons and special savings.
The Origin of the Name Calistoga
In 1846, Samuel Brannan lead a Mormon settlement expedition
west. Inspired by visions of recreating the financially successful Saratoga
Springs of New York in California, he started buying spring- and geyser-laden
property in the Northern Napa Valley. According to lore, in a drunken
moment, he declared he would build "the Calistoga of Sarafornia!"
Thus the name Calistoga.
Photos copyright 2004, Julie Register
Lantana Spa at JW Marriott San Antonio
Farm to Treatment Table Lavender Experience
This package is available Saturdays only, May 12 – July 14 (excluding June 8), must be booked one week in advance and requires 48 hours notice for cancellation.
Hill Country Lavender Farm tour,
a bottle of organic lavender massage oil made at the farm,
lunch at Replenish Spa Café with items featuring lavender, and a lavender-based spa treatment featuring the organic lavender massage oil from the Hill Country Lavender farm.
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I'm a believer.
Hearth Health Month at mySpaShop including the best in health and wellness products from companies that give to those in need.