International Standards of SpaExcellence(SM)2014
A Quality System Approach for Spa Businesses
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Julie Register visited this resort spa in upstate
New York in August, 2007
husband and I have celebrated our anniversaries at some pretty nice places - Sedona,
Cancun, Carmel, Hershey, Bangkok, West Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey, Texas and
Alabama among others. For the last decade or so, the celebration has also included
a couple's spa treatment. This year was no different. Our anniversary is two days
apart from my husband's birthday, so we spent a long anniversary/birthday weekend
at the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning
Stone Resort in Verona, New York.
Nestled in the heart of Central New
York's scenic Mohawk Valley (made famous as the "Leatherstocking"
region by James Fenimore Cooper), the 1,200-acre Turning Stone Resort and entertainment
complex is 35 miles east of Syracuse Hancock International Airport. However, we
drove about 4 hours to get there from home - most of it was a pretty, scenic ride.
Turning Stone Resort features four hotels, five golf courses, two spas,
21 dining options, a casino, showroom, event center and conference space. We stayed
at the AAA 4-diamond award-winning, 98-suite, Adirondack lodge-styled Lodge
at Turning Stone. Except for a couple of hours exploring the casino, we spent
the entire time there. The two-room Lodge Suite
was very comfortable. We especially enjoyed the large bathroom.
It gave us some great ides for features to incorporate in our someday master bath
renovation. Jeff loved the Kohler adjustable shower head. I enjoyed soaking in
the deep tub. We also enjoyed doing something we never do - watch TV in bed. I
know. It sounds pretty worthless, but we rarely watch TV together. While in-room
movies were available, we got hooked watching a Survivorman
marathon and really enjoyed it. Each night there was a turndown service with delicious
chocolate-covered pretzels crusted with toffee crunch. The first night, we received
a dream catcher. According to the card accompanying it, a dream catcher moves
freely when hung in the night air and grabs dreams as the pass by. The good dreams,
knowing their way, slip through the spirit bead in the center of the dream catcher,
then slide down so softly that often the sleeper does not know they are dreaming.
The bad dreams, not knowing their way, get tangled in the webbing and perish with
the first light of the new day. Originally, dream catchers were hung on the cradle
boards of new babies.
We caught up on a little reading in the Great
Room while relaxing on incredibly comfortable lounge
chairs that overlook the lovely lawn and terrace (the scene of two weddings
during our stay). I read The
Secret Life of Bees and Jeff brought blink.
up early each morning and worked out in the Fitness Center. There are two glass
walls in the room which make the room bright and pleasant. One wall is lined with
three treadmills overlooking the indoor pool.
The other wall is lined with 2 ellipticals
and 3 stationary bikes overlooking the gardens, small lake and golf course. A
third wall has a table with water and a basket of apples. The fourth wall is lined
with Star Trak strength equipment - mostly
for arms and upper body and a couple for legs. There are no free weights. Classes
are offered daily in the fitness studio
- pilates, yoga, cardio, core. I took a yoga class from Stephanie. It turned out
to be a private lesson and was very enjoyable. There is also a 5,600-foot outdoor
fitness trail that we used.
ate all but two of our meals at Wildflowers,
the AAA 4-diamond restaurant at The Lodge at Turning Stone. The work of Chef Daniel
Graban, a native of Madrid, Spain, was impressive. The food was excellent and
the service attentive. While we didn't order everything on the menu (which were
printed on parchment paper and personalized for each guest), we sampled a good
variety. We tried to stick with the items marked "Healthy" such as Wildflowers
Salad with Seasonal Greens with Feta Cheese Vinaigrette, Beet dipping Dots and
Carrot Foam; Dehydrated Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette; and Disorganized Grilled
Vegetable Lasagna with Herb Marinated Tofu & Balsamic Vinegar Sauce. The presentations
were beautiful. Especially memorable was the Wildflowers Salad. It looked like
a vase of flowers that had tipped over. It was delicious as well. They even surprised
Jeff with a special birthday desert and cake (and, thankfully, didn't sing!).
We also enjoyed the bountiful Sunday Brunch at Wildflowers.
We never made it to The Skaná
Spa Café which is open for breakfast and lunch every day serving tasteful,
healthy, beautifully prepared and properly balanced cuisine. Next time, for sure.
But we did spend a lot of time in Skaná, The Spa at Turning Stone.
the 33,000 square-foot Spa at Turning Stone opened in December 2006. Sheri Beglen
of the Wolf Clan and an Oneida language teacher worked with an Oneida language
consultant to provide options for the spa's name. Skaná (skah-nah), meaning
peace, was selected. It is representative of the Oneida's belief in the balance
of good health, harmony with nature, and tranquility within.
is housed in its own building that is connected
to The Lodge by way of a long, wide, turning hallway. It is a physical transition
to the peaceful atmosphere of the spa. Halfway along the hallway is an area that
marks the official entrance to the spa. There you find a large water feature and
a display of Native American pottery by Tammy
Tarbell-Boehning. The figures are her interpretation and representation of
the three clans of the Oneida Nation - Bear,
Turtle, and Wolf. The center piece is 'Turtle Woman" who represents Mother
Earth. The turtles in her belly are her children. More of Tammy's work can be
found at Oneida Sky, the boutique near the casino.
Continuing down the
hallway on the walk to the spa, you pass The
Skaná Spa Café and the retail boutique where the all-natural
Kerstin Florian and Naturapathica products used in Skaná treatments can
be purchased for home use.
The reception and welcome area,
like much of the spa's architecture, is a tribute to the Oneida culture. The welcome
area represents the traditional arched Oneida longhouse with a fireplace and
a suspended flue. A full-service salon
is located next to the welcome area. The salon features two hair stations, three
pedicure stations, three manicure stations and makeup application area.
The main floor is also home to the VIP suite, which includes a private
herb garden, dressing room, lounge area,
two-person shower, twin soaking tubs, private
sauna and steam rooms, and couple's treatment
Downstairs, there are men's and women's
locker rooms, each with their own wet areas (sauna,
steam room, whirlpool) and lounge with fireplace.
There is a co-ed mineral pool as well as
11 treatment rooms including five massage rooms, three facial rooms a wet room
for body treatments, a couple's room with two-person shower, and a spa suite with
soaking tub, a treatment room and a shower.
I had treatments on two of the days
of our stay. The first was the 80-minute Standing Stone Herbal Remedy. After checking
in, I was led downstairs, given a tour and left in the women's
locker room where I exchanged my clothes for a thick, soft robe and very comfortable
Oka B sandals. I spent 10 minutes or so in the lovely steam room where a large,
round onyx light in the ceiling and small onyx lights in the floor gave a soft
glow. I took a cool shower then spent another 15 minutes in the beautiful sauna.
A stone wall with a recess for the heater provided soft, indirect lighting. The
ceiling was covered with sticks like latilla used in the Southwest. Another cool
shower was followed by a soak in the large whirlpool.
I cooled off in the coed, clover-shaped cool mineral
pool. There was a fountain in the center of the pool and a high, domed, cloud-covered
ceiling overhead. I wandered into the lounge.
On my way in, I helped myself to some Native
American Tea Co. Good Medicine Tea and a couple of grapes. The cozy lounge
was very relaxing. A fire burned in the stone fireplace. Shear curtains between
the chairs created a sense of privacy.
My therapist, Michael, soon came
to collect me for my treatment. He escorted me to the spa suite. He explained
what the treatment would be like and what products he would use in the treatment
- Naturopathica lavender hydrolait, lemon verbena body polish and shae butter.
He showed me into the connecting room where a bath had been drawn. He left me
alone to soak. The Naturopathica Deep Forest Oil in the bath smelled wonderful.
After 10 minutes, Michael knocked on the door and asked if I'd like to start the
treatment or stay in the tub longer. I got out of the tub, dried off with a towel
from the towel warmer and got on the table face down. (A note on all the towels
in the spa - they are simply enormous Thirsty Towels and very soft). Michael put
a roll under my ankles, sprayed lavender hydrolait over me. He then massaged wonderfully
scented lemon verbena with jojoba beads on my body to exfoliate my skin. He had
me turn over, placed warm towel roll under my neck and repeated on my other side.
When done, I took a shower to rinse off the jojoba beads. The shower head was
the same kind as in our Lodge room. The arm pivoted down and the two heads could
be positioned to spray only the body. I dried off, placed my robe on towel warmer
and got back on the table. Michael gave me a great massage with shea butter. The
treatment was very relaxing and my skin felt very soft and moist when it was over.
As we were returning to the lounge, Michael gave me a card with a picture of the
mandala that had been in the treatment room along with a story about it. While
I changed in locker room, I overheard four women talking about their treatments
- "Best massage ever," "absolutely wonderful," fabulous facial,"
"used arnica to really help my muscles."
I returned the next day
with Jeff. We were having a couples treatment, A Walk in the Deep Forest, in the
private VIP Suite located on the main level of the spa. Our therapists, Jen and
Jim, gave us a cup of herbal tea and a tour of the suite that ended in the wet
area where two deep tubs had been filled.
We were left alone to soak in the milk and oat bath scented with mint and vanilla.
After 15 minutes or so, Jen and Jim told us that it was time for our treatments.
We dried off and wandered over to the couple's
treatment room. Jim was my therapist and Jen was Jeff's. We had reflexology
treatment with Dandelion and Peppermint followed by a warm stone massage with
a blend of sage and white pine oils. At the end of our 145-minute Walk in the
Deep Forest, we were very relaxed. Jen and Jim gave us cards explaining the story
behind the mandala in our treatment room. We spent some time in the herb
garden before returning to our room in The Lodge.
treatments at Skaná have been designed using herbs and plants the Oneidas
traditionally use for healing. The Oneidas value white pine, rich in vitamin C,
for combating cough and colds. White pine is also known as the Great Tree of Peace
and is displayed prominently on the Nation's logo. Several treatments use white
pine oil. Among other herbs, flowers, and plants used are sage, sunflower, lavender,
peppermint, rosemary, dandelion, chamomile, sage, seaweed, marjoram, cedar, verbena,
evening primrose, wild black cherry, pumpkin, sweet grass, witch hazel, plantain,
blue lobelia, oat, juniper, cypress, lemon, sage, eucalyptus, algae, mud. A line
of services incorporating cedar and sage have been created for the Skaná
by Kerstin Florian and Naturopathica. Treatments offered at Skaná include:
- Oneida Custom Massage
- Skana Harmony
- Signature Sage Stone Masssage
- Juniper and Cypress Detox
& White Pine Hot towel
- Spots Massage
and Mint Foot Care
- Leave and Flowers
te: (From the Earth)
- Standing Stone Herbal Remedy
Pine Foot and Body
- Lavender Dreams
- Rosemary Sage Sea Salt Scrub
Spirit of Lavender
- Hydrating Aloe Wrap
- Signature Ritual of the Standing Stones
- A Walk in the Deep Forest
- Pure Results
- Botanical Clinical
Grade Skin Renewal
- American Indian Enzyme Peel
Signature Harmony facial
- Sayanlahsla' Skin Facial
te' yakoksta: ha: se Facial
- Moisture Drench
- Nourishing Herbal Manicure
- Ultimate Manicure
- Men's Herbal Manicure
- Makeup Application
soon plans to offer an American Indian Sweat Lodge experience to guests to give
them an opportunity to experience a ceremony used for centuries to cleanse the
body and purge the spirit of impurities. While it wasn't ready yet, I had an opportunity
to see the sweat lodge construction in progress and speak with Kakwiranoron (pronounced
Gagwil-nolon) Cook, the guide of the sweat lodge experience for Skaná.
Kakwiranoron brings his knowledge of the Mokawk and Lakota Sioux tribes to work
with the Oneida to create an authentic Native American experience. While sweat
lodges are not traditional to the Oneida, and the physical design is not traditional
to the Oneida (a longhouse would have been used instead of the tipi of the Plains
Indians, for instance), several American Indian tribes used sweat lodges in some
form. The lodge itself is 12 feet in diameter and is the height of a man's heart.
It represents the four quarter of the universe. Canvas covered the lodge at the
time of my visit, but eventually, buffalo hides will cover the red willow foundation
to contain the steam and heat created in the central fire pit. While I have not
experienced a Native American Sweat Lodge, I have experienced Temazcal
in Mexico. Much of what Kakwiranoron described was similar to what I experienced
there. The sweat lodge is representative of a mother's womb and participating
in the sweat lodge ceremony and giving thanks to Mother Earth symbolizes rebirth.
Kakwiranoron said stones are considered the first beings on the planet. They are
the grandfathers. We can ask them anything, and they know everything. The three-hour
experience will feature storytelling, drumming, chants and prayers led by Kakwiranoron.
Spirits will be called with song - relatives, family, friends, plants, streams,
animals and insects. Wood and water are used to create steam in the lodge. Sweetgrass
is used to help call the spirits. Sage drives the bad spirits away. Kopal and
cedar strengthen spiritual connections. The steam takes the requests and delivers
them to the spirits. The ceremony purifies body, soul and spirit. Kakwiranoron
himself participates in sweat lodges regularly as a health practice and looks
forward to sharing his knowledge with all human beings.
copyright 2007 Julie Register
exept the marked by * which are courtesy Skaná:
The Spa at Turning Stone
Hot Springs, Virginia
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